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Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013: Lincoln's Holley commits to Penn State

   Leading off today: Thomas Holley, who went from football newbie to prized recruit in just two seasons, said Tuesday we will continue his career at Penn State in the fall.

   The 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive lineman from PSAL champion Abraham Lincoln had narrowed his decision to Penn State and Florida after receiving offers from numerous major-college programs.

   Railsplitters coach Shawn O'Connor told the New York Daily News that Holley's interest in the Nittany Lions increased with news earlier that the NCAA had eased some of its recent penalties against Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky scandal and additional scholarships could be restored ahead of schedule.

   "I think it's a great institution, it's got a great academic history, a great football history," Holley's mother, Candace Benjamin Holley, told the paper.

   Situation resolved: South Jefferson girls basketball coach Pat Bassett has been restored to his position after a week of uncertainty, The Post-Standard reported Tuesday.

   The 14th-year coach ran practice for the first time in a week following a meeting with Superintendent Jamie Moesel and school board officials to resolve undisclosed issues that saw Bassett placed on "administrative leave" for a week leading up to Monday's special school board meeting. The Spartans are 2-0 and sit at No. 8 in the season's first NYSSWA Class B rankings.

   "The kids and I were excited to get back on the court and turn our focus back to basketball," Bassett said in a text message to the paper. "As a guy that values preparation and practice time, this layoff was painful and we certainly lost some ground. However, there is a lot of basketball season ahead and hopefully we can get back to a competitive level soon."

   Numerous speakers voiced support at Monday's meeting for Bassett, who has won two NYSPHSAA championships and eight Section 3 titles.

   Bring the pressure: In a girls basketball game last week, Tamarac forced Hoosick Falls into 15 turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game and 33 for the night.

   Welcome to a new era in the sport, as the girls game has introduced the 10-second rule to the sport. That's how long teams have to advance the ball past midcourt, and it plays right into the hands of teams that know how to slap a solid press on opponents.

   "I have noticed, not just in our games but others that we scout, that more teams are pressing," Bethlehem coach Matt Bixby told The Times Union. "Very few teams were pressing when I started coaching girls' basketball. I definitely think you are going to see a change this season."

   Said Tamarac coach Eric Medved: "Teams that don't normally press are playing a more uptempo style. It started with our first scrimmage with Averill Park. We saw a pretty physical man-press right away. All of a sudden, that 10-second count came into play. ... I definitely think it is going to change the pace and the style of play."

   Rankings: Links to the New York State Sportswriters Association's first set of boys and girls basketball rankings can be found here.

   Honor for J-Mac: Greece Athena will retire Jason McElwain's No. 52 basketball jersey on Friday before the Trojans play Fairport.

   On Feb. 15, 2006, J-Mac, the team's autistic manager, was added to the roster for the final home game of his senior year. Coach Jim Johnson inserted him into the game midway through the fourth quarter, and McElwain soon became an Internet sensation and the video earned an ESPY for best sports moment of 2006.

   He made seven of 13 shots -- including six 3-pointers -- for 20 points. At the buzzer, the student section stormed the court and carried McElwain away as a conquering hero.

  
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   "That night was a complete celebration of humanity," Johnson said.

   Now 25, J-Mac works two local jobs in between motivational speaking engagements and coaches cross country and basketball at an Athena assistant. He has qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

   John Wallace, who led the Trojans to a 1992 NYSPHSAA title, then starred at Syracuse University and played in the NBA, is the only other Athena basketball player to have his number retired.

   Following up: Mickey Burke capped his Rush-Henrietta cross country career with a fourth-place finish Saturday at the Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego, clocking 15:20 in 60-degree weather.

   "The competition here was really hard and I was losing it midway through," he told the Democrat and Chronicle. "If I had focused just a little bit more there, I might have had a shot at it."

   Extra points: The Park School in Buffalo has won all seven of its boys basketball games according to the scoreboard, but the team had to forfeit the first five due to the use of an ineligible player. The Pioneers and playing in the Monsignor Martin Association this season.

   The Franklin at Gilbertsville-Mount Upton girls basketball game was postponed by weather Tuesday with Franklin star senior Jordan Beers sitting at 1,988 career points. She'll likely now go for 2,000 Friday in a home game vs. Milford.

   Former William Floyd football star Stacey Bedell has transferred from UMass to Stony Brook, Newsday reported. As a redshirt freshman this fall, Bedell totaled 301 rushing yards and a touchdown in eight games. Bedell ran for 2,532 yards and scored 39 touchdowns in his senior season at Floyd to earn first-team all-state honors.

   Coming up this week: I'll post the all-state boys soccer teams selected by the state's coaches association.


  
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