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Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014: McKinley defeats top-ranked Buffalo East

   Leading off today: Down goes No. 1.

   Senior D'Andre Steward scored 21 points, sophomore Jaylen Prophet had 17 and junior Devin Morris added 16 (all in the second half) as McKinley overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to win its 30th straight Buffalo city league game with a 78-74 win Wednesday at East, the state's top-ranked Class B boys basketball team.

   McKinley is ranked 16th in Class A.

   "We do think about the streak -- it motivates us," said Steward, a member of last season's Yale Cup and NYSPHSAA championship teams. "Last year's team is like our big brothers. It's a team thing. We played 'Mack' ball."

   East held leads of 13-11 after a quarter and 39-27 at halftime. Prophet scored 11 in the third quarter to cut the margin to 53-50.

   The Macks rallied to tie it at 62 on a Varin Lenard follow, and a Steward layup made it 64-62 with 4:27 to play. A Morris 3-pointer made it 70-66 with 2:37 to go, and Prophet went 4-for-4 at the line in the final minute.

   They're falling fast: Buffalo East was one of 30 unbeaten boys teams remaining in the state, but the number is dwindling rather quickly. On Tuesday night alone, Long Island's last three unbeatens all went down.

   In Section 8 Class A contests, Rockville Centre South Side crushed Westbury 65-44 and Freeport edged Farmingdale 49-44.

   In Section 11, Central Islip scored a 68-64 win over Half Hollow Hills East, ranked 20th in the state in Class AA.

   Change of plans: Defensive tackle Thomas Holley, one of New York's three major football recruits in the senior class, has flipped his verbal commitment from Penn State to Florida three weeks before signing day.

   Holley, a standout at Abraham Lincoln in Brooklyn, had committed to Penn State last month in large part because of his relationship with then-head coach Bill O'Brien and defensive line coach Larry Johnson. But O'Brien was hired by the Houston Texans on New Year's Eve, and Johnson exited after nearly two decades in Happy Valley, Pa., once the Nittany Lions hired former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin to replace O'Brien. Johnson's been rumored to beheading to Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State.

   Awards: Syracuse-bound Rush-Henrietta senior Mickey Burke, who was third in the NYSPHSAA Class A championships and fourth in the Foot Locker Nationals Championships, has been named the state's Gatorade boys cross country runner of the year.

   Burke scored key wins in the Section 5 championships, McQuaid Invitational and Footlocker Northeast Regional.

   Also, Baldwinsville girls volleyball coach Mary Jo Cerqua and Fayetteville-Manlius girls tennis coach Phillip Rudolph have been named National Coaches of the Year by the Coaches Association of the National Federation of State High School Association.

   They're in a select group of one coach from each of 21 sports to be selected.

   Cerqua led the Bees to the NYSPHSAA Class AA championship last fall. She has a record of 459-36 since 1990.

   Rudolph's tennis team has won 328 consecutive dual matches, a national record. His teams have gone 420-6 in 30 seasons.

   Late change: Friday's Mount Vernon at New Rochelle boys basketball game has been rescheduled for Jan. 28 due to security concerns, The Journal News reported Thursday.

   The game will be played at 4 p.m. and admission will be charged. New Rochelle AD Steve Young said charging admission was one of several additional security measures the school will put in place in light of ongoing issues involving members of the communities since October.

   Young said the incidents do not involve players.

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   This will be the first time the schools meet in basketball since last year's Section 1 Class AA championship in which New Ro senior Khalil Edney hit a shot from beyond halfcourt at the buzzer to win.

   Holden resigns: Citing in large part the difficulty of staying connected with players and the school community while retired from the Corning school district, boys lacrosse coach Randy Holden has resigned after one season.

   "This is my first year of being this isolated from the Corning athletes or the community in 30 years," Holden, who retired as a math teacher in June, told The Leader. "It's not an excuse, but I really underestimated what a handicap it would be for the way I coach. It's handicap with respect to attaining a pulse of what's going on in the building, being available for teachers to talk about what's going on with the kids and administrators.

   "There's just a huge disconnect and it creates a lot of stress. And I'm sure it creates a lot of stress with the kids and parents too because I'm not readily accessible."

   Holden suffered a heart attack in 2004 but stayed on for three more seasons as football coach at Corning East, wrapping up his career with a state championship.

   "My decision to step down in '06 after we won it was driven by the same thing – it just wore me out," Holden said. "And obviously that was (almost) 10 years ago and if you know anything about heart attacks, your heart condition never gets better, it only gets worse after one of those."

   Holden took over the lacrosse program last spring after Bob Streeten retired with a record of 544-102 in 31 seasons.

   AD Bill Pierce told the paper the vacant position will be posted soon.

   Sigh: A California Little League coach is suing one of his own players for accidentally hitting him with a thrown helmet, according to KCRA-TV in Sacramento.

   Alan Beck claims that the player's carelessness led to the helmet hitting him in his Achilles tendon and tearing it, and wants over $500,000 for his pain, lost wages and medical bills, the Sacramento TV station reported.

   The 14-year-old player's father, Joe Paris, says his son threw his helmet into the air while crossing home plate with the game-winning run.

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