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Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014: Sec. 5 abruptly moves up Bishop Kearney girls

   Leading off today: Chalk up a first for Section 5. And given the implications, perhaps we should hope it's also a last.

   Section 5 officials told the Democrat and Chronicle on Friday that they have taken the unprecedented step of moving a team up in class midway through the season. Bishop Kearney's girls basketball team has been shifted from Class B2 to the larger B1.

   In the grand scheme -- which is to say the New York State Public High School Athletic Association playoffs -- the move means nothing. Winning one of the two sectional Class B championships in early March still leaves that school needing to beat the other 'B' titlist for the right to advance to the state tournament.

   But the midseason move of the 2013 state Class C champ raises questions. Would it have been done just one or two weeks before sectionals? Would it be done at all if it involved a move from Class B to Class A? Would it be done in order to move a team down under similar circumstances?

   "I don't really have a problem with it," fourth-year Kearney coach Kevan Sheppard told the paper. "But now, every team in B1 has missed out on scouting us, just like I've missed out on scouting them."

   Said sectional girls basketball coordinator Tim Lincoln: "This is a big deal. There's four or five weeks left in the season."

   Based on enrollment data, Kearney would have played in the middle of the section's three 'C' divisions this season, but the Section 5 classification committee moved the team up before the season after assessing the private school's returning players and incoming transfers. Recently, however, committee members expressed concern that they did not have enough information about one of the incoming players when they met before the season.

   "To be consistent with our policy, it was felt that the team should be moved for fair and equitable competition," said committee member Brian Moran, the LeRoy athletic director.

   Said Ed Stores, the sectional executive director: "Bishop Kearney seemed OK with it. That doesn't mean every other school is OK with it."

   Translation: Batavia Notre Dame remains the favorite in sectional Class B2 -- with an easier path now. Kearney possibly becomes the slight favorite to win Class B1, ahead of Palmyra-Macedon Waterloo.

   Two classes. Two private schools. Two championships? Too much to take for officials at public schools already unhappy with private schools?

   Milestone alert: First-year Glen Cove coach Greg Mayerhofer won his 400th girls basketball game with a 57-34 triumph against Valley Stream South on Friday. Taylah Hudson had a game-high 21 points and seven assists in the win.

   After starting out at Maria Regina (1982-1984), Mayerhofer coached Floral Park (1984-2008, four sectional and two Long Island championships) and then became an assistant at Massapequa and MacArthur before taking last season off.

   "I'm being very honest, I've been coaching a long time," Mayerhofer told Newsday. "For whatever reason, I've been blessed to have wonderful kids."

   More girls basketball: Meghan Strong scored 20 points to lead AuSable Valley to a 56-48 win over Malone, the state's 11th-ranked Class A team. Madison Rondeau added 11 points for the Patriots.

   Megan O'Connor scored a game-high 24 points for Malone.

   Unexpectedly easy: Burke Catholic played in the NYSPHSAA Class A final in boys basketball last season, losing the title game in overtime to Buffalo McKinley.

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   This year's team was never projected to be as good. But what happened Friday in a Section 9 non-leaguer at Newburgh Free Academy, ranked ninth in Class AA, was simply stunning:

   Newburgh 95, Burke 32.

   Point guard Donovan Fields scored 18 points to go with eight assists, and the Goldbacks pressed Burke into submission en route to a 49-15 lead at halftime.

   "You know, the guys came out ready to play, they wanted to take it to them," Newburgh coach Matt Brown told the Times Herald-Record.

   Scrambling: A two-year experiment to assist struggling football teams in Nassau County has come to an end, and now at least school is facing a whole new issue.

   Section 8 officials created Division V as a place for football programs in need of assistance to get their bearing while bolstering rosters, beefing up modified and/or JV programs and get back on a competitive track. Six public schools, St. Dominic's (CHSFL) and Long Island Lutheran (independent) took part in the program.

   Now, though, the division is being dissolved. The public schools can return to the regular Section 8 four-division lineup, and St. Dom's can almost certainly fill out a schedule with the help of CHSFL schools. But Long Island Lutheran, which earned the Division V sportsmanship award last fall, has nowhere to turn locally to find natural opponents for its 32-man varsity in 2014.

   "We are in big trouble," said LuHi coach Chris Reno, who has been scouring schedules of schools from New York and neighboring states for open dates but as of now has no games lined up.    In an email this week, Reno said LuHi is willing to travel. In addition, they know the drill on home games, which means they're more than willing to serve a meal to the opposing team afterward.

   If you have a lead on helping LuHi line up one or more games, contact Reno at or 516-626-1700 (ext. 552).

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