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Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014: N.Y. moves closer to restoring games to schedule

   Leading off today: Five years to the day after announcing the controversial change, state high school athletic officials will discuss ending the reduction in the maximum number of regular-season games.

   The Executive Committee of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association will convene Friday via teleconference, with discussion of schedule restrictions imposed in 2009 among the topics on the agenda. Athletic councils of several of the NYSPHSAA's 11 member sections have been holding local discussions on the matter since the start of the school year.

   The across-the-board cuts enacted in January 2009 included cutting basketball schedules from 20 to 18 games, with soccer and lacrosse among those reduced from 18 to 16. Baseball, softball and hockey were cut from 24 games to 20 in the rule change, and most other sports were affected as well.

   The cuts were in response to the recession that began hitting state and local budgets a year earlier. There has never been a consensus on the actual savings school districts have realized each year under the shortened seasons, but even the highest-end estimates of a combined $12 million to $15 million per year for the state's 600-plus school districts pales in comparison to the $600 million increase -- certain to be raised in negotiations with the state legislature -- in school aid earmarked in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recently announced 2014 budget.

   A survey of state associations conducted during the 2012-13 season showed New York tied with Montana, Maine, New Hampshire and Oklahoma for the shortest basketball regular seasons; New York's PSAL and CHSAA allow their schools to play 24 games.

   That has been a source of discontent among players, coaches and fans, but they did not seem to have the ear of decision makers. This time, though representatives of three sections have asked the restoration of games to be a topic for discussion during Friday's teleconference and voting members from other sections may also be ready to approve.

   It is unlikely that anything related to the subject will be brought to a vote Friday. Instead, sections will be asked to discuss potential changes locally in time for a possible vote at Executive Committee meetings in May and/or August.

   Realistically, budget and schedule logistics would make it difficult to restore games before the 2015-16 school year even if a successful vote takes place in May.

   Speaking of schedules: Canisius and Jamestown have agreed to a rare cross-association football game next fall. Section 6 Class AA champion Jamestown and Canisius, the Monsignor Martin champion, finished tied for the top spot in the final 2013 Buffalo News large-school poll.

   The teams will play at Jamestown's Strider Field on Friday, Sept. 26, the fourth week of the season.

   "It doesn't get much better than having the top two teams in the area -- the best private school and the best public school -- play under the lights on a Friday night," Canisius coach Rich Robbins said in a statement. "The game will be a good challenge for our team and exciting for fans of high school football."

   Private vs. public games are relatively rare in Western New York, though Clarence, Lockport and Williamsville South have scheduled St. Joe's or Bishop Timon in recent seasons.

   McDonald's rosters announced: Three New York City basketball standouts have been selected McDonald's All-Americans and will participate in all-star basketball games

  
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April 2 at the United Center in Chicago.

   Abraham Lincoln shooting guard Isaiah Whitehead was selected to the boys team, and guards Sierra Calhoun (Christ the King) and Bianca Cuevas (Nazareth) were named to the girls roster.

   More basketball: Four of the victories in Albany Academy's five-game winning streak have come against state ranked teams. The 92-77 win over Guilderland (No. 23 in Class AA) this week followed triumphs over Long Island Lutheran, Bishop Ludden and Green Tech since Jan. 11. The Albany Academy boys are ranked sixth in Class A this week.

   Senior forward Jacob Haight became Barker's career scoring leader Wednesday in a 56-34 basketball win vs. Wilson. Haight's 22 points give him 1,209, breaking the record of current NCCC men's basketball coach Bill Beilein (1,197). Barker, ranked 14th in Class C, improved to 13-0.

   H.S. rivals pick colleges: Aquinas linebacker Charlie Rist, a first-team all-state selection who helped the Little Irish to the NYSPHSAA Class AA football championship in December, will sign a letter of intent with Mississippi State next week.

   Rist is being brought in to handle the role of long-snapper, a responsibility that doesn't get much attention until you start watching a team that doesn't have a reliable one. He was also being recruited by a handful of other Division I programs as well.

   Aquinas' traditional local rival also has a specialist heading to Division I. McQuaid kicker Will Mahar has committed to Boston College. Mahar was a first-team all-state pick in Class A in 2013 and also stood out at wide receiver for the Knights.


  
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