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Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014: Spellman's Morris wins 700th basketball game

   Leading off today: Let's start by taking a quick look at some noteworthy developments on New York high school basketball courts in the past 48 hours:

   (1) Cardinal Spellman girls coach Jane Morris reached an almost unthinkable milestone Tuesday with her 700th career victory during a 61-52 win over Preston.

   Morris' career record in 40 seasons of coaching stands at 700-214.

   Michigan-bound senior Maria Backman scored a game-high 30 points in the win.    "This is a very special day. I'm here 40 years of coaching (and) 700 is a big number," Morris told The Daily News. "A lot of my former players are here that were a part of those early years. Girls basketball was different and I've kind of seen the transition and the changes. So it's a special day to see how far the game has come and that all of these guys are doing well."

   (2) No. 26 Syracuse Nottingham pulled off a surprise by defeating 12th-ranked Cicero-North Syracuse 56-44 in a warmup for the Section 3 girls Class AA tournament. The Bulldogs got 19 points from Necedah James and 14 from Chyanna Canada.

   It was not immediately clear the last time the Northstars lost in league action, but the streak may have extended back to November 2009, current UConn star Breanna Stewart's sophomore season.

   "I think it's one of the happiest feelings," Canada, who is being recruited by several SEC schools, told The Post-Standard. "Today, I think we really made a stand. We became the team to beat today."

   Jaleya Bryant opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, stretching the lead to 43-34. The Northstars battled back to six on two occasions, but never closer.    (3) McQuaid senior guard Jake Fenlon scored 44 points, including a school-record 11 3-pointers, to carry the Knights to a 97-58 rout of Rochester Charlotte in boys action Tuesday. McQuaid set a school record with 17 3-pointers.

   (4) I somehow got ahead of myself in a recent blog and credited Cierra Dillard with her 2,000th career point before it actually happened. In fact, the Gates Chili senior reached the milestone Monday with 25 points in a 73-35 victory against Brockport.

   What a moment: A diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma took Sarah Bruins off the basketball court in December. Though the Little Falls senior felt well enough to continue playing, a medical procedure to facilitate her treatment made it impossible.

   "When I first found out that I had cancer, they told me I'd still be able to play," Bruins told The Post-Standard. "Then they found out it was worse than they thought, and they had to put the port in. When I found out I wasn't able to play, I cried. I think I cried for a whole day."

   Neil Bruins told the paper his daughter's prognosis is positive. Six months of chemo that will end this summer, but the treatments are energy-sapping for now. Still the three-sport athlete has remained as close as she can with her teammates and intends to play soccer at Mohawk Valley Community College in the fall.

   With her team trying to complete a perfect regular season on Monday, the Mounties unveiled a surprise on Senior Night: Bruins was in the starting lineup. Cleared by doctors to play for a few minutes, she scored an early bucket and then called it a night as Little Falls went on to a 53-36 win over rival Frankfort-Schuyler.

   "I'm really out of shape, so that might be kind of bad," she said. "But I think just being on the court with my team for the last time ... I think that's going to mean a lot to me and

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it's going to mean a lot to them."

   Change coming? A Lake Luzerne native, Jeff Bennett transferred to Glens Falls to finish his high school football career a year before Hadley-Luzerne dropped football. Thirty years later, Bennett -- now the Lake George coach -- is immersed in the discussion of a potential football merger between Lake George and Hadley-Luzerne.

   Hadley-Luzerne dropped the sport following the 1983 season but may have enough interested athletes in its district to help Lake George field varsity and JV teams -- a huge boost for both developing players and sustaining the program -- beginning next fall. The respective school boards are considering the proposed consolidation this month.

   "We've been trying for three years (for a merger)," Bennett, Lake George's coach for 10 seasons, told The Post-Star. "We knew we needed numbers; we just needed a partner. We talked a little with Warrensburg. What really helps is we have had a successful merger (since 2008) with Hadley-Luzerne for wrestling."

   Bennett said enrollment numbers have been working against Lake George in recent seasons. "We've been averaging about 28 kids a year in (grades) 9-12; that's not enough for a JV team, so there's no opportunity for the freshmen and sophomores to play a full game," he said.

   The Lake George alliance with Hadley-Luzerne would continue a recent trend toward consolidation in Section 2. Last fall, Bishop Gibbons merged teams with Saratoga Catholic, and Schoharie and Duanesburg also joined forces.

   Extra points: Add kicker Caleb Robbins to the list of specialists going the preferred walked-on route in football next fall. The Fairport senior committed to the University of Akron last week.

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