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Friday, Feb. 28, 2014: Shen girls avenge two losses, reach Sec. 2 final

   Leading off today: The third time was the charm Thursday for perennial Section 2 girls basketball power Shenendehowa, which pulled off a 59-52 upset of unbeaten Shaker in the Class AA semifinals.

   Shenendehowa, ranked 29th in the state this week, previously suffered losses by scores of 61-33 and 59-40 against No. 16 Shaker this season.

   Sophomores Carly Boland and Samira Sangare led the Plainsmen with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

   "In our pregame and throughout the week, we talked about, 'confidence, confidence, confidence.' They are a very talented group, but they had to believe it," Shen coach Joe Murphy told The Times Union. "The win last week (in the quarterfinals) vs. Catholic Central really made them buy in that we're a pretty good team."

   The Plainsmen move on to Monday's final vs. defending champion Albany, ranked seventh in the state.

   Quite a battle: No. 2 Mount Vernon squeezed out a 43-40 win over No. 24 Mahopac in a tense, physical Section 1 boys Class AA basketball semifinal, advancing the Knights to Sunday's championship against No. 16 Spring Valley.

   The teams grabbed 21 offensive rebounds apiece, scratching for second-chance points on a night they each shot just over 30 percent. Mahopac finished with a 45-39 edge in total rebounds.

   "It was tough -- a lot of bumping, a lot of hitting," Mount Vernon senior Brandon Martin, who had a team-high nine points and grabbed eight boards, told The Journal News. "It was a very physical game, but we just grinded it out."

   200 given the boot: Panas advanced to the Section 1 boys Class A basketball final by defeating Tappan Zee 39-38, but that wasn't the big story.

   The 200-member-strong Tappan Zee student section was kicked out of building by a school administrator for a childish (and anatomy-specific) chant late in the game.

   Tim McCauley, taunted as "overrated" by some of those same Tappan Zee students, finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and the game-winning bucket.

   Surprise addition: In a gesture that flipped a proverbial middle finger at the rest of the PSAL girls Class AA field, Francis Lewis honored 6-foot-1 Chelsea Robinson in a brief senior night ceremony Thursday before the Patriots walloped Boys & Girls 81-50 in the playoff opener.

   What's wrong with adhering to a time-honored tradition of recognizing a senior player, you ask? Well, Robinson wasn't a genuine Francis Lewis player until a few minutes later. Robinson, who came in from The Taft School in Connecticut, was making her first appearance in the lineup -- a dubious escalation of PSAL shenanigans that has real implications for the rest of the tournament field.

   Robinson, who spent her first two high school seasons at Brooklyn's Nazareth High, scored 11 points in her debut with the state's ninth-ranked squad. "It felt great to be able to play and to play with the girls," she told the Times Ledger.

   Robinson left Taft, a private boarding school in Connecticut, over the Christmas break after a year and a half of playing basketball there. She resurfaced at Francis Lewis and was added to the team's inactive list Jan. 27 -- four days before the eligibility deadline.

   However, the PSAL rules on eligibility say "No PSAL student-athlete may participate in the same sport for more than one school (public, private, parochial) in the same sports season."

More N.Y. postseason coverage
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NYSSWA site for brackets of tournaments from the past and present seasons. Boys basketball
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Road to Troy for scores and stats.
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NYSSWA site for tournament brackets.
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   Jon Wilson, the coach and academic dean at Taft, told The Daily News that Robinson left the school in January in good academic standing, with no disciplinary issues. She appeared in seven games there.

   "Francis Lewis, they portray themselves as a school of higher academic excellence and portray themselves as a school that does things the right way," Truman coach John Burke told the paper. "It's very shady. It's not what it seems to be. I'm surprised by Francis Lewis."

   The PSAL and the school cited "extenuating circumstances," though no one would explain what those circumstances were.

   Said Murry Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky, whose team is going for its 16th straight city title: "If you make up rules and regulations, you have to abide by the rules and regulations. There are always extenuating circumstances. If you are going to have extenuation circumstances, then you have to let everybody know why you are going this girl permission to play."

   Surprise announcement: Veteran boys basketball and girls soccer coach Jerry Mackey was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis earlier this week, he revealed at an Oneonta High team dinner Wednesday.

   JV coach Brad Zeh will coach the Yellowjackets in the Section 4 Class B champion hip game Saturday vs. Norwich. Zeh ran the team during a semifinal win over Susquehanna Valley.

   "It was pretty quiet in there, especially for those seniors," Zeh said of Mackey's disclosure to the team. "They've been in the program for six years and when you're with somebody who has put as much time and effort into this program as Jerry has, it was a pretty somber mood in there."

   Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system and muscle function. There is no cure, but some of the effects can be slowed through medication.

   Mackey succeeded Bob Zeh as basketball coach in 1998 at age 27 and guided the team to multiple Section 4 basketball championships. The soccer team earned its first state championship last fall.

   "He's been advised to shut it down totally," Zeh told The Daily Star. "No practice, no games or anything like that."

    • Zeh also revealed leading scorer Jordan Gutierrez will not be in uniform for the third straight game. The junior, averaging 22.9 points per game, had been suspended indefinitely.

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