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Saturday, March 1, 2014: South Park QB convicted of murder, robbery

   Leading off today: South Park quarterback Maurice Howie was one of two Buffalo teenagers convicted Friday of murder and robbery in the March 2013 slaying of a cabbie, The Buffalo News reported.

   Sean Austin and Howie, who holds numerous school records in football, were both 16 at the time of the fatal robbery. The two were convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree robbery in the attack on Mazen Abdallah and another count of first-degree robbery in a February 2013 holdup of another cabbie. The fatal holdup was the last in a series of six robberies involving Austin targeting cab drivers and food delivery men over a four-month span.

   Howie faces a maximum prison sentence of 50 years to life if the sentences run consecutively. Austin faces more than 100 years to life in prison at sentencing. State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia set sentencing for May 14.

   Championship vacated: If your thought it was big news this week when Amityville forfeited its Section 11 Class A championship in boys basketball, check out the news from Chicago. Curie Metropolitan High, ranked among the best in the nation, has forfeited 24 victories -- including a thrilling city championship earned in quadruple overtime -- because several players were academically ineligible to compete, school district officials announced.

   District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said coach Michael Oliver has been suspended.

   Chicago Public Schools revealed an investigation Feb. 21, hours before Curie, ranked No. 1 in the state, played the city championship game against Whitney Young for the city title on Feb. 21. The game, which Curie won 69-66 in four overtimes, drew national attention because Young's Jahlil Okafor and Curie's Cliff Alexander are among the best players in the nation.

   Though Curie's title was vacated, the team may still be allowed to compete for a state championship because the Illinois High School Association has different requirements for academic eligibility.

   Whoops: The Dallas suburb of Allen made headlines in 2012 when it unveiled its $60 million high school football stadium. The school district is in the news again with its disclosure this week that the palatial stadium has "extensive cracking" in the concourse and will close for repairs, likely making it unavailable for area teams this fall.

   The Allen Eagles are the two-time defending 5A Division I Texas State Football Champions.

   "We do not have information at this point that confirms any areas outside of the concourse could be affected," school board president Louise Master said, "but the most prudent thing to do, to absolutely assure the safety of students, staff and the community is to keep the facility closed during this review."

   The $60 million, 18,000-seat stadium was financed as part of a $119 million bond issue in 2009 and opened for the 2012 football season.

   "This is a significant investment for our community," interim superintendent Beth Nicholas said. "We are very disappointed and upset that these problems have arisen. It is unacceptable."

   March Madness preview: If you haven't seen the video yet, Tuesday's girls high school basketball playoffs in

  
More N.Y. postseason coverage
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Road to Troy for scores and stats.
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Ice hockey
NYSSWA site for tournament brackets.
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New Mexico included a big finish -- as in a 70-foot, game-winning shot.

   After two Albuquerque schools traded the lead on free throws, Eldorado had 1.7 seconds to overcome La Cueva's 64-63 lead. Senior guard Caitlin Duree took the inbound, dribbled once, and then flung a 3-point prayer that went in at the buzzer.

   Skip ahead to about the 2:30 mark on the video below:

   Calling off the season: East Hampton will not field a varsity football team this fall due to a lack of participation, officials from the Long Island school announced.    The Bonackers were projecting only 18 players from last season's team returning, so they will field only JV and modified teams.

   Based on enrollments, East Hampton was scheduled to move up one division in Section 11.

   "We asked Section 11 if we could stay in Conference IV,” AD Joe Vasille-Cozzo told the Sag Harbor Express. "Conference III is a completely different animal. We'd be the smallest school in Conference III. We did that two years ago and we almost didn't make it through the season. But Section XI denied us."

   East Hampton will once again combine with Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton in football after deciding two years ago to cut Sag Harbor since the shared numbers would have put the program into Conference III. Since the East Hampton numbers alone put the program into the higher division, it made sense to restore Sag Harbor to the combined program.


  
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