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Thursday, March 6, 2014: Lincoln coach likely done after upset loss

   Leading off today: An eventful 24 hours in New York high school basketball was capped Wednesday night by a significant upset and some potential big news on the PSAL coaching front.

   Unranked Thomas Jefferson avenged two regular-season losses on the court by defeating Abraham Lincoln, the state's top-ranked Class AA team, 77-54 in Wednesday's PSAL semifinals, leading coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton to declare it his final game in charge of the Railsplitters.

   The Daily News reported Morton was wearing a Seton Hall hat and said, "Yeah, I think so," when asked whether it was his final game at Lincoln after eight PSAL city championships and three Federation crowns in 19 seasons. Speculation about Morton taking a job at Seton Hall has been out there for the better part of a year.

   Morton told reporters he'd disclose his future plans at a party on May 20.

   Jefferson will play Cardozo, which beat Brooklyn Collegiate 73-49, in Saturday's PSAL championship game.

   Less surprising but more dramatic was the development in Tuesday's PSAL girls semifinals, where Francis Lewis rallied from 10 points back with 3:00 to beat Murry Bergtraum 61-57.

   Sophomore guard Sierra Green scored 10 of her 13 points in the Patriots ended Bergtraum's amazing run of 15 straight championships.

   "Everyone was saying we weren't going to beat Bergtraum. The 15-peat," sophomore guard Taliyah Brisco told MSG Varsity. "We had a point to prove and now that we proved that point I'm so relieved, I'm so happy."

   Lest the Francis Lewis folks get too giddy, there's the matter of Chelsea Robinson. As was noted here recently, the talented 6-foot 1 transfer from The Taft School in Connecticut, was given a waiver by the PSAL that made her eligible to play for the Patriots and she only started suiting up Feb. 27.

   Juxtapose that with Bergtraum's situation: Fordham-bound Aaliyah Jones, the 2013 state Class AA player of the year, suffered an ACL injury before the season, never played until the quarterfinals and was a "DNP" for the semifinal loss.

   "It's a part of the game. We had a good run. Listen you try to win as much as you can," Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky said. "We worked very hard. We had the game all the way. We lost in the end. That's the way it goes."

   Coming up: This is a great weekend to be a basketball fan, with playoff action continuing throughout the state. One boys game in particular that stands out on the schedule is in Class B, where Westhill and Norwich will meet in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinals on Saturday at Binghamton University.

   A year ago, Westhill edged Norwich 59-58 to reach the semifinals in Glens Falls. This year, they come into the game as two of the four remaining unbeatens in New York (Class A Scotia-Glenville and Class C Clyde-Savannah are the others). Westhill is top-ranked in the state in Class B and Norwich is No. 3.

   The winner of the Westhill-Norwich contest moves on to play either Plattsburgh or second-ranked Ogdensburg in the semifinals in Glens Falls, but the 800-pound gorilla likely awaits in the other half of the bracket.

   After having watched Buffalo East in a late December game, I joined the not-small chorus of observers who

  
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figured that Section 6's berth in the tourney would come down to No. 5 East vs. No. 4 Olean, with that winner the favorite to earn the NYSPHSAA championship.

   Well, those teams met Tuesday, and Olean walked away with a 62-59 win that's regarded as an instant classic. Olean fell behind early by double digits, rallied for the lead and then had to watch the Panthers get off a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer.

   Senior Wil Bathurst remained in the hunt for the various state player of the year awards, scoring 16 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. Nick Schmidt and Sam Eckstrom chipped in with 18 and 17, respectively.

   The win advanced Olean to the quarterfinals vs. Rochester Charlotte.

   Of the 20 girls quarterfinals, one in particular that stands out is Shenendehowa vs. Cicero-North Syracuse in Class AA. Though ranked just 17th and 12th, respectively, in the state this week, the programs are two upstate giants in basketball circles.

   Both ran into midseason funks but got their bearing back in time for the postseason and then sliced through deep sectional tournament fields. Saturday afternoon's winner at Hudson Valley Community College returns there the following weekend for the final four against the Long Island rep (Baldwin or Sachem East).

   And waiting on the other side of the bracket could very well be defending champion Ossining, a year ahead of schedule in reloading following the graduation of Saniya Chong. Ossining opened the tournament by blowing past Kingston 77-47 on Tuesday.

   Following up: Of all the pre-quarterfinal games in the NYSPHSAA tournament thus far, the big surprise was No. 10 Maine-Endwell's lopsided margin -- 47-26 -- over top-ranked Wallkill in Class A. It was the third time in four years the Panthers saw their season end at the hands of Maine-Endwell.

   Wallkill broke to a 6-0 lead, but the Panthers totaled just seven second-half points.

   Maine-Endwell got 16 points and seven steals from senior guard Victoria Dean, who made four 3-point field goals.


  
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