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Friday, March 14, 2014: A few thoughts before the opening tip

   Leading off today: A few questions heading into the New York State Public High School Athletic Association semifinals in Glens Falls (boys) and Troy (girls) beginning Friday:

   Which boys bracket looks most interesting? Class B ought to be a blast, even though my read is that Olean almost certainly walks away with the hardware.

   Woodlands (19-5) played a relatively tough schedule within Section 1, but Olean (20-3) went regional with its scheduling en route to its third straight Section 6 championship and has several impressive wins on its resume.

   That winner gets Westhill (23-0) or an Ogdensburg (23-1) team that has lost only to Albany Academy by two points in early December.

   Ogdensburg brings three career 1,000-point scorers to Glens Falls and will test the theory that the Civic Center is where 3-point shooting teams (OFA averages 20 attempts a game) go to die. Lest we be accused of being too quick to dismiss Ogdensburg on those grounds, Westhill averages 16 attempts a game from beyond the arc.

   Can Emily Durr fight her way into the conversation? For reasons entirely understandable, the downstate trio of Bianca Cuevas (Nazareth), Sierra Calhoun (Christ the King) and Boogie Brozowski (Long Island Lutheran) gets most of the attention in the discussion for the major player of the year awards.

   While Brozowski gets another chance to showcase her talent in the Federation tournament next week, this weekend could be Emily Durr's opportunity to make a statement. The Utica Notre Dame senior is a major talent who committed to Iowa State last May.

   Besides being one of seven New York girls to reach 2,000 career points this winter, Durr has led the Jugglers into the Class B semifinals, where they'll be seeking their first NYSPHSAA championship since 1983. It's helped put her on the list of finalists for the statewide Miss Basketball award.

   "The personal accolades and the awards don't mean anything to me," Durr told The Observer-Dispatch. "For the seniors, this is our last year, our last shot, and we feel this is the most talented team we've had here."

   Who's guaranteed to have a good weekend? Stephen Carlson.

   The Jamestown junior forward comes to Glens Falls with his first Division I football scholarship offer in his pocket.

   The 6-foot-4 Carlson made 56 catches for 1,065 yards and 12 TDs last fall in Jamestown's pass-happy offense. On Tuesday, the University of Alabama-Birmingham from Conference USA extended an offer.

   Cliche or truth? The frequent complaint about the NCAA women's basketball tournament is that a lack of depth means that the average fan can pick 10 teams at the start of the season and be sure that the four Division I semifinalists will emerge from that group.

   The New York girls Class AA field isn't quite that automatic, but Ossining, Gates Chili, Baldwin and Cicero-North Syracuse have combined to pull down 12 of the past 16 berths in the final four.

   CN-S graduated national POY Breanna Stewart in 2012 and Ossining lost Miss Basketball winner Saniya Chong last spring -- both went on to UConn -- and haven't slowed down much if at all.

   What's the weekend's big "what if" question? As good as the Gates Chili girls team has been this year (17-5) entering its semifinal with Ossining, how much better would they have been with Diona Johnson, sidelined the entire season after an unfavorable eligibility ruling last fall.

More N.Y. postseason coverage
All sports
NYSSWA site for brackets of tournaments from the past and present seasons. Boys basketball
Road to Glens Falls for scores and stats.
NYSPHSAA tourney brackets
Current state rankings.
Girls basketball
Road to Troy for scores and stats.
NYSPHSAA tourney brackets
Current state rankings.
Ice hockey
NYSSWA site for tournament brackets.
Current state rankings.

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   Of course, as reader Jim Rech reminded me, how much better would Ossining be had Andra Espinoza-Hunter not left to attend Blair Academy?

   Is there a game that could make a difference? Perhaps one of the girls Class D semifinals: Romulus vs. Eldred.

   With its height and skill, Romulus likely can name its score Saturday. Maybe, just maybe, it will give the girls committee or the state office cause to reconsider the preposterous circumstances that advanced Eldred to the state semifinals with a losing record and without the nuisance of actually having to win a Section 9 playoff game.

   This is fresh on the heels of Queensbury getting a bye into the state Division II hockey semifinals despite a 5-15 record.

   This kind of crap happens far too often, and always in the Eastern half of the state. It would be nice if someone made at least a half-hearted attempt to fix it.

   Which girls bracket looks most interesting? As is the case with the boys, Class B offers intrigue.

   Kearney (20-2) has the better record, but Woodlands (14-10) has the marquee player in Georgia Tech recruit Imani Tilford. The other semi is Utica Notre Dame vs. Tamarac, two teams that scrimmaged each other in November.

   A final with Tilford vs. Durr would be one of the most attractive title-game matchups in a decade or more. Kearney and Tamarac have other ideas, though.

   I'm comfortable saying we're in for three good games in that class.

   Who has a bright future? In the Class D boys semifinals, Moriah brings a lineup with three sophomore starters into its game with New York Mills (21-1, the loss being to Class B qualifier Norwich) and is likely overmatched in its first trip to the final four since 2003. But look out the next two years, especially if 6-6 Adam Jaquish keeps growing.

   What should fans be watching? Finally, a gimme of a question. Keep your eyes on The Post-Star website. No paper in the state covers an annual sporting event like Glens Falls' newspaper does.

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  • 5/27: Football gets approval to add a game
  • 4/29: Officials turning focus toward the fall
  • 4/23: Boys all-state basketball (large schools)
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  • 4/16: Boys all-state basketball (small schools)
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