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Thursday, May 1, 2014: Boys all-state basketball team announced

   Leading off today: A trio of juniors highlights the list of five standouts selected New York State Sportswriters Association boys basketball players of the year in their respective classes.

   Joe Cremo of Scotia-Glenville (Class A), Jordan Roland of Westhill (B) and John Rooney of Hoosic Valley (C) were all selected top players after averaging 25.0, 23.9 and 20.2 points, respectively. Each led his team to a New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship in Glens Falls.

   The other players of the year are seniors Isaiah Whitehead of Abraham Lincoln in the PSAL (Class AA) and Nick Comenale of state champ New York Mills (Class D).

   The complete 2014 all-state team was announced Thursday afternoon. Classes AA and A can be found here. Classes B, C and D can be found here.

   Here are some helpful links to basketball-related material from the NYSSWA:

Past NYSSWA players of the year

Recent all-state teams    More resignations at Burke: Two more Burke Catholic assistant football coaches have resigned in the fallout of demoted head coach Ed Van Curen's firing on Monday, The Times Herald-Record reported Thursday.

   John Pezzullo and offensive coordinator Tom Tamburri have stepped down. Earlier this week, Chuck Lappe informed new head coach Kevin Ross he was resigning. Like Lappe, Pezzullo said Van Curen's firing played a role in his decision.

   "I didn't like what was done to him and the direction the program was going," Pezzullo told the paper. "I don't make decisions spur of the moment. It came from my heart."

   Said Tamburri: "I was unhappy with some of the changes, like bringing in a new coach after we won a Section 9 championship."

   Ex-Irondequoit coach dies: Al Maerz, who built Irondequoit's hockey team into a Section 5 power, died Tuesday after recently being diagnosed with cancer. He was 67.

   From 1973 to '95, Maerz's teams went 303-146-20 with six league titles and five Section 5 championships at his alma mater, whose rivalry with McQuaid was for a decade one of the best running battles in upstate high school sports. He was inducted into the New York State High School Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998.

   "Everybody loved him, he pushed us hard but he also made it fun," said Terry MacAdam, who played at Irondequoit from 1978-80, assisted until Maerz and then ran the program for nine seasons. "Al was just a great guy. It's a very sad day for Irondequoit hockey."

   Maerz had a casual friendship with Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team after meeting him a few years earlier at a coaching clinic.

   "When you watch the movie Miracle it's all about Herb Brooks but I think it's also about Al Maerz," MacAdam said. "Al had a lot of the same characteristics. He's one of those coaches you don't appreciate until after the fact, and then it dawns on you, 'He really knew what he was talking about.'"

   Coming up: The Lower Hudson Basketball Coaches Association, Section 1 and the You Can Play Project are partnering for an interesting event scheduled for Tuesday at the Westchester County Center.

   The 2014 Leadership Conference is billed as an opportunity for student-basketball leaders to learn about various social issues through workshops focused on proper leadership skills that they will bring back to their team.

   One player from each boys s and girls s basketball program in Section 1, along with their coaches, have been invited to the conference. One of the workshops will be led by MSG Varsity's Kevin Devaney Jr. on the dangers of social media. Other workshops include the topics of anti-bullying and inclusion.

   The keynote address will be given by Wade Davis,

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director of the You Can Play Project.

   "The goal of the day is for the student-athletes to leave and share their experiences with their teams," Anthony Nicodemo, director of the LHBCA, said in a statement. "Hopefully we can start to change culture."

   Rules changes: Divers can now be reseeded between the prelims and finals of championship meets following a rules revision by the National Federation of State High School Associations committee for swimming and diving.

   "Divers in finals can be seeded based on their score, which can change the order from the starting order of divers," said Becky Oakes of the National Federation. "The committee felt that this option would add excitement to the meet. Divers with higher scores can see their competition."

   The committee also adjusted the levels within the 10-point scale used by judges to score divers to make the system consistent with the NCAA, USA Diving and FINA guidelines.

   The major swimming change comes in rules for the backstroke, with competitors now required to have any part of their body on or above the water at the finish. Previously, a swimmer in the backstroke could submerge on the turn and/or finish.

   In addition, swimmers may no longer may step off the starting platform when the referee says "Stand up." The new rule instructs referees and starters that they should direct swimmers to step down only when unusual circumstances occur.

   Following up: A federal judge last month threw out a lawsuit filed against Marlboro football coach Rich Ward, superintendent Ray Castellani and the Marlboro School District, The Times Herald-Record reported.

   Attorney Michael Sussman and his clients will appeal the decision by federal judge Thomas McAvoy, who ruled the motion did not meet the threshold needed to support a constitutional claim.

Ward, who has coached Marlboro to three consecutive Section 9 Class B championships, declined comment.

   The lawsuit filed in December by plaintiffs Al and Kerstin Votta, on behalf of their sons Justin and Ralph, and four other former players -- Dylan West, Dominic Santora, Jimmy Farrett and Thomas Corcoran III -- accused Ward of physically abusing players, making a racist comment about another and instructing players to injure stars on opposing teams. The plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages against Ward and Castellani and to have Ward fired as coach.

   "Nothing has changed in our opinion of the case since Judge McAvoy made his decision," said Gregg Johnson, who represents Ward. "Judge McAvoy is a very respected judge with decades of civil rights experience and he obviously agreed with our presentation. Anyone can go to the courthouse and file a lawsuit or an appeal. It doesn't mean it has merit."

   Extra points: The relentless foul weather has led Section 3 to push back tournament seeding meetings for baseball and softball from May 18 to May 21 to give teams every chance to work in rescheduled games.

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