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Wednesday, June 25, 2014: Arrests made in J-T underage drinking case

   Leading off today: There have been two arrests in the past week related to what authorities say were underage drinking parties thrown for members of Jasper-Troupsburg athletic teams.

   Results from a five-month investigation by New York State Police in Bath began to emerge when school board vice president Lisa S. Tracy, 47, of Greenwood was charged with second-degree criminal nuisance and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors.

   On Monday, senior Tyler M. VanSkiver, a star athlete at Jasper-Troupsburg, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and making a punishable false written statement. Police said the charges are based upon VanSkiver allegedly providing alcohol for gatherings at Tracy's home. The other charge involves VanSkiver allegedly giving a false written statement during the investigation.

   Tracy and VanSkiver are scheduled to appear in Town of Jasper Court on July 1.

   The investigation began in January after a call to the state Child Abuse Hotline saying J-T athletes were attending parties with alcohol at a Jasper residence. Police believe the activity has been occurring since 2012 -- and possibly earlier.

   J-T athletic director Jean Green told The Evening Tribune she was surprised to not be briefed about the investigation, which had the cooperation of school officials while adults and students were interviewed.

   "I was never brought into it," Green said, noting alcohol consumption would violate the athletic code of conduct. "I was told it did not involve me. I was never told that there were allegations that student athletes were drinking alcohol."

   Back on the radar: A couple of our recent blogs documented some of the latest instances of underclassmen opting to leave New York to play at schools across the country. In most cases, it becomes "out of sight, out of mind" as these players go largely forgotten (certainly on this blog, but also in the N.Y. hoops community in general) until the prospects show up in college lineups a year or two later.

   However, one of the more notable departures in recent years has popped back onto the radar while representing the United States.

   Tyler Lydon, a 6-foot-9 forward who will be a senior at New Hampton (N.H.) Prep this fall and has committed to Syracuse University, was on the USA squad at the FIBA Americas Tournament this week in Colorado. He left Pine Plains after leading the team to the 2013 NYSPHSAA Class C crown, saying he wanted to improve his game and his visibility for colleges.

   Team USA breezed through the field this week, going 5-0 and wrapping up the championship with a 113-79 victory against Canada on Tuesday. Though Lydon scored just three points in the final, he ripped down nine rebounds in 15 minutes as the coaching staff distributed minutes amongst its wealth of riches on the 12-man roster. He scored 14 points in 19 minutes against Argentina in the final pool-play contest.

   Show of respect: The Buffalo News has rolled out its boys and girls all-area teams for lacrosse the past two days, once again bestowing the Tom Borrelli Award upon its players of the year. It honors the memory of Borrelli, a sports reporter who died in 2008.

   The Buffalo News also named its top basketball award in memory of Allen Wilson, a former colleague of mine in Rochester who went on to cover high school, college and pro sports in Western New York.

   And now Newsday has announced it is launching the Marcus A. Henry Award, to be presented to one Long Island high school athlete each year who not only excels on the field but who also displays great leadership off of it.

   Henry, who died April 1, graduated from Baldwin High in 1991, played football briefly at Temple University and was a high school reporter at Newsday for 11 years.

   "I think this award will mean a lot to a lot of people," said Hank Winnicki, Newsday's Sports Editor. "Marcus was well-liked and well-respected by everyone here at Newsday and by everyone he covered in sports. He was an active member in his church and a loving husband, brother and son. We all miss Marcus tremendously, and this award will

  
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    help his memory live on."

       Newsday will name the first recipient on Sunday.

       Stepping down: Valley Central softball coach Frank Jordan has decided to go out on a winning note, resigning after a fourth Section 9 championship in five seasons.

       Jordan, who went 305-100 in 17 seasons, told the Times Herald-Record he wants to free up more time for the activities of his daughters, ages 7 and 11.

       "I had a pretty strong feeling prior to the season about my plans," he told the paper, "but I wanted to see how it played out. The more I missed their events this year, the more it wore on me."

       Jordan, a school psychologist, guided teams to five sectional and 10 league titles. His teams played in the NYSPHSAA Class AA semifinals two of the past three seasons.

       Strain showing: I've saved up a couple of interesting enterprising pieces recently and will start to highlight them now that we've reached the slow portion of the scholastic sports calendar.

       Today's piece is courtesy of the Press & Sun-Bulletin, which recently examined the fiscal strain on sports programs in the aftermath of 98 percent of school budgets passing on the first try last month.

       "Whether it's athletic or the regular school budget, it's a year-to-year thing," Tom Morrell, AD for both the Elmira and Horseheads districts, told the paper. "You really don't know what you're going to get from the state. You hope for the best. I think this year, all districts got a little bit more than they anticipated early in the year. It helped out many school districts.

       "I would say overall, it's a more stable and more positive vibe than what it was two to three years ago."

       Elmira, as was the case in Corning, folded two high school programs into one well ahead of the actual mergers of their respective high schools. Corning will finally house East and West students in the same building this fall, and Elmira will also move Southside and Free Academy students into a single facility.

       Many school districts have cut back on JV and/or modified sports since the massive 2008 recession. When Walton dropped JV football, it was more an issue with numbers rather than money. But now that the school seemingly has enough players to restore its JV program, the money is gone from the budget and opponents would be difficult to find.

       "When I brought up (the return of a JV team), it was quietly shot down," Warriors coach Jim Hoover told the paper.

       And, of course, there's the issue of reduced schedules. The NYSPHSAA will reconvene this summer to discuss restoring some or all of the cuts that were made in 2009. More than a few observers have expressed concern that if the games don't get restored now that the economy is much more stable, even a small recession could push the proposal to the back burner for several more years.

       "It continues to be challenging for schools to support bringing back games if academic programs and teachers are being limited as a result of school budgets," said Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA. "I do fear that if we do not offer our students the best opportunities to participate, they will seek opportunities in other leagues (i.e., AAU and club)."

       The Press & Sun-Bulletin story goes into more depth on several related issues. You can read the full story here.


      
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