Leading off today:
How is it that a mid-sized Class C boys basketball team has to fold due to a lack of numbers a month into the season?
That one certainly deserves an answer following news this week that Union Springs has disbanded its team, throwing the Cayuga County Holiday Tournament into a state of disorder. The Wolves were to have played Weedsport on Friday in the semifinals, The Citizen reported.
The school district posted this statement on its website:
"The Union Springs Boys' Varsity Basketball team has disbanded and the team will not compete for the remainder of the season. While the school district wishes that it could field a team to compete at the varsity level, competing student interests has resulted in not enough students to support a team at this time. The school district wishes to thank our players, their families, our competitors, our coaches, and our community, for their support of our athletic program, and we look forward to watching our Junior Varsity team grow and develop into a competitive varsity team in the years to come."
Not enough students to support a team at this time? In Section 4 alone, there are more than three dozen schools with smaller BEDS numbers fielding teams this winter.
Southern Cayuga coach Justin Frisbie learned of the last-minute change from Union Springs coach Jim Karcz just hours before beating Port Byron 58-48 in the first round.
"(I) feel bad for (the) other teams in the tournament," Union Springs AD Todd Salls said in an email to the paper. "I hope it goes well."
Salls had no comment on the team's situation.
More than a game: My former colleague at the Democrat and Chronicle, Scott Pitoniak, wrote a column labeled "More Than a Game" that often dealt with athletes battling challenges that had nothing to do with outmuscling a linebacker at the goal line or a runner stealing second base ahead of a bullet throw by the catcher.
This week alone, two such stories were told in upstate New York newspapers.
First, Syracuse CBA students will present a donation in the neighborhood of $3,000 to Golisano Children's Hospital at halftime of the Brothers' boys basketball game against Jamesville-DeWitt on Monday. Students have sold customized T-shirts and scheduled an Orange Out in honor of Jack Sheridan, a CBA junior who was diagnosed with leukemia in May.
Sheridan pitched and played third base for the CBA baseball team. His diagnosis was the same day as CBA's baseball sectional championship against J-D.
Meanwhile, The Daily Times in Watertown did a story on General Brown's Nick Nortz, a 17-year-old who has returned to basketball after receiving a kidney transplant. His mother Tricia was the donor in the procedure done in a Boston hospital.
Nick played soccer last fall and missed only a few games, though stamina was an issue. He's got his game legs now for basketball, with the only concession to his condition being that he wears a kidney guard to protect him.
Invitation rescinded: A California high school basketball tournament has gotten caught up in the ongoing protests over police killings of civilians after a school was disinvited because of concerns its players would wear warmup T-shirts printed with the words "I Can't Breathe."
The AD for Mendocino High School was informed by his counterpart at host Fort Bragg High School this week that neither the boys nor girls teams could play in the tournament, Mendocino Unified School District Superintendent Jason Morse told The Associated Press.
The boys team was reinstated after all but one player agreed not to wear the shirts during the Vern Piver Holiday Classic. Too few girl players accepted the condition for the team to keep its tournament invitation, he said.
Fort Bragg Principal Rebecca Walker issued a written statement saying school administrators respected the