Leading off today:
The latest edition of the "Holy War" boys basketball game will feature a fun twist Sunday as players from Bishop Ludden and Syracuse CBA take the court in throwback uniforms
In honor of Central New York institutions of the past, Ludden will wear green replica St. Patrick's School uniforms with gold shamrocks on their chests, and CBA will don recreations of maroon-trimmed white uniforms worn by Sacred Heart School, an old rival of St. Pat's.
The contest at 7 p.m. Sunday is part of the Pathfinder Zebra Classic at Onondaga Community College's SRC Arena.
CBA coach Buddy Wleklinski and Bishop Ludden coach Pat Donnelly designed the uniforms, which were paid for by the Zebra Classic organizers. Both coaches are history nuts and poured over old pictures and newspaper clippings to match the uniforms with a hand from Bob Hayes, who took over as the St. Pat's coach in 1962.
"It's nice that they've chosen to remember the old Parochial League," Hayes told Syracuse.com.
The retro uniform idea was floated on Syracuse.com a year ago, and tournament organizers embraced it. Bob Antonacci of the Zebra Classic said the tournament would be interested in extending old-school looks to Corcoran and other city schools if possible.
"We just thought CBA-Ludden with the old Parochial League is an immediate shot to the tournament," Antonacci said. "We wanted to make sure we could come out with our best foot forward."
Good reads from this week: A couple of stories from the New York high school sports pages this week can't do anything but help change perceptions of what's possible with a healthy dose of determination combined with love of competition.
In one of the pieces, the Democrat and Chronicle profiled Joe Slaski, 47, the only person among about 300 referees in Section 5 who officiates high school basketball from a wheelchair. Slaski, a first-year JV official, was left paralyzed from the waist down in a 1989 sledding accident.
Slaski had been involved in officiating soccer and baseball before his accident and joined wheelchair basketball after it. When he moved to Rochester two years ago, Slaski decided to get involved in scholastic sports. He began with modified basketball and joined the Central Western Girls Basketball Organization after being encouraged by other referees. He also joined the Rochester District Umpires' Association, which provides umpires for local baseball and softball games.
"It's empowering," Slaski said of officiating. "I love it. I get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of it. I also think that it's good that the youth, the children, are seeing somebody with a significant disability in a leadership position."
One of Slaski's first high school games was a varsity scrimmage in November between Pittsford Mendon and Horseheads, observed by Mark Henderson, president of the association.
"This game had the flair," Henderson said. "Right off the bat, it is a fast break this way and a fast break that way. It was game on. We had bodies on the floor. We had intensity, and that's when he stepped into the game. He established he could officiate and he could keep up with the flow of game."
No special accommodations have been made for Slaski, Henderson told the paper.