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Monday, Feb. 9, 2015: Ossining frustrated by lack of schedule options

   Leading off today: As is the case with any controversy, there are at least two ways to look at the dispute involving what has become the best girls large-school basketball program in the entire NYSPHSAA.

   On the one hand, Ossining has a duty to fulfill schedule obligations that go along with being the member of its league and section. On the other hand, the Pride's roster is so deep and talented that mismatches have become common and there is only so much the coach can do as he walks the fine line between keeping scores respectable and preparing his team for the postseason.

   The Journal News reported this weekend that Ossining coach Dan Ricci sought permission from Section 1 before the season to opt out of the double round-robin schedule and only play league opponents once apiece, thus freeing up his team to seek out more competitive non-league contests. ADs approved the plan in October -- but for the 2015-16 season. The rationale was that it was too late to make changes to the current year's schedule at that point, the paper reported.

   The results have been predictable. Ossining, the two-time defending New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA champion, has blasted through 10 games against weaker league opponents by a combined 888-366 margin despite rarely playing starters in the second halves of games, the paper reported.

   Particularly frustrating for Ricci is that Ossining was allowed to tear up a portion of its 2012-13 schedule after the season started to accommodate games against tougher competition in Soniya Chong's senior season. There was no such opportunity this time.

   "For them to tell us, 'You can't, it was too late,' that's not true," Ricci said.

   If you're inclined to side with the section over the school, consider this: When Ossining sought to fill the two non-league slots on its schedule -- which must be played against a conference opponent under section rules -- Horace Greeley was the only team willing to step up.

   "My complaint was, 'If it's not such a big deal for (our league) teams to have to play us twice, how come nobody else in this room will play us once?'" Ricci said.

   You can read more details in the full story.

   Rolling up the titles: Tottenville senior Lauren De Meno matched her sister Brittanie's career record of 14 titles Sunday during her final PSAL Individual Gymnastics Championships.

   De Meno won three events and the all-around honors with a 37.450 score. She took vault with a score of 9.650; bars with a 9.550; and floor exercise with a 9.300. A slip on the balance beam gave her a third-place 8.950.

   Both sisters missed a full season because of injuries during their Tottenville careers.

   "I'm a little upset at myself that I fell, but I like how it ended up," Lauren De Meno told The Advance. "I like how we can share that (record). It's something we can live with forever."

   Calling it a career: Tom Pugh has retired as the football coach at Holy Cross after 42 years in charge on the sidelines of the CHSFL team. He plans to remain a guidance counselor at the school and is staying on as vice president of the New York Catholic High School Football League.

   "It was time for some other guys to do this," Pugh, 68, told MSG Varsity. "I still like coaching. I still love the summers and teaching kids football. During the season it's a long grind. A long grind. Watching film and going home at 9:30 at night is a grind during the season."

   A 3-7 mark last fall raised his total to 215 career wins. He guided Holy Cross to a CHSFL AAA championship in 1977 and seven other league titles in his career.

   "I've done everything. It's a lot of fun. I loved it. I loved the competition," he said.

   Following up: Courtney Lane set a Bishop Maginn record with nine 3-point baskets en route to 35 points in Thursday's 50-26 girls basketball win over Albany Academy. The senior guard was 9-for-14 from beyond the arc to break the school mark of eight 3-pointers.

   Looking ahead: Greenwich senior Jeremy Spiezio is top-seeded for this weekend's New Balance Boys Mile at the Millrose Games. Spiezio posted a 4:10.92 finish at the Hispanic Games.

   Other New Yorkers in the boys field are Conor Lundy (Fordham Prep), Mike Brannigan (Northport), John Rice (Xavier), Luke Gavigan (Tappan Zee), Aidan Tooker (Saratoga Springs), Benito Muniz (Carmel) and James Burke (Port Jefferson).

   Two more spots in the girls field remain unconfirmed, but New Yorkers already set to race are Paige Duca (Friends Academy), Bella Burda (Arlington), Anna Flynn (Ursuline) and Julia Stevenson (Hackley).

   Aiming high: Churchville-Chili junior Lukas Fernandes is in London this week to try out with English Premier League club West Ham United's academy soccer team.

   "People keep asking me if I have butterflies," Fernandes, 16, told the Democrat and Chronicle last week. "All I can say is: 'How can you be nervous when you're doing something you're so passionate about and love doing?'"

   Fernandes has racked up 31 goals and 19 assists over the past two seasons. The West Ham opportunity came via a loose affiliation between the Rochester area's Super 9 club program and the EPL organization. Fernandes trained with the club for a week in 2012.

   He will return home after the tryout and await word on whether West Ham has a spot for him, which would mean completing his high school education overseas.

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