Leading off today:
Victory was bittersweet on Wednesday for the Albany CBA bowling team
. Shortly before earning the school's first Section 2 boys bowling championship, team members learned that coach Tom Donato, 65, had died of an apparent heart attack, The Times Union reported.
With former coach Brian McGraw and the operator of CBA's home bowling center arriving on the scene to help out, CBA administrator Jim Schlegel broke the news to team members after warmups. "They reacted very emotionally," he told the paper. "They were very close to Coach."
After a sluggish start, the CBA bowlers gathered momentum and threw a second-game score of 1,103 -- the tournament high -- on the board.
"The first couple of frames, it definitely was still very shocking," CBA's Zeph Kozakiewicz said. "As the game progressed, we knew what we were trying to do. We were trying to win this for him the whole time."
Columbia held a 43-pin lead heading into the sixth and final game, but Kozakiewicz closed with a 255 and Dom Savona put together a string of nine strikes for a 279. When it was over, the Brothers won the Class AA crown by a 73-pin margin with a 6,084 total.
"In my mind, my guys didn't lose," Columbia coach Bill Neumann said. "The other team won. They bowled phenomenonally. They rallied for their coach. It's a great story."
CBA advances to next month's NYSPHSAA tournament in Syracuse.
Glitch sidelines two swimmers: Two of the area's best swimmers were disqualified from the Section 5 boys championships during Tuesday's prelims after meet officials determined that their coach had submitted an incorrect lineup card.
Senior Nick Olson, who registered the section's top times in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles this season, and sophomore Brandon Amthor, No. 1 in the 200 freestyle, were DQ'd from the Class A meet after coach Scott Stepanek accidentally submitted the wrong lineup for the meet-opening 200 medley relay.
Stepanek wrote the names of his section-leading 400 free relay, including Olson and Amthor. Once they failed to compete in the race, they were technically benched for the remainder of the competition, though the mistake wasn't caught until late in the prelims.
"When you turn the card in, those are the kids who are supposed to swim that event. If they don't swim that event and they are entered then they are disqualified for the rest of the meet," Section 5 swimming coordinator Scott Fake told the Democrat and Chronicle.
An appeal to Section 5 was turned down Wednesday, so the disqualifications will stand for Thursday's finals. However, the two swimmers and their 400 free relay already possess automatic qualifying times that will allow them to compete at the state meet Feb. 27-28 at Ithaca College, the paper reported.
"I take full responsibility and it's too bad it cost two guys so much," Stepanek said. "We were all devastated."
Milestone: Greece Athena boys basketball coach Jim Johnson picked up career win No. 400 Wednesday when the Trojans, ranked No. 2 in the state in Class A, beat Churchville-Chili 93-65.
Johnson has coached varsity teams for 29 years, the last 19 with the Trojans. Athena has won five sectional titles in the past nine seasons.
"I'm real appreciative of the fact that I've had the opportunity to coach this long and hopefully made an impact on some young people," he told the Democrat and Chronicle.
That time of year: Whether it's a case of the schedule-maker saving some of the best matchups for last or teams losing some of their focus down the homestretch, the last week of basketball's regular season has a history of putting the first blemish on win-loss records.
On Tuesday, the Rome Free Academy girls beat previously perfect Bishop Grimes 48-35. RFA is ranked 21st in Class AA and Grimes is second in Class B this week.
The same night, Newfield's boys took their first loss in the form of a 49-35 setback vs. Watkins Glen, which scored the