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Sunday, March 1, 2015: Garden City's Brown sweeps distance freestyles

   Leading off today: Garden City senior Connor Brown swept the distance freestyles Saturday to earn outstanding performer honors in the state swimming and diving championships at Ithaca College.

   Brown's time of 4:27.46 in the 500-yard freestyle eclipsed the All-America standard a day after he went 4:28.88 in the preliminaries. He won the 200 free in 1:39.34 a day after qualifying with a 1:40.64. Both finals times are Section 8 records.

   "I went to bed early, ate a good dinner, had a good breakfast and had a really nice warm-up," Brown told Newsday. "I knew in the warm-up that I was going to drop some time."

   Brown was happiest with his finish in the 200 because he had already been a finalist three times in the 500.

   "I dropped two seconds in the 200 free this year, which is a lot of time, so I knew coming in I could be a contender," he said.

   Fellow Long Island competitor Gunther Cassell of Huntington/Harborfields set a state record of :54.51 en route to victory in the 100 breaststroke. Smithtown's Ben Cono had posted a :54.72 a year ago.

   "I knew what the record was," Cassell said. "I was right next to Ben Cono when he did it."

   Brockport senior Nick Olson and Brighton junior Noah Stevens rewrote the Section 5 record book on their way to individual overall wins, with Olson also snaring a Federation relay crown and second place in the 100 free.

   Olson touched first in the 50 freestyle in :20.43 to lower a 16-year-old Section 5 record for the third time this season. Olson, who was disqualified from the sectional over an error in the entries procedure, said the experience gave him even more incentive for the state meet.

   "It was definitely the motivation I needed," Olson told the Democrat and Chronicle. "I had so much energy going into it and knew I was going to get after it. As soon as I touched the wall I looked to the left and the right and no one was on either side. It was really exciting for me."

   Olson teamed with Nathaniel Bartalo, Brandon Amthor and Joe Williams to set a sectional mark in the 200 freestyle relay and finish second overall and first in the NYSPHSAA.

   Brighton's Stevens took the overall title in the 100 butterfly and earned a second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke, both in sectional-record times.

   Gymnastics: Nyack's Amara Cunningham place first in the all-around at the NYSPHSAA girls gymnastics championships at Kenmore West.

   Cunningham scored 38.3 in becoming the first Section 1 gymnast to place first in the all-around since Nanuet's Taylor Redmond in 2011. She finished first in the floor exercise with 9.725, second on the vault with 9.75, and second on the bars with 9.425.

   "Her vault was near perfect, although the score didn't reflect it" coach Jamie Winkler said. "Her floor was the best she's done all year and her bars were very good. I could hear everyone talk about how good she was."

   Cydney Crasa of Ward Melville placed first in the vault with a score of 9.825 and beam with a 9.575, and teammate Katie Bowe led the way on bars with a 9.45.

   PSAL boys basketball: After losing to Abraham Lincoln in their first three meetings this season, Boys & Girls finally defeated its Brooklyn rival, edging the Railsplitters 55-54 in Saturday's PSAL AA quarterfinals.

   Lincoln is ranked seventh in the state this week by the New York State Sportswriters Association.

   "I wanted this so bad," Boys & Girls junior Gianni Ford


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  • told The Daily News after finishing with 17 points. "Everybody wrote us off and said we wouldn't get this far."

       Ford's two free throws with a minute left put the Kangaroos ahead 54-52. He extended the lead to three with another free throw with :14 to go.

       "This game makes a real big statement," Boys & Girls junior Nehemiah Boone said. "We was the underdogs, but now we're the big dogs."

       In the semifinals, Boys & Girls will face Cardozo, which defeated Westinghouse 41-28, .

       In another quarterfinal, Wings Academy guard Desure Buie, a Hofstra recruit, drained nine 3-pointers to bury High School for Construction 85-58. He finished with 42 points despite sitting most of the fourth quarter and missed only two shots from the field.

       "I was just hot so I kept going," Buie said. "I stayed aggressive and just let it go, that's all it was. If you can make something happen, then do it."

       Wings will face Thomas Jefferson in the semifinals.

       Iona Prep wins: Iona Prep sewed up a first-round bye in the CHSAA playoffs by beating St. Raymond 74-61 for the New York Archdiocesan championship.

       Junior Ty Jerome made his return from a hip flexor to score 23 points in the first half on his way to a total of 33.

       Irvington girls win nail-biter: Irvington, top-ranked in the state in Class B, won its fifth Section 1 girls title in six years with a 50-48 win over Ardsley.

       Sophomore Lindsay Halpin led the way with 17 points.

       "It's a great, great win against a great team," said coach Gina Maher. "It doesn't get old. It never gets old."

       Baldwin rallies: Top-seeded Baldwin wiped out a 17-point deficit during a 58-49 win over Massapequa in the Section 8 girls Class AA county final.

       Jade Aponte scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half and Aziah Hudson finished with 16 as the Bruins captured a second straight title and fifth in six years.

       Massapequa led 41-24 midway through the third quarter, but a Hudson basket pulled Baldwin into a 43-43 tie with 6:09 to play.

       "No obstacle is too big for these kids," Baldwin coach Tom Catapano said. "They've been on this stage before. They had the heart of a champion tonight.''

       ICYMI: Earlier today we recapped the state wrestling meet, including Nick Piccininni's fourth championship for Ward Melville.

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