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Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016: Park School beats Kearney in double overtime

   Leading off today: Park School, Buffalo's top-ranked boys Class A basketball team, was taken to double overtime Saturday before pulling away for a 105-96 win over Bishop Kearney.

   Jordan Nwora paced the Pioneers with 35 points, Kyle Harris scored 22 and freshman guard Noah Hutchins added 20. Quinton Rose led Kearney with 21.

   Park, the Federation Class B champ last March, overcame a 69-58 deficit in the fourth quarter only to see Kearney tie at the end of regulation on a pair of free throws by Nahziah Carter (20 points) with 17 seconds to go. Kearney forced the second overtime when Shykell Brown made a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left in the first extra period.

   A 3-point basket by Nwora started a decisive 7-0 run for the Pioneers in the second overtime.

   It was the second tough loss of the week for Kearney (5-5). The Kings lost 86-81 to defending NYSPHSAA champ Shenendehowa, ranked seventh in the state in Class AA this week.

   Spackenkill coach/ teacher dies: Spackenkill is mourning former varsity boys soccer and track coach Tony Kutch, who died Friday shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. He had most recently been an assistant soccer coach and the PA announcer for basketball and football games.

   Kutch's career as a physical education teacher in the district spanned four decades.

   Bitterness remains: The lengthy fight over the mascot and nickname change for Lancaster's teams is nowhere close to over, as we were reminded last week. The Buffalo News reported that the former booster club is the source of the latest controversy.

   According to the paper, former school board member Wendy S. Buchert filed a complaint with the district in August over the Lancaster Redskins Boosters Club's ability to make political contributions.

   The parent-backed group ran seasonal sports banquets and raised funds for the district's sports program until September, when the district put the club's legal status and procedures under scrutiny.

   With the switch of nicknames to Legends a substantial campaign issue, the Redskins Boosters made $50 donations to Brenda Christopher and Kelly H. Depczynski, who won seats on the board.

   The paper reported the investigation triggered by Buchert's complaint has cost somewhere between $6,997 and $8,742.

   Christopher recently said she is donating the club's political contribution to Hillview Elementary School for a project, along with $50 of her own money. Meanwhile, the district's lawyers recommended breaking off the relationship with the boosters club, which it now has. The district and its lawyers said it could not be determined whether the boosters club was tax-exempt or whether it had non-profit status -- clouding the question of whether political donations should have been made.

   The report also cited concerns with the club's bookkeeping and its membership structure.

   "This is ridiculous. This is over a $50 donation, so the district found the need to spend nearly $9,000 of taxpayer money to investigate," Depczynski said. "It was a fruitless investigation. It's a lose-lose situation. Now, we've lost this wonderful organization that's done wonderful things for kids for years."

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