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Friday, Jan. 29, 2016: Lacrosse gets fourth playoff class in 2017

   Leading off today: Important changes were approved Friday for three spring sports in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

   In a teleconference of the organization's Executive Committee, baseball was given approval to split its final four into a two-day event, and boys and girls lacrosse received the OK to add a fourth postseason class. The changes for all three sports take effect in 2017.

   Baseball currently plays semifinals in each class at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., followed by the championship game at 4 p.m. Last spring, all five teams winning the 1 o'clock semifinal lost in the final.

   Lacrosse had seemed destined for several years to add a playoff class because of the growth of the sport around the state. The boys tournament grew to three classes in 2000, and girls followed suit in 2005.

   Classification cutoffs for 2017 will be discussed next week during lacrosse committee meetings in Latham. The numbers could be finalized this spring.

   Among the other actions taken by the Executive Committee:

    • Football classification cutoffs for 2016 and '17 will remain unchanged from this past fall.

    • Speaking of classification numbers, BEDS data collected last October and used to determine individual school enrollment numbers for next school year were approved.

    • A vote to allow PSAL entries into the girls' state tennis tournament was postponed.

   What a finish: Trailing by 18 points with three matches to go, Mahopac posted three straight pins against Putnam to momentarily tie the match -- only to lose in astonishing fashion.

   Mahopac junior Michael Delahanty's pin in the final match appeared to tie the score at 37-37, sending it to the tiebreaker criteria, The Journal News reported. Under the criteria, Mahopac was the presumed winner because it had won eight of the 15 bouts. But a one-point unsportsmanlike penalty on the Mahopac bench issued earlier in the dual meet had not been reflected on the scoreboard.

   Final score: Carmel 37, Mahopac 36.

   "We actually went into criteria twice this season, which I had never seen happen before this season," said 132-pounder Kevin Knox, who became Carmel's career leader earlier with his 156th individual win. "Everyone thought we had lost at first because they had won more matches, but no one really knew. Obviously they celebrated, then we celebrated, so it was kind of back-and-forth with the emotions."

   Mahopac built a 19-0 lead through five matches before Carmel ran the table between 138 and 182 pounds for a 37-19 lead. The Indians then got pins from Mike DiNardo (195), Joe Harney (220) and Delahanty (285).

   Boys basketball: Seniors Stafford Trueheart and Justin Jones scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, as Canisius defeated Aquinas 56-55 in non-league action.

   Aquinas is ranked sixth in the NYSSWA Class AA rankings. Canisius is No. 2 in Class A.

   Jones' pass from the left corner set up Trueheart for a layup with four seconds left after Jamir Jones had given Aquinas the lead on a free throw with :30 to play.

   Canisius plays at Greece Athena, No. 6 in Class A, on Saturday.

   By the way, it was a busy Thursday for Canisius' Jones. The standout linebacker and receiver in football also committed to Robert Morris of the Football Championship Subdivision.

   In other action, Tyler Bertram made six 3-pointers and scored 35 points total to lead Cooperstown to an 86-59 upset over Herkimer, ranked seventh in the state in Class C.

   Cooperstown led 78-38 by the end of the third quarter.

   "We came out on fire," coach David Bertram told "We really pulled it together and played hard right from the start."

   A better way? Mike Dougherty of The Journal News wrote about the Section 1 hockey scene this week and proposed a change in the league structure from geography-based divisions to a configuration grouping teams by ability.

   Citing a growing list of teams struggling to be competitive, he suggests four divisions based on team strength makes it a better experience for everyone -- top-echelon teams get better preparation for the postseason and struggling teams step onto the ice for fewer games that they have no hope of winning.

   "We're at a point now where if we give up two goals early in a game, we're basically done," Lakeland/Panas coach Bart Mucci admitted.

   With a realignment, teams in each of four seven-team divisions would play 12 league contests. That leaves room to preserve local rivalries as well as non-leaguers vs. upstate opponents.

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