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Thursday, March 24, 2016: Blackford leaving F-M, may return to Hamilton

   Leading off today: Tom Blackford may be on his way back to Hamilton, where his extraordinary run of success in boys basketball began.

   The Observer-Dispatch reported Wednesday that Blackford, 63, has resigned after 14 seasons at Fayetteville-Manlius and expressed interest in returning to Hamilton and coaching the Emerald Knights.

   Blackford, who was inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, had a 317-138 record with two NYSPHSAA championships during a 20-year run at Hamilton. With an overall mark of 497-252, he's fifth on the Section 3 list for career wins and second to Bishop Ludden's Pat Donnelly among active coaches.

   "There's really no specific reason," Blackford said of his decision to leave F-M. "It just feels like the right time, and it looks like I will have the opportunity to go back to Hamilton, where I coached and taught for so many years. I've coached in four decades now, but I still feel I have a lot of energy, a lot of competitiveness left."

   Hamilton was 12-10 this season under first-year coach Joe LePage, the school's longtime baseball coach. LePage seemed to voice support for Blackford's return, and Superintendent Anael Alston said the basketball position would be posted this summer.

   Heading to Germany: Several New York high school boys basketball standouts are scheduled to represent the United States at the Albert Schweitzer Tournament in Mannheim, Germany, beginning Saturday with a pool-play contest vs. France. The tournament runs through April 2.

   The roster has four players heading to Division I colleges in the fall, including Rochester Bishop Kearney wing and Temple recruit Quinton Rose.

   Jamesville-DeWitt senior Jimmy Boeheim and Bishop Ludden sophomore Will Engelhardt will also make the trip, as will junior Hameir Wright, who just led Albany Academy to a Federation Class A championship last weekend.

   Troy's Anthony Mack, a guard who transferred out of Catholic Central to a New Jersey prep school last summer for his junior year, is also on the roster.

   Wrestling development: The Press & Sun-Bulletin reports that New York may be a bit closer to holding an official state dual-meet championship in the 2017-18 season.

   Chenango Forks coach Rick Gumble, who is chairing a committee looking into the idea, said surveys have been sent to coaches across New York and findings will be discussed at a meeting next month.

   "I think people are receptive to it," Gumble said.

   A ton of details --- when to hold it, how many classes, how to select teams -- would have to be hashed out. And there's also a huge hurdle that's not explored in the story: How to get approval from administrators at the state level. The NYSPHSAA's Executive Committee recently said no to adding one class to the state football tournament based in part on not wanting to open the door to expansion requests from other sports. So getting them to green-light entirely new event -- even though it's one that coaches, athletes and fans have wanted for years -- will require more than a little bit of work.

   Kicking around an idea: With too much time on his hands between the final stages of basketball season and the start of the New York Yankees' regular season, NYSSWA editor


  • 2016 NYSPHSAA boys basketball brackets
  • 2016 NYSPHSAA girls basketball brackets
  • Federation basketball schedule
  • 2016 NYSPHSAA boys hockey brackets
  • 2016 N.Y. complete wrestling brackets (PDF)
  • 2016 N.Y. boys swim championships
  • N.Y. indoor track championships: Boys | Girls

  • Neil Kerr recently fired up his computer and batted out a list of athletic greats he would nominate for New York's Mount Rushmore of high school sports.

       That created a bit of back-and-forth with myself and a few other co-conspirators in the organization, and we ended up with a very short list of candidates who might be worthy. Rather than limiting the discussion to just the few of us, I figured it might be fun to open the question up to the readership and turn it into a blog or two next month. There might be online voting involved at some point as well.

       So send your all-time top four male and/or top four female candidates to me at and let the fun commence.

       The criteria:

       (1) The nominee must have achieved a very high level of success as a high school athlete, winning championships and/or accomplishing enough to have merited all-state recognition or comparable honors.

       (2) He or she must have gone on to success in collegiate, professional or international competition worthy of high honors or acclaim at that level.

       I won't spill the beans on specific names already in play, but there are some fairly recent success stories out there who are very much in line to bump very distinguished athletes of past areas off the face of the mountain.

       Extra points: Respected blogger Adam Zagoria tweeted this week that Jon Severe, the NYSSWA's Class AA player of the year in 2013, has not yet received his release from the men's basketball program at Fordham University.

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