Leading off today:
Everett Witt of Collegiate (Class B), Gary Foster of Buffalo Middle Early College (C) and Terry Nichols of New York Mills (D) have been selected 2016 players of the year in boys basketball by the New York State Sportswriters Association.
The announcement was made Friday as the NYSSWA released its all-state selections in the small-school classifications.
Witt, a 6-foot-5 senior, averaged 10.8 points a game for Collegiate. He scored 20 points in the Federation championship game and was selected tournament MVP as Collegiate ended Olean's perfect season 49-45.
He is the sixth Collegiate standout to earn player of the year honors since 2008 and the first since Connor Huff and Ryan Frankel shared the honor in 2012.
Foster led his school to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C championship, averaging 18.7 points in his senior season. He was a second-team all-state selection in 2015.
Nichols averaged 24.6 points a game in his senior season for the Section 3 Class D runner-up to repeat as a first-team selection.
The complete 2016 B-C-D list can be found here. The Class AA and A teams will be announced next week. Here are some helpful links to basketball-related material from the NYSSWA:
Past NYSSWA players of the year
Recent all-state teams
Power of 'Pearl':
There were many memories of Dwayne "Pearl" Washington shared this week by mainstream media as well as people posting on various social media. One tidbit that I didn't see mentioned was how the format of the Federation tournament for New York boys high school basketball was blown up in 1984 with the introduction of what came to be known by many as the "Pearl Washington Rule."
Washington, equal parts talent and charisma, was a star player and one of the state's best-known scholastic athletes his final two seasons as a guard for Boys & Girls in Brooklyn. But the Kangaroos were bounced from the postseason during the PSAL tournament in Washington's senior season in 1983, depriving upstate fans of the opportunity to see the gifted guard who was attracting all sorts of attention and adulation.
The long-dormant state tournament was revived in 1978 and the Federation tournament was very much in flux with significant changes each year. As recounted in a 1984 newspaper column by Steve Grandin (BTW, kudos to Steve for editing the NYSSWA all-state team once again this season), the tinkering included adding the PSAL and CHSAA in 1979, trimming the field from six classes to four in 1980, moving the event to Glens Falls in '81, playing the whole tourney at a single site over three days in '82 and completely overhauling the format in '83 so that overall large- and small-school champs could be crowned.
In that span, big names went missing -- Sam Perkins (Shaker), Tony "Red" Bruin and Vern Fleming (Mater Christi), Kenny Smith (Archbishop Molloy), etc. -- from the season-ending event because of losses in sectional or association tournaments, and the effect on attendance -- and interest in the event in general -- was unmistakable.
However, it took Boys & Girls' early exit in Washington's final season to finally prompt Federation organizers to act. It was decided that a committee would select two "lucky losers" from the postseason to be restored to the latter stages of the tournament draw, giving them an unprecedented second chance.
And so it came to be that North Babylon from the