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Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016: Depleted Hayes boys hold off Loughlin 87-84

   Leading off today: The New York State Sportswriters Association is gathering info from its regional consultants this weekend in anticipation of producing its first boys basketball rankings of the season at the start of next week.

   I went to bed Friday night with a pretty good inkling about who might be starting off the season at No. 1 in Class AA.

   Well, so much for that.

   Despite seeing four starters foul out, Cardinal Hayes pulled off an 87-84 upset of host Bishop Loughlin in CHSAA action on Friday. The Cardinals raced to a 43-23 lead at the half and then held on.

   Junior Jontai Williams paced the winners with 26 points and sophomore Joe Toussaint chipped in with 15. Loughlin's Keith Williams, a University of Cincinnati recruit presented with a trophy before the game to acknowledge his 2,000 career points, scored 21 in the loss.

   Adrien Nunez scored with :57 to play to give Loughlin its first lead since early in the first half. Hayes' Terry Dawkins was injured while being fouled, so pinch-hitter Jeffrey Ramirez, a senior who hadn't played yet, came off the bench to make a pair of free throws. A Jontai Williams 3-pointer gave Hayes breathing room and the win.

   Remember this name: Dior Johnson is a 12-year-old seventh-grader who's making noise from the start of his varsity basketball career at Saugerties. Johnson scored a game-high 19 points Friday, capped off by four straight free throws in the final :30, to help the Sawyers to a 64-56 win over Red Hook.

   Johnson scored 24 in his previous outing.

   "Well, he's not scared of pressure, that's for sure," Saugerties coach Mike Tiano told Hudson Valley Sports Report. "He just plays at such a high level in the AAU circuit that he fits right in. He wants the ball in his hands."

   More boys basketball: Hadley-Luzerne vs. Argyle must have been a fun game to watch Wednesday. Argyle won 93-79 and there were two outstanding individual efforts.

   Argyle senior guard Kobe Lufkin tied his brother Joey's school record with 54 points on the strength of 7-for-15 3-point shooting and 17-for-20 marksmanship at the line.

   Meanwhile, Hadley-Luzerne junior Connor Backus went off for a career-high 39 points by making 10 3-pointers, which also tied a school record.

   Arrest made: The driver accused in the hit-and-run of former Forest Hills tennis star Stefani Lineva in Binghamton over the weekend pleaded not guilty Thursday to leaving the scene of a personal injury accident resulting in her death.

   Aizaz Siddiqui, 26, of Binghamton, was identified by police as the driver of a 2013 BMW who allegedly struck Lineva early Saturday, then fled. His arrest followed an extensive investigation by detectives and tips from the public fueled by a $30,000 reward for information, officials said. Police also said there was no evidence indicating Siddiqui struck the Binghamton University student intentionally.

   Siddiqui was arraigned in Binghamton City Court and sent to the Broome County jail without bail, pending further court appearances, the Press & Sun-Bulletin reported.


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  •    Too soon? Someone will eventually figure out the solution, but you have to believe that even college coaches are worn out by feeling obligated to track potential recruits who haven't even reached ninth grade yet.

       "Recruiting now starts so early. And you start to recognize with these young kids in AAU tournaments and things like that, once you recognize a prospect you have to really start to watch them, start to watch their game progress," Syracuse University women's basketball coach Quentin Hillsman told this week. "I don't know what's early, to be honest. We've been watching the 2021s. We watch really young kids and try to evaluate someone. For me, if you can play, you can play."

       NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from commenting on specific recruits, but Hillsman was more or less discussing the revelation last week that the Orange Hillsman had offered a scholarship to Saniaa Wilson, an eighth-grader at Bishop Kearney in Rochester.

       New York observers are already familiar with junior-high lacrosse players announcing their college destinations -- non-binding "commitments," to be sure -- before the first day of ninth grade, but the idea of college basketball coaches projecting so far into the future is still relatively new.

       "Recruiting is about relationships," Hillsman said. "It's a competition. It really is. You have a lot of teams competing for the best players, so unfortunately, and fortunately, sometimes you've got to roll with the action or bow out. We choose to roll with the action."

       Extra points: With her older sister, Selena Philoxy, already having signed with Seton Hall, South Shore junior basketball player Destiny Philoxy said this week she will enroll at UMass in 2018, reported. The point guard was honorable mention all-state last season.

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