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Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016: Seventh-grader scores 41 in tournament victory

   Leading off today: Seventh-grader Jackie Piddock scored 41 points for Watertown IHC in a 77-53 girls basketball victory over Sackets Harbor in the opening round of the Jefferson Community College Invitational Tournament on Monday.

   Piddock made six 3-pointers and was 13-for-15 on free throws to help advance IHC to the championship game against Thousand Islands, a 57-39 winner vs. Madrid-Waddington.

   Piddock's freshman Abigail chipped in with 21 points and seven rebounds for IHC.

   Back in town: John Bowne was already going to be a handful in the Queens 'AA' division of PSAL boys basketball this season, and the return of 6-foot-6 wing Christian Hinckson has only added to the Wildcats' potential.

   Hinckson has 51 points in two games since returning from South Kent School in Connecticut this month. Bowne rolled past Cardozo 99-79 last week as he scored 21 points and added 13 rebounds.

   "I had some family problems so I had to come back," Hinckson told "I came back about three weeks ago, and they were all hyped to see me here which was cool. I love John Bowne and the teachers and the students, I love them all."

   Good reading: Ron Moshier wrote a nice feature this week about Little Falls wrestler Connor Wilks and the 14-year-old freshman's wonderful adaptation to the sport.

   "A month ago, he would stand over there against the wall like a statue. He froze up. He didn't know what to do," coach Tony Scaparo told Moshier. "Now, look at him. He's just another wrestler."

   Wilks was diagnosed with Down syndrome, a genetic condition that typically causes intellectual and developmental problems. He was more or less recruited onto the team by senior captain Neiko Scarano, who helped one day as Wilks struggled with his locker.

   "I kept asking him if he wanted to wrestle -- we needed a 99-pounder -- and then one day he finally said, 'I'm going to do it,'" Scarano said. "I love having him around. He's a lot of fun, and he knows his stuff, too. A lot of people here care a lot more about Connor than he thought, and that makes him happy."

   "We're always making sure that he's right in the middle of everything. He's never left behind."

   Though he's officially winless of the mat, Wilks has picked up some forfeit wins at 99 and 106 pounds. At 4-foot-6 and around 85 pounds, he has room to grow stronger and more skilled down the line.

   "Connor's gone from being hesitant on Day One to leading some of our drills," Scaparo said. "I've never pushed him; we let him ease into it. Now, he's running up to people in school and giving them a bear hug. Now, he's got a connection. I think it's about being a part of a team and being accepted."

   A busy man: There's a fun story this week out of West Virginia, where prominent businessman Jim Justice is coaching both the boys and girls basketball teams at Greenbrier East High School. In fact, this is his 16th season coaching the girls and his fifth with the boys.

   There will be more than a month of the season to go when Justice starts a complicated new job Jan. 16 and he's been handing off pieces of his business operations to his children, but Justice intends to finish out the season.

   That new job? Well, it seems Justice was elected governor of West Virginia last month.

   "You've got to have a leader of the band that people believe in," he said. "It's one thing to do what the leader says, but it's another thing to believe in what the leader is trying to get you to do. And so the leader's got to be all in. He's got to be passionate. I think I can deliver that."

   Talking scheduling: Pat McDonald at the Finger lakes Times in Geneva recently revisited a topic that pops up from time to time in leagues around the state -- especially in the sport of basketball.

   McDonald applauded an experiment last week at Waterloo, where the varsity boys and girls staged a doubleheader vs. Mynderse. Traditionally, doubleheaders in much of the state consist of JV games followed by the same gender's varsity contest.

   He's probably right that a varsity doubleheader at one site while the JV doubleheader is held at the other team's school could add to attendance and create a bit more atmosphere. The down side, though, is that one of the varsity teams is going to be pushed into the early time slot -- which makes it difficult for parents working 9-to-5 gigs to get to road contests. After all, one of the perks of making the varsity is being able to play in "prime time."

   And I'm not sure, but there would probably be Title IX implications if the girls were always the front half of the doubleheader.

   Progress: We are in the final stages of editing the all-state football teams. Selections in Classes B, C and D will be announced Jan. 4 and the large-school classes will be unveiled the following week.

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