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Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016: Ossining girls, Byram Hills boys taken down

   Leading off today: A number of very good high school basketball teams from around New York lost games Wednesday -- and there was generally a good reason: They were playing strong opponents, because that's what makes holiday-week tournaments some of the most anticipated viewing of the entire year.

   Big effort from Baldwin soph: Three-time defending Section 8 Class AA champion Baldwin posted an 83-73 victory in the semifinals of the Slam Dunk Tournament over Ossining, which has won the last four NYSPHSAA girls Class AA crowns.

   Ossining, ranked third in the state this week, had won 88 consecutive games against New York State Public High School Athletic Association programs - an amazing span of 1,478 days.

   "We've lost in the Long Island championship two years in a row now, but beating the Federation champs lets us know what we have to do," Bruins sophomore guard Jenna Annecchiarico said after finishing with 35 points, five assists and four steals. "We felt like we needed to lock down (Andra Espinosa-Hunter). I mean she's going to UConn. She's a great player. She got going in the third quarter, but we just kept going and got it done."

   Espinosa-Hunter finished with 28 points on 10-for-21 shooting for Ossining, which closed to within 50-49 in the second half before an Annecchiarico 3-pointer. After Ossining cut the deficit to one point for the third time of the half, Annecchiarico completed a three-point play and drilled her sixth 3-pointer of the contest for breathing room.

   Baldwin, ranked 24th in Class AA, will play No. 12 Ursuline for the championship. Ursuline dispatched Bishop Loughlin 53-43 as the Koalas' Katie McLoughlin finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds.

   Ursuline went 19-for-25 on free throws.

   More girls basketball: Fort Washington (Md.) National Christian Academy handed Jamesville-DeWitt its first loss of the season, beating the Red Rams 55-32 at the Diamond Classic in Washington, D.C.

   J-D, ranked second in the state in Class A, next faces The Mary Louis Academy, the state's No. 4 Class AA team.

   Milestone: Westhill girls basketball coach Sue Ludwig reached 500 career wins as the 25th-ranked Warriors handed No. 10 South Jefferson its first loss of the season 58-56 in Class B action in Section 3.

   Ludwig, in her 26th season, has guided her teams to nine Section 3 titles and 16 league championships.

   In anticipation of No. 500, reached out to several area coaches to get their thoughts on a highly respected peer.

   Top-ranked team falls: "It was a strange game. We never got in a flow. They never really got in a flow," Iona Prep coach Vic Quirolo told The Journal News. "I think we're two defensive-minded teams and defense really ruled the day."

   What resulted was Iona Prep, ranked 15th in Class AA, beating Class A No. 1 Byram Hills 52-44 in the boys portion of the Slam Dunk Tournament.

   Nick Brennen finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and two assists for the winners. His three consecutive baskets in the second half pushed the Gaels' lead to 10 points for the first time.

   Mamaroneck edged Class AA No. 19 Uniondale 60-56 in the other semifinal. Junior guard Isiah Thomas scored 20 points on 6-of-8 efficiency and finished with six assists. His two free throws in the final minute secured the win.

   'Classic' confrontation: Fans at the Josh Palmer Fund Elmira Holiday Inn Classic saw one of the most memorable battles in the 17-year history of the event.

   David Morris of Erie (Pa.) Strong Vincent bagged 11 3-pointers (on 16 attempts) and scored 48 points to set

tournament records, but the Colonels dropped a 75-69 verdict to Mount St. Michael from the PSAL as senior guard Elijah Buchanan missed just six shots en route to 36 points of his own.

   Morris shot 15-for-22 from the field and Buchanan was 12-for-18 -- including 7-for-9 work from beyond the arc.

   In other quarterfinals, a pair of Buffalo-area powers managed a split.

   A 15-8 burst in the second quarter carried Baltimore's Mount Carmel to a 55-44 in over Canisius, ranked third in Class A. But second-ranked Park School went on a 23-0 run to break open a one-point game and held on for a 74-59 win over Elmira.

   Dan Scott led the way with 26 points and nine steals. Joe Jones, a 6-foot-8 junior who is the half-brother of former NBA No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden, had 10 points and 11 blocked shots for Park School.

   More boys basketball: Zach Stenglein had 25 points and seven assists to help Irondequoit beat University Prep 65-62 in the Rush-Henrietta Holiday Tournament. Gerald Drumgoole added 16 points and four assists for Irondequoit.

   Irondequoit is ranked 11th in Class A and University Prep 20th in Class AA.

    • Rochester's Bishop Kearney edged Bishop Grimes 70-66 in OT as Shykell Brown scored 20 points in the consolation contest of the More than a Game tournament.

    • Sixteenth-ranked Aquinas knocked off No. 10 Bishop Ludden 58-45 in an intersectional matchup of state-rated Class AA team as Jalen Pickett continued a strong start to his senior season. The senior forward posted 27 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

   Boys hockey: Surging Niagara-Wheatfield, ranked 14th, overcame three quick McQuaid goals and beat the No. 5 Knights 6-3 in Division I action.

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