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, Syracuse.com 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