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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017: St. Francis knocks off Park in two OTs

   Leading off today: Down 21 points in the first half, St. Francis rallied to a 70-66 boys basketball win over Park School in two overtimes in Monsignor Martin action on Wednesday.

   Park School is the state's top-ranked Class A school this week.

   Julian Cunningham and Devon Darrell scored 16 points apiece in the win. Bo Sireika added 14.

   Giirls basketball: Even without leading scorer Anndea Zeigler, Cardinal O'Hara was able to register a quality girl basketball victory Wednesday.

   Shilah Parker scored 21 points for O'Hara in a 68-57 victory vs. Rochester's Bishop Kearney. Cori Dickson added 12 points and five steals for the Hawks, ranked third in the state in Class AA.

   Eighth-grader Saniaa Wilson scored 23 points for 19th-ranked Kearney.

   Not a typo: You get some odd matchups from time to time in New York high school basketball, and a lot of them happen in Section 5. That has to do in part with its tradition of geography-based leagues, blending schools from two and occasionally even three state classifications. And non-leaguers create odd bedfellows at times as few suburban and rural districts schedule Rochester City School District opponents and likely fewer still willingly play private schools.

   All of that brings us to this score: Franklin 56, C.G. Finney 55.

   Franklin, a Class A school, carries an 0-13 record into the contest. Finney carried a 10-2 record and a No. 7 state ranking in Class D into the game.

   Franklin got 14 points from Anthony Smith and 12 By Jam Michael Rodriquez. Tyron Blair added nine points and 15 rebounds.

   More Section 5 basketball: Jacob DiSanto (21 points) hit a 3-pointer and Blake Hildman made two free throws with less than a minute remaining to give Victor a 49-48 win over previously undefeated Irondequoit, ranked sixth in the state in Class A.

   Victor improved to 10-2.

    • Any of half a dozen teams could win the Section 5 Class AA tournament in March, and two of them faced off Wednesday. Jeenathan Williams put up 28 points and Tamar Jackson added 12 points and 10 rebounds for University Prep in a 78-60 win over Bishop Kearney.

   UPrep is ranked fourth in the state this week. (Full rankings here)

   Nahziah Carter had 18 points for Kearney.

   Following up: We reported Tuesday about Prep's series of appeals regarding the way in is classified by Section 5 and the NYSPHSAA. The Democrat and Chronicle followed up with a story Thursday.

   The New York State Department of Education told the paper it was unable to say how long it would take Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to make a decision.

   The paper also spoke to NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas.

   "In our handbook, the rules and regulations clearly state that our sections have the right to classify non-public schools and charter schools," Zayas said.

   That likely indicates that the NYSPHSAA will frame its response to the NYSED appeal around the contention that the method of classifying schools is not something with which the commissioner needs to be involved.

   Hiring announced: Tom Combs will become Section 11's executive director July 1. He will succeed Don Webster, who is retiring from the post he has held since 2014.

   Combs has served as the director of athletics, physical education, health and health services of the Patchogue-Medford School District since 2003 and will retire at the close of the school year.

   "I follow some great individuals who came before me, and I can only hope that I live up to their expectations," Combs said in a statement from the section announcing the hiring.

   Combs is a member of the Harborfields High, Smithtown School District and Suffolk County Sports halls of fame. As a football coach at Harborfields, he won two Long Island crowns and five county titles.

   Contest's final four: The NYSPHSAA announced its finalists this week for its annual "Battle of the Fans" competition. NYSPHSAA representatives will be paying visits to Bethlehem, Cicero-North Syracuse, Tappan Zee and Webster Schroeder before Feb. 7 to complete the judging process.

   Bethlehem and Webster Schroeder were winners in 2015 and '16, respectively.

   Florida forfeits: A Florida team is being forced to forfeit all of its 2016 season football wins and its state championship over the use of a fifth-year player.

   Pahokee High, north of Fort Lauderdale, finished last season undefeated and won the state Class A championship. After the season, the school was notified of the ineligible player and conducted an investigation before reporting its findings to the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA).

   The FHSAA handed down its penalties, including a $1,400 fine, on Monday.

   Principal Michael Aronson said the state's reporting system did not flag the player as ineligible and that the school would appeal the ruling.

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