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Friday, Jan. 20, 2017: Sections 1 and 9 combine some football scheduling

   Leading off today: Sections 1 and 9 are in the process of joining forces in Class C and D football to create a combined regular-season schedule that should eliminate most bye weeks as well as mismatches created by size disparities.

   Such an alliance would be especially helpful to Section 1, which has just six schools in the divisions below Class B. Those schools often found themselves up against stronger, private schools for the sake of filling out their schedules in recent years.

   "While those games have been local and filled the need, the schools wanted to try playing schools of their own size for the regular season," Jennifer Simmons, executive director of Section 1, told The Journal News. "They were willing to travel a little farther to get them."

   Officials of both sections have been working on the logistics, including getting Section 1 to start practice, scrimmages and games a week earlier into to step into sync with Section 9 and the other participants in the NYSPHSAA tournament.

   "For us, I think it's a home run," Rye Neck coach Nick Ianello said.

   Avoca falls: One day after Class B Park School was toppled, we had another of New York's top-ranked boys basketball teams go down in defeat.

   Garret Socola scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds as 10th-ranked Prattsburgh upset No. 1 Avoca 74-59 in Class D on Thursday.

   Socola netted 12 of Prattsburgh's 27 second-quarter points. Jeffrey Gilbert added 18 points and made four 3-pointers for the winners.

   More boys basketball: Olean stretched its winning streak to seven straight as Monty Shoemaker's 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left defeated Chautauqua Lake 68-66.

   Shoemaker made five threes and finished with 19 points against the state's sixth-ranked Class C team. Chautauqua Lake had scored a one-point win when the teams met last month.

   Devin Pope scored a game-high 37 points for Chautauqua Lake.

    • East Rochester made its bid to return to the Class C rankings by riding Casey Michele's 20 points to a 60-57 win against No. 8 Lyons. Shamire Carraway had 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for the Bombers.

   Girls basketball shocker: Down by as many as 22 points in the second half, Phoenix stormed back to a 65-62 win over Bishop Ludden, ranked third in the state in Class B.

   "I believe in never giving up until the buzzer goes off," Samantha Doupe told after scoring 18 of her school-record 35 points in the fourth quarter. "We just had fun out there and that's what helped us win this game."

   Phoenix (10-4) has won four in a row and seven of eight.

   "We're not done yet," coach Ben Kochan said. "Our kids have battled, whether we're up 30 or down 30."

   Wednesday hockey: Sticking with the improbable comebacks theme, Shenendehowa was down three goals late in the second period before pulling off a 5-3 win over previously unbeaten LaSalle Institute.

   LaSalle is ranked seventh in the state in Division I.

   "I can't explain how things happened the way they did," Shenendehowa coach Juan de la Rocha said. "But our kids hung in there."

   Adam Doescher connected for the go-ahead goal in the third period and Hayden Haldane followed with Shenendehowa's last score in the closing final minutes.

   Honored: Gregg Sarra has been selected the recipient of the New York State High School Football Coaches Association's Hunter Low Media Award for 2016.

   Sarra, the high school sports editor at Newsday, has been covering Long Island sports for 31 years.

   Retirement at NEC: Dale Hawksby, coach of the Northeastern Clinton boys soccer team for 26 seasons has stepped down after six Section 7 championships and 332 victories.

   "I wanted to make sure all players are having fun," he said. "Teamwork, team chemistry, working hard at the game and discipline are key. That hard work is going to pay off. I tried to push them out of their comfort zone, to make them an even better player to tackle difficult situations on the field."

   Extra points: Former Syracuse Nottingham football star Derrick Gore, who announced his departure from Alabama this month, has enrolled at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

   Former Lake George star Joel Wincowski, who had become Bard College's leading scorer in five games off the bench, has left the Division III program as quickly as he arrived as a transfer from Division I Maryland-Baltimore County this month.

   The Middletown school board has formally appointed Tim Strenfel as head football coach. He was previously the JV coach there.

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