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Monday, Feb. 6, 2017: Section 1 heading for fantastic finish

   Leading off today: With half of the eight highest-ranking NYSPHSAA teams residing there, Section 1 qualifies as a de facto ground zero for deciding the state Class AA champion in girls basketball next month.

   What seemed to be a no-brainer before the season -- remember, Ossining is the four-time defending champ and was returning a loaded roster -- is now shaping up to be one of the most intriguing battles in any sport and any section in the state. That's because Albertus Magnus ended the Pride's 93-game winning streak vs. Section 1 opponents last week with an 80-75 triumph.

   Mike Zacchio of The Journal News did a good job of breaking down what it means for Ossining, Albertus Magnus, Ursuline, Our Lady of Lourdes and everyone else coping to contend.

   With Albertus Magnus taking on Ursuline today, it's timely stuff.

   All sorts of drama: Markquis Nowell (22) and Keith Williams (29) may have scored a combined 51 points, but they were almost a subplot to No. 6 Bishop Loughlin's 88-72 win over No. 4 Christ the King as two of the state's best boys Class AA basketball teams met Sunday in Fort Greene.

   Firstly, it was a big rebound for Loughlin after getting run off the court by Long Island Lutheran 79-53 a week earlier. And it came after a lengthy delay because two early games on the court went to overtime.

   Christ the King was minus second-leading scorer Tyson Walker due to a school disciplinary action according to head coach Joe Arbitello.

   And by game's end the Royals were also without Arbitello, ejected midway through the fourth quarter after questioning a delay of game call against Jose Alvarado (20 points). Arbitello said he thought Alvarado had a technical foul and insisted he hadn't dissented in any way worthy of an ejection, which carries a two-game suspension under CHSAA rules.

   Kofi Cockburn topped Christ the King with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

   Veteran reporter dies: Sports writer Ed Weaver died suddenly Saturday at the age of 68 in Troy, where he covered Division I hockey while semi-retired after a distinguished career.

   "He was a real dedicated reporter who knew the meaning of the word deadline," said Kevin Moran, former sports editor at The Record. "He was an old-school guy who put in hundreds, if not thousands, of hours he wasn't compensated for to cover his beat correctly."

   Weaver previously worked at the Star-Gazette in Elmira before moving to Troy to cover RPI for more than 15 years. His final assignment was RPI's 4-2 win over Colgate on Friday.

   Hockey incident: Shoving an official is high on the list of bad ideas for athletes in any sport and at any level, but it happened Saturday at Northtown Center in Amherst, where Clarence defeated Williamsville East 4-1.

   Video shows a Williamsville East player, being escorted to the penalty box following a roughing penalty, pushing back against the official, who fell to the ice. It resulted in a major penalty for abuse of an official and a game disqualification penalty, The Buffalo News reported.

   Williamsville East coach Mike Torrillo referred questions to AD Mark DiFilippo, who is also the Section 6 chairman. DiFilippo declined comment.

   An ejection carries with it an automatic suspension as well as potential further discipline.

   Milestone: Eastport-South Manor girls basketball coach Steve Giacolone picked up his 300th win Thursday with a 46-29 victory over East Islip. According to Newsday, it made him the first coach in Long Island history to amass at least 300 wins in two sports.

   "It's very difficult to put into perspective," said Giacolone, who owns 306 wins in softball. "It's almost numbing. Honestly, when I think about the years, I go back to my wife. In order to endure all these seasons in all different sports, you have to have the support."

   Giacolone, ESM's dean of students, coached softball at Brentwood from 1987-95 and ESM from 1996-2010, when he began helping out on his daughter's lacrosse team.

   "He never talks about beating teams or winning championships," said ESM athletic director Bill Madsen. "He always talks about the process of getting better."

   Back on track: Corning distance ace Jessica Lawson resumed running late last month and could be fit enough to be a factor at the state indoor championships.

   Lawson was eighth at Nike Cross Nationals in December and then threw down a 4:26.44 in the 1,500 meters at a meet in Ithaca the following weekend -- still the season's fastest by a U.S. school girl.

   But reports she had to back off after that due to foot pain.

   "It turned out to be a neuroma (thickening of the tissue around the nerve) of the foot," she told Milesplit. "So for the past month, I've been doing some aqua jogging back home, so it's awesome to be back running."

   Her return was a 2:17 anchor in the 3,200 at the Ocean Breeze Invitational, signaling the end to her "career" in the shot put, a favorite ploy of coaches to allow runners to squeeze in the required number of meets to be able to compete at states.

   Scheduling help: Archbishop Stepinac, Chaminade, Christ the King, Iona Prep and St. Peter's are looking for non-league football games the weekend of Sept. 8-9.

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