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Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017: From the world of "strange but true"

   Leading off today: Just when you thought you'd heard every imaginable bizarre injury story ...

   Two players on the Camden (N.J.) Woodrow Wilson girls basketball team were sent to the hospital after a pit bull onboard the team bus bit them. The team was preparing to travel to a game Saturday when the attack took place, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

   Coaches evacuated the passengers and trapped the dog onboard the bus before animal control workers and police arrived.

   "It was one of those freak things that could never happen in a million years," coach Bernie Hynson said. "I get on the bus and this dog comes right behind me. I'm looking for whose dog it is. Next thing I know, the bus is going hysterical."

   The injured players were treated an released from a nearby hospital. Their teammates traveled to the game by car and earned a 43-35 win over Delran (N.J.).

   The clock is ticking: Dominick Welch's pursuit of the Section 6 record for career points in boys basketball is going to go right down to the wire.    The Cheektowaga senior stands 141 points behind the record after scoring 26 points Monday in a 73-47 win over Maryvale. Ritchie Campbell has held the Western New York mark of 2,355 since 1990.

   Cheektowaga has two regular-season games remaining, and its 11-7 record suggests the Blue Devils might not have more than two or three postseason games ahead. Five games at roughly Welch's current average of 28.1 points a game would make for an interesting photo finish.

   "If I get the record then I get the record; It would feel good," Welch told The Buffalo News. "I know my teammates want me to get it but if it doesn't happen ... I just want my team to win."

   Following up: Newburgh modified team coach Arturo Santana will run the varsity girls basketball team for the remainder of the season, AD Jason Semo said Monday. Players learned of the appointment just before the team boarded its bus to Pine Bush for a game, The Times Herald-Record reported.

   Coach Rich Desiderio was suspended Friday for the second time in four months and escorted from the building by school officials and security. He was suspended briefly during the 2015-16 season and again in November but was reinstated both times.

   Semo would not comment on the reasons for any of Desiderio's suspensions. The first incident was Desiderio allegedly shoving a player during a game, a charge refuted by the coach, player and her parents, the paper reported.

   Desiderio said he is supposed to meet with school officials on Tuesday to discuss his hostile work environment charges against Semo.

   "Newburgh is going after my teaching job as they did back in December," Desiderio wrote in a text message. "The one they conducted in December turned up nothing but they still tried to fire me from, not only my coaching job but my teaching job as well. The board (of education) refused to go along with it."

   Reading material: There was some pretty interesting writing taking place over the past few days, including:

    (1) The Buffalo News took a look at the delicate balance between calling off the dogs -- eh, maybe not my finest choice of words in light of the lead item to this blog -- and allowing a standout athlete to pursue individual accomplishments.

   The story was written in the context of Maddie Williams making 16 3-point baskets in a girls basketball game that Medina won by 60 points. A few days later, Amherst/Sweet Home/Clarence senior hockey player Julia Mings was kept on the ice to score five goals in a 10-4 win to reach 100 goals for her career.

   Medina coach Ken Haak said he doesn't regret the decision to let Williams keep gunning.

   "I didn't want to take away an opportunity she may never have again," he said. "As a coach and a player, I've been on the other end of running it up. ... It was absolutely a tough call. We had the game in hand. I almost didn't make it."

   Haak said he and his Holley counterpart discussed the situation once Haak was informed by a parent that Williams was closing in on the state record with more than six minutes left.

   "She was about to be pulled," he said. "At that point being so close, why not let her go for it? ... It's not like we're talking layups here. Three-pointers are hard to make. ... She was absolutely on fire."

  
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    (2) Jeremy Houghtaling of The Citizen in Auburn fired off a pre-emptive strike against the annual whining sports editors and reporters face when selecting all-area teams at the end of the season.

   "It's rewarding, but something I hate doing every season," Houghtaling admitted regarding the selection process. "While it's great to single out the best athletes in their field, there are always some tough decisions that make me wish we didn't have to do it."

   Houghtaling navigated his way through many of the most frequent complaints heard from parents and coaches of players not making the cut by noting:

  • Stats are not everything.
  • Teams selected by other publications have no bearing.
  • Playing in a "better" league is not an automatic path to preferential consideration.
  • Seniors don't have a birthright.
    (3) Mike Zacchio of The Journal News followed up on last week's discovery that the Clarkstown boys bowling team had competed in too many regular-season matches, thus keeping it out of the Section 1 tournament.

   The decision to contest a Jan. 17 non-league match vs. Scarsdale as a split competition (allowing twice as many bowlers on each team to participate) proved to be Clarkstown's undoing.

   Zacchio notes that the consequences for team participation in sectionals were pretty clear. What's at issue, though, is that Clarkstown's bowlers could not compete for a chance to qualify for individual honors or a spot in the state tournament even though none of them exceeded the maximum of 20 matches this season.

   Making a distinction between team and individual aspects of the sport -- something that already exists elsewhere -- could fix that in future seasons. It's expected to be discussed by the NYSPHSAA bowling committee next month.

   "The bowling committee would bring a proposal forward, the proposal would be examined by our Executive Committee as a discussion item, and then placed on the next agenda as an action item," NYSPHSAA Executive Director Robert Zayas said.

    (4) The "signing day" ceremony held at Ottumwa (Iowa) High School recently wasn't your typical affair. Rather than 12th-graders firming up their plans on where they'll play college football next fall, this event at Evans Middle School saw 24 eighth-graders sign "letters of intent" indicating they intend to join the Ottumwa football program as freshmen.

   Coach Rich Mayson sees it as a chance to promote participation commitment from one level to the next.


  
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