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Monday, Feb. 20, 2017: All Hallows stuns Hayes in CHSAA playoffs

   Leading off today: Sophomore Nick Johnson dropped in the winning layup with 7.5 left as No. 8 seed All Hallows upset top-seeded Cardinal Hayes 51-50 to cap an exciting day of CHSAA boys Archdiocesan basketball quarterfinals Sunday.

   Though just 12-13, All Hallows defeated Cardinal Hayes in two of their three matchups this season and also owns wins against fellow semifinalists Archbishop Stepinac, Monsignor Scanlan and Mount St. Michael. All Hallows hadn't won a playoff game since the 2013 Class A tournament.

   Cardinal Hayes is ranked ninth in the most recent NYSSWA Class AA ratings.

    • Elijah Buchanan scored 24 points as Mount St. Michael edged Iona Prep 54-49. Iona had swept the two regular-season meetings.

    • Junior Jalen Lecque (22 points) knocked down a clutch 3-pointer with :02.1 remaining to lift sixth-seeded Monsignor Scanlan to a 58-57 victory over St. Raymond, the third seed.

   "This might be the best win we had all year. We lost twice to them in the regular season," Lecque told News 12 Varsity. "We just lost to them and lost to them on our home floor by 20. To win against them was a great accomplishment."

   Archbishop Stepinac had the "breather" amongst the Semifinalists, dispatching St. Peter's 62-56 to advance to face Scanlan.

   Blazing fast: Christopher Columbus sprinter Michael Miller won the PSAL Championships 55 meters in :06.33, lowering his state sophomore record and tying for No. 3 overall in state history.

   Alumni news: Section 2 legend Jimmer Fredette, now playing pro basketball in China, had a game for the ages over the weekend, scoring 73 points for his Shanghai Sharks an a 135-132 loss to the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions in two overtimes.

   Fredette, 27, the 10th overall selection in the 2011 NBA draft, shot 25-for-49 from the field and made all 13 of his free throws Saturday.

   Fredette is third in the league in scoring at 36.3 points a game.

   Awkward, but the right call: The New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced co-champions -- four of them, in fact -- on Friday for its 2016-17 Battle of the Fans contest.

   Bethlehem, Cicero-North Syracuse, Tappan Zee and Webster Schroeder are sharing the honor after NYSPHSAA officials decided that social media voting, which was to determine the winner, may have been manipulated in a fashion that swayed a close race.

   "All four schools did a tremendous job of promoting sportsmanship, community support and positive fan behavior," Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA executive director, said in Friday's announcement. "We are excited to have the opportunity to honor these four schools and their communities for their commitment to having the best interscholastic fans in New York State."

   The declaration of co-champions did not sit well with Rochester reporter Jeff DiVeronica in a weekend blog.

   "Everyone can't be a winner," he wrote. "It's a fact of life and if the New York State Public High School Athletic Association is now selling this trophies-for-all mentality, then let's just stop keeping score at games. Exaggeration? Of course. And keep in mind I'm not talking about youth sports, I'm talking about high school sports involving teenagers who are going to be sent into the world soon to try to start carving out their own path in life.

   "Stop. Deep breath.

   "If you think I'm ranting here with no cause for it, guess what: You're part of the problem, too.

   "Losing is part of life. It's a reality and young people need to learn how to lose gracefully and how to process dealing with setbacks even after they've worked really hard for something. Life isn't fair sometimes, so if we keep insulating young people from that feeling, from learning how to cope with adversity or loss, how the heck are they ever going to learn from it?"

   Although I agree with my former Democrat and Chronicle colleague on the subject of coddling the precious snowflakes of the world, I think he missed the mark here.

   I spoke to Zayas on Friday night, and he walked me through the concerns that were raised, telling me that the issue consumed much of his day, even leading him to consult with a counterpart from another state association

with contest experience. With the deadline looming, the NYSPHSAA staff decided that there was sufficient evidence of chicanery. But at the same time it couldn't be proven whether anyone even remotely associated with any of the schools was the culprit.

   Under the circum- stances, it was wiser to declare co-champions than to let someone get away with pulling a fast one.

   "In this case we're talking about a sportsmanship program to promote good fan behavior," Zayas noted.

   DiVeronica concluded his blog with this: "It'd be too strong to call what the NYSPHSAA did with this contest a farce. Let's just call it a small, teachable moment that was lost."

   I'd argue that it was more a lesson learned than a teachable moment lost. In the end, the NYSPHSAA unearthed a bug in the system and kept someone (or several someones) from successfully gaming the system. That qualifies as a win.

   In my days working on the Democrat and Chronicle website (I was one of six founding members in 1995), I ran up against all sorts of scams perpetrated by people who proved to be smarter than the technology toolbox we had at our disposal. In one case, a guy in Hawaii figured out how to submit 15,625 entries -- all the possible combinations -- for our contest to pick the Academy Awards winners, the top prize for which was several sets of tickets to a Rochester theater. And he submitted all 15,625 entries several times that week. The guy administrating our email server wasn't especially amused.

   In another instance, we ran a "most beautiful baby" contest that was to be decided via an online voting tool that should have limited everyone to one vote per day. Sure enough, someone figured out a way to easily crush cookies set by the software at a time when it was supposed to be far more difficult than changing a browser setting.

   I thwarted the cheater in the movie contest based on some wisely written contest rules, but we had to let the cheater in the babies contest skate because we couldn't prove that anyone connected to the winning baby was doing the scamming. Parents of some of the other finalists were not happy.

   And, let's face it, the New York State Sportswriters Association isn't in a position to quibble about co-champions. In the era before state tournaments in football, it was up to us to anoint season-ending champions. We couldn't settle on one 10-0 large school champ in 1982, so we picked -- you guessed it -- four of them: Shenendehowa, Liverpool, Bellport and East Islip.

   This week: Barring fairly big news I may step away from blogging for a couple of days. In between a little bit of contract work I want to finish building brackets for the upcoming state hockey and basketball tournaments while also getting our weekly rankings in those sports posted on time.

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