Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Feb. 24, 2012

Patrick Newell

Not in favor of Greene policy
No, I do not entirely agree with Greene’s athletics policy that requires its sports teams to finish with at least a 500 record to proceed into postseason play. Our neighbors to the north, Section III, has a mandatory postseason policy in which teams must win at least 40 percent of their games. That percentage seems reasonable, and it can account for some mitigating circumstances. For example, take a look at Marcellus’s varsity basketball team. Just last week, Marcellus traveled to Sherburne-Earlville for a first-round Section III boys basketball playoff game. A month ago, Marcellus had two wins and was headed nowhere fast. Its top inside player – and scorer – was out most of the season due to injury, but he returned for the final seven games. Marcellus won six of those games to finish with an 8-10 record. According to Section III standards, Marcellus’s record was good enough for the postseason, and it made the most of that opportunity defeating higher-seeded S-E last week in overtime. The joy of playing – and winning – a playoff game is an experience those boys will treasure forever. If Marcellus had a Greene-like policy, that game would have never been played. The problem with the Trojans’ .500 requirement is that it does not factor in unforeseen circumstances or how well a team is playing at the end of the year. Sure, most teams with season records of 6-12 or 7-11 are not going to make much of a dent in the playoffs. But who knows for sure? Did anyone think Oxford’s four-win girls soccer team would do much four years ago? I didn’t. All the Blackhawks did was pull one upset after another to reach the Section IV finals. It made for a great story, and Oxford’s young ladies were fashionable in Cinderella’s slippers. While we can foresee the likely result of many contests before they are played, the reality is that sports are not scripted, and anything can happen. The best judge of a team’s preparedness for the postseason is its head coach. If the team is close to a .500 record with either its overall or league record, let the person most intimately involved make the final call on the postseason – the head coach. When in doubt, let the kids play.

HOF inductees
On to good news. Section IV’s Sports Hall of Fame announced its 2012 inductees this week, and three of the athletes I had the pleasure and opportunity to cover. Oxford’s Mike Chrystie, and the Norwich trio of Jason James, Joe Downey, and Katie Almeter will be honored March 3 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. Chrystie, Almeter, and Downey were part of my early years covering local sports, and their accomplishments remain forever embedded in my memory. James was part of Norwich’s back-to-back state championship basketball teams, but he contributed much, much more. He was a tremendous baseball player earning all-star honors in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference all four years, and was a two-way starter at linebacker and fullback for Norwich’s football teams that went 27-4-1 in his three years with the club. Congratulations to the athletes and their families.

State Wrestling Tournament
Saturday I will be in Albany for the New York State Wrestling championships, and throughout the day I will be providing updates of local wrestlers via Twitter. If you’re not a Twitter member, the process to register as a new member is simple. Once you’re good to go, follow me at the address below:

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