Sports Editor’s Playbook, Jan. 31, 2013

Patrick Newell

Bainbridge-Guilford’s teams often fly under the radar in our paper. Over in Bobcat land, there is reason to sit up and take notice. For years, Bob Conway has put a winning girls basketball team on the floor. Conway’s club recently had an eight-game winning streak snapped, but is well on its way to another winning season. The past two seasons, prodigal son Greg Warren has guided the boys to some well deserved prosperity on the basketball court. Injuries and illnesses have hampered Warren’s Bobcats the past month, and they are currently mired in a bit of losing streak. In the midst of that losing streak, senior fourth-year player Austin Bauerle is playing the best basketball of his career. Bauerle has topped 20 points in six of the last eight games, and has reached double figures rebounding in every game reported. He has raised his scoring averaged to 18.3 per game, second in the area, while pulling down 15.2 rebounds and adding over three steals and three assists a game. Teammate Corbin Palmer has been just as effective for B-G, and is one of the few players in the area to have reached double figures scoring in every game played. Bauerle’s excellent play is particularly impressive since he has played with a sprained MCL since the football season. “Thank goodness for Austin and Corbin staying relatively healthy this season,” Warren said. “We would not be in good shape without them.”

I don’t care what varsity boys basketball league you play in, consistently holding teams under 40 points – with a shot clock and a three-point line – is impressive. Norwich, under head boys coach Tom Collier, has won five straight games, and none of NHS’s opponents has reached 40 points. The Tornado, who clinched the STAC East division title Wednesday night, have held the opposition under 40 points in eight of 10 victories. While Norwich is averaging around 55 points on offense – not its best, for sure – i will bet the 42.3 points allowed per game is easily the lowest total surrendered by a Norwich team since the institution of the shot clock. “We play great team defense, and we play with great effort every night,” Collier said in his remarks after Wednesday’s victory over Chenango Valley. “When you put forth that much effort on defense every night, you’re going to be in ballgames.”

I am a big fan of wrestling tournaments, and I attended the MAC finals last Saturday at Unadilla Valley High School. My initial impression was of a tourney that was efficiently and expediently run. From start to finish, the entire league tournament took about seven hours. Where I find fault is how the tourney appears to be devalued by league members. I counted wrestlers in brackets provided for me, and only 95 participated in 15 weight classes – just over six per weight class. The brackets were thin, and a number of wrestlers from the league’s best dual meet team – Greene — used up their regular season eligibility, and were unable to compete. It was explained to me that the coach of Greene, Tim Jenks, sought out tough competition throughout the year in large tournaments. The aim, clearly, is to best prepare his kids for the sectional tournament. While I wished those absent kids were able to compete, I understand Jenks’ goal for his wrestlers. I also heard a number of people bemoan the format for finals matches. Instead of spotlighting each finals match, two finals matches in separate weight classes ran concurrently. I’ve seen that approach for consolation finals (third-fourth, fifth-sixth), but not for the finals in a league tournament that should have a little more prestige. It definitely felt rushed, and I left with the feeling that tournament officials just wanted to “get it over and done.”

On to a non-sports topic…Evening Sun reporter Shawn Magrath wrote a story last month, “City considers four-way stops on Elm Street.” When I saw the word “considers,” the inference to draw is that it wasn’t a done deal. Within a few days, four-way stop signs at every intersection on Elm Street – my home street for the majority of the last 18 years – were installed. Some points were made in favor of the additional traffic signage, among those a five-day traffic study, and a proactive stance for safety. Who isn’t against safety? It’s a residential street, but why now? The traffic study over a five-day period totaled over 700 cars. As a solitary number, 700 does seem high. Doing the math and factoring in other things, it doesn’t. Five days is 120 hours, so that works out to a little less than six cars per hour. How many of those cars are repeat drivers entering and leaving the street? And of course, the residents living on one of the far ends of the street often use Elm Street as a bypass to Broad Street. Is there any type of comparative traffic study from previous years? In my lifetime, Norwich’s population has decreased by more than 20 percent. Many big businesses that operated locally and generated traffic are also long gone. Additionally, school enrollment in Norwich has gone down by at least 20 percent over the last 25-30 years. Does it make sense to increase traffic signage when there are less people, less traffic, and less pedestrians? It’s a case of micromanaging the traffic — or was it BOGO week at the traffic sign supply store? It would have been more appropriate to put those signs up 40 years ago when we had a more bustling community.

Super Bowl Prediction: I am conservative by nature with my football predictions, and I can’t see the Ravens matching San Francisco’s offensive firepower for four quarters: 49ers 31, Ravens 17.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat.