Anne Delaney

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Delaney: Helmer tough act to follow

As badly as I felt physically at the Little Falls-Tully girls basketball game Saturday, I suspect Sara Helmer felt worse.

The Little Falls senior was limited to four points in one quarter of action because of shin splints. Despite Helmer's absence, she is one of the more experienced players on the team, Little Falls defeated Tully 58-38 in the Section III Class C-1 semifinal. Little Falls advanced to Wednesday's C-1 final against old rival Cooperstown. The teams will play at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Rome Free Academy in a rematch of last season's title game won by Cooperstown.

On Saturday, sitting in the stands at Clinton High School feeling somewhat sorry for myself I noticed Helmer limping through warm-ups. I developed a non-stop cough Thursday, and by Saturday afternoon the muscles in my rib cage exploded from each subsequent hacking sound. I was glad to be at the game - I didn't leave the house Friday because of the cough, despite Section III playoffs being a busy time of year - but I wasn't comfortable.

One look at Helmer and I saw I wasn't the only one. Little Falls coach Pam Munger said Helmer has been bothered by shin splints for a while. The coach and player had a pre-game conversation to guage Helmer's pain level, and the athlete was honest about her intentions, depending on how the game went. Helmer started but she didn't last long.

"She said you'll have to take me out and put (freshman) Jordan Mitchell in," Munger said. "She wanted to get to the next game. She wanted to be in but she knew she couldn't be a part (of the game)."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Delaney: Not exactly a free throw

The Mohawk girls basketball team looked good Tuesday in a Class C-2 quarterfinal win over Notre Dame. The Mohicans are plenty athletic and they played a good pressure defense that forced the young Jugglers to turn the ball over. There is an Achilles heel on the Mohawk team: foul shooting. Mohawk was 3-of-11 from the line in the first quarter, which was a big reason the game was close (Mohawk led 10-6). Mohawk pulled away with a couple of second-quarter runs, so it didn't need to rely on foul shooting to advance. Chances are the Mohicans will have to be better than 7-for-19 from the line if they want to win a Section III title.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Delaney: CSC well represented in Section III volleyball

Barb Allen was bursting with pride.

Hours after her Dolgeville volleyball team finished off Sandy Creek 3-0 in a Section III semifinal match Wednesday, Allen called to be sure we knew the results of other matches. Center State Conference teams Frankfort-Schuyler, Cooperstown and Oppenheim-Ephratah all won, sending the four teams to Jamesville-DeWitt for Saturday's Section III finals. Hamilton won a semifinal on Tuesday to advance.

Dolgeville plays in CSC I, Cooperstown is in CSC II, Hamilton is in CSC III and Oppenheim is in CSC IV.

Oppenheim and Hamilton will play for the Class D title at 10 a.m., Dolgeville and LaFayette will play in the C-2 final at 12 p.m. - in a rematch from last year - and Cooperstown and Frankfort will play in the C-1 final at 2.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Delaney: It's a TV world

The Section III boys and girls basketball pairings won't be released until 3 p.m.

Time Warner Cable Sports has exclusive rights to the tournament, and information won't be released to other media outlets until this afternoon. TWCS will air the pairings at 2:30. The boys and girls committees met this morning to establish team seedings in the seven classes. Boys first-round games are Tuesday. Girls go Wednesday and Friday.

I'd be interested to know how much - if any - Time Warner paid to televise the seedings. It must be a pretty nice sum for the cable network to earn exclusivity. Why else would Section III shut out all other media outlets, including some that have devoted more of its resources to high school sports than Time Warner?

In an interview late Sunday afternoon, Section III executive director John Rathbun declined to reveal the financial amount of the Time Warner contract, which expires at the end of the school year. The current three-year deal is for TWCS to cover more than 50 high school athletic events.
It's terrific the seedings are going to be televised - boys and girls , which are being shown for the first time. I appreciate television is a powerful medium and can reach an audience other media outlets cannot. The coaches know the class seedings at this point in the day. Some attended the meeting, held at Time Warner in Syracuse, and others were notified later by league representatives. Players will find out, too. The information will get around.

Time Warner's show would not be sabotaged by a mass release earlier in the day. Their show would offer another voice in the coverage of high school basketball.

Why not let everyone in on it?

"We're trying to promote the sport and we have Time Warner involved," Rathbun said. "We're talking about small steps and we're not going to please everyone. Overall, it's what is in the best interest of the sport."

Delaney: Notes from the waiting room

We're waiting on the Section III girls basketball pairings to be released. Should be any time, now, from what I was told late in the week. In the meantime, here's some thoughts on the tournament, which starts with first-round games Friday and Saturday.

Class AA: Thomas R. Proctor sophomore guard Brianna Kiesel is in the mix for best player in Section III. Here's hoping the Raiders do more than 1-and-done people can see her play. I'm not sure Utica-area fans she a lot of Kiesel (area's leading scorer at 22.6 ppg) with the Raiders playing in the Syracuse-based Central New York Counties League. Proctor will need post production to take pressure off Kiesel in order to make waves here.

Class A: Whitesboro (16-4) looks to be the No. 1 seed, but Warriors coach Patrick Reader doesn't think his team is the favorite to win the school's first girls basketball Section III title. Jamesville-DeWitt, Mexico, Indian River and Carthage are all tough, Reader said. Reader said Mexico is the team to beat but J-D has a win over the Tigers, who feature 3-point threat Cassi Hall and Empire State Games player Chrissy Sawyer. Reader coached Sawyer on the ESG Central scholastic team.
"Their division (Onondaga High School League Freedom Division) is a lot like the Big East (men)," Reader said. "They beat up on each other."

Class B: Belongs to state-power and two-loss South Jefferson. The Spartans' only defeat was Feb. 2 against Class A Carthage. Class B also looks to be split. South Jefferson will be in B-1 and could be challenged by Cazenovia and Westhill. Class B-2 will include 20-0 Canastota, Sherburne-Earlville (16-4) and Clinton (16-4). Senior Liz McGinley has lead Canastota all year, and the Raiders are getting key contributions from players new to varsity such as junior Alicia Hibbard. TVL West division champion Clinton played very well in its season finale against Camden. On a night when leading scorer Lauren Conway didn't score because of foul trouble, Miranda McDaniel and Kati Griffiths had big nights. Griffiths was 9-of-12 from the field with a career high 25 points. McDaniel, a 5-11, 6-foot post player, was 8-of-12 with 16 points.

Class C: Looks like there will be a split-class format. This happens whenever there are more than 16 teams in the tournament. Class C really represents the whole tournament, there isn't one dominant team that is a sure-fire bet to win. Little Falls, Bishop Grimes, Mohawk, Onondaga and Weedsport might be among the favorites.

Class D: Also a competitive class, led by probable No. 1 seed Hamilton (19-0) and ranked third in the state. Defending Class D champion Sackets Harbor, ranked 11th, will also be in the mix as will Richfield Springs and Madison, which has won all year with balanced scoring. Being undefeated at this point, when a first loss ends the season, isn't a source of pressure for Hamilton coach Jessica Poole and the Emerald Knights.

"We're excited and the accomplishment is awesome," Poole said. "Now we're looking ahead and looking at the big picture."

Senior Kylie Martin has really been a leader for the Emerald Knights. The versatile and athletic Martin is averaging in the range of 18 points and 9 rebounds per game. Martin's contributions have really been big because Hamilton has been without senior guard Jess Brawn for six games. Brawn, who transferred from the Philadelphia area to stay with relatives, was out for the first four games while paperwork was processed. She also missed two games late in the year with illness and academic issues that resulted from the absences, Poole said.

Playing very steady all year for Hamilton has been sophomore Jordan Peterson. Peterson, in her third varsity season, is one to watch for the Emerald Knights. At 5-foot-9, she is the team's leading rebounder (10 rpg).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Delaney: Section III girls basketball

It's time for the high schoolers to go dancing. Not a school dance with rap or whatever kind of music kids listen to these days. Whatever happened to Safety Dance? I'm referring to the Big Dance, Section III basketball style. The sectional tournaments begin next week and pairings will be announced at 2:30 p.m. Sunday on Time Warner Cable Sports (channel 26 in most Utica-area communities).

Forget March Madness. Before we get into February Frenzy, here a few facts you should know about the girls tournament:

Feb. 20-21 (Friday-Saturday): Opening round games. Section III girls chairman Larry Stockwell of Waterville told me the girls seeding meeting was originally scheduled for February 17, but the committee moved it up for Time Warner and more exposure for girls tournament. Good move. This tournament is going to be wide open in most classes.

Feb. 23-24 (Monday-Tuesday): Quarterfinal games.

Feb. 27-28 (Friday-Saturday): Semifinals.

March 7 (Saturday): Section III finals at the Utica Memorial Auditorium for the first time. The finals have been in Watertown, Syracuse and Liverpool since the last Utica-area stop. SUNYIT hosted split class finals in 2003. Onondaga Community College began hosting finals the same year and that continued until last March. In 1987, the girls finals made a one-time visit to Syracuse University's Manley Fieldhouse.

Stockwell said the people at OCC were "awesome" for he and his committee to work with, but the cramped quarters for fans, players, officials and coaches made it time for a media friendly change. The Utica Aud is walking distance from the newspaper offices where I'm typing this. Stockwell said it looks like the Aud. will be the site for girls finals for a the near future.

"It's got an arena feel to it," Stockwell said. "We can make it a championship atmosphere and that is something the kids have not experienced."

Being a No. 1 seed isn't a free pass to the finals, but Utica-area schools could have four or five teams playing in the Aud. on March 7 if things go well for No. 1s. Undefeated Canastota (Class B-2), Whitesboro (Class A), Little Falls (C-1), Mohawk (C-2) and undefeated Hamilton (Class D) are in line to get top seeds. Clinton (Class B-2) looks to be a 2.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Delaney: Loch wins World Championship

Germany's Felix Loch won his second-consecutive World Luge Championship Sunday, edging World Cup series leader Armin Zoeggeler of Italy.

The 19-year-old Loch had a two-run time of 1:44.336. Zoeggeler, who was going for his sixth World Championship, had a time of 1:44.549.

Daniel Pfister of Austria won his first career world championship medal with the bronze in 1:45.037.

Delaney: Hamlin returns to track Sunday

There were very few spectators Saturday at Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid for the men's World Luge Championship men's singles.

Maybe the Remsen Hamlinites were responsible for a larger percentage of Friday's crowd than we realized?

Some of the Hamlin supporters were roaming around the village of Lake Placid late Saturday morning. There was a minivan with a Virginia license plate parked downtown and 'Go Erin' 'USA Luge' traced in the dust of the rear window. I'm guessing the van belonged to Mary Beth Roberts, Erin's aunt on her father's side. BLOGGER'S NOTE: More than one group came from Va. to see Hamlin. The minivan belonged to Erin's great aunt and uncle, Kathy and Ardie Dandino, who brought their three granddaughters to Lake Placid: Haley and Ashley Cackett and Alexa Blue. Thanks for the information, folks.

Hamlin will be back in action Sunday for the team relay. The luge relay concept is like a relay in swimming or track. Each nation sends its top man, woman and doubles team to race against the clock.

It works like this: the men's slider starts the relay, and seconds later the gate behind him closes and woman luger gets ready to run as quickly as possible. When the man hits a touch pad at the finish, the woman starts her run. The woman uses a different starting position from a regular race in order to maximize time. When the female slider hits the touch pad, the doubles team goes off and the relay ends when the doubles team touches the pad.

Tested two years ago, the team relay event was put into the luge schedule last year. Five team relay events were scheduled into the World Cup calendar this year, and the sliders are chosen by each nation's coach. Hamlin will slide Sunday, as will doubles team Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin. Bengt Walden, who finished sixth Saturday, will be the U.S. men's entrant.

USA Luge spokesman Gordy Sheer said the FIL will add the team relay to the Olympics in the future. Sheer, who competed in three Olympics in a 16-year luge career, said the athletes like the relay and it's good for the sport.

"It's an opportunity to show the strength of the team and an opportunity to compete as a team truely."

Friday, February 6, 2009

Delaney: Track an advantage for Hamlin

Erin Hamlin's victory in Lake Placid Friday was significant because the 22-year-old was the first non-German woman to win a World Luge Championship title since 1993, and Hamlin's win halted the German women's 99 international-event winning streak.

Hamlin, though, has a long way to go to cut into the German dynasty.

"It will take a lot," she said.

Natalie Geisenberger of Germany was second, followed by first-time medal winner Natalia Yakushenko of the Ukraine.

Geisenberger came into the World Championships in second place overall after seven of nine events. World Cup series leader Tatjana Huefner of Germany finished seventh Friday.

"I think Erin is a good slider," Geisenberger said. "Often she is too inconsistent."

Geisenberger said Hamlin's familiarity with the Lake Placid track had a lot to do with her result. Hamlin has had far more runs in Lake Placid than in Europe where most of the World Cup races are held.

"At Koenigssee, you have eight runs and then you race," Geisenberger said. "That is very different."

Delaney: Doubles team gets it started for USA

The American doubles team of Brian Martin and Mark Grimmette medaled for the first time in more than a season Friday and the men were more than grateful for the third-place on their home track. In the afternoon, Remsen's Erin Hamlin won the women's singles title in front of more than 100 friends and family. But it was the American tandem that got the day started.

Martin and Grimmette finished in 1:27.611, behind a gold-medal winning team from Italy and a Germany team that took the bronze.

"It's hard to say we thought we'd be on podium," Martin said. "The focus was about having two runs that put you in contention."

The last time the duo medaled was a World Cup stop two years ago in Igls, Austria. This was their sixth World Championship medal.

Grimmette said the bronze medal might mean a lot for the USA team as it moves through the competition in a sport dominated by Europeans.

"It lets the team know we've got speed and we have a chance at a good placing," Grimmette said.

Grimmette pulled a muscle in his back a couple of weeks ago during competition in Altenberg, Germany and wasn't able to work on starts until Monday.

"As you get older, it gets harder to keep yourself in great shape," said Grimmette, 37.

Grimmette and Martin won a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Delaney: Phelps blew it

Three big sports stories this weekend, but one resonated with me: Michael Phelps' admitting British tabloid photo showing him inhaling from a marijuana pipe during a trip to the University of South Carolina in November was real.

More than the compelling Super Bowl, more than the five-set Australian Open men's final between between Federer and Nadal, I couldn't get Phelps off my mind. I think the results of Phelps' admission will be around for a while.

One bad decision is understandable. But two? After the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Phelps was arrested on DWI and sentenced to probation. He was 19 at the time and it was illegal for him to be drinking. Four years later, the 23-year-old was caught, though not arrested, smoking marijuana. Marijuana is illegal.

In a statement, Phelps said: "I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgement. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again."

Do you believe him? Here's a young man who wore the world around his neck with the eight gold medals, and he makes a decision to smoke marijuana. He's not a teenager. He's 23, old enough to understand who he is and the ramifications of what he does. If you accept the cheers from stadium-size crowds as he did several times this fall, including in South Carolina, then you better know eyes will still be watching when it seems things are quiet.