Another season gone

On-field glory, off-field controversy marked 2011-12

This has turned into the mandatory point, at the end of each high school sports season, to look back, reminisce, celebrate and pontificate on the last 10 months.

One easy conclusion can be drawn – that this 2011-12 season was unlike all others, both in the extreme ability of some to shine, and in the extreme volatility of others, leading to all kinds of off-the-field dramas.

That dual nature was evident in the fall. Even as the extraordinary girls of Fayetteville-Manlius won yet another national cross-country title, Cazenovia repeated as state field hockey champions and Hamilton’s tough boys rose to the top again in Class D boys soccer, the smell of controversy overshadowed the good stuff.

What should have been a historic winning season for Skaneateles football got sunk amid questions over whether some of the players were improperly recruited. It turned out that none of the players were ineligible, but Section III still kicked the undefeated Lakers out of the playoffs, leading to Tim Green’s resignation and a deep divide within the Skaneateles community.

Lacking the real chance Skaneateles had to win it all, Section III stumbled in football a bit. Only Chittenango reached the state semifinals, and Hornell stopped the Bears there on the way to a third straight state title, 39 straight wins, a proper end for retiring coaching great Gene Mastin.

Thankfully, the winter offered a lot of respite, both in the lack of snow and in the extraordinary work done by basketball teams – and one girl in particular.

It wasn’t just that Breanna Stewart and her mates at Cicero-North Syracuse swept the state and Federation Class AA titles, claiming the latter for the first time after repeating in Troy.

They did so while Stewart was literally sweeping every national-player-of-the-year award that could get dreamed up. No local product, male or female, in any team sport has ever received the sort of accolades the UConn-bound Stewart received. That she has handled them with total grace and humility, while still kicking everyone’s tails on the court, is something to truly admire.

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