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Difficult act to follow

High school hoops will be fine without Stewart, Coleman

Moved up from Class B to A, Ludden has a great chance to break J-D’s death grip because they’ve got two more years of Dan Kaigler and Ben Hackett, and the Red Rams, while possessing two strong juniors in Rasheed Baker and Jafar Kinsey, don’t have a Coleman or Cavanaugh that causes big-time opponents to worry.

While other Class AA contenders, including the champs from Utica Proctor, face some roster turnover, the Hornets kept its four best players around. The quartet of John Schurman, Jake Wittig, T.J. Wheatley and Tomer Nesher might prove impossible to contain. While there are, as usual, plenty of good teams in AA, F-M will have the favorite’s target from the first tip onward.

Let’s also see what happens to Class B and C, the former transformed with Ludden’s call-up and the arrival of city powers Syracuse Academy of Science and Institute of Technology Central, the latter wide-open with challengers emerging from the Frontier League, OHSL Patriot division and Center State Conference. Also, New York Mills could go a long way again in Class D, since Sackets is starting over and the Marauders bring back a lot of talent.

Everyone in Class AA girls basketball was so sad to see Stewart go. Okay, maybe not, since now there’s an actual chance for teams without the initials C-NS, headed by the likes of West Genesee and CBA, though the Northstars do have three starters back and will still defend with unusual ferocity.

But the best race on the girls side, by far, is in Class B. There’s merely a reigning state finalist at South Jefferson, a superb and talented group at Westhill, Emily Durr tearing it up at Utica-Notre Dame and a lot of good players back at places like Ludden and Skaneateles. We have a whole winter to build up the hype, too, before the playoffs hit in late February.

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