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Phil Blackwell

Stories by Phil

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Northstars fall in AA boys sectional thriller

Utica Proctor rallies late, edges C-NS 83-79

No one would end up losing Saturday night's wild, thrilling Section III Class AA boys basketball championship game at the Carrier Dome. One team would just have more points at the end. Cicero-North Syracuse badly wanted to be that team, but a key departure at an ill-timed moment turned things in Utica Proctor's favor, and the Raiders rallied to beat the Northstars 83-79 to earn the sectional title.

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Ludden rolls to another sectional Class A title

Hot shooting of Hawk, Hackett spark conquest of J-D

Seeing a 3-point shot fall early in the game is nice. Seeing a flurry of them go through the net can prove quite disheartening to an opponent - especially when the guys taking the shots are not known for outside proficiency. That's what the Bishop Ludden boys basketball team did to Jamesville-DeWitt in Saturday's Section III Class A final at the Carrier Dome, Kyle Hawk and Ben Hackett unleashing an outside barrage that no one anticipated and riding it all the way to an impressive 76-49 victory over Jamesville-DeWitt for its third consecutive sectional championship.

Roland, Warriors repeat as sectional champions

Westhill fights past Utica-Notre Dame 63-60 in Class B final

Jordan Roland got the Westhill boys basketball team started in Saturday's Section III Class B final against Utica-Notre Dame at the Carrier Dome, so it only figured that he would finish the work, too. Roland managed 31 points in yet another star turn to help the undefeated, state no. 1-ranked Warriors hold off the Jugglers 63-60 and repeat as sectional champions.

C-NS girls basketball wins sixth straight sectional title

Stifling defense helps Northstars turn back West Genny

Big names or small, veterans or younger players, the one constant throughout the Cicero-North Syracuse girls basketball team's long reign as Section III Class AA champions has been an ability, when necessary, to forget everything else and just shut an opponent down.

Westhill girls stopped just short of sectional title

Utica-Notre Dame defends title, beats Warriors 46-39

What the Westhill girls basketball team lacked, in terms of its ability to convert shots, it made up for with an all-out effort that nearly brought down Utica-Notre Dame in Friday night's Section III Class B final at the Carrier Dome. But that effort did not prove enough as the Jugglers, led by Emily Durr and Jaclyn Hajec, overcame the Warriors’ gritty performance to prevail by a score of 46-39 and repeat as sectional champions.

Warriors fight off APW, get to Class B final

Ross, Peebles star late to set up Dome clash with Utica-Notre Dame

Though it was, at times, stressful to watch for players, coaches and fans alike, the Westhill girls basketball team has earned the right to play for a Section III Class B championship. Better yet, the Warriors get an opportunity for payback, because waiting for them Friday night at the Carrier Dome is Utica-Notre Dame, the defending champions, who ousted Westhill 60-40 in last year's sectional quarterfinals on its way to the title.

C-NS boys upend top seed F-M in Class AA semis

Williams, Evans lead Northstars past Hornets, 69-63

Connor Evans and Ronnie Williams may not have started with the Cicero-North Syracuse boys basketball team, but the fact that they are there now is a big reason why the Northstars are making its way to the Carrier Dome to play for the Section III Class AA championship.

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Hockey Wildcats win seventh straight sectional title

West Genny again denies RFA with championship at stake

Make that seven consecutive Section III Division I championships for the West Genesee ice hockey team, and four consecutive titles won at the expense of Rome Free Academy. The Wildcats' latest conquest of the Black Knights, a 3-1 victory in Saturday's sectional final at Utica Memorial Auditorium, included a crucial second-period scoring outburst and a defense that, once again, protected a lead once it was attained.

Hockey Lakers stunned in sectional final

Third-period rally pushes Auburn past Skaneateles, 2-1

In a span of less than six minutes, what looked like the Skaneateles boys ice hockey team's first Section III Division II championship in six years was undone - and by its biggest rival, no less.

Westhill boys power back to sectional final

Daily helps Roland as Warriors stop ITC, 79-64

Star power, in the form of players like Jordan Roland and Tyler Reynolds, has lifted the Westhill boys basketball team to a perfect 21-0 mark and the top of the state Class B rankings. Yet it was a reserve forward, Brian Daily, that burst into the spotlight Friday night as the Warriors turned back Syracuse's Institute of Technology Central, 79-64, in the Section III Class B semifinal at Onondaga Community College's Allyn Hall.

Byrnes, Friske added to state wrestling tournament

F-M, CBA/J-D wrestlers join Quinlan, Broddus, Honis in Albany

Pat Quinlan and Tristan Broddus ended the Fayetteville-Manlius wrestling team’s 40-year wait for a Section III title with their victories Feb. 15 in the Division I (large school) sectional tournament at SRC Arena.

Nasoni joins state wrestling tournament field

B'ville senior is wild card at 220; Ross is alternate at 145

Whatever disappointment Baldwinsville wrestler Joe Nasoni felt upon his defeat in the Section III Division I 220-pound championship match on Feb. 15 at SRC Arena was quickly eased.

Lucas is alternate for state wrestling meet

Cazenovia senior finished at sectional Division II tournament

Though the Cazenovia wrestling program’s first Section III title in 47 years just eluded the grasp of Cazenovia’s Brad Lucas, his superb season led to one last reward.

Liverpool, C-NS pick up wins at state qualifier

Lawes, Okinpelu, Christensen, Buck all prevail for Warriors

All kinds of athletes from Liverpool and Cicero-North Syracuse took starring roles during Wednesday night’s Section III state qualifier at SRC Arena. And with a string of victories, the Warriors and Northstars assured that both would have heavy representation this Saturday for the New York State Public High School Association championship meet at Cornell University’s Barton Hall.

Local indoor track stars light up state qualifier

Zesky, Avery, Liebmann, Schug, Brower among winners

Many of the area’s top indoor track and field teams are now practicing hard and gearing up for their trip to Cornell University’s Barton Hall for next Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship meet.

Indoor track Bees flourish at state qualifier

B'ville girls win two relays; Soeder, Perez reach state meet

All of the top names for the Baldwinsville indoor track and field teams made their way back to SRC Arena for Wednesday’s Section III state qualifying meet. With berths in this Saturday’s state championships at Cornell University’s Barton Hall on the line (two for each individual event), the Bees did not disappoint, winning several events, including two of the girls relays.

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Neal, Adams lead Lakers at state qualifier

Girls 4x200 relay team breaks decade-old school record

Each of the stars on the Skaneateles indoor track and field team found themselves heading back to SRC Arena one more time this winter for last Wednesday night’s Section III state qualifier. Only the top two finishers in each event were guaranteed possible berths in next Saturday’s state meet, which will be held again at Cornell University’s Barton Hall.

Garn, Uczen win events at state qualifier

Leff second in 1,500 after Millrose Games appearance

The area’s boys and girls indoor track and field stars were gathered once more at SRC Arena last Wednesday, taking part in the Section III state qualifier. Berths in next Saturday’s state meet at Colgate University were at stake, and the top two finishers in any single event earned automatic berths. That would include a host of local athletes, including Marcellus’ Rachel Garn and West Genesee’s Abby Uczen.

Caz girls compete in state indoor track qualifier

Pittman clears 9 feet in pole vault, finishes fourth

After all the team honors it had accumulated, the Cazenovia girls indoor track and field team was now left to pursue individual glory. So the Lakers went back to Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena, where it won the Section III Class B and OHSL Liberty titles, Wednesday night for the Section III state qualifier, aiming to earn spots in next Saturday’s state championship meet at Cornell University.

Early burst sends hockey Wildcats to sectional final

West Genny to face RFA again in Division I title game

Forget all of the cold, patient, meticulous work that the West Genesee ice hockey team is used to applying to opponents. In Wednesday night's Section III Division I semifinal at Shove Park, the Wildcats went in another direction, jumping all over visiting Watertown IHC in the first period, and that spurt was enough to produce a 3-1 victory over the Cavaliers.

CBA/J-D hockey drops semifinal in two OTs

Brothers fall, 3-2, to Auburn on Orlando goal

A close game, a hostile setting, multiple overtimes – yes, the Section III Division II final for the CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt ice hockey carried a very familiar ring to it. Except for the part of winning in the end, that is.

Grimes basketball suffers close sectional defeats

Girls lose at wire to Westhill; boys fall to Sherburne-Earlville

The task for Bishop Grimes’ girls basketball team was a large one – namely, avenge two regular-season defeats to no. 3 seed Westhill in Tuesday night's Class B quarterfinal. And the Cobras nearly pulled it off, rallying twice in the second half and getting a shot at forcing overtime, only to come up just short in a 43-41 defeat to the Warriors.

CBA boys drop playoff thriller to Henninger

Last-second shot by Stroman goes off rim in 52-51 defeat

For a split-second, Monte Stroman’s shot hung on the rim, and with it hung the Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball team’s chances of knocking off defending champion Henninger in Tuesday night’s Section III Class AA quarterfinal.

B’ville boys’ season ends in loss to Proctor

Raiders end Bees' late-season run in 68-55 defeat

This breakthrough of a season for the Baldwinsville boys basketball team would hold true regardless of what took place in Tuesday night’s Section III Class A quarterfinal against long-time power Utica Proctor.

B’ville girls hoops ousted by West Genesee

Bees start slow, cannot catch up in 64-34 defeat

An odd seeding turned out to be the primary downfall of the Baldwinsville girls basketball team in its return to the Section III Class AA playoffs. Even with a 13-5 regular-season mark, the Bees only earned the no. 9 seed for the AA tournament, and while it did get past Liverpool 48-39 in the Feb. 13 opening round, it led them to a much larger obstacle in the next round.

Hockey Lakers stop Oswego, reach sectional final

Skaneateles to face Auburn, seeks first title since '08

Six years since it last reigned over the Section III Division II ranks, the Skaneateles ice hockey team would have to climb through its hungry neighbor and rival to reclaim the throne.

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Girls hoops Lakers fall to reigning sectional champs

Skaneateles unable to keep up with Utica-Notre Dame

Toughened up by the competition it had faced all winter long, the Skaneateles girls basketball team sought a landmark victory, but only met with frustration. Utica-Notre Dame, the no. 4 seed and defending champions, dashed the no. 4 seed Lakers’ dreams in a 71-40 defeat during Tuesday night’s Section III Class B quarterfinal.

Skaneateles boys stopped in sectional playoffs

Lakers unable to solve Utica-Notre Dame defense in 68-32 defeat

With one big road win tucked away in the Section III Class B playoffs, the Skaneateles boys basketball team went after more. The no. 11 seed Lakers, who ousted no. 6 seed Phoenix in the opening round, went to no. 3 seed Utica-Notre Dame for Tuesday’s Class B quarterfinal and, at the least, hoped that it could make the Jugglers sweat a bit while defending its home court.

WG boys hoops takes sectional loss to C-NS

Wildcats again beaten in quarterfinal round, just like 2013

A season ago, the West Genesee boys basketball team saw a successful campaign end in a defeat in the Section III Class AA quarterfinals against Nottingham. This time around, while the opponent changed, the round, the result – and the disappointment – remained the same as the no. 5 seed Wildcats fell to no. 4 seed Cicero-North Syracuse 68-58 in Tuesday night’s AA quarterfinal.

Syracuse hockey falls in Division I semifinal

RFA jumps on Cougars, prevails 3-1 at Kennedy Arena

The Syracuse Cougars ice hockey team wanted to make two trips east this week, but only ended up making one of them. Having advanced in the opening round of the Section III Division I playoffs with its marathon triple-overtime victory over Baldwinsville in the opening round, the Cougars now looked for more magic when it went to Kennedy Arena for Tuesday’s semifinal game against Rome Free Academy.

Caz boys hoops falls to ITC in sectional quarterfinal

Lakers give up 31 points in fourth quarter, surrender late lead

With one quarter to play in Tuesday night’s Section III Class B quarterfinal, all seemed to be in place for the Cazenovia boys basketball team to move closer to a shot at top seed and state no. 1-ranked Westhill in the next round.

C-NS basketball sides reach AA semis

Girls handle F-M; boys fight past West Genesee

In their own unique ways, the Cicero-North Syracuse girls and boys basketball teams will both head to Onondaga Community College Saturday with clear goals in mind when they enter the Section III Class AA semifinals.

Barber emerges as sectional wrestling champion

Liverpool second, C-NS fourth in team standings behind B'ville

Despite not earning any individual titles, the Liverpool wrestling team still rose to a second-place finish in Saturday’s Section III Division I championships at SRC Arena. Cicero-North Syracuse also had a strong meet, claiming fourth place behind Baldwinsville, Liverpool and Fulton, but had the area’s lone champion – Joe Barber, who prevailed at 106 pounds.

CBA/J-D swimmers thrive at sectional meets

Potocki, Lacey, Knapp all qualify for state championships

With its roster healthy again, the CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt boys swim team went right after Liverpool in pursuit of the Section III Class A team championship, and while it did not quite get there, it still accomplished plenty.

F-M boys hoops gets top playoff seed

CBA handles Nottingham, to face Henninger in AA quarterfinal

In very different manners, and in very different roles, the Fayetteville-Manlius and Christian Brothers Academy boys basketball teams stepped into the Section III Class AA playoff fray.

Grimes basketball sides win playoff openers

Girls hold off General Brown; boys win at Holland Patent

No matter what else goes into post-season success, sometimes it’s just how the draw turns out that can make all the difference. Bishop Grimes knows this on two fronts. The girls Cobras, no. 16 in the state Class B rankings, ended up with a no. 6 seed for its sectional tournament, which provided good news in the short term and more troubling news in the long term.

J-D hoops sides have Class A top seeds

ESM girls advance; boys Spartans ousted in first round

Now the Jamesville-DeWitt boys basketball team’s quest to regain the Section III Class A crown hits its most important phase. The Red Rams, who finished the regular season 16-2 and riding a 10-game win streak (all of them by double digits), drew the top seed in the Class A bracket, helped in no small part by Carthage, once 17-0, losing to Whitesboro 64-60 in its Feb. 8 regular-season finale.

MPH boys make return to sectional playoffs

Trojans fall in first round after stunning Fabius-Pompey

One more day to wait out weather had to pass before the Manlius-Pebble Hill boys basketball team could enter the Section III Class C playoff fray. Given the no. 11 seed in Class C for the sectional tournament, MPH had to go on the road to face no. 6 seed West Canada Valley in Saturday’s opening round. And while the Trojans would fall short in a 58-47 defeat to the Indians, it offered an effort worthy of its special season.

CBA/J-D hockey takes playoff win at New Hartford

Brothers exploit power plays, get semifinal with Auburn

So the CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt ice hockey team headed on the road for the entirety of the Section III Division II playoffs, not considered as a favorite, but still respected as a squad that, at its best, could provide a real danger to favored home sides. Stop if this sounds familiar.

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Quinlan, Broddus, Honis among sectional winners

F-M wins twice; CBA/J-D places fifth among Division I teams

Fayetteville-Manlius wrestler Pat Quinlan did not have to possess a long memory to carry plenty of motivation into Saturday’s Section III Division I championships at SRC Arena. All Quinlan had to do was look back one week, to a stunning 10-9 defeat to CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt’s Matt Lauro, in the Class AA 132-pound final.

Lane leads Lakers to first-round playoff win

Skaneateles pounds Clinton, 58-31, in Class B sectionals

A massive challenge greets the Skaneateles girls basketball team as it will try to upend defending champion Utica-Notre Dame in Tuesday night’s Section III Class B quarterfinal.

Laker wrestlers take part in sectional meet

Janes hurt; Gray gets sixth-place finish at 182 pounds

All concerns about how the Skaneateles wrestling team would fare during Saturday’s Section III Division II championship meet at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena became trivial during the quarterfinal round.

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Hockey Wildcats get first-round playoff shutout

WG takes out Mohawk Valley, meets IHC in semifinals

Patience – along with a stifling defense – always helps when faced with post-season nerves, as the West Genesee ice hockey team was glad to find out.

Top-ranked Westhill boys roll to opening sectional win

Marcellus stopped by SAS, who faces Warriors in next round

Even though it was a perfect 18-0 and atop the state rankings, the Westhill boys basketball team did not get a respite or a first-round bye for the Section III Class B playoffs.

Zapisek named top swimmer at Class A meet

WG star breaks pool mark in 200 free, also wins 500 free

No one welcomed the change in the Section III Class A boys swimming championship schedule mor than West Genesee’s Collin Zapisek. Originally, they were going to have the meet last Friday at Liverpool, but heavy winter snow forced a postponement, and logistics caused a venue change – to the Wildcats’ home pool.

West Genny boys advance; girls have top AA seed

Wildcats beat RFA, to face C-NS in quarterfinals

Now the West Genesee boys basketball team found itself in the same spot as a season ago, with a spot in the Section III Class AA quarterfinals and a chance to go even further.

WG, Marcellus wrestlers compete at sectional meet

Badwan, Elias get third-place finishes in Division I for Wildcats

Though the West Genesee and Marcellus wrestling teams had multiple podium finishes during Saturday’s Section III championship meets at SRC Arena, none of them got to the finals.

Boys hoops Lakers smash to playoff home win

Caz shuts out South Jefferson in first quarter of 61-24 romp

One quarter of basketball is not enough time to decide many contests, particularly in the post-season, but that’s exactly what happened when Cazenovia’s boys hosted South Jefferson in Saturday night’s opening round of the Section III Class B playoffs at Buckley Gym.

Lucas nearly ends Lakers’ wrestling title drought

Caz heavyweight falls in OT final to Oneida's Havener

Nearly half a century after the Cazenovia wrestling team produced a Section III champion, Brad Lucas was dead-set on ending that long drought – and came within inches of pulling it off.

Caz girls nearly stun South Jefferson in sectionals

Lakers fall victim to unbeaten Spartans' late rally

The task facing Cazenovia’s girls basketball team in Saturday’s opening round of the Section III Class B playoffs was a mighty one – try and knock off unbeaten South Jefferson. And the no. 15 seed Lakers came within an eyelash of pulling it off, leading most of the contest before a furious late comeback by the no. 2 seed Spartans produced a painful 49-48 defeat.

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