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The Blackwell Blog

New year, but nothing certain at all

Happy 2013, and I pray that you got to it safely. High school winter sports teams did so, though by the time the holiday tournament slate was complete, we only had a bigger jumble than before.

For instance, do not try and turn Class AA boys basketball into a Henninger-F-M two-team narrative. True, the Hornets turned back local foes J-D and CBA at the Brothers' holiday classic, but Auburn may have impressed more by winning at ESM's Vince Celi Tournament, while Liverpool did even better, rallying past both West Genesee and rival C-NS at the Northstars' holiday tournament. The Maroons and Warriors, like F-M, have just one defeat.

So does Bishop Ludden, which is big news all by itself. The Gaelic Knights brought in Westhill to the Rosemary Corcoran Tournament to have a full gym on hand and to raise the 2012 state championship banner. Few thought the Warriors would beat Ludden - but it did thanks to first-rate defense and Jordan Roland's big second half.

Less surprising was how Westhill let down in the final against Oswego, but the Warriors would gladly trade that for a win at Bishop Grimes this Friday. In the meantime, the Skaneateles five-game win streak ended against rival Marcellus, who avenged a Carrier Dome defeat to the Lakers earlier in the month.

After a very respectable 1-2 showing in the Title IX Class in D.C., the C-NS girls return to a Class AA scene that is still confusing. West Genesee? Losses to F-M and CBA don't exactly build the Wildcats' confidence, and everyone else is fighting consistency issues on the large-school side.

Not on the small-school side, though. There's Oriskany reinforcing its Class D favorite status by wiping out fellow unbeaten New York Mills, Fabius-Pompey doing the same in Class C by winning its own tournament and Westhill turning back Nottingham.

On the other hand, Cazenovia and Thousand Islands both took their first defeats, perhaps relaxing too much, a luxury neither of them can afford later this winter. Tournament wins by Marcellus and Solvay, though, show their improvement, and congratulations are in order for Canastota coach Vinny Salamone, who got win no. 200.

Want excitement? Bundle up and go to the hockey rink, where Rome Free Academy followed up its big win over West Genesee by taking its own tournament, beating the Syracuse Cougars in overtime and Mamaroneck 5-4, its third straight one-goal victory.

That close nature keeps RFA from turning into an overwhelming favorite, because you can see how well C-NS is playing, how tough F-M is competing, and that eventually West Genesee will piece things together after a rare stretch where it's gone 0-3-1, two of the losses in overtime. Just not enough offense for the Wildcats at this point.

Big wrestling meets during the holidays included the massive Mountain Duals at Dolgeville, where General Brown finished second in a 16-team field, ahead of the likes of Baldwinsville and Canastota, and Central Square tied for first at its own Brett Dixon Memorial Duals.

VVS and Lowville shared first place in the Lewis County Duals, with Fulton second at SUNY-Oswego's Kenneth Haines Memorial. Phoenix took the ultimate road trip, more than a day on the bus to Louisiana for the Deep South Bayou Duals and an 8-1 record there to finish in the top five among 48 teams. And yes, two-time state champion Nick Tighe was named the top wrestler in the lighter weight classes.

For those indoor track athletes that didn't go on vacation, there was the Oscar B. Jensen Relays at SRC Arena, won by Baldwinsville on the boys side for its second victory in as many weeks and by Liverpool on the girls side, with Ore Akinpelu taking a leading role. Clinton's boys and Cazenovia's girls continued to roll in the Mohawk Valley ITA meets at Colgate.

All of that, plus East Syracuse-Minoa (at CBA) and Jordan-Elbridge (at home), sweeping to titles at volleyball tournaments, all before the ball dropped, the clock struck midnight and 2012 was a thing of the past.

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