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Friday, December 19, 2014 at 12:43 am

Wednesday Night Basketball: Elba and Notre Dame renew rivalry in hardwood battle

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

NOTE: Apologies for not getting this story posted sooner. Since the end of the game last night until tonight, another news story has been our priority.

In the midst of the ruckus in a near-capacity Stan Sherman Gymnasium at Elba Central School on Wednesday night, the Lancers and Fighting Irish put on quite a basketball show.

Passes zipped around the keys, bodies slammed under the boards and fast breaks were launched in transition with the swiftness of an executioner's sword.

In the end, Elba, having spent their all on the hardwood, left the court disappointed, as Notre Dame scored 61 points to their 53.

"It was an entertaining game," said Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Rapone. "Both teams played hard. We both made some bad mistakes. We made some good plays. It was a typical Elba/Notre Dame basketball game. Both teams competed and both teams wanted to win. It had to be a good game for the fans to watch."

It's easy to see the game as an uplifting moment when your team wins, but Elba Head Coach Mark Beehler hardly hid his disappointment at the outcome during a post-game interview.

Elba hasn't beaten its arch-rival since a 2008 sectional playoff.

"That was everything we expect as far as energy and excitement of the game," said Beehler with hardly a trace of energy or excitement in his voice. "Every time we play Notre Dame, it's always a big one."

Elba took a 29-27 lead into the half and the start of the third continued the back-and-forth battle, but as players knocked about for position under Notre Dame's basket midway through the quarter, John Hockmuth was conked in the nose. The game was delayed while officials cleaned blood from the court. Hockmuth was taken to the locker room for treatment and missed the rest of the third and the start of the fourth quarter.

While was out, Notre Dame went on a run. Tyler Prospero scored a pair of threes, Josh Johnson had one and James Farmer had one.

The Irish outscored the Lancers in the third 21-8.

Elba's defense tightened when Hockmuth was back on the court, but couldn't capitalize of a string of Irish possessions that yielded no points.

As the second to last minute wound toward the final minute, the Lancers went on a mini-run, drawing within six points of the lead.

With about a minute left, Notre Dame was called for a backcourt violation. Elba's Richard Flores celebrated a little too exuberantly and was called for a technical foul, his fifth foul of the game.

Rapone said that foul did shift the momentum back to Notre Dame.

"The kids are excited, but they're (the officials) are really strict about taunting now, so you've got to be careful," Rapone said.

Flores (top photo) was a big reason Elba made a game of it. In his first start of the season, he scored eight points and had 10 rebounds.

He plays bigger than his 5' 10" height.

"He hits boards really well," Beehler said. "He's got sticky hands. If he grabs it, he's going to keep it."

In a box-and-one defense, Flores was charged with guarding Notre Dame's hot-shot shooter Josh Johnson. That is what really contributed to Flores fouling out.

"He had a tough task tonight," Beehler said. "He played as hard as anybody out there."

Rebounding was a big part of what kept Elba in the game, Beehler said, that and taking care of the ball, even against Notre Dame's pressure defense.

"Turnover-wise, we only had eight," Beehler said. "That's pretty low for us compared to years past against their press."

Rapone said after the game it's clear his team needs to work on its free throws. The Irish only sank 14 of 33 attempts (43 percent).

For Elba, both Hochmuth and Shane O'Halloran had 14 points. Hochmuth -- nine rebounds. Evan Cole had eight points and 11 rebounds.

For Notre Dame, Johnson had 17 points, C.J. Souzi 10 points and nine rebounds, and Caleb Nellis recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Josh Johnson drives for the basket.

Hochmuth blocks a Casey Midwick shot attempt.

Hochmuth and Nellis battle for position during a free-throw attempt.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 10:46 am

Notre Dame beats Elba in girls basketball, 51-31

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

The score may not reflect it, but the Elba Lady Lancers played an intense, hard-fought game against archrival Notre Dame on Tuesday night.

They came up short, 51-31.

"Elba's very well coached," said Notre Dame Head Coach Dave Pero. "They're hard-nosed girls. They're going to be reckoned with all year. We're fortunate to do what we did."

The Lancers' game plan called for a pressure defense that would attempt to hold the Fighting Irish to 12 points or under per quarter.

All went to plan in the first half. Notre Dame scored only eight in the first quarter (six on a pair of threes from Shea Norton) and 11 in the second quarter.

Unfortunately for Elba, their shots weren't falling either and the Lancers trailed 19-10 at the half.

"I thought we both played good defense in the first half," said Tom Redband, head coach for Elba. "They started to pick it up in the second half and our shots continued not to fall. We had some untimely turnovers and the rest is history."

Pero said his team was pretty hyped up about playing Elba, but they relaxed in the second half and that, along with some adjustments to deal with Elba's press, made the difference.

"The listened to what we needed to do," Pero said. "That's a sign of good quality girls. They'll listen to you when you need to make adjustments." 

Notre Dame features three starters who are all six-feet tall and over. Elba's shooters repeatedly found their shots being knocked down, and rebounds were hard to come by.

"You practice the boxing out and you practice the crashing, but it's hard to simulate the 6-1, 6-2," Redband said. "They get an extra hand on the ball. It's a tough match up for us."

While both teams are in the Genesee Region League, Elba is Class D and Notre Dame is Class C.

Elba, now 3-1, looks like a team that can make a run at sectional play, though Redband is taking a one-game-at-time approach.

"We have some work to do like we all do this time of year," Redband said. "It's only our fourth game. It's a long season. Fifteen more games. We've got two more games before the break, then we've got 16 days off, so we'll be able to fine tune some things before the new year."

Guard Alex Riegle scored 14 ponits (with four three-pointers) for the Lady Lancers and proved a deft ball handler and capable court leader, even against Notre Dame's pressure defense.

For Notre Dame, Rebecca Krenzer had 15 points, Norton 13 and Emma Francis 11.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Monday, December 15, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Notre Dame student wins junior handler competition at national AKC show in Orlando

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Notre Dame

Photos and info from Charles Hull:

Lauren Hull, from Le Roy, won the National Junior Handler competition at the American Kennel Club/Eukanuba National Championship (AENC) Dog Show. This event is the highlight of the AKC show year. Participation in the junior handling competition is by invitation. To qualify, junior handlers must have gained 5 wins against competition during the qualifying period, and have a 3.0 average in school. This year's competition had an entry of 126 juniors.

Lauren is an A student at Notre Dame High School in Batavia, and had 10 wins this year. She has been showing dogs since 2007, and this was the 6th year in a row that she has qualified for and attended the AENC. She had to survive 3 rounds of preliminaries to make it to the finals.

Lauren's prizes included a $2,000 scholarship, a pink grooming box (available only to winners of Eukanuba-sponsored events), an engraved silver tray, a jeweled Best Junior pin, and two large rosette ribbons. Her name, and that of her Irish Setter, Kent (RedRidge's Kent Irish Fire), will be engraved on a permanent trophy housed at the AKC library in Raleigh, NC. Lauren also will be representing the United States at the prestigious Crufts Dog Show in England next March.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Notre Dame beats Batavia in hockey, 3-0

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, hockey, Notre Dame, sports

In hockey today at Faletti Ice Arena, Notre Dame beat Batavia 3-0.

It's the first of three meetings this season between the two rivals.

Goals were scored by Peter Madafferi and Spencer Misiak, who scored twice.

Top photo: Notre Dame's first goal in the net.

To purchase prints, click here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Hoops Preview: Pero hopes bigs for Notre Dame will help girls team put up points

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

The thing you'll notice about the Notre Dame Girls Basketball Team this year is they're going to have some big players crashing the boards.

Shea Norton is 6' 2". Rebecca Krenzer is 6' 1". Taylor DiMartino is 6' 2". Michelle Martinucci is 5' 11".

"This is the biggest team I've ever had," said Head Coach Dave Pero.

It's still a young team -- there are only three seniors on the squad and all of the bigs are juniors -- so the girls still have a lot to learn, but they're showing progress, Pero said. 

"I like what we have. We have a really, really nice group of girls. They're working very, very hard."

The goal, as always with Fighting Irish basketball, is to dominate on defense and make points on transitions.

"We always want to keep teams in 40s. If we can keep teams in the 40s, 45, we've got a chance to win."

The three seniors are Krysta Tomaszewski (currently injured), Emily McCracken and Emma Francis.

McCracken and Francis are both guards, team captains, and Pero said they are good shooters who should help score some points.

He said the team is eight or nine players deep. Also expected to contribute are Hannah Bowen and Callie McCulley.

McCulley is a familiar name, of course, to Notre Dame hoops fans and the youngest McCulley (who is 5' 10") to make a varsity roster. She shows a lot of promise, Pero said, even as an eighth-grader.

"When you bring up young players, you're going to live and die with the good things they do and the bad things they do, but we think she's ready and we expect her to come off the bench and give us a hand."

The Notre Dame roster, on paper, looks strong. When the team opens its season at 7 p.m., Dec. 10, in Oakfield, we'll get to see how all those big numbers translate to points on the board.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Hoops Preview: Notre Dame boys team will take scoring where they can create it

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

This is a first of a series of team previews for boys and girls basketball for the 2014-15 season. We'll get to as many teams as we can for previews before the start of the season.  

The triangle offense. The New York Knicks have been struggling to learn it, Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Rapone reminded his players at a recent practice, and they're a team of full-time, pro basketball players.

He doesn't expect his kids to master it, but a couple of key fundamentals could help a team that may not have a dominating scorer put a few more points on the board.

"We run just a small version of it," Rapone said. "High school students can't handle a real triangle. We don't have enough time to teach it. We concentrate on ball movement and body movement."

The triangle replaces traditional set plays. It relies on spacing and movement to create shot opportunities. With players spaced 10, 12, 15 feet apart and constant movement -- passes are preferred to dribbling, and every pass is accompanied by every offensive player changing their location on the floor -- the triangle tends to open holes and open players. (For more on the triangle, here's a recommended video).

Rapone thinks he has the talent on this team without a dominate big man to run a pretty lockdown defense. The key to winning is going to be transitions and getting open shooters.

"Defensively, we'll be fine, but we've got to make sure we score one more than the other guy, though," Rapone said.

One of Notre Dame's top scorers from last season, Josh Johnson, is back and Rapone hopes there are enough athletes on the team to step up and help distribute scoring opportunities. 

There are five seniors coming back from last season's Section V championship team and 11 juniors.

"Right now, we don't know who's going to start the first game," Rapone said. "Every day it looks like somebody different. We have 15 guys and I can make a case for any one of them."

Peter Daversa, Caleb Nellis, Dylan Fix, James Farmer, Tyler Prospero, C.J. Suozzi, Luca Zambito, Casey Midwick and Dakota Weidman all have the potential to make a difference on the squad.

Among them, however, isn't a kid more than 6' 3".

Size could be a problem, no matter who develops into a credible outside shooting threat.

"We're not going to be able to go inside for a lot of points, I don't think, but I hope I'm wrong, because the key to basketball is balance," Rapone said. "You want to establish one, then when they take that away, when they take the outside away, you go inside, when they take the inside away you go outside. You really need them both."

What Rapone sees as a tough schedule will include a home match against Le Roy, which will be the first time Mike Rapone has coached against brother and one-time assistant coach Rick Rapone.

"I hope he remembers that's his bench over there beause he's used to being on the otherside," Rapone said smiling.

The Le Roy game is at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 3. Rapone expects a full house.

The Fighting Irish kick off the season at home Dec. 11 against Oakfield-Alabama. Game time is 7 p.m.

 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Parents of Notre Dame student air complaints about son getting Mohawk shaved off at school

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, education, Notre Dame, schools

An administrator at Notre Dame High School was disciplined more than a month ago for reportedly shaving the head of a student who showed up to school one day sporting a Mowhawk-style haircut.

Vice Principal and Athletic Director Mike Rapone reportedly shaved the head of Lucus Hull in front of other students during homeroom period while in the cafeteria, according to his mother, Denise Hull.

She describes her son as "humiliated" by Rapone's actions and claims that Rapone violated the school's code of conduct by touching her son without permission.

The reprimand Rapone received, confirmed by letters to Hull by the school and the superintendent of the diocese's schools, doesn't go far enough, according to Hull. She wants Rapone terminated.

"Quite frankly, if what is on the code of conduct is correct, then Mr. Rapone has violated it and should be removed from his position with the school," Hull said in an e-mail to The Batavian.

The incident occurred in Sept. 23. Charles Hull wrote a lengthy letter to Principal Joseph Scanlan on Oct. 2 that made several points, including (but not limited to):

  • That while at the Camp Hough Freshman Retreat, Sept. 3-4, Lucas asked Rapone for permission to have a "buzzcut Mohawk style," and Rapone, Hull said, told Lucas he could try it for a day.
  • Lucas, Hull said, reviewed the school uniform policy and assured his parents the haircut was permitted. "Nothing was or is noted in the policy which strictly prohibits any type of Mohawk hairstyle," Hull wrote.
  • Lucus was given the option Sept. 23 to go home for a haircut (which is 12 miles away) or Rapone would cut his hair.
  • About 20 minutes later, Rapone returned to the homeroom, which was held in the cafeteria, and shaved the youth's hair in front of classmates.
  • Among the Hulls' complaints -- that the parents were not contacted about the issue before the Mohawk was shaved off.
  • The Hulls do not feel the public apology by Rapone was sufficient to assuage Lucas or his sister. They called it "damage control" and "less than sincere."

Denise Hull contacted The Batavian, she said, because she felt Notre Dame had failed to address the situation adequately. 

She said she believes the board of directors, which she characterizes as made up primarily of sports boosters and former athletes, are unduly protecting a popular athletic director and successful basketball coach.

Her communications included copies of letters from the school and diocese and a copy of the student handbook.

The handbook, dated July 2014, clearly states "Outlandish hairstyles (e.g. Mohawks, wild colors, etc.)" are prohibited.

The letters clearly state that Rapone was reprimanded, that he and Scanlan must attend sensitivity training, and that the policy for dealing with such situations would be revised.

The letter from Charles Hull to Scanlan indicates that Rapone may have misunderstood the question from Lucas about a "buzzcut Mohawk."

"Mr. Rapone misunderstanding a question does not give him the right to humiliate Lucas," Charles Hull wrote.

Of course, a "buzzcut" and a "Mohawk" are two different styles of haircuts. One involves completely shaving the head, the other leaves a streak of hair down the middle of the scalp.

Denise Hull also said she believes the school is applying a double standard because there are students who have come to school with what might be considered "outlandish" hairstyles.  

We shared one specific complaint with Scanlan (we're avoiding being specific so as not to publicly drag another student into the issue) and Scanlan said, "that's a completely separate issue," but said he couldn't elaborate.

The Hulls also contacted Child Protective Services, which told them, Denise Hull said, this wasn't a CPS issue, and Batavia PD, which investigated and found insufficient evidence to sustain a charge of harassment.

Scanlan said he couldn't comment on a personnel matter. He e-mailed The Batavian the following statement authorized by the school's board of directors:

The incident in question occurred in September, and was promptly and appropriately addressed by the Notre Dame High School Board of Trustees and the school administration.

A student came to school with a mohawk haircut that violated the School’s dress code policy. After the student declined the opportunity to leave school to get his hair cut, the assistant principal cut the student’s hair in the student’s homeroom. The assistant principal has since apologized to the student, his parents, and the school community for his error in judgment in cutting the student's hair in the student’s homeroom before discussing the violation with the student’s parents.

Additionally, the School’s Board of Trustees recently amended to the School's student dress code policy to provide that parents will be consulted prior to any action if a similar situation arises in the future.

This action by the Board, coupled with the previous actions by the School's administration, has fully and thoroughly addressed this situation, and the School will have no further comment on this private matter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 8:56 am

Lady Irish advance in regional volleyball tournament

post by Howard B. Owens in high school sports, Notre Dame, sports, volleyball

Photos and story by Bare Antolos.

The Notre Dame Girls Volleyball Team, powered by the support of their fans, came out and proved to be too much for previously undefeated Hammondsport, 3-1 (25-15, 25-12, 18-25 and 25-13) to move onto play against Honeoye Falls-Lima on Thursday at Cal-Mum in the regional finals.

The Lady Irish are the Class DDD champions for Section V.

Throughout the match, the Hammondsport girls seemed to be overwhelmed by the Notre Dame attack and unnerved by the vocal Notre Dame student body cheering section.

Despite not having a strong service match, the Notre Dame girls used a balance attack to mix up their sets and win rather easily. Notre Dame Coach Rhonda DiCasolo said that her team "played really, really well and is very proud" of the effort and is "really excited about Thursday at Cal-Mum."

Shea Norton led the way for the Lady Irish with 19 kills. Lindsay Bender had a strong match, finishing with 30 assists and 10 service points, including finishing out the match on a run of five serves to send Hammondsport home.

The Lady Irish received strong contributions from Mary Bernadette Bochicchio who set the tone early in the first game, running out a string of five service points (nine total for the match) to open up a lead that Hammondsport could not recover from. Rebecca Krenzer lead the way with 15 service points with Olivia Marchese contributing 12 digs and Emma Francis, who seemed to be involved in all parts of the match, finished with 10 digs and 12 service points in the all around team effort.

Thursday's match against Honeoye Falls-Lima should be another difficult match for the Lady Irish and provide the Notre Dame students another opportunity to be help lift their team to victory!

More photos after the jump:

Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Notre Dame falls to Attica 40-15

post by Howard B. Owens in Attica, football, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

The Fighting Irish of 2014 may not be the champion caliber squad of recent seasons, but Notre Dame is still the team other teams love to beat.

Today's proof: Fresh off its fifth touchdown through the middle of the third quarter, with the score 33-7, the Attica Blue Devils chose to squib and onside kick.

"It's a big rivalry," said Attica Head Coach Rob Cusmano.m"It's been a rivalry for years with Attica and Notre Dame. Last year was for the league title, and this year, they've got a couple of losses, but still, you throw those records right out the window and you just keep going after it."

It was a hard fought game, even when Attica seemed to have it well in hand. Coaches on both benches tried constantly to get referees to see things their way, pointing out holds, clips and chop blocks, and disclaiming guilt when flags were thrown against their own players.

It got so hot at one point, Attica was flagged for a 15-yard penalty.

The first quarter gave little indication of where this game was going, ending at a 0-0 tie.

Cusmano said the Blue Devils made some adjustments, which enabled them to pull away from ND.

"We couldn't run between the tackles, so we needed to get outside," Cusmano said. "We got outside a few times and that made the difference."

With the score 14-0 and two minutes left in the half, Notre Dame Head Coach Rick Mancuso decided to go to the air in the hopes of a quick score before intermission.

QB Joe Zickl completed a couple of passes. There was the ember of a drive glowing when he tried to hit a receiver just beyond the line of scrimmage. The receiver reached high and tipped the ball. It fell into the hands of Alex Piechocki, who sprinted to the end zone, giving Attica a 21-0 lead.

Another drive early in the second half was reversed into a Blue Devils score on a touch down.

Cusmano gave credit to scouting and film study for the picks.

"We knew their routes and our guys did a great job stepping in front of the ball and a couple of those went for touchdowns, and I attribute that to them watching a lot of film and doing their homework," Cusmano said.

Receiver Levi Snyder said the win, after a slow start, showed the team's character.

"We had to fight a little adversity at first," Snyder said. "We came in here, got a little rattled, but stuck together as a team and stuck it out. We got the win. That's all that's important right now."

Senior Derek Walker said it was exciting, a big deal to beat the Irish.

"It's huge," he said, "because nobody really likes Notre Dame."

The victory clinched the Genesee Region title for Attica, who will take a 6-0 record into next week's game against Oakfield-Alabama (3-3).

The Blue Devils said they didn't want to look past next week's game, but Cusmano conceded, the Class C post-season is going to be tough.

First week matchups haven't been determined yet, but Bath, Le Roy and Attica have all secured spots in sectionals. The fourth team in the playoffs could be Dansville, East Rochester or Elba/Byron-Bergen.

"It's very, very tough," Cusmano said. "I saw Le Roy last night and they're a very tough team and Bath is a good ball team, plus you throw Dansville in there, throw East Rochester in there, it's a very, very, very good class."

Even so, Cusmano is hardly throwing in the towel.

"We're getting healthier," Cusmano said. "One game at a time. We're thinking Oakfield. But I like our shot."

For Attica, Damian Marchetti was eight for 13 passing for 80 yards. He had eight carries for 74 yards and a TD. He also kicked five PATs. Jake Strzelec rushed for 89 yards on 25 carries and scored twice. Derek Walker had four receptions for 48 yards and a TD. Besides the interception return for a touchdown, Alex Piechocki also rushed for a score. Kyle Zawadzki had an interception return for a TD. Levi Snyder had two interceptions.

For Notre Dame, Joe Zickl was 15 for 31 passing for 159 yards and two TD. He was picked six times. On the ground, only Spencer Misiak had positive yardage, with one yard gained on one carry. C.J. Suozzi caught five passes for 45 yards. Josh Johnson had two TD receptions and gained 37 yards. Casey Midwick had four receptions for 31 yards. Joe Zickl had 10 tackles. Jack Sutherland, six. Peter Daversa had a sack.

To purchase prints, click here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 11:52 am

Former Notre Dame runner wins MAAC athlete of the week honors

post by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, sports

Press release:

Canisius College’s Jeffrey Antolos was named the MAAC Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week, while Rider University’s Emily Ritter earned the MAAC Women's Cross Country Runner of the week.

Canisius sophomore Jeffrey Antolos came up huge for the Golden Griffins this weekend, leading the Canisius men’s cross country team to a first place finish in the 35th Annual National Catholic Championships. The event took place on Friday, Sep. 19 at the University of Notre Dame. Antolos was the top finisher for the Blue and Gold, recording a time of 25:07.84 in the five-mile race, good enough for third place in the event. Antolos led the Griffs squad to the team’s only first place victory in the Championships in school history. The highest previous finish for the Griffs was a second place finish in 2002, the closest the team came to winning the Championships until this year. Antolos improved greatly from his 2013 season finish in the National Catholics when the Warsaw, N.Y. finished in 30th with a time of 26:23.

Ritter finished first overall among 171 runners at the Monmouth Invitational, covering the 3.1 mile Holmdel Park course in 18:34.2. It marked the second time in as many race this year that Ritter was the overall winner.

The 2014 MAAC Cross Country Championships will be held on Friday, October 31st at Holmdel Park, Holmdel N.J.

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