Mother Nature wreaked havoc with local high school sports on Tuesday, wiping out the entire slate of basketball games. Some were played Thursday, creating an untenable situation for some schools, which now were being asked to play back-to-back games.
Troy High's boys team last played on consecutive days during the Holiday Classic last month, and finished last (Lansingburgh won the tournament). So what happens? Their game at Guilderland was moved to Thursday, and, with coach Richard Hurley back on the bench after missing last Friday's loss to Bethlehem, Troy blew out the Dutchmen, to the tune of 80-50. Guilderland is one of a few teams that are in rebuilding mode this season. The Flying Horses came right back Friday, and knocked off Averill Park, despite the Warriors' Anthony Germinerio, cousin of Troy football star John Germinerio, lighting up the defense for 22 points, sharing game high honors with Troy's Daniel Buie.
Last year, the Warriors made their first regular season visit to Troy, and were blown out of the gym. Not quite so bad this time. Conversely, the Averill Park women made their first regular season trip to Zotto Memorial Gym, after Troy had snapped a 4 game losing streak in beating Guilderland on Thursday, and continued their dominance of the Lady Horses, 67-51, holding leading scorer Sabrina Wolfe to just 9 points. Shallie Frierson led Troy with 18. Coach Paul Bearup's team has now lost 5 of 6, and, aside from a breather next Friday at Burnt Hills, the Murderer's Row portion of the schedule will decide the Troy girls' sectional fate.
The road ahead for the Troy teams:
January 27: Girls @ Burnt Hills, boys are home vs. Burnt Hills.
January 28: Girls @ Long Island Lutheran for their final non-league game of the season.
January 31: Girls @ Shaker, boys are home vs. Shaker.
February 3: Boys @ Shenendehowa, girls are home vs. Shen.
February 7: Senior night for the girls vs. Albany, boys @ Albany.
February 10: Senior night for the boys vs. Schenectady, girls @ Schenectady in their regular season finale.
February 14: Boys close @ CBA.
The girls, again, have the tougher road. For the 2nd straight year, at least, they're going downstate, as LIL hasn't come to town yet, and probably can't for financial reasons. They're below .500 again at 5-6 in the Grey division, one game behind Averill Park for 2nd, as both teams are again chasing Albany. The boys are chasing Schenectady, but the Patriots have stumbled of late, having lost 3 of 4 before winning Friday. It could be that Eric Loudis' club may have peaked a wee bit too early, and if so, Troy will be looking for a receipt in 3 weeks. The Troy boys are now 7-4 to Schenectady's 9-3 in the league. Remember, Troy was the only team that wasn't blown out by Shen last year, losing by just 8 points, so if they can find a weakness in Shen, that could allow them to run the table.
Projected finishes: Looking at the boys finishing 11-6, while the women will limp home at 7-10.
Speaking of Shen, their hockey team stumbled out of the gate this season, but they have coach Juan De La Rocha back on the bench, which could still turn their season around. The skating Plainsmen avenged a road loss last month in beating LaSalle, ending the Cadets' bid for a undefeated regular season with a 5-3 verdict on Wednesday night. One local reporter erred in claiming that LaSalle hadn't avenged a home loss last season to Shen when they did exactly that on December 14. See what happens when you don't check your facts? The Cadets are back home tonight to face Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa.
The NFL has reached its final four, with the conference championships taking place on Sunday. Chalk goes out the window this week, especially in Foxborough, where Tom "Crybaby" Brady and the Patriots would have to resort to more than the usual chicanery if they want to reach their 7th Super Bowl of the Bill Belichick era (4-2). Not gonna happen. It's a little too convienient, some would say, that the Pittsburgh Steelers have to deal with a flu bug going through their locker room in the run-up to the game, but as long as it's not any of their front-line players, they should be fine.
Both teams have players with local roots. As mentioned previously, New England picked up running back-kick returner Dion Lewis (Albany Academy for Boys) off the scrap heap after injuries curtailed previous stops in Cleveland and Philadelphia, and he has produced. If you live in upstate NY, as I do, and wonder why folks wear replica Antonio Brown jerseys, well, his father, "Touchdown" Eddie Brown, played Arena football here in the 90's, and won an ArenaBowl with the Albany Firebirds, giving the Steelers a fan base in the home district more visible than before.
Pick: Steelers, 27-24.
NFC South Champion Atlanta welcomes the red hot Green Bay Packers and State Farm agent Aaron Rodgers. Folks have slept on the Falcons, if only because their stars don't have commercial endorsements, unlike Rodgers and Clay Matthews, Jr. of the Packers. The final NFL game at the Georgia Dome will end up with a home loss.
Pick: Packers, 38-35.
Of course, I could be wrong.