I just want to say something about the Section V ‘competition committee.’
Bluntly, what a joke.
As I always have to do, I have to preface this with the fact that my son goes to Notre Dame, so get your bias comments out of the way. They don’t apply here.
Two years ago the Notre Dame girls won the Section V Class D1 title and, not surprisingly, this ‘committee’ moved the Fighting Irish to Class C1. If you don’t like it get better, they say.
Notre Dame did just that and won the Class C1 title last year. But that was only the start of the punishment.
This year, Section V decided to move head coach Tom McCulley’s girls team to Class B1. Seriously?! If you have ever watched an iota of high school girls basketball you would know that Notre Dame has no business being in Class B1. None.
The Fighting Irish are a talented team, without a doubt, but to be put in a class that has the likes of Batavia, Pal-Mac, Livonia and Newark, they don’t stand a chance.
And that’s exactly how Section V wants it. You are not transparent. But your petty qualms are ridiculous.
Now, let’s see how Notre Dame got to this point.
In 2016-17, the Fighting Irish were the No. 3 seed in Class D1 and needed double overtime to beat York in the championship game. In fact, York had a shot at the buzzer in regulation that would have won it but it rimmed out.
Last season, Notre Dame had to rally from being down big in the championship game to beat Letchworth in Class C1. During the regular season, ND, which went a mere 14-6 with losses to Elba (26 points), Geneseo (11 pts), Oakfield (8 pts). Prattsburgh (22 pts), Byron-Bergen (7 pts) and Wheatland-Chili (11 pts).
Both overall seasons saw the Fighting Irish finish at 19-7. That is not exactly dominating the competition. Not in the slightest.
Now, Notre Dame has a very talented senior in Callie McCulley. She is one of the best small school players in Section V. How did Notre Dame ever recruit such a big-time player? It didn’t.
McCulley comes from a long line of family members that attended the school, including her father, her uncles and her two older brothers. FYI, McCulley is not a Division I recruit, regardless of how good she is.
Notre Dame has a few other talented players, including Stevie Wilcox and Morgan Rhodes. Both of which averaged well under 10 points a game last season. Dominant players in Class B1 for sure (sense the sarcasm). Not to knock them at all, they are good players.
And I would venture guess that they didn’t go to Notre Dame to play against competition that is well above their level.
Notre Dame, which has 61 girls in the school, has to play in sectionals with Geneva (with classification numbers of 495), Newark (464) and Batavia (459). The next smallest school in Class B1 is Livonia, which sits at 373.
Notre Dame is at 118.
To make matters worse is that in its blatant sectional punishment, Section V decided to move the Fighting Irish up in early November, well after Notre Dame had finalized its schedule.
Being in the Genesee Region, the majority of Notre Dame’s schedule will be Class D and C opponents. The Fighting Irish set up their non-league schedule accordingly. Only to be blindsided at the end.
Now, being in Class B1, Notre Dame could have a spectacular regular season but not be rewarded. With its Class D opponents, a win will get it only three sectional points, while a loss will cost the Fighting Irish seven.
Not to mention, Notre Dame doesn’t play any ‘A’ schools and only a small handful of ‘B’ schools during the year, so it won’t see the level of competition that it would take to prepare for sectional play.
As a side note, the majority of Notre Dame’s roster went to St. Joe’s in Batavia, while nine of the 14 members of the JV team are doing the same.
It’s called building a program Section V, not circumventing the system.
Section V has a problem and it is Section V. They don’t want to deal the issue of private schools so under pressure from the publics they will cave every year and continue to punish high school girls who have no fight in the game.
If Section V wanted to make a statement, why wait until this year to move the Northstar Christian boys to Class A2? Why was Northstar still in Class C1 last season?
If you want the private schools out of the public school tournaments, do something about it. Don’t hide behind your insecure notions.
Notre Dame is not Aquinas with the population of Rochester to choose from, don’t treat it like that.
On a bright note
Let’s all take a second to appreciate what Batavia head football coach Brennan Briggs has done.
When I came on board at The Daily News, I was told to not even worry about Batavia football because they were terrible. Enter Briggs.
This is not to take shots at the former Blue Devils coaches, this is to compliment Briggs, who has done a simply spectacular job, especially this year.
For my money, Briggs is the best high school football coach in the state. He has built a program from the ground up and though they came up just short this season, his Blue Devils made a community proud.
Not to mention what he had to deal with in terms of star running back Ray Leach and a former player.
It has all been documented by now. But Briggs did his due diligence. Leach was suspended for one game this year for his conduct and, other than that, Briggs played by the rules in terms of the legal system and high school policies.
And it wasn’t easy.
Briggs was well-prepared to play the entire season without Leach. Batavia, obviously, wouldn’t have been as good, but rest assured that the Blue Devils would have been in the mix.
And give some credit to Leach.
Whatever you may think of him and whatever you may have heard, this is a high school kid that was put in a tough situation (regardless of if he was at fault for that or not). Leach handled himself with constant maturity and grace and his coaches and family should be proud of him.
This is a Division I talent and I hope he gets a shot. And I hope he makes the most of that shot if he gets it.
And one more shout out — Ethan Biscaro. Dude, you are the epitome of what is the best of a high school athlete. You came out of nowhere to have a fantastic season. Overshadowed, you were just as important as anyone.
In the title game, I knew you tore your ACL. I’ve done it myself and I was certain that is what happened. You fought to come back in the game, you sacrificed yourself to do to. It didn’t work out in the end, but you should be proud and your parents should be proud of the son they raised.
I watched you on the sidelines and all you cared about was your team. That’s how to do it.
Buddy Brasky will miss you on the hardwood this season.
— Nate Rider is a sports writer for the Daily News.
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