The College Sports Notebook is compiled by veteran sports writer and columnist Marc Maturo, a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The notebook will be published every Thursday. Please send items of interest to[email protected].
Record season secure, RCC Hawks fly into regional tournament
Veteran coach Bill Kurisko has been here before, back in the 2008-09 season when theRocklandCommunity College men’s basketball team won three games to nail down the Region XV title and a berth in the national tournament.
The Hawks, who were to finish eighth in the nation after losing their tournament opener, are poised for another run at the Region XV championship, sparked by player of the year Tommie Starkes of the Bronx and another guard, Jason Quijada ofSpring Valley.
“We’ve got to win three (games), but that first one is the toughest,” said Kurisko, following a recent practice session, pointing to a 5 p.m. contest against Manhattan CC on March 1 at New Roc Center in New Rochelle, home to the Monroe CC Mustangs.
Should RCC make it three-for-three against Manhattan CC, Kurisko & Co. play again on March 2 at 3 p.m., and a win then advances the Hawks into the title game on March 3 at 2 p.m.
And if the seeding holds true to form, top-seededSullivanCountyCCand No. 2 RCC will be battling for the right to compete in the national tournament, which will take place just two hours away in Loch Sheldrake, atSullivanCountyCC.
“We lost to Sullivan twice this year, and both times we played terrible,” Kurisko readily noted. “But I feel very confident, we’re playing great. I just want to get to the championship game and see what happens.”
(The Generals beat the Hawks at home on Feb. 5, 87-64, after winning in Suffern early in December, 81-61.)
The Hawks, ranked 11th in the nation in Division III by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), are coming off an outstanding 23-7 regular season, a season in which they set a new standard for victories in a single campaign.
Starkes and Quijada, also an all-Region selection, hold the key to RCC’s chances, especially on the NBA-standard-size court atNewRocCity.
“The bigger court might be an advantage for us, because we’re small and quick,” said Kurisko. “We’ve just gotta get by that first game and see what happens.”
The NJCAA Division III National Tournament is scheduled March 14-15.
RED DRAGONS ON FIRE: The SUNY Cortland women’s indoor track and field team won its second straight State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) title and 16th overall at the conference’s indoor championships at SUNY Brockport’s new Special Events and Recreation Center. Cortland, which won the title with 172 points to 116.5 for runner-up Geneseo, next competes at the ECAC Division III championship on March 1-2 at the New Balance Track and Field Center in upper Manhattan. The men’s team will also be competing. Leading ECAC women’s qualifier for the Red Dragons is senior standout Amber Stephens ofStony Point. The North Rockland HS graduate broke her own school record in the triple jump at Brockport, winning with a leap of 38-feet 9.75-inches, while finishing fourth in the long jump with a distance of 17-feet 6.25 inches.
RECORD-SETTERS: Freshman star Julio Melendez of Valley Cottage helped the SUNY Cortland men’s indoor track and field team place second at the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) championship meet, hosted by Brockport. Melendez was on the winning distance medley relay team with senior Pat Fannon of West Islip, freshman Jerel Williams of East Islip, and junior Cody Amengual of West Babylon. The quartet not only won, but established a meet record with a time of 10:20.18. The 4×400-meter relay team of sophomore Eric Wong of Massapequa Park, freshman Sean Swartwood of Waverly, freshman Keewan Rondinello of Liverpool, and senior Andrew Greenberg of Suffern placed second with a time of 3:24.03.
PANTHERS BOW IN FINAL: It took a shot that missed at the buzzer to finally stop the Purchase College’s women’s basketball team. The Panthers, who exceeded everyone’s expectations but their own this season, saw its quest for a Skyline Conference championship fall just short when a layup at the buzzer rolled around the rim but fell short, giving Farmingdale State College a 40-39 win and the league crown. Jessica Biggs of Nanuet, a senior stalwart throughout the campaign, played only 19 minutes, going 1-of-14 from the floor. The Panthers are not done just yet, however, as their second-place conference finish and a very-fine overall record puts them in the ECAC Championships, scheduled March 6-10.
SPARTAN EFFORT: Mike Abelard of Spring Valley scored 30 points in his final indoor track meet, helping St. Thomas Aquinas College place second by four points to Molloy College in the inaugural ECC Indoor Championships at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington. The Lions posted a title-winning score of 163 points. On the women’s side, Keeley Bateman of Pearl River and Meagon Jaskot of Blauvelt combined with Gabriela Sloezen of Westwood, N.J., and Rebecca Fortoul of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., to win the Distance Medley Relay. Bateman, a junior, also placed third in the 1,000 and fifth in the 800. Jaskot, an alumna of Tappan Zee HS, was third in the 3,000 while Cecelia Pfleging of Staten Island was third in the mile. Abelard, a graduate of Ramapo HS, won the 60 meters and the 200 meters, and anchored the 4×200 team to victory. Garvenchy Nicolas of Brooklyn also scored 30 points by winning the 800 and helping the DMR and 4×400 win in the relays. Matt Buell of Staten Island captured the 1,000, and took second in the 4×800. Rich Ricca of Pearl River was third in the 60, fifth in the 200 and was on the victorious 4×200 meter relay. Frankie Colon of Suffern was third in the 400, and Ed Oswald of New City finished third in the high jump.
JASPERS PREVAIL: It took a come-from-behind effort, but the Manhattan College men’s lacrosse team overtook Lafayette College, 11-7, at Gaelic Park in Riverdale to give first-year coach Steve Manitta, a Nyack College grad, his first victory following two defeats. The Jaspers trailed 5-1 when Paul Moreau of Pearl River started the revival with the final goal of the first half, and Manhattan maintained the momentum following the break. Moreau, a senior attack, was assisted on the score by junior midfielder Brett Madarasz ofSmithtown. The Jaspers return to action on March 2 when they travel toProvidence,R.I., to take on the Friars (2-0) at 1 p.m.
ROOKIE LAURELS: Freshman Alex Madarof Suffern, a member of the swimming team at Rochester Institute of Technology, was named Liberty League rookie of the week. Competing at the Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association Championships in Ithaca, Madar set a school standard in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing fifth in the finals in a record time of 2:09.66 as RIT placed sixth with 566 points.
NCAA-BOUND: The Purchase College men’s basketball team, under the direction of father-son coaches Jeff and Chad Charney, is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years. The Panthers, who earned an automatic bid by winning the Skyline Conference championship to finish at 22-5 in the regular season, visit Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute on March 2 at 7 p.m. in the opening round of the field of 62. A fan bus for Purchase students will be leaving from behind the PE building at 3:15 p.m. on March 2.
QUICK HITS: Manhattanville College women’s basketball standout Taylor Wilson of Pearl River, who led the Freedom Conference in scoring and minutes played, has earned all-Conference second-team honors. Taylor was among conference leaders in five other major categories, including placing second in free-throw and three-point percentage, and third in steals. … Nyack HS alumna Cristian DeVita of Valley Cottage is a freshman defender on the women’s lacrosse team at Fairfield University, which travels to Harrisonsburg, Va., on March 2 to challenge James Madison University. … Junior Kelsey Rehain of Suffern had three points including two goals as the Manhattan College women’s lacrosse team dropped a 14-9 decision to Wagner College in its home opener at Gaelic Park in Riverdale. Manhattan trailed 8-1 at halftime, but Rehain triggered a five-goal surge that put the Jaspers back into the game. Manhattan (0-2) hopes to bounce back on March 3 with a game against Brown University in Providence, R.I. The scheduled start is 1 p.m. … Paul Fields of Clarkstown won his bout at 125 pounds by forfeit as the nationally third-ranked SUNY Cortland wrestling team defeated 13th-ranked Ithaca for its school-record 18th win of the season. The Red Dragons (18-2) are back in action March 2-3 at the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional at Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute. … Devona Paul of Blauvelt completed her freshman season on the women’s basketball team at SUNY Plattsburgh as the Cardinals’ leader in blocked shots with 44. Paul, a forward out of Tappan Zee HS, averaged five points and four rebounds. … The Manhattan College baseball team continues its southern tour to the Sunshine State on March 2-3 with games against Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers, Fla. … Alaina Walker of Pomona posted totals of 12 points and six rebounds, but the St. Bonaventure University women’s basketball team continued to struggle, losing to George Washington, 57-52, at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C. The Bonnies, who fell to 9-18, close the regular season at home on March 3 against La Salle University at 1 p.m. The Explorers are also struggling at 8-19. … The Dominican College baseball team, the defending champion in the Central Atlantic Athletic Conference (CACC), has been picked to finish second this year behind Wilmington (Del.) University in a poll of 11 conference coaches.
THIS & THAT
Rockland Boulders fans in particular, and fans of Independent Baseball in general can stay up-to-date through weekly columns published by former MLB spokesman Bob Wirz. Fans may subscribe to Independent Baseball Insider, which will be published 40 times in 2013 beginning on March 7, at www.WirzandAssociates.com.
THE CORNER BOOKSTORE
Howie Rose, born and bred in Queens, hard by now-defunct Shea Stadium, and the first and perpetual president of the Marv Albert Fan Club, knows much and has much to say about his longtime career as a sports voice in “Put It In The Book, A Half-Century Of Mets Mania (Triumph Books).” This breezy 215-page effort — including photos and a highlighted five-page section entitled ‘Oops’ (read it and find out) – is a wonderful and insightful and sometimes quite candid collaboration with venerable scribe Phil Pepe, who has covered the sports scene in New York for more than five decades. Put It In The Book is nearly his 50th full-length work, and does a concise job detailing how Rose began his career as a 22-year-old with Sports Phone (also long defunct, but a novel of its time) and rose to become the Mets and NHL Islanders announcer. Rose is quick to celebrate some of the people he truly treasures (Albert and Ralph Kiner among them), and some of those he had, to put it mildly, trouble suffering (such as Eddie Murray), and he also describes his two-year ban from hosting Mets Extra because then-manager Bud Harrelson (actually one of Rose’s treasures) felt Rose should be a cheer leader. As another baseball season fast approaches, any fan of the game will enjoy Put It In The Book — as Rose’s signature, always enthusiastic signoff to his broadcasts goes.