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, and also can be visited at www.rocklandcountytimes.com. Please send items of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Madison Square Garden, which at one time was instantly recognized as the Mecca of Boxing throughout the world, remains famed for its collegiate hardwood history, a long and storied run that includes the annual Holiday Classic.
This year’s showcase is set for Dec. 8, beginning at 7 p.m. and featuring local rivals St. John’s University, Fordham University, Rutgers University and Iona College of New Rochelle.
The Red Storm of Jamaica, Queens, and the Bronx-based Rams open the twinbill, followed at 9:30 p.m. by the Gaels of Iona and the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.
Making an early contribution to the Iona cause has been mercurial sophomore point guard Tavon Sledge of Spring Valley, a transfer from Iowa State
Now playing for veteran coach Tim Cluess, the 5-foot-9 Sledge comfortably leads the Gaels in steals with 10, and is tied for the team lead in rebounds, averaging six per game along with senior 6-foot-7 forward Taaj Ridley of the Bronx.
Sledge is also averaging eight points a game for the Gaels, who travel to Athens, Ga., on Dec. 15 to meet the University of Georgia before returning to its New Rochelle campus at 7 p.m. on Dec. 18 to welcome Liberty University of Lynchburg, Va.
Sledge will be joining an illustrious list of basketball standouts that have graced the hardwood at the Garden, at each of its sites, beginning in 1934. The current Garden, which sits atop Penn Station, is the fourth venue to bear the name, opening in 1968, and is located between 7th and 8th Avenues, from 31st to 33rd Streets.
As a guard, Sledge might take particular note of such former players as legendary guards Jerry West, Pistol Pete Maravich and Oscar “The Big O” Robertson, and forward Chris Mullin of St. John’s fame, who have lit up the lights, so to speak, during the Holiday Classic.
The obvious question is, will anyone make history this year? And, if so, who will it be?
For tickets, visit http://www.ticketmaster.com.
The Manhattan College baseball team, which went 33-27 last season, is expected to bring back two seasoned pitchers in sophomore right-hander Michael Scarinci of Nanuet, and junior righty Scott McClennan of Suffern.
Scarinci, a graduate of Pearl River HS, made five starts for the Jaspers last season, with 24 appearances all told and posting a 6-4 won-loss record with a 4.84 ERA.
McClennan made 16 appearances, starting 12, and went 2-6 with a 5.47 ERA.
Reserve infielder Connor Bacalles of New City, a Clarkstown South alum, is also expected back for the Japsers, whose challenging 54-game 2013 campaign features opening series at southern powers Florida International and Florida Gulf Coast. The two-time defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champions will also take on members of the Big East, in addition to a match up with 2012 College World Series participant Stony Brook.
The Jaspers open the season at Florida International (Feb. 22-24), the first of six opponents Manhattan will face that won more than 30 games in 2012. Manhattan will play a three-game series with the Golden Panthers in Miami, Fla.
The Jaspers play at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx for the first time on April 3 to defend the nation’s longest active home win streak (19) taking on Fordham University. Manhattan was the only team in NCAA Division I to post an undefeated mark at home (18-0) last season.
The 2013 MAAC Championships are scheduled May 23-25 at Waterfront Park in Trenton, N.J. The top four teams in the league qualify for the tournament.
· Junior swingman John Perez of Haverstraw shares the team lead in scoring with 11 points per game for the once-beaten Plattsburgh State University men’s basketball team. Perez, an alum of North Rockland HS, is joined on the squad by freshman swingman Billy O’Shea of Blauvelt, who is averaging four minutes a game as he breaks into the lineup. The Cardinal (4-1) are home on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, hosting Fredonia State University (8 p.m.) and Buffalo State (4 p.m.), respectively, before breaking for the holiday. Plattsburgh then returns to action on Jan. 2-3 in the Sponaugle New Year Tournament at Lancester, Pa. As a sophomore, Perez was one of the Cardinals’ main offensive threats, finishing second in scoring with an average of 12.3 points per game while leading the team in field goal percentage (.513) and rebounds per game (6.3).
· Taylor Vippolis of Stony Point, a team captain at North Rockland HS where he also played football three seasons at wide receiver, is a freshman sprinter on the track and field team at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels’ season gets under way on Jan. 18-19 when they host the Dick Taylor Invitational. At North Rockland, Vippolis was ranked in the top 25 nationally in the 600-meter run.
· Freshman guard Nicole Grossbard of Pearl River is making her mark through five games on the women’s basketball team at the University of Southern Connecticut in New Haven, Conn. Grossbard is leading the Owls in assists with 18, and is averaging 5.4 points per game. On the men’s side, sophomore guard Luke Houston, also of Pearl River, is leading the Owls with eight steals, while averaging six points, in addition to seven assists. Both teams are set for a doubleheader at the University of New Haven in West Haven on December 8, with the women’s game opening play at 1:30 p.m. followed by the men’s game at 3:30 p.m.
· Senior guard Flynn McFadden of West Nyack and sophomore forward Alushula Odongo of Suffern are members of the men’s basketball team at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill. The Spartans visit Molloy College in Rockville Centre on December 8 at 2 p.m. The respective women’s teams meet at noon.
· The men’s and women’s basketball teams at Dominican College welcome Philadelphia’s University of the Sciences to its Baxter Court gym in Orangeburg for a twinbill on December 8. Freshman guards Joe Clinton of Pearl River and John Brezovsky of Nanuet compete for the men, who are scheduled to close the doubleheader at 3 p.m. K.C. Jentzen of Pearl River leads the women’s team into action 1 p.m. The Nanuet HS alumna leads the Lady Chargers with 13 points per game, and ranks second on the club in rebounds with eight a game. Senior center Otis Quimby was named the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Player of the Week after averaging 12.5 points per game and 15.5 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Chargers’ men’s team (6-2).
· Former Tappan Zee HS team captain Regina Argenzio of Orangeburg is breaking into the lineup as a freshman guard on New York University women’s basketball team. Argenzio, who was an all-selection for the Dutchmen, has appeared in three games for the once-beaten Violets, who visit the College of Staten Island on Dec. 8 at 3 p.m.
· Former Tappan Zee HS standout Devona Paul of Blauvelt is already making an impact as a freshman forward on the women’s basketball team at Plattsburgh State University. Paul, who also led the Dutchmen to a league title in volleyball as a scholastic star, is averaging six rebounds and five points a game for the Cardinals, and her three blocks ties her for the team lead. The Cardinals host Fredonia State University on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m., and stay home on Dec. 8 to meet Buffalo State at 2 p.m.
· SUNY Potsdam junior guard Greg Torchon of Spring Valley, an alum of St. Joseph’s Regional HS in Montvale, N.J., was sidelined with an injury as the Bears’ men’s basketball team split its first four games. The Bears are home Dec. 7 to host Fredonia State University at 6 p.m., and stay home on Dec. 8 to entertain Buffalo State at 2 p.m. Potsdam then breaks for the holiday before resuming the tough part of the schedule on Dec. 29-30 at the NYU Holiday Classic.
· Mike McCahey of Clarkstown, a rookie forward on the men’s basketball team at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., is already performing like a seasoned veteran. The graduate of Clarkstown South HS – who is leading the Hawks in rebounding with 7.3 per game, and ranks second in scoring with 17.5 points per game — was selected as the Northeast-10 Rookie of the Week for the second time this season. The Hawks (5-1) visit St. Michael’s tonight (Dec. 6), and then stay on the road for a game against Post University on Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. in Waterbury, Conn.
· Sophomore Paul Fields of Clarkstown placed second at 125 pounds, helping the nationally sixth-ranked SUNY Cortland wrestling team capture the team title at the two-day Petrofes Invitational in Grantham, Pa. The Red Dragons finished with 204.5 points, 47.5 points ahead of runner-up Mount Union of Alliance, Ohio. Nationally 22nd-ranked host Messiah finished third with 157 points, followed by 19th-ranked Wilkes (118.5 points) and 24th-ranked Springfield (115.5 points) to round out the top five in an 11-school field. Cortland will compete in dual matches versus RIT and Niagara County Community College on Dec. 8 at RIT.
This & That
· With special thanks to Tom Doherty, Rockland’s reigning unofficial scholastic sports historian, we learn that the husband and wife team of Jeff and Sheri Dempsey coached their teams to Section 1 titles in the same season. Jeff led the Suffern girls cross country team to the championship while Sheri led Nanuet to the title in the same sport. Pearl River won a Section 1 title in Class A under the leadership of Tim Peabody, Vinny Apicella led North Rockland in Class AA while the Suffern boys volleyball team followed suit under the eye of Coach Kim Cleary-Connolly.
· Registration for the 2013 Palisades-Sparkill Independent Baseball league season, open to kids from all towns, is scheduled Dec. 10 from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. at the John M. Perry American Legion Post (620 Route 340, Sparkill, across from Legion Field). Since 1956, PSB’s motto has been “Kids Come First!” Registration can also be done online at PSbaseball.org.
· Books & Greetings on Livingston Street in Northvale, N.J., literally a stone’s throw from Tappan, depending on the strength of one’s arm, will host Firefighters’ Day at noon on Dec. 9. A firetruck will be on site, and there will be plenty of books and puzzles available, promises owner Kenny Sarfin.
· The West Genessee HS hockey team, which had not lost at home in 37 games, was upended by Suffern, 4-2, in the final of the West Genessee Classic. Justin Tiso and Robert Clark each had a goal and an assist in the title game, while Anthony Curado and tournament MVP Nick Jaeger also scored for the Mounties. Nick Modica stopped 31 shots.
The Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League they have hired Jamie Keefe to fill their managerial vacancy. Keefe, who earned the league’s Manager-of-the-Year award while with the Pittsfield Colonials in 2011, replaces Dave LaPoint, who managed the team for its first two seasons. On Dec. 13, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., the Boulders will host a meet-and-greet with Keefe and Boulders players at Provident Bank Park in Pomona. The event is free.