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August 16, 2016 - 11:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, news, Batavia HS, batavia.

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It's August, and Batavia High School Coach Brennan Briggs couldn't be happier. He's got his team right where he wants them, preparing for another football season.

“We’re enthused to be playing football again," said the Blue Devil's head coach. “We back on the gridiron and we love it. We’re excited to be out on the practice field at Van Detta."

Typically, this time of year, Briggs is taciturn about his team's chances in the upcoming season. This August, he isn't mincing words. He's raising expectations for his young players, many of whom are replacing starters that helped Batavia win consecutive Section V championships.

"We need to stay the course, keep the expectations high," Briggs said. "Even though we're young, it doesn't mean we can't go out there and compete for our third title in a row. They need to set the bar high. They have the ability to win a section championship. We've just got to make sure we enjoy the journey and make sure we're getting better every week."

The heart of any offense is the quarterback and with Greg Mruczek's graduation, that opens the position for the 2016 season. Senior Jerry Reinhart has the inside track, but he's got some competition for the slot. Junior Chandler Baker has a chance to win the job.

"Baker is a fantastic athlete and he's pushing Jerry," Briggs said. "He's done a great job. It makes for a great, healthy competition for both guys to compete for the spot. Regardless of who gets the spot, both would make fantastic QBs and both are fantastic receivers. Their athleticism will have an impact, one that is notable on Friday nights."

Both have good arms and can run, Briggs said. Reinhart has a little more experience after backing up Mruczek last season.  

The offensive line is young and several guys are competing for starting positions, but it will be anchored by the experience of Anthony "Butchy" Ray.

On defense, Briggs said the Blue Devils will have bulk on the line and athleticism on the outside, led by Eric Davis and Sam Marble. 

"They're athletic on the ends, so we might be able to get creative with those guys out there," Briggs said. "We might be able to unleash them a bit, which is good if they make sure they know what their number one responsibility is and buy totally into the system. It will give us a different look."

Last year's team was notable for the tight-knit, family-like culture of the team. The young guys aren't quite there yet, but Briggs thinks with time they will get there. It will help with the resilience they'll need to call upon on Friday nights.

"We have a positive group of kids and I'm excited about what they can do," Briggs said.

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August 10, 2016 - 11:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, schools, education, Milestones.

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Press release:

Batavia High School graduates Ryan Dibble and Jonathan Barber each earned a Batavia City Schools Custodial Association and Gui’s Lumber Scholarship.  Both received a $750 gift certificate for Gui’s Lumber to go toward the tools and materials they will need to start college this September. Both are attending Alfred State College – Ryan is in the Heavy Equipment, Truck, and Diesel Technician program, and Jonathan is in the Building Trades: Building Construction program. The BCSD Custodial Association began the tradition in 2002 of providing scholarships to deserving seniors who are pursuing studies in a skilled trade, and was joined by Gui’s Lumber in Batavia a few years later.

“We want to do something to enhance students’ careers and help them advance in their chosen field,” explained John Suttell of the Custodial Association.

Pictured left to right are Gui’s Lumber manager Scot Monachino, scholarship recipients Ryan Dibble and Jonathan Barber, and BCSD Custodial Association representative John Suttell.

July 27, 2016 - 11:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, sports, news.

Student athletes deserve every opportunity to be successful, said Batavia High School Athletic Director Micheal Bromley at Tuesday evening's Batavia City Schools board meeting, which is why the district needs a tighter tardy policy for those students participating in school sports.

About 54 percent of Batavia's students are involved in athletics during at least one season of the school year, so a stronger tardy policy will have a positive impact on academics overall, Bromley said. 

"We want our students to be successful," Bromley said. "To be successful, they need to be in school."

The proposed policy will require student athletes to be on time for their first class of the day. If they're even five minutes late, it's a tardy. They get two freebie tardies during the season. A third tardy means they can't participate in the next practice or athletic event.

Currently, there are no consequences if the student arrives by at least 11 a.m., which means they miss the first two blocks of classes.

There were seniors this year, Bromley said, who were in danger of not meeting academic standards for graduation.

Bromley thinks the change this fall will be a big adjustment for students and their parents. He expects some push back but wants to deliver the message that this policy will help students and their teams succeed.

"We want you to be here," Bromley said he would tell the students. "We want you to represent our school. It's a great honor. With that comes responsibility. Athletics teaches life skills and life skills include being on time, being responsible, being respectful to your coach and your teammates by doing the right things."

The need for a policy change arose, Bromley said, because of frustrations expressed by coaches and teachers.

Many teachers questioned how students could represent the school in athletic events while not showing up regularly to classes, he said.

"We're not trying to be mean here," Bromley said. "We just want people to be here. Teachers are very frustrated when students don't show up for the first block of the day."

School board members responded favorably to the new policy, which was crafted by a committee of school officials who looked at policies from several area school districts before crafting the one presented to the board.

The policy is intended to be both stricter than what exists now, but also flexible. The two freebie tardies recognize that things happen -- cars break down, assignments are forgotten at home and need to be retrieved, family members get sick and hold things up, etc., but student-athletes also need to be held accountable if they want to faithfully represent the community in competition.

The policy will be evaluated during the fall, comparing this fall's data with data from previous fall seasons to see if tardiness is reduced and attendance is improved. If the policy works and is refined, it could be rolled out to cover students participating in other extracurricular activities.

Policy summary:

  • Student athletes will get two free tardies each sports season, fall, winter and spring.
  • A third tardy will result in the student not being allowed to participate in his or her team's next athletic event, be it practice or game.
  • A tardy can be excused by a doctor's note; parental notes will not be accepted as an excuse.
  • The tardy clock begins as soon as the bell rings for the first class of the day.
July 27, 2016 - 9:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, Batavia HS, batavia.

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Batavia High School, led by Head Coach Brennan Briggs, has been hosting 7-on-7 drills for the past few weeks as players get ready for the fall football season.

Yesterday, Batavia's varsity and JV teams participated along with Medina and Oakfield-Alabama combined with Elba. On some Tuesdays as many as six teams from throughout the region have participated.

Mini-camps open in two weeks, followed by pre-season camp and, then, the season.

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July 19, 2016 - 1:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, sports, batavia, Batavia HS.

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Head Coach Brennan Briggs submitted this photo of youths who participated in a two-day football camp at Batavia High School.

June 27, 2016 - 11:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, news.

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A graduating class of 164 students received their diplomas from Batavia High School yesterday in a ceremony held at Genesee Community College.

Superintendent Chris Dailey said 74 percent of the class is pursuing higher education, including 41 going directly to four-year schools, 80 to community colleges and 31 students are entering the workforce already with jobs, plus seven students are going into the military.

"That is college and career ready," Dailey said.

Of the 164 graduates, 142 are receiving regents diplomas.

"For a small city school, that's outstanding," Dailey said. "We'll put that up against anywhere else in New York State."

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Burton Howell, a science teacher at BHS for 28 years, delivered the keynote speech, emphasizing the tough love students got as they made their way through their educational  journey.  Starting on Sunday, they are no longer subject to the rules and discipline of school, but the rules and laws of society, subject to due process.  It's up to them, he said, to make the right decisions through the rest of their lives. He spoke about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. You can know an object's position, or you can know it's velocity and direction. If you know an object's position, you don't know where it's going or how fast.  He told the students that we know where you are now, but we don't know where you're going.  That's up to each student to decide.

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Valedictorian Alexis Vasciannie noted that the Class of 2016 was an accomplished class, with success in academics, the arts and athletics. She challenged students to enter life now and find their own paths to success.

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Salutatorian Ross Chua closed his speech by singing an original song. Chua, named Mr. Batavia earlier in the year, also participated in the Genesee Symphony Orchestra's performance of his own composition; he plans to attend Syracuse University. His goal is write a symphony that will be performed by a major, world-renowned symphony, or write the scores for major motion pictures. These are big dreams, he confessed, but he would be equally happy if someday he owned a music store, because there he might sell a first instrument to a future top-40 recording artist or the shoes to a future prima ballerina. Those accomplishments would change the world. He reminded his fellow graduates that even the small things they do in life will have a big impact on the world. They should go out and try to make a difference. 

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Chua received the Quincy Jones Award for his musical accomplishments at the school. Awards and scholarships were handed out to more than a dozen students.

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Kayla Burns receives her diploma from Dailey.

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Malachi Chenault is congratulated after receiving his diploma. 

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Zach Lee celebrates graduation while waiting his turn to receive his diploma. 

To purchase prints, click here.

June 10, 2016 - 6:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, sports, news.

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It's probably never happened in Batavia HS history -- three players participating in three different sports across the course of a single school year winning Section V title patches.

This year, Andrew Mruczek, Jake Schrider and Adonis Davis did it in football, basketball and track.

At a school that won six sectional titles this year, a few of other athletes came close, but the trifecta is a singular accomplishment.

"It means a lot to us," Schrider said. "It means we worked hard."

Davis agreed.

"It means hard work paid off," Davis said. "Going to summer camps and workouts to try and reach our goal to be sectional champions. It showed more this year."

It's also an accomplishment that hasn't drawn a lot of attention at school, Davis said. Everybody knows they're champions, but the never-before trifecta hasn't sunk in with the student body.

"They know we've won," Davis said. "They're proud of us, I guess, but they probably just haven't put it all together."

Athletic Director Michael Bromley said it's a great accomplishment that is rarely achieved by athletes in the region. In boys sports this year, Andrew Mruczek, Trevor Sherwood (football and basketball) and Noah Dobbertin (football and wrestling) came the closest when the baseball team lost a title game to Aquinas 2-1, and though several girls got two titles this year, none got quite as close to a third title.

Batavia was blessed with a great group of seniors this year, Bromley said, but also, a great homegrown coaching staff that is also very focused on success and the hard work it takes to achieve it.

The senior athletes, Bromley said, really came together this year and supported each other and their teammates as they competed throughout the year. Athletes not in competition jumped the stands as part of the Blue Zoo, the school's cheering section. They also rallied the school throughout each school day.

"They’re really going to be missed around here," Bromley said. "They were good leaders. They were positive leaders. They were role models. Sometimes you get classes come through who are not those things and this class really was and the school is going to miss them."

The support of classmates and teachers was really a motivating factor all year long, Davis said. 

"Everyone tells us they will come out the games and stuff and you don’t want to disappoint when you have a bunch of teachers and a bunch of students saying they’re coming," Davis said. "That motivates us when people are watching to do it for them.”

It's especially helpful, he said, with road games against bigger Monroe County schools.

"When we travel to other places against bigger schools, our fan base goes with us, and just having people behind us to cheer us on to at the other schools, the bigger schools, it’s more fun," he said.

Brennen Briggs, football, Buddy Brasky, basketball, and Nick Burke, track, are all Batavia HS graduates and lifelong residents. Bromley thinks that further fuels their dedication to the school and the athletic program.

"The time commitment they put into ti and the love they have for Batavia High School is evident," Bromley said. "Those guys are 12-month-a-year coaches. If you go by the track, come by the football field, go by a weight room, come by a gym, one of those guys is probably doing something.

"The real special part about it," he added, "is it seems over recent years is they’ve really come together. They support each other, they share kids, so that’s why we’re seeing a lot of success."

All three share a high level of commitment to hard work and motivating their kids to work hard and stick through the tough things, but given the nature of team sports, Briggs and Brasky also model hard work by watching hours and hours of game film week after week.

"They spend days each week on just looking at film and trying to figure out what we can do to be successful," Bromley said. "The kids have bought into that. They know the coaches are going to work hard for them, so that’s why they work hard."

Asked which coach is the toughest on them, Mruczek, Schrider and Davis said Brasky is, hands down.

"He takes you to a whole new level," Mruczek said. "You've got to be tough. He drives you hard."

Schrider said there's no slacking off during a Brasky-led practice.

"You've got to give 120 percent the whole time," Schrider said.

Davis said that drive made Brasky kind of an "old-fashioned coach," but in a good way.

"When we do stuff, he wants us to be perfect and I think that’s what helps us in games," Davis said. "When we’re practicing, we're doing reps over and over and over again and then we’re more prepared than the other team."

Of the three athletes, only Mruczek has another upcoming season with Brasky, and rather than fearing the intensity, he's looking forward to it.

"It makes me want to be successful," said Mruczek, whose goal for 2016-17 is to repeat the trifecta.

The hard work, the focus on success, has helped each of the young men grow, they said, carrying over to school work and the rest of life.

"I think success on the field is helping me to be successful in school, because being on a sports team, it takes hard work and then in the classroom you’ve got to work hard there, too," Mruczek said.

Davis said he thinks he was still pretty young when he first joined the football team and got exposed to the dedication demanded by Briggs, but he learned quickly that dedication and hard work pays off and that has helped him beyond just athletics and even beyond academics.

"At first, I wasn’t really into putting into much time into sports," said Davis, who now intends to attend SUNY Brockport, compete in track and pursue a degree in athletic training. "Once I did, then everything else, plus the sports, I put more time into it, school, helping out in the community. I volunteered for a camp, a football camp for little kids and I never thought I would  do that. I just put time into stuff. It transfers over to everything else and I think it helped me."

There is a clear connection between athletic success and academic and life success, Bromley said. In athletics, you learn about the value of practice and repetition, how to deal with setbacks and how to work on a common goal with others -- all lessons that carry onto all aspects of adult life.

"Sports are life lessons," Bromley said. "That’s pretty much what it is. That’s probably the area in the academic world where you learn it the most. I would say, after school from 3 to 5, those kids are learning life lessons that they’re going to use forever. Hopefully, they leave after this year and they go on and they’re successful in college and they’re successful parents and some of them come back and coach. That would be great."

May 27, 2016 - 11:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in baseball, sports, Batavia HS, batavia.

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In a competitive sport, there can be only one winner, and in Brockport today, only one team would get to make history.

That team turned out to be Aquinas, which became only the third school (that we know of) in modern Section V history to win the boys' team-sport Triple Crown -- championships in football, basketball and baseball -- in a single school year.

It's the second time Aquinas has achieved the feat, first doing it in 2011-12.

Batavia has never done it, and with a 2-1 loss will have to wait for another opportunity somewhere down the road.

The records are incomplete, but John Moriello of the New York Sportswriters Association researched the question today, and as near as he can tell, the Triple Crown has only been achieved three times in Section V, though it's possible some smaller schools archived it.

"I suspect it's happened a few times over the years in the section, but there's not a database that would allow for pinning down specifics," Moriello said. "It's more likely in the smaller classifications with schools like Notre Dame, Clyde-Savannah, Hornell and Cal-Mum."

While Batavia notched Section V titles in football and basketball this year, Aquinas could go on to win the trifecta at the state level this year.

There were no Section V football championships before 1977.

Pittsford Mendon was the first Section V school to secure the Triple Crown with titles in 1982-83.

This year, 31 teams in the state had a chance at the Triple Crown when baseball season started, according to Moriello, and only Aquinas got that third critical win.

Batavia won its first baseball title in 1953, but hasn't taken a Section V crown since 1998 (it also had titles in 1980, 81 and 94).

The football program had great teams prior to 1977, but didn't get a Section V title until 1991 and then waited until the Brennan Briggs era to win again, getting titles in 2014 and this year.

Batavia became a powerhouse in basketball under Buddy Brasky, winning its first Section V title in 1998, and then in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016.

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To purchase prints, click here (the slideshow includes BHS softball).

May 27, 2016 - 11:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in softball, sports, Batavia HS.

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Batavia High School's softball team lost 14-4 today to Geneseo in a Class A2 title game played at Brockport HS.

These pictures are from the final inning and a half.

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May 21, 2016 - 5:25pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in baseball, sports, Batavia HS, batavia, steve ognibene's blog.

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The top seed in Class A2, the Batavia Blue Devils, bested 8 seed Geneva Panthers at Dwyer Stadium for the section V quarterfinal matchup Friday afternoon. 

Greg Mruczek pitched the first couple innings. Geneva made some key hits and took control early after two innings leading 2-1.

Trevor Sherwood pitched the next three innings as the game remained the same. Senior Alex Canty hit a triple in the third inning to get within scoring range. Geneva held strong and Batavia could not get a break.

Batavia pitcher Alex Jones came in the last two innings to hold off Geneva from scoring. The score was set at 2-1 score until the bottom of the seventh inning, senior Steven Stefaniak got a base hit to lead off  senior Tyler Hale, who was up next and hit a triple to bring Stefaniak in for Batavia to tie the game 2-2.

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Geneva was in trouble with one out, took a timeout to plan their strategy with two heavy hitters, Senior Alex Canty and Junior Jerry Reinhart up next.  Geneva intentionally walked them both Alex to 2nd base, Jerry to 1st, bases loaded.

Batavia called timeout, Tyler’s twin brother Senior Jake Hale was at the plate. 

"I have been playing baseball my whole life and told my brother to get the ball to the left side and knew he would come through," Tyler said.  "It may not have been a hard hit ball but it got in play and scored the run."

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Jake Hale hit a grounder to the left of home plate, dug in the dirt bounced in the air. Tyler made a run to home plate, the pitcher came in grabbed the ball, bobbled it, lost his grip and went in the air. He slid into home plate and Batavia won 3-2.

Jake Hales thoughts before taking the plate: "I went up there just to play baseball, waiting for my pitch to hit and swung and missed at one, took one that was low in the dirt. I found the one but barely got a piece of it and then ended up bringing Tyler in. I ran to first as fast as I could hoping I would not get out, but then when I heard the cheers I knew my brother made the run and we won the game, then excitement took over."

Batavia plays 4 seed Wayne at Hilton High School, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

For more photos go to: Steve Ognibene Photography

May 19, 2016 - 9:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, batavia kiwanis, news.

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Batavia High School's top academic seniors were honored today by the Batavia Kiwanis Club, and they were also congratulated by an unexpected guest at the meeting, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was in town for an event at Genesee Community College and stopped by the Kiwanis meeting after that event.

Hochul told the students that they've been fortunate to grow up in a community that has nurtured them and, unlike the era of her youth in WNY, provides more career opportunities at home. She encouraged them to get their college educations and then return home where they can not only better themselves and their families but their communities as well.

The top 10 students are Alexis Vasciannie, Ross Chua, Louis Leone, Sarah Wezel, Skylar Laesser, Noah Dobbertin, Andrea Gilebarto, Dharina Rathod, Samantha Cecere and Quinn Schrader.

Awards were also given out for vocal and instrumental achievement and citizenship.

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May 9, 2016 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, outdoors, batavia, Batavia HS.

This video is from Christopher Weicher at Batavia High School. He said each year the same mallard duck returns to the school to lay her eggs in the courtyard, where's sheltered from predators. The problem arises after the ducklings hatch and have no way on their own to get out of the courtyard for food and water, so staff gently nudges the family toward the doors and the great outdoors.

Saturday, Amy Scott sent in these pictures of city firefighters saving ducklings from a storm drain.

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May 3, 2016 - 10:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Batavia HS, batavia, news.

Tiara Filbert, who led Batavia's Lady Blue Devils to the team's first Section V title has been recognized by the NYS Sportswriters Association as one of New York's best high school basketball players.

Filbert has been named to the All-State First Team.

The sportswriters select 14 teams plus honorable mentions in Class A and no other player from Section V made any of the top six teams. In all, six players from Section V Class A were honored.

In Class C, Pembroke's Aralyse Johnson received honorable mention. In Class D, Elba's Alex Reigle made fifth team.

April 25, 2016 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mr. Batavia, Batavia HS, news, batavia.

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The winners of last week's Mr. Batavia contest at Batavia High School presented their checks to the charities of their choices today in the school's library.

Above, Mr. Batavia Ross Chua presents a check for $2,055 to his father, Dave Chua. Dave is with the Batavia Kiwanis Club and leads the club's 5K team, which raises funds for research into autism.

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Micheal Hughes, one of two second-place finishers, presented a check for $1,020 to Jaylene Smith-Kilner and Jessica Maguire Tomidy for Habitat for Humanity.

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Dwayne Fonda presented his check to Chuck Marra, with the American Red Cross.

April 16, 2016 - 2:11pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in Batavia HS, Mr. Batavia, batavia, news.

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Batavia High School held its fourth annual Mr. Batavia Competition Friday evening. Twelve seniors participated in four categories – talent, swimsuit, lip sync and tux walk, with their efforts being scored by a four-member panel of judges.

Contestants were Alex Canty, Ross Chua (pictured above), Adonis Davis, Noah Dobbertin, Dwayne Fonda, Tyler Hale, Michael Hughes, Jake Kasmarek, Josh Kurtz, Zach Lee, Alex Mott and Trevor Sherwood.

Tuxedos provided by Charles Men's Shop, sunglasses by Reed Eye Associates, crew T-shirts by Extreme Streetwear, with additional support from Big Pauly’s Pizza.

The judges are pictured below, from left, are BSCD Board Member Shawna Murphy, Reed Eye Associates Dr. Kim Rosati, Batavia City Police Officer Pete Flanagan and Thompkins Insurance Agency VP Joe Teresi.

Nearly 700 people attended the event and proceeds set a new record high of $4,000. Second place was a tie between Mike Hughes, who donated to Habitat for Humanity, and Dwayne Fonda, who gave to the American Red Cross. They each will give 25 percent to their sponsors. Half (50 percent) goes to Autism Research on behalf of Ross Chua who won the event. All three winners received a $25 Amazon gift card.

For more photos: Steve Ognibene Photography

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April 13, 2016 - 1:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mr. Batavia, Batavia HS, batavia, news.

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Article by Zachary Lee, an aspiring journalist and contestant in Mr. Batavia.

It’s finally here: the Mr. Batavia contest will be held at 7 p.m. April 15th — be there.

Mr. Batavia this year will be the biggest we’ve ever had; the occupancy of the auditorium at Batavia High School is around 800 and we intend to fill that to the point the auditorium doors are bursting.

Mr. Batavia is a community charity event; each candidate selects a nonprofit organization to represent with the charity of the contest the top three winners receiving money raised. In Mr. Batavia there are five different categories, each scored by selected judges from throughout the community. They are lip sync, talent, questionnaire, swimsuit, and tux walk. The guys also do a group dance in the beginning to get the audience hyped up for the contest.

Last year’s Mr. Batavia was probably one of the best we’ve ever produced here at BHS. Whether it was Brandon Smart’s Micheal Jackson tribute or Dylan Beckman’s dramatic reading of "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj, these performances were borderline legendary. The 12 candidates up for Mr. Batavia 2016 believe that they can do even better.

Lisa Robinson, event director and student government advisor said, “Mr. Batavia is an event where we raise money for community nonprofits. Everywhere this event gets larger and we believe this year will be easily our largest we’ve had. ”       

Here are the candidates and the nonprofit organizations they represent in the order they’ll perform:

  • Tyler Hale – Michael Napoleon Foundation
  • Noah Dobbertin – 25 Neediest
  • Adonis Davis – All Babies Cherished
  • Zachary Lee – Anna’s Wish
  • Trevor Sherwood – Batavia VA
  • Alex Mott – Golisano’s Children Hospital
  • Michael Hughes – Habitat for Humanity
  • Alex Canty – Volunteers for Animals
  • Ross Chua – Organization for Autism Research
  • Jake Kasmarek – Genesee Cancer Assistance
  • Josh Kurtz – Salvation Army
  • Dwayne Fonda -- American Red Cross
March 6, 2016 - 11:57am
posted by Nick Sabato in sports, Batavia HS, batavia, basketball, news.

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Batavia is no stranger to Far West Regional games. The Blue Devils have been to a few under Head Coach Buddy Brasky, including a thriller against Olean in 2013 that saw Jeff Redband's game-winner find itself on a SportsCenter Top 10 on ESPN.

Not many imagined that Batavia would be playing in a Far West Regional game this year, but the Blue Devils were indeed there, taking on a Williamsville South squad that saw its season come to an end in that very game last year.

The Billies came in riding a 13-game winning streak and were seemingly a heavy favorite to win, but Batavia withstood everything its opponent had to throw at them, holding a one-point lead late in the game.

Williamsville South, like a championship team does, rose to the challenge as Jordan Buell knocked down a three-pointer with 10.2 seconds left to give his team a two-point lead.

Batavia had one more crack, and chose to get the ball to a fifth-year varsity player, Malachi Chenault -- the only holdover from the 2013 team -- but the ball was knocked away and Brasky felt his player was fouled.

The call was not made and Williamsville South escaped with a 53-51 lead, ending Batavia's season at Buffalo State College on Saturday night (March 5).

"Did he get thrown to the ground or didn't he?" said Brasky when asked about the play after the game.

Midway through the third quarter it didn't seem like the Blue Devils would even be in position to have such a call matter late in the game.

Leading by six at halftime, Williamsville South exploded out of the gates, using an 11-3 run -- capped by a one-handed dunk by Graham Dolan -- to take a 14-point lead. It seemed like the Billies were going to cruise to Glens Falls, but Batavia was not ready to go down without a fight.

The Blue Devils went on a 13-4 run to end the third quarter down by just five points...and then T Sean Ayala took over.

The sophomore went 0 for 7 in the first half, scored seven points in the third quarter and then went on to score 13 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter.

"It was just a matter of me feeling it," Ayala said. "I just told myself to come out and lead the team as best as I can because I'm the best shooter on the team."

Ayala would help lead Batavia all the way back and eventually they took a 51-50 lead on a Chenault free throw with 1:16 to play.

The Blue Devils had a chance to increase the lead but Chenault missed the front end of a one-and-one and Williamsville South grabbed the rebound.

The Billies were looking to use a play that had previously gotten star point guard Greg Dolan into the lane successfully, but Batavia closed it off, forcing them to kick it out and eventually it fell into the hands of Buell for the game-winner.

"We ran a play that had worked twice in a row for Greg to get in the lane and they guarded it very well," Williamsville South Head Coach Gabe Michael said. "But Jordan is always in that backside corner so it's hard to get over to him if we work the ball and Myles [Hall] did a nice job passing that shot up to get Jordan wide open."

It was just Buell's second basket of the game and Batavia was ultimately unsuccessful in tying or taking the lead on its last possession, regardless of the foul or non-foul call.

Hidden in the spoils of defeat was the fact that the Blue Devils battled back from a double-digit lead in the second half to eventually take the lead and put themselves in position to win the game late.

"In my 25 years coaching, in the fourth quarter, that's the most heart I've ever seen a team show," Brasky said.

Greg Dolan had team-high 17 points, six rebounds and six assists while his older brother Graham had 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for Williamsville South (21-3).

Chenault scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds while Trevor Sherwood had eight points and 14 rebounds in their final high school games for Batavia, which finishes 17-8.

Twitter: @SabatoNick

Video of controversial play at close of the game (by Nick Sabato):

Photos by Howard Owens.

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March 3, 2016 - 5:05am

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A1 Pittsford Sutherland hosted A2 Batavia at Gates Chili High School last night in the Far West Regional Qualifier playoff game.  

T Sean Alaya hit two three-point buckets and Malachi Chenault added field goals to lead the Devils 16-12 after the first period. Batavia's defensive play kept Pittsford Sutherland from scoring chances on the paint and the opponents had to change up their game.

Josh Mack scored six points and a steal with Jack Ward, both from Pittsford, to bring the game closer in the second period. However, Batavia's Ryan Hogan dropped a three-pointer and two buckets to keep the Devils lead to 25-22 at the half. Trevor Sherwood added a couple assists.

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The third period was led by Batavia as they held Pittsford Sutherland to four points. Holding them to four points was a key to our success, said Head Coach Buddy Brasky. Batavia's Greg Mruczek and Jake Schrider added some defensive play to allow Batavia to increase their lead to nine points 35-26 to end the quarter.  

In the fourth quarter Pittsford Sutherland fouled nine times to bring Batavia to score 14 points. Each time Pittsford Sutherland got the ball they were sinking threes left and right. Kevin Davis and Robbie Doggett combined for five three-point buckets; Jack Ward added four points but the Blue Devils held on and never gave up the lead to win 57-53.

Batavia's top scorers were Chenault 17 points, Hogan 12 and Alaya with 10.

Pittsford Sutherland's top contributors were Doggett 17, Mack 16 and Ward with 14.

Batavia's record increases to 17-7 and will play Section VI Williamsville South with a record of 21-3 this Saturday at Buffalo State College at 7 p.m.

For more photos go to: Steve Ognibene Photography

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March 1, 2016 - 5:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in heroin addiction, Act Genesee, news, batavia, Batavia HS.

Photo by Steve Ognibene of resident DEA agent-in-charge John Flickinger. 

Morgan Brittany Axe came from a good family with friends and relatives who loved her. She played volleyball and became a cheerleader. She had relatives here who attended Batavia High School. She traveled the same streets we travel.

"She looked like you," her mother, Deanna Axe, told the crowd gathered Monday afternoon in the BHS auditorium. "She is you."

But Morgan died in December at age 24 from an overdose after losing a four-year battle to overcome heroin addiction. She was pregnant with Deanna Axe's grandson, Isaiah Douglas Lee Mathis, at the time of her death and the unborn baby died, too.

The heart-wrenching story was shared with students and about 100 community members at a forum called "Pay Attention: Addressing Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Addiction in Our Community."

Morgan's downward spiral was triggered when a young man she loved committed suicide while talking on the phone with her. She was devastated by the loss and a doctor prescribed Xanax. Later someone suggested "Try this, you'll feel better. And she did."

But in that one moment, everything changed. The pain was gone but only fleetingly. Then came the numbness, sadness, isolation, truancy, poor grades, joylessness, more drugs.

"The first time you choose, the second time the disease chooses you," Deanna said. "And the disease takes over. You can't get back no matter how hard you try."

Jail. Institutions. Death.

"Deal with life on life's terms. ... There's no situation in your life that can be overcome by taking drugs," Deanna said. "When you wake up tomorrow after the drugs have worn off, you have the same problems."

The Rachel Platten song "Stand By You" provided the soundtrack to a brief video showing highlights from Morgan's life. The cute little girl. The young adolescent cuddling the chocolate-colored puppy. The happy-go-lucky teen taking candid selfies with friends. The beautiful young woman with long dark hair and a winning smile. 

"(Addiction) will knock you to your knees. ... Please don't take this path," Deanna said. "It will lead to disaster."

In addition to the first-hand account about the Axe family, the forum featured an overview by William J. Hochul Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York (spanning 17 counties), and input from law enforcement personnel from Batavia PD, Le Roy PD, and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. It was sponsored by a coalition of community volunteers known as Act Genesee, which promotes "healthy and safe choices through education and action." Representatives from the county, the Prevention Resource Center, State Police, GCASA, Batavia Urgent Care and others on the front lines of the opioid-addiction epidemic were also there.

Hochul said the United States has 4 percent of the world's population, but consumes 99.9 percent of the planet's hydrocodone. (A semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from codeine.)

"Either we have more people in pain here than the rest of the nations put together," Hochul said, "or something went wrong..."

Whether addiction starts with prescribed pain meds that become indispensable, pilfering pills a family member or friend's medicine cabinet, smoking marijuana laced with heroin, experimenting with synthetic opioids, or snorting or shooting heroin outright, the ultimate effect on the body and brain chemistry is the same, Hochul said. The road to addiction is typically sure and swift. It's also multifaceted and complex so a conversation about addiction to prescription painkillers needs to include the once-taboo topic of heroin.

The tragic irony is that once someone experiences that first high, they spend the rest of their days trying in vain to recapture the euphoria. If they can't get the prescription they want for pain meds or can't afford to pay $50 for a pill on the black market, they go for the cheaper stuff, and that's how heroin and synthetic opioids have come to grip so many.

(A PBS Frontline documentary which premiered Friday called "Chasing Heroin" artfully delves into the gritty reality of the national crisis. (Search Google and view online free.) Not to be confused with the 2010 documentary about an addict's world called "Chasing the Dragon," which was highly recommended by yesterday's panel.)

"This isn't the usual anti-drug message," resident DEA agent-in-charge John Flickinger said. "We're here because people are dying. This is different. It's mentally and physically addicting. After one hit, you are 'chasing the dragon.' People feel addicted for life. ... This truly is a drug that if you try it once, it may be the only thing you ever do. ... This is not something you want to experiment with -- it's too addictive."

Drug traffickers know this and they'll do anything to make a buck and get a customer for life, Flickinger said.

They often cut their product with "China white," a synthetic heroin called fentanyl, which comes from China and is very inexpensive but is 20 to 30 times more powerful than plant-based heroin. By cutting this into their product, they can stretch their resources and make more money. It just takes three or four grains (think as in grains of salt) in a dose or "fix" of heroin to amp up the high. But the traffickers plop it all in a household blender and mix it up, get the stuff packaged and out the door. They don't really know, or care, if there are three grains of fentanyl per dose or 23. It's all about the money, Flickinger said. 

This is NOT a just a teen problem. It's way too big. The number of people killed every year from heroin and prescription drug overdoses exceeds those killed from violent crime, including gang-related deaths, and car wrecks combined.

In Erie County in 2015, more than 250 deaths are attributed to opioid overdose, Hochul said, noting that during the same year there were 40 homicides.

In addition, 650 people in Buffalo were categorized as "Narcan saves," said Act Genesee President Anita Strollo, meaning they would likely have died if not for law enforcement or medical technicians dosing them with the anti-opioid nasal spray Narcan, thereby reversing the effect of drugs in the users' system and keeping them alive.

In other words, the grim statistics would be greatly multiplied. But even the use of Narcan has become problematic, according to Le Roy Det. John Condidorio, who said the dope out there is so powerful nowadays instead of the one or two doses of Narcan that used to work, now three or four doses are required to pull someone back from the brink of death. 

Sometimes the same people get a second chance more than once.

Condidorio said he's sick of being at the scene of a 14-year-old who overdosed, or a 16-year-old.

A women in the audience said during a Q&A session afterward that her child is struggling with heroin addiction. Her family is hurting, fearful, ashamed.

"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do," she said about parenting an addict. 

But she praised the addiction-treatment drug Vivitrol (naltrexone), which costs $1,800 for a month's supply, for bringing hope their way. For the past two years, it has been working.

It was also working for Morgan Axe. She was doing great taking Vivitrol and getting a handle on her life. But after she became pregnant at some point she decided to stop taking her medication out of concern for her unborn child. Then came the second most fateful decision she would ever make: to use once more; to get high just one more time.

She found her connection on Facebook and didn't have to drive to some dark alley in a big city; the goods were delivered right to her door. She used again, and died.

"Don't let this be your story," Deanna said. "Choose life. Choose reality. Okay?"

Panelists urged parents to keep tabs on their children's use of technology.

"If you aren't on your kids' social media and monitoring their cell phone calls every day, you're missing out on where they spend 90 percent of their time," Hochul told the audience.

He gave an example of a teenage girl who, along with friends, found ways online to "reverse engineer" so-called tamper-proof pills so they could get high. Hochul said if they had scanned the teens' browser history, they would've seen what they were up to.

Parents were also encouraged to read:

  • "The Secret Life of Teens: Young People Speak Out About Their Lives" [Gayatri Patnaik, Michelle T. Shinseki]
  • "The Secret Lives of Teen Girls: What Your Mother Wouldn't Talk About But Your Daughter Needs to Know" [Evelyn Resh, MPH CNM]

For family members or friends struggling with an addict, a new adult Nar-Anon group meets on Monday nights at 6:30 at Horizon Health Care -- Batavia Recovery Center, 314 Ellicott St., Batavia. March 7 will be the third meeting.

Addicts are welcome to attend the Narcotics Anonymous meetings three times a week at The Salvation Army, 529 E. Main St., Batavia. They are at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays; 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays; and 7 p.m. on Fridays.

"You are not alone," Deanna told the audience. "If you want help, there is help for you."

February 29, 2016 - 2:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Batavia HS, batavia.

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We've seen Buddy Brasky celebrate sectional championships before, but he seemed to relish Sunday's 64-57 win over Wilson with a little more gusto.

"This was a very emotional one," Brasky told reporters after the game. "In a lot of ways, this was the hardest one. We had a lot of ups and downs during the season, but we came together at the right time, got into a little roll at the end."

The Blue Devils are now 16-7, and those seven wins are unusually high for a Brasky-coached team and a sectional championship and reflect the up-and-down nature of Batavia's 2015-16 season. There were certainly a couple of points during the course of the year that even making it to the postseason seemed in doubt.

"It's a little bit more special because it wasn't expected," Brasky said.

One challenge this year was the Blue Devils lacked what Brasky called that "go-to-guy," the guy who scores in bunches and the other team knows they have to account for him at all times. Last year, it was Jeff Redband. Before that, Jalen Smith. Before Smith, Andrew Hoy and prior to Hoy, Mike Chmielowiec.

The current edition of the Blue Devils learned over the course of the season, they had to call on each other and pick up each other to be successful.

"The good thing about this (no standout scorer) is that when one person is off, we've got other people to go to and they really step up when it's time," said senior forward Malachi Chenault.

That even attack was certainly evident over the 32 minutes of the championship game. Four players hit double figures in scoring and a fifth was just a point short. TeeSean Ayala led the way with 17 points, hitting four three-pointers, with Jake Schrider adding 13, Ryan Hogan, 12, Chenault 11, and Trevor Sherwood, nine. Chenault also snagged 11 rebounds, with Schrider and Hogan picking up seven apiece, Sherwood, six, and Ayala, five.

"It's kind of fitting that it was spread out like that today because that's the kind of team we were," Brasky said.

It was the type of game where it seemed Batavia was in control all the way, and most of the time, especially from about midway through the first quarter, they held the lead. Sometimes it was by 10 or 11 points, sometimes, only two or three. They held on, but not so tightly that the specter of a Wilson run didn't hang heavy over the court.

"That's the way it's been for us all year and one reason it's been that way is we struggle to score," Brasky said. "We can never put a team away. We get up six, seven, eight, nine points, even 12, and we have trouble delivering the knockout punch."

There was a point about midway through the third quarter when it looked as if Batavia was about to let Wilson make a run and Brasky called a time out.

"They were saying, 'we can't fold, we can't fold,' and I told them, 'You're not going to fold,' " Brasky said. " 'You're not going to fold. All you've got to do is relax, take a deep breath and you're in control of this game.You're not going to fold,' and they didn't. They handled the pressure. They made a lot of clutch free throws down the stretch and did what is needed to win down the stretch."

It was a well-timed timeout.

"Sometimes you wait too long because you want to save your timeouts for the end of the game, but sometimes you've just got to call them and I thought it was time, so I called it and it stemmed the tide, I guess," Brasky said.

As meaningful as the championship was for Brasky, it also meant a lot to the players, who endured the same ups and downs during the season as their coach.

"We had a goal coming in to win a sectional championship," said Ryan Hogan. "When it came time to start sectionals, we had to turn it on, and we knew that. The seniors had to step it up and we did."

Sherwood agreed.

"We knew we just had to work together and play as a team and that's what we did tonight and it paid off," Sherwood said.

Chenault, a senior who joined the varsity squad in eighth grade, just before that team headed into the postseason, said winning with the seniors he's practiced with throughout his basketball life was something special.

"It's just a great feeling, you know, with the squad we have and the effort we put into it," Chenault said. "It's about due that Batavia won one again. This is my senior class and going it with them is a wonderful feeling."

One reason the team was able to pull together, Brasky said, is that the team held together as a team, even in the down times.

"They all really cared about each other, and that's what kept us afloat, too," Brasky said. "Through ups and downs, they really cared about each other."

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