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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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To purchase prints, click here.

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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February 27, 2016 - 1:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, Batavia HS, batavia.

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It's been 26 years since Jeanette Filbert played in a sectional title game. In her senior year at Batavia High School, the Lady Blue Devils came into the final with a 19-0 record and high hopes of winning the school's first championship in girls basketball.

The girls didn't win that year. Pittsford-Mendon, a perennial powerhouse, dashed the dreams of hardwood glory for the girls and Filbert never forgot what that was like, and for 26 years, she's watched from the sidelines as Mendon came out on top game after game and blocked Batavia's path to the Section V trophy it lacked.

But history doesn't always repeat. Sometimes, life comes full circle and dreams do come true.

Friday night, Batavia finally -- and perhaps for the first time ever -- beat Mendon, winning the long-coveted Section V Class A2 trophy by a score of 53-42.

It was sweet revenge.

"I'm impressed," Filbert said. "They (Mendon) always have a good program. They are well coached always, and being from Batavia, a small town, coming here to play in a Rochester district, it always felt a little unfair, but I'm very proud of our girls. I can't express how I truly feel. They're a well-coached team and these girls in Batavia, they deserve this."

The girls on the 2016 championship team include a basketball prodigy, arguably the best female player in Section V, and that would be Tiara Filbert, Jeanette's daughter.

"First, I give all honor to God," Jeanette said. "We are truly blessed with her talent, but there are no words to describe how I feel right now. Like I said, this was 26 years in the making and to be able to be here and to have my daughter be a part of the team that brought them here ... again, it's not about her, it's about the team effort. She couldn't do what she did without the team helping her."

What Tiara did was score 27 points, grab 18 rebounds and notch five steals on the way to being named tournament MVP.

Tiara being Tiara, even when asked pointedly about her performance, didn't take any credit herself.

"We all came in with a positive mindset," she said. "We knew we were going to do everything we can to win. I know I had to come in and play my game and I knew our team, we were going to come together and be able to play 32 minutes of basketball."

And that they did. It never really felt like Mendon had a chance. Oh, they would claw back from 12 and 14 point deficits, but then Batavia would put together another 10- or 12-point run and pull away again.

Filbert said Mendon never managed to get the team rattled, even when they got within a point or two of the lead.

"We all know it's part of basketball," Tiara said. "You've got to keep going on to the next one no matter what happens in a game. You've got to keep an optimistic outlook on things, and we knew our defense was going to take care of our offense for us."

Head Coach Marty Hein said he had a lot of confidence in his seniors, especially Tiara coming into the game.  

"If she's not the best girl in Section V, she's second place," Hein said. "Out of 115 teams in Section V, if I've got the second best player, anything can happen. Mendon's a great team. Taking nothing away from Mendon, nothing away from Todd, but having that type of caliber player, it's going to take two, three girls to even come close to stopping her."

Speaking of team effort, there would be no sectional title in Batavia today if not for the play of Sam Cecere, whose double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds) was crucial to Batavia's success.

By her own admission, Cecere has struggled a bit lately scoring. In the semifinal game three nights ago, she missed her first 10 shots before scoring six in the second half. In practice this week, she worked hard on getting in position a bit quicker and finishing with the ball in the bucket.

"The feeling (of winning the title) is just unreal," Cecere said. "Four years ago, I was in this gym as a freshman and we lost a sectional final and from that point forward, I was motivated to get a trophy and make it ours. The fact that we got here and got a great win just feels unreal. It's amazing."

The win was especially meaningful because it came against Mendon, Cecere said. 

"It feels good to give them a taste of their own medicine, really," Cecere said. "We've always lost to them as long as I've been on varsity and they've always been hard games. They always have players who are so good, but this time, we were the better team and that feels amazing."

There was a time early in the season when even the most confident of coaches and the most rabid of Blue Devil fans might have a flicker of doubt that this truly would be the year the girls would win their first sectional title, and that was in January, when the Lady Devils lost a key component of the team's offense. Maddy McCully's season ended during the Rotary Tournament when she suffered an ACL and MCL injury.

There were no post-game All-Star trophy's for McCully, who cheered her teammates from the bench dressed in her jersey with a black calf-to-thigh brace on her leg, but Hein said her contribution to the team can't be understated.

Even injured, McCully grew as a senior leader, Hein said. 

"Maddy's growth made Taylor's (Stefaniak) growth," Hein said. "Watching last year's film against Mendon, she looked like a freshman, completely like a freshman. Ryann (Stefaniak), who is a freshman now, in the second game of the season, when we lost to Mendon, looked like a freshman. You know, she didn't look like a freshman tonight. That all goes to Maddy's help, all the time talking with the girls."

While neither of the Stefaniak sisters made it into double digits on scoring Friday (they scored five apiece), they both played with confidence and helped with ball movement on offense and were key parts of Batavia's successful defense.

"They definitely stepped up big time for us after Maddy went down," Tiara said. "They had big games against Notre Dame in our tournament. They came out strong. They kept coming back. We just had to keep them in a positive mindset and they came out here and they handled their business."

Top photo: Tiara Filbert.

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Always fearless in the paint, Ryann Stefaniak did get tagged with an offensive foul in the second quarter.

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Sam Cecere was dominate in the low post.

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Filbert, as usual, was a threat inside and out.

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Taylor Stefaniak with a layup in the fourth quarter.

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Sam Cecere's father was ebullient (see slideshow below) and emotional in the final minutes as it became increasingly clear his daughter's team was about to win a championship.

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Post-game celebration.

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The team bus received a police and fire escort down Main Street when the team returned to Batavia.

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Back at the high school.

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February 25, 2016 - 2:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, theater, arts, entertainment, news.

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Batavia High School's Production Club will present a musical product of Mary Poppins next week with Nick Piedmon playing Bert and Andrea Gilebarto as Mary Poppins.

Photos are from yesterday's rehearsal. 

Caryn Burk Wood is the director and Dan Grillo the musical director.

The cast includes Ross Chua as Mr. Banks, Chelsea Jensen as Mrs. Banks, Eryn Dunn as Jane Banks and Colin Dunn as Michael Banks.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m., March 4 and March 5, and 2 p.m., March 6.

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February 24, 2016 - 9:29am
posted by James Burns in sports, blue devils, basketball, batavia, Batavia HS.

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Tuesday night in Section V playoffs, at Rush-Henrietta High School, the Batavia Blue Devils met University Preparatory Charter for the boys varsity semifinal game.

Maybe it was the strange surroundings or the stress of the playoffs, because for the first few positions both teams seemed at a loss for what to do with the ball. After a few minutes, and air balls, U-Prep scored first and then quickly led Batavia 6-0. Batavia’s first score came after 3 minutes of play with a three-pointer followed up shortly afterward with a 2-point play.

Batavia followed U-Prep, until with 2 minutes left in the first quarter, they tied the game

With 1:40 left in the first Batavia took the lead.

At the end of first period Batavia led 17-12 and did not give up the lead, finishing the half up 30 to 26.

Batavia built up their lead from the half. With 3:30 remaining in the third, Batavia looked to dominate with a score of 41 to 30 Coach Brasky cautioned the team during a timeout not to get too comfortable or too confident U-Prep would battle back.

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At the end of the third Batavia led 43 to 37 as U-Prep dug into their lead.

Batavia held onto a small lead until with 3:17 left to play U-Prep took over the lead with a score of 48 to 49 beating Batavia with offensive rebounds.

With one minute left the momentum of the game was with U-Prep. They had increased the lead to 3 points after Batavia had lead by as many as 13.

With 50 seconds left, Malachi Chenault made a strong move from under the basket and brought the game back to within 1 point.

U-Prep was not able to score on their next possession and with 18.7 seconds left it was Batavia’s ball. It was all number 22 Hogan, from coast to coast with a hard dribble down the court to mid key, where Hogan pulled up and shot……Off the backboard and through the hoop! In for two points.

Batavia was up by one with 4.4 seconds on the clock. U-Prep got the ball back and tried a desperation shot from beyond the three-point line that found nothing but the floor and the screams of joy from the Batavia students bussed in for the game.

Final score: Batavia 52, University Preparatory Charter 51.

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For more game pictures click below.

 

February 23, 2016 - 11:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, Batavia HS, batavia.

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A lockdown defense and the domination of a star player in the first half propelled the Lady Blue Devils to a 57-49 win over Honeoye Falls-Lima in Penfield on Monday night.

The victory in the Section V Class A2 semifinal sets up a championship game for Batavia at Gates Chili at 6 p.m., Friday, against Pittsford Mendon.

Tiara Filbert, who, incredibly, has yet to be recruited by a college program despite a school record 1,530 career points, knocked down 23 points in the first half and grabbed 13 rebounds to help Batavia open up a 35-11 halftime lead.

That huge lead led to Head Coach Marty Hein's biggest frustration of the evening. The team came out on cruise control in the third quarter and almost allowed HFL a chance to get back into the game. Slack play won't win championships, especially against Mendon.

"I know it's hard for them, you're up by 20 or whatever it was at half time, and it looks like it's going to be that type of game, but that's not their job," Hein said. "If I want to pull the plug, that's my job. If I'm putting you on the floor, you need to go all out all the time. We didn't. Instead of me celebrating and being happy, I'm kind of not right now because Friday it's going to require all 32 minutes."

The team's flatness and a more aggressive defense against Filbert held her to only one field goal in the second half, so she finished with 26 points. Sam Cecere got untracked, though, to put up six points, and Taylor Stefaniak continued to fire from outside, adding two more three-pointers to the three she sank in the first half, giving her 16 points for the game. Ryann Stefaniak finished with seven points.

Cecere and the Stefaniak sisters will be key to Friday's game against Mendon.

"Tiara is Tiara and you're never going to completely shut her down," Hein said. "But somebody else is going to have to contribute or it's going to be a long game."

After the game, there were college recruiters waiting to talk with her, and of course, journalists waiting to interview her, and after each chat, Filbert wished each person a safe drive home, reflecting her natural tendency to think of others.

That spirit, that willingness to share, is one reason she's been overlooked by this point by college coaches, Hein said. She's been a productive scorer since eighth grade, but she's always been willing to distribute and give her teammates their shots, which has kept her from building the kind of huge point totals that put players in the top 100 recruiting class.

"She's always worried about being a selfish player in the past and that's kind of hindered her a little bit on her college recruiting," Hein said. "Wherever she goes, they'll be a lucky team."

Filbert loves the game. She comes from a basketball family and she's always trying to get better.

After each game, Hein loads the game film to a Web site called Hudl, and Hein is able to track which of his players are reviewing tape and how much time they spend on the site. Typically, the time spent is measured in minutes, but not for Filbert.

"I mean, I can send something in the morning and she'll find a study hall somewhere in the day and somehow in the day of school she still manages to watch it for two hours during the day," Hein said. "That's crazy."

Filbert said basketball is just simply her life.

"I was born into the game, basically," Filbert said. "I've been playing it ever since I was young. I watch it every chance I get. I'm able to experience it through watching my brother grow up in it. My parents come from a basketball background. It's just something I'm born to do."

As for Mendon, Filbert said she has to work on her own game and help the team get ready for what will surely be a tough match.

"It's good to have a close team because whenever we're down, we just make sure our heads are up," Filbert said. "We've got to make sure we stay with each other. Our heads are all connected and we're on the same goal."

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February 22, 2016 - 5:58am
posted by Steve Ognibene in Notre Dame, hockey, sports, batavia, Batavia HS.

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In a hometown rival matchup the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2nd seed) played the Batavia Blue Devils (7th seed) for the Section V quarter finals Saturday at the Faletti Ice Arena.

Batavia came out strong the first period to attack Notre Dame's Ethan Conrad but he held strong on Batavia's attempts. 

Late in the first period at 4:21, Notre Dame went on a scoring streak scoring three quick goals in three minutes. Brad Misiak scored the first goal from Cameron Clark, pictured below. Hayden Chamberland and Michael Keeler scored the second Irish goal 50 seconds later. Ryan Webster from ND, pictured above, scored the third goal with a minute left in the first period. Shots on goal were 15-6 after one period of play.

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The referees called no penalties in the first period when Notre Dame lead 3-0. During the second period, Batavia got physical with some interference and roughing calls that led to a power play goal by Ryan Webster just shortly after Peter Madafferi added one and the irish led by 5-0 midway through the second period.  

Both teams drew multiple penalties in this period as the game got more intense. Exchange student Henrik Toivianinen tallied the sixth goal with a minute left in the period, which became the final, 6-0. Batavia added seven shots to Notre Dame's nine.

The third period was very scrappy on both sides as frustrations mounted for Batavia. More penalties were added on both sides and the shots were 15-6 for a game ending 39-19 led by Notre Dame.

The Irish will move on to the semifinals this Thursday night at 7:30 versus Aquinas at the Gene Polisseni Center at RIT.

For more pictures go to: Steve Ognibene Photography

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February 21, 2016 - 12:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, batavia, Batavia HS, basketball.

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Batavia's stifling defense allowed the Blue Devils to open an 18-point first-half lead that Monroe couldn't overcome in the second half, even as Rayshawn Boswell hit a streak of three-point jumpers on his way to a 24-point game.

Batavia had four players score in double digits to advance the Blue Devils in the Class A2 sectional playoffs with a 60-52 win.

The Blue Devils still held a 10-point lead with two minutes left in the game, but Monroe continued to battle and twice pulled within three points in the final minute.

Malachi Chenault and Jake Schrider both scored 14 points, Tee Sean Ayala added 13 and Ryan Hogan scored 12.

Top photo: Steve Stefaniak with a layup in the second quarter.

The #2 seeded Blue Devils face the #3 seed in A2 U-Prep at 8 p.m., Tuesday, at Rush-Henrietta.

The Lady Devils play Honeoye Falls in Penfield at 7:45 p.m., tomorrow.

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February 20, 2016 - 9:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, Batavia HS, batavia.

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Tiara Filbert led the way with 23 points for the Lady Blue Devils on Friday night, helping to propel Batavia to a 59-22 win over Eastridge in their Section V playoff game.

Ryann Stefaniak and Taylor Stefaniak each scored 14 points.

Also, Friday, Elba girls beat Belfast 63-49.

In boys basketball, Oakfield-Alabama fell to Geneseo, 37-59.

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