Tag Archives: Sports

Steve Lavin to undergo cancer surgery today


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of St. John's University

St. John’s Coach Steve Lavin will undergo surgery today to treat his prostate cancer which was diagnosed last fall.

Lavin, entering his second year on the Johnnies sideline, coached the Red Storm to their most successful season in a decade last year. It was only after the season that the school announced that the 47 year old had been diagnosed with an early stage of the disease during the season.

“The advantage of early detection is that we were afforded the time to research all options,” said Lavin. “After weighing treatment options with the experts at Sloan we have decided surgery is the best path to take for my particular prostate cancer condition.”

Lavin is expected to return to his coaching responsibilities after a short recovery period. The season kicks-off on October 15 with the team’s first practice following a tip-off event the prior night.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s chairman of the Department of Surgery, Peter T. Scardino, M.D. will perform the surgery. Scardino said that the coach should make a quick and full recovery. It is also highly likely that this treatment will eradicate the cancer, the doctor said

Lavin has involved himself with organizations promoting cancer research and awareness for the past decade, including Coaches vs. Cancer and The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

As part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers weekend, Lavin wore white Nike Air Force Ones during the Johnnies upset of Duke to help raise awareness and support the American Cancer Society. Claiming comfort and not superstition, Lavin continued to sport sneakers during games for the remainder of the season.

The Johnnies enter the season looking to build on their success of a year ago when a senior-laden team reached the NCAA tournament. The year’s team features just one returning player – junior guard Malik Stith – and includes seven freshmen.

Game in his Veins


| smosco@queenscourier.com

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Kids will bring anything into school for show and tell. Sometimes, it’s not even an item they’re proud of, but rather, the first thing they saw when they remembered it was show and tell day. Of course, some kids do bring an item that remains a source of pride – and at least one kid brings in the picture of what he hopes will be his future.

Keith Miller is a rising star on the Lutheran School of Flushing & Bayside (LSFB) basketball team, the Tigers. On his show and tell day, he brought in a picture of his father dunking at Madison Square Garden. The senior Keith tried out for the New York Knicks – a fact that leaves the junior Keith with a passion for the hardwood game.

“I love basketball, it makes me feel free,” said Miller, a towering 12-year-old eighth grader who stands at almost 5 feet 11 inches. “When I’m on the court, nothing else matters. I have tunnel vision.”

The power forward is back on the Tigers after a year at a different school. He returned to LSFB to rediscover old friendships and to dominate in his favorite sport. Once practice begins in mid-October, Miller figures to be on the court after school at least twice per week as he gears up for the start of the season in January.

By far the tallest player on the team, Miller’s main objective is to grab as many rebounds as possible and raise his team’s odds of second-chance points. It’s an important role on any basketball team, and one that Miller’s coach, Nicholas Singh, knows will improve the Tigers’ shot at victory.

“When he transferred schools, we missed him bad,” Singh said, referring to the year his Tigers played without Miller. “He has a real passion for the game – it runs in his family.”

But even with a passion for basketball running through his veins, Miller still knows that his game could use a few improvements. For starters, he wants to inject more aggression into his game and play a lot more “in your face” basketball, which will keep the opposition from getting to the hoop.

“When you’re aggressive, it stops the other team from getting easy shots,” he said. “Obviously, that’s the key to winning.”

Singh believes that aggression combined with towering stature will elevate Miller’s game to a level of pure dominance. He’s going to play some games at center this year, the coach said, adding that his size gives him more responsibility than other players.

“He hit a major growth spurt. He’s much taller than most other kids his age, so we are going to rely heavily on him for scoring and rebounds,” the coach said. “If we make the playoffs, that means he’s had a good year.”

Miller is looking to have a good year off the court as well. While playing sports gets his mind off school work, when he’s in the classroom Miller is all business. His average is in the 80s and his favorite subjects include science and social studies.

“I really like social studies because knowing about the past and your ancestors helps us grow in knowledge,” he said. “It’s important to know what they went through – it helps you appreciate what you have.”

And what Miller has, besides classroom smarts, is a strong lineage. Not only is his dad an avid player, his sister Felicia won a championship with LSFB – so obviously this is a family that has been up and down the court.

But you don’t have a family of winners without someone putting the emphasis on schoolwork. Miller’s mom Victoria instilled in him the importance of finishing all of his schoolwork before he steps onto the court.

Once that work is completed, Miller is free to play ball, a fact that Singh knows might get his team back where it belongs.

“Our goal as always is to make the playoffs,” Singh said. “Some of the schools from the Bronx and other places might not take us seriously because we play in the suburbs. But that’s fine. We’ve never been classified as a basketball school, but with players like Keith, things have changed.”

High School Football Roundup


| jlane@queenscourier.com

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Holy Cross defeats St. Francis Prep

On Saturday night, September 10, the Holy Cross Knights played host to the Terriers of Saint Francis Preparatory School at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx. For the first time in a number of years, this marquee match-up was a non-league game as the Terriers moved from the Catholic High School Football League (CHSFL) AAA division last year to the CHSFL AA division this year. Holy Cross remains in the CHSFL AAA division as a top dog contender.

Holy Cross, ranked seventh in the CHSFL, came in to the game with size, strength, and confidence. The Knights are expected to have a superb season as they face a difficult schedule. In front of a standing room only crowd, on the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, both teams were revved up and ready to go. Sophomore running back Brandon Pelzer sprung into action scoring two touchdowns both on breakout runs thanks to the Knights’ exceptional offensive line. St. Francis drove down the field well on their second possession, but when they were forced to punt on fourth down, Malachi Hoskins blocked the punt and punched it in for a 30-yard touchdown.

Thomas Cani and the Terriers spread out their offense well after the first possession connecting to receivers down field and attempting to establish their running game with the duo of senior running back Casey Beaudoin and junior running back Kadir Wisdom. Wisdom caught the Terriers only touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Although a difficult game to swallow for the Terriers, as they lost to the Knights 31-6 opening night, St. Francis has a lot to look forward to this season. In the CHSFL AA division, the Terriers will be competitive. The players are hopeful to have a winning season and they understand that they need to string together a few productive seasons before they can move back up to the AAA division.

- Neil A. Carousso

John Adams improves to 2-0

The John Adams Spartans returned to the field and defeated the Wagner Falcons 22-12, in a game where chemistry proved most important.

“I think it’s fantastic – our chemistry is growing a little bit day by day,” said Spartans senior quarterback Danny Perez. “We are coming together as a team and taking it one game at a time.”

The game remained scoreless until the second quarter, when the Spartans got on the board first – a factor that head coach Gerry Weitzen believed was of utmost importance to the outcome of the game.

“It was very important to score first since we had a terrible game [last week] at Brooklyn Tech. This time we thought we could play with Wagner,” said Weitzen. “We figured we were competitive with them and I thought we were the favorites.”

After going up 14-0, the Spartans gave up Wagner’s first score of the year on a 75-yard touchdown run. The Spartans defense would give up 302 offensive yards on the day, with 270 of those coming on the ground. Senior Benjamin Ezike had 243 yards rushing on 17 attempts for Wagner.

“We made glaring mistakes and we let them back in the ballgame but as I said, a win is a win,” said Weitzen

For the Spartans, Perez was the offensive star of the game completing seven out of 10 passes for 125 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Because of his performance, Weitzen called Perez the MVP of the game – an honor which surprised the young field general.

“I didn’t even think he would say that,” said Perez. “Well you know MVP is just a title, it was the whole team. [Devven] Baker ran for over 100 yards and Antoine [Arnold] ran for 100 yards. Everybody came together, it was a team effort but I do acknowledge the MVP.”

Senior wide receiver Shane Hubbard was Perez’s favorite receiver, receiving 70 of the 125 yards. On the ground, seniors Arnold and Baker had a 105 and 111 yards respectively with each scoring a touchdown.

With the win, the Spartans improve their record to 1-1 while the Falcons record drops to 0-2.

Next up on the schedule will be the Spartans toughest test yet, the Tottenville Pirates who are one of the best teams in the city. In order for the Spartans to win the game everything must click and work seamlessly.

“Tottenville is a tough team and you know championship winners we are going to have to work hard every day, “Perez added.

- Heather Zwillenberg

Mets host wheelchair softball tournament


| smosco@queenscourier.com

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Top wheelchair athletes from around the world arrived at Citi Field for the 10th annual Mets Wheelchair Softball Tournament (MWST) with one goal in mind: to win the championship and show that disabilities should not resign one to a sedentary lifestyle.

The tournament was held on Lot A at the home of the New York Mets and featured teams of men, women and veterans who compete in sports wheelchairs. All teams were sponsored by a Major League Baseball team and the event was organized by the Wheelchair Sports Federation.

Wheelchair teams from Queens, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and the Bronx participated and, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, 100 students with special needs participated in a softball clinic led by the players.

Also, as a special treat for the ballplayers, Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver showed up to give the players some on-the-diamond advice. He even pitched to a few of the players, giving them the opportunity to hit off a baseball legend at the tournament on Friday, September 16.

Many of the men and women who played in the tournament are veterans wounded in battle, and many have competed and won medals at the Paralympics. There were also plenty of players who have competed in this tournament for many years, making them veterans both on and off the field.

On the field of play, the RIC (Rehabilitory Institute of Chicago) Cubs defeated the Mets wheelchair softball team, 10-4, to win the championship.

Mets Clubhouse – Hope on the Horizon


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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As yet another baseball season comes to a close, I would like to thank all of the readers for checking in each week. In this final issue of Mets Clubhouse, I look towards the future and list several players fans may see in a Mets uniform a few short years from now.

There is one word that strikes fear into the heart of every sports fan: rebuild.

While rebuilding usually translates to not being competitive for several years, it can also spell a shift in direction and a positive change in philosophies.

Such a change is long overdue for the New York Mets.

The Mets must, and likely are, in rebuilding mode, and the hiring of Sandy Alderson last October proved that team ownership desires baseball minds focused on youth products rather than expensive signings. Management has already hinted at a significant payroll cut for the 2012 season.

With most franchises, long term success is only established when their minor league affiliates are regularly producing talent. The Mets already enhanced their farm system during the season by trading Carlos Beltran for highly respected pitching prospect Zach Wheeler. The team will look to continue to do so this offseason and during next summer’s First-Year Player Draft, during which the Mets could have up to three first-round picks if Jose Reyes decides to take his talents elsewhere.

The team’s compensation for losing their leadoff hitter could be the first-round pick of the team that signs him as well as a conditional first-round pick to group with the one they currently hold, which if the season ended today would be the 13th overall selection.
While this draft reportedly lacks the superstar talent that has been present in recent years, three early picks have the potential to bolster any farm system, particularly when Alderson is the man in charge of the selections.

Pitching is not a large concern for the Mets, with Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jenrry Mejia as solid prospects, and hurlers Jonathan Niese and Dillon Gee already having success in the majors.

The Mets should therefore look to improve their performance at the plate next summer.

One prospect that may be available is outfielder Victor Roache. Roache, who attends Georgia Southern University, exploded last year as a sophomore to lead all of college baseball with 30 homeruns and 83 RBI. Roache would surely provide the Mets with the big bat the team is missing, as well as provide offensive production from the outfield, an area in which the Mets were greatly lacking this season.

While it appears unlikely that Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero would fall to the Mets, Alderson could draft Stanford’s Kenny Diekroeger, who has hit .324 over two seasons with the Cardinal, to replace Reyes if he departs.

Other offensive options include LSU commitment Joey Gallo, a versatile player who has tremendous power at the plate and can reportedly throw 94 mph from the mound or across the diamond, or third baseman Trey Williams, a Pepperdine commitment with remarkable homerun hitting capability.

If the team does decide to improve pitching, the Mets may snag Kevin Gausman, a 6 foot 4, right handed pitcher from LSU. Gausman is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the nation, with a smooth delivery and a fastball that averages in the mid to low 90’s, but has been clocked as high as 100 mph.

Despite negative connotations associated with rebuilding, Mets fans should view this time as a chance to correct the mistakes of the past and build a contender the right way – by drafting and scouting intelligently and developing a superior farm system. If anyone is meant for the job, it’s certainly Sandy Alderson.