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Valley Sports Report
THE VALLEY — Senior Joey Tomasso led Waverly to its first state title on the gridiron in the fall, and its first Section IV basketball title in nearly three decades this winter. He is the Valley Sports Report 2023-24 “Boys Athlete of the Year.”

It’s the first time in school history, Waverly has won Section IV titles in football and basketball in the same year. Tomasso and the Wolverines nearly pulled off a trifecta, but lost in the Section IV baseball title game in the spring.

In the fall, Tomasso completed 74.1 percent (206 of 278) of his passes for 3,160 yards, and 43 TDs — both school records — against just three interceptions. Although limited by a knee injury in his last three games, he rushed for a team-high 628 yards and 12 TDs on 120 carries.

A once-in-a-lifetime talent, Tomasso will graduate third all-time in New York State in career passing yards (9,183), and passing TDs (104), as well as third all-time in single-season passing yards (3,160 yards), and passing TDs (43). He led Waverly to a pair of Section IV titles, and its first-ever state title.

This winter, Tomasso, a scorer in the purest sense of the word, averaged 23.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.6 steals per game. He shot 47.5 percent from the field, including a 38.5 percent clip from behind the 3-point arc, where he knocked down 42 3-pointers.

Tomasso graduates as Waverly’s all-time leading scorer with 1,782 points, which is seventh all-time in Section IV, and all-time leader with 177 3-pointers. This season, he led the Wolverines to its first Section IV title since 1996.

The baseball  "Defensive Player of the Year," Tomasso hit .453 (34 hits in 75 ABs) with six doubles, two triples, 18 RBI, 25 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases to cap a six-year varsity career, in which he collected more than 100 base hits.

He also walked nine times, was hit by pitches four times, and had a .516 on-base percentage, to go along with a .587 slugging percentage for a 1.103 OPS.

(NOTE: These awards are designed to honor three-sport athletes, but two-sport athletes will occasionally make the list, and on a very rare occasion a one-sport athlete might be included.)

The 2023-24 All-Valley Super 7 “Boys Athletes of the Year”
Joey Tomasso, senior, Waverly:
See above.

Jay Pipher, senior, Waverly: Like Tomasso, Pipher was on Waverly’s Section IV football and hoop title teams, and the runner-up baseball team.

A record-setting receiver at Waverly, Pipher was also a force in the defensive backfield.

Pipher led the Wolverines with 62 receptions for 1,185 yards, and 12 TDs. He also carried the ball 16 times for 72 yards. Defensively, Pipher had 45 tackles, including 22 solo stops. He also had one interception.

This winter, Pipher, a lockdown defender and offensive threat, averaged 7.9 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. He shot 43.9 percent from the field overall, but 45.8 percent from behind the 3-point arc, knocking down 38 3-pointers.

Pipher hit .457 (Valley-best 37 hits in 81 ABs) with five doubles, two triples, one home run, 25 RBI. He also led the Valley with 32 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases. He walked 15 times, was hit by a pitch once, and had a .546 on-base percentage, to go along with a .605 slugging percentage for a 1.151 OPS.

On the mound, Pipher was 2-2 with 1 save and a 3.15 ERA. He allowed 22 hits in 20 innings, with 26 strikeouts and 19 walks. Opponents hit .265 against him.

Ousmane Duncanson, senior, Tioga: In his three years at Tioga, Duncanson was on three state championship football teams, won three individual wrestling state titles, and was part of a wrestling team that won three state duals titles, and three team titles at the N.Y. State Championships.

This winter, Duncanson capped off his second straight unbeaten season with his third consecutive state title — the first three-time champ in the storied history of the Tioga program.

Duncanson, who was 111-2 record at Tioga, finished his career with 91 consecutive wins. He was 33-0 this season, including 20 falls and four technical falls. In the postseason, including the Section IV and New York State Duals, Duncanson was 19-0, with 14 falls, one tech fall, and two major decisions.

On the gridiron, Duncanson was an explosive athlete, and sure-fire tackler, who forced opposing coaches to game-plan for his presence. He missed three games, and led Tioga at 7.4 tackles-per-game. He also had seven tackles-for-loss, five QB sacks, and two fumble recoveries.

Offensively, Duncanson rushed for 697 yards, and 10 TDs on just 57 carries (12.2 yards per carry). He also had two catches for 22 yards, and one TD.

Duncanson played baseball for the first time this spring. He had four runs scored, one RBI, and one stolen base in just 12 at-bats.

Caden Bellis, senior, Tioga:
Bellis had incredible seasons on the gridiron and the mat once again, and also dabbled in golf this spring. All three teams won Section IV titles, with the football and wrestling teams each pulling off state three-peats.

Bellis, who capped his career with a 40-0 record at QB with three state titles, was a dangerous dual-threat quarterback, and a sure-fire tackler at strong safety / linebacker.

Bellis completed 69.9 percent (51 of 73) of his passes for 1,350 yards, 28 TDs, and just one interception. He also rushed for 737 yards and 12 TDs on 55 carries — an average of 13.4 yards per carry, and ran in a pair of two-point conversions.

Bellis will graduate as the all-time leader in nearly every passing statistic in program history.

Defensively, Bellis perfected the ankle tackle, leading the Tigers with 89 tackles, including 22 solo stops, and five tackles-for-losses. He also had two interceptions.

A three-time state finalist on the mats, Bellis was a runner-up for the second time, capping a 33-2 senior season. A four-time Section IV champ, he finished his career at 180-19, including a 153-9 mark his last five seasons.

On the mats, Bellis won one state individual title, was part of three State Duals titles, and five team titles at the N.Y. State Championships.

Bellis golfed this spring, and found his way into the line-up once on the Section IV champion Tigers, and shot a 54.

Evan Sickler, senior, Tioga: Sickler was a dynamic performer in three sports — football, basketball, and golf.

On the gridiron, Sickler was a tremendous down-field blocker, and a dangerous receiver as well. He had 13 receptions for 416 yards (32 yards per catch) and a team-high nine TDs.

A physical presence on run support, Sickler was a ball hawk against the passing game. He had 43 tackles, including 21 solo stops, and registered four interceptions to give him 16 for his career.

On the hardwoods, Sickler, who joined the 1,000-point club at Tioga early this season, is a scorer in the truest sense of the word. He averaged 23.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 3.2 steals per game on the season, and knocked down 56 3-pointers.

For his career, Sickler finished with 1,378 points, 597 rebounds, 252 assists, and 142 3-pointers.

This spring,  Sickler led the Tigers to a division title, averaging a plus-3.5 over nine holes. He also helped Tioga to its second Section IV title in program history.

Sickler shot a 79 on Day 2 of the Section IV Medalists Tournament to qualify for States, where he shot an 80 on Day 1.

Xavier Watson, junior, Waverly: Watson was a key cog in Waverly football’s state title run, as well as the hoop team’s Section IV title run, and also earned a state gold medal on the track.

An incredible athlete, Watson led the Wolverines with 62 receptions, and a state-high and school-record 17 TD catches. He also had 918 receiving yards, and rushed the ball twice for 45 yards.

Defensively, Watson had 38 tackles, including 20 solo stops, two interceptions, three pass break-ups, one fumble recovery, and a blocked field goal. He also returned a kick-off for a TD.

On the hardwoods, Watson averaged 11.4 points, 8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. He shot 53.7 percent from the field, including a 37.9 percent clip from behind the arc, where he knocked down 11 3-pointers. He also had 15 blocked shots.

This spring, Watson was on the Waverly 4-x-1 relay that won a NYSPHSAA gold medal, and a fourth-place medal in the Federation race. He also finished 12th in the high jump at the STAC meet, was seventh at the Section IV, Class C Championships, and ninth at the State Qualifier.

Ralph Johnson, senior, Waverly: Johnson was only a two-sport athlete — indoor track & field, and spring track & field, but his state medal haul more than makes up for not competing in the fall.

This spring, Johnson capped his high school career with three gold medals at the New York State Track & Field Championships, then a record-breaking run to finish third at the New Balance Outdoor Track & Field Nationals.

Johnson, who was unbeaten during the regular season, won a STAC title in the 100-meter dash, then followed it up with first-place finishes in the 100 and 200 at the Section IV, Class C meet, and the State Qualifier.

After a false-start cost Johnson, who had the fastest time in the prelims, a shot at a gold medal at States in the 100, he won the NYSPHSAA and Federation (combined Division 1 and 2) gold medals in the 200.

Johnson ended the season with the school record in the 100 at 10.65 seconds, and in the 200 at 21.52 seconds.

Johnson earned his third gold medal in the 400-meter relay, teaming with Watson, senior Micah Chandler, and junior Kolsen Keathley. The relay also earned a fourth-place medal in the Federation race.

Johnson capped his high school career by smashing the Waverly school and Section IV records in the 200-meter dash at the New Balance Outdoor Track & Field National Championships.

Johnson, who had Waverly’s school record of 21.52 seconds in the 200, ran a 21.15 in the New Balance preliminaries, then lowered the record again in the finals, clocking in at 21.08 seconds to finish third in the nation. He also finished 32nd in the 100 in 10.73 seconds.

This winter, Johnson won every race he ran this season until the state finals, where he finished second in the New York State Public High Schools and in the Federation.

Johnson set a school record with a time of 6.41 seconds at the State Qualifier. He ran a 6.42 at States for the best-ever state finish for a Waverly indoor track athlete.

Honorable mention:
Tioga’s Tyler Roe, Waverly’s Kolsen Keathley, Sayre’s Marco Quiros, Tioga’s Valentino Rossi, Waverly’s Matthias Welles, Athens’ Josh Nittinger, Waverly's Troy Beeman, and Tioga’s Shea Bailey.

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