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THE SPORTS REPORTS: WAVERLY'S TOMASSO NAMED ALL-REGION 'BOYS ATHLETE OF THE YEAR;' SIX OTHER VALLEY ATHLETES MAKE THE LIST (2024-07-09)

The Sports Reports
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 Sports Reports 2023-24 All-Region “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: This award is designed to honor student-athletes who participate in multiple sports, but on a rare occasion a one-sport athlete may make the list.)

2023-24 All-Region “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.

Pipher graduates third all-time in career receptions (190) and receiving yardage (3,348) in New York State history, as well as 15th all-time for single-season yardage (1,170).

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. 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.

Hudson Ward, senior, Canton: Ward excelled in whatever he competed in. He was the “Defensive Player off the Year” in football, finishing with 150 tackles.

On the mats, Ward got that elusive state medal while helping Canton to another successful dual meet season. He finished the season at 40-13, and his career at 121-41.

This spring, Ward hit .356 with 32 runs, 23 RBI, and five doubles.

Holden Ward, junior, Canton: Ward was a key contributor across three sports for the Warriors. He was one of the better defensive players in the league in football,

On the mats, he finished the season at 38-18, was a state qualifier, and helped Canton to a top-6 finish at the District 4 Duals.

On the baseball diamond,  Ward hit .435 with 35 runs scored, 21 RBI, eight doubles, four triples, and a big grand slam. On the mound, he pitched 55 innings with a 2.80 ERA and 71 strikeouts, leading the Warriors to another NTL Small School title.

Karson Dominic, senior, NP-Mansfield: Dominick started his senior year off by returning under center for the Panthers for the third straight year and led an otherwise inexperienced squad to a 4-6 regular season record and into the District 4 playoffs. He accounted for more 1,400 yards and had 18 total TDs. Dominick threw a touchdown pass in all but one game .. and two TD passes six times. He also had 22 tackles and two interceptions on defense, while also handling the Panthers’ kicking and punting duties.

This winter, the Division II Lock Haven basketball commit put on a scoring clinic nearly every night and averaged  24.7 points per game in every way possible — making 37 threes, shooting 72 percent from the line, drives to the basket, acrobatic finishes, dunks, and pull-up jumpers from anywhere on the floor. He hit for 20-plus points  in 21 of the Tigers’ 25 games, had over 30 four times, and scored a career-high 41 in a mid-season win over Wyalusing. Dominick also led the Tigers with 7 rebounds per game —  topping 600 career boards in his final high school game —and handed out 3 assists per outing — topping 200 in his 95 varsity game career.

Dominick was instrumental to North Penn-Mansfield’s five-win improvement in baseball, both behind the plate as the Tigers’ catcher and at the plate, where he hit .358 with 24 base hits, including five doubles, 15 RBI and 12 runs scored. He went 3-1 on the mound, throwing 27 1/3 innings with 28 strikeouts.

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.

After a false-start at States 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.

Sam Brenen-Buseck, senior, Elmira:
A Division I lacrosse commit, Brenen-Buseck led Elmira to the program’s first-ever wins over Corning and Ithaca this season. He had 208 saves this year, and finished with 919 for his career. He also registered a shutout.

On the mats, he won 21 matches, and finished third at the Section IV, Division 1 Championships.

Brenen-Buseck also played in net for the Express soccer team, and recorded three consecutive shutouts at one point during the fall season.

John Garrison, senior, Spencer-Van Etten: The distance standout only competed in two sports, but garnered state medals in both.

He capped his high school running career with a fourth-place showing in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NYSPHSAA Division 2 state championships in just his fourth time competing in the event. He also clocked the fastest split among all competitors on the final lap. He was also a Section IV qualifier in the 1600 and 3200, and an IAC Small School champ in the steeple, 3200 and 4x800 relay.

He finished ninth at the NYSPHSAA Boys Class D Cross Country Championships and placed 19th in a field of 287 competitors at the Federation meet. He was also named to the all-state team, and was the Section IV and IAC champion.

Dan Truesdail, senior, Newark Valley: An all-state running back, Truesdail averaged 5.76 yards per carry (887 yards on 154 carries), 98.6 yards per game, and 11 rushing TDs. He also had seven catches for 113 yards, and one TD.

On the basketball court, Truesdail averaged a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds per game to go with 3.4 assists per game.. He shot 60-percent from the floor and had three 30-point games this season.

Setting personal bests at the Section IV track & field state qualifier, Truesdail captured the bronze in the discus, and a sixth-place medal in the shot put.

D.J. Cornfield, senior, Corning: Cornfield is a two-time state medalist in track & field, and a state qualifier in cross country, and indoor track & field.

Cornfield was a Section IV runner-up in cross country this fall, and also had the second-fastest time in the section regardless of class. He finished 33rd at States.

This spring, he was a state medalist in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter run with some of the fastest times in school history.

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