Herzog covers high school sports as a writer and columnist. His primary area of coverage is football,
GLENS FALLS, N.Y.
There's a quaintly formal tradition at Harborfields High School when it comes to guys and the senior prom. It kind of mirrors the mantra of the boys basketball team.
"The big thing here is that even if you have a girlfriend, you have to ask her to the prom," coach Chris Agostino said. "And you have to make it special."
So no text messages: "C U at 8?" No presumptive emails: "What color's the dress so my tux will match?" You don't have to go public, but you've got to step up and say the words.
Leave it to creative point guard Lucas Woodhouse to bring the house down at Friday's in-school pep rally. After a well-received but hardly dynamic "thanks for your support" speech to a packed gym during an extended first-period event -- students were granted permission to miss part of second period -- Woodhouse paused for effect.
"I looked to where she was sitting in the bleachers," Woodhouse said of his girlfriend, Tiana Bennardo. "I said, 'I just wondered if you'd like to go to the prom with me.' Everybody started cheering. It really made her day."
Bennardo said yes -- in basketball parlance, this was a slam dunk! -- and Woodhouse's day was made, too.
There's a lot of that going around the village of Greenlawn lately. The students love their basketball team, which advanced to the state Class A final for the second straight year and second time in school history with Saturday's 57-53 victory over Rochester Bishop Kearney. And the community is along for the joy ride.
"I just heard that a lot of people are driving up . The whole community is behind us," said Justin Ringen, the team's leading scorer. "A lot of students who had practice [Saturday] are coming, too."
Audience participation was a big part of Friday's pep rally. "The school's leadership council did a great job of giving us a wonderful send-off," Agostino said. "They arranged a dunk contest and a shooting contest. It was a lot of fun for everyone."
Especially for the cadre of students that teamed up to defeat the varsity basketball players in the shooting contest. That "competition" consisted of players taking turns shooting from the foul line, the three-point line and the midcourt line.
The varsity kids didn't seem to mind that "loss," but there was some trash-talking blowback regarding the slam-dunk contest. David Ba, a 6-3 leaper whose clutch offensive rebound was a key play late in Saturday's victory, was voted the winner by the players who did not participate.
Ba's gimmick? He leaped over a girl on his way to a crowd-pleasing jam. It seemed to please his teammates, too, as several held up placards with "10s'' on them, emulating a popular antic by fans at the NBA slam-dunk competition.
But one contestant, bouncy 6-3 forward John Patron, disputed the judges' decision.
Patron is on his first trip to Glens Falls, having transferred to Harborfields from Huntington this school year. He played with several Tornadoes for the St. Hugh's CYO team as an eighth-grader, and it didn't take long for him to fit in with his new old teammates.
Patron whipped out a phone, showed Newsday a video of his dunk -- nothing special, quite frankly -- and playfully jabbed Ba. "If I would've known they were going to make a big deal out of him jumping over a girl," Patron said indignantly, "I'd have jumped over two girls."
There's a lot of jumping -- to conclusions and championships -- at Harborfields these days, except when it comes to proms. For those, you must ask before you leap.