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ST. BONAVENTURE — It began with the technical foul assessed to Anouar Mellouk, who displayed an unacceptable lack in judgment when he chose to jaw with the Fordham sideline with 13:51 remaining.

BOLIVAR — The Bolivar-Richburg wrestling team took Letchworth down to the final match of the night Thursday and Teegan Sibble clinched a Wolverine victory with a 118-pound pin.

ST. BONAVENTURE — In the first half, it seemed this would be another piece on St. Bonaventure’s basketball team’s continued success on their home court.

National Sports

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If Vegas oddsmakers are correct — and there’s a reason those casinos are huge and luxurious — then football fans are in for a treat this weekend. The NFL’s conference championship weekend is here: The Philadelphia Eagles will host the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC title while the Kansas City Chiefs host the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC. Both games are Sunday. The gambling odds are tight for both games, though both home teams have a slight edge. The Eagles are a 2 1/2-point favorite while the Chiefs are favored by 1 1/2 points, according to odds from FanDuel Sportsbook. The winners will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

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New York’s attorney general has warned Madison Square Garden that it may be violating anti-bias laws with its practice of barring lawyers from firms involved in litigation against MSG from its venues including Radio City Music Hall and the Garden itself. The attorney general’s office says in a letter to Madison Square Garden officials that the ban and the use of facial recognition technology to enforce it may violate anti-discrimination laws. A representative for MSG says the policy “does not unlawfully prohibit anyone from entering our venues and it is not our intent to dissuade attorneys from representing plaintiffs in litigation against us.”

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The late Grant Wahl will be honored with this year’s Colin Jose Media Award, given to journalists who made long-term contributions to soccer in the United States. Wahl died at age 49 on Dec. 10 after collapsing while covering the World Cup quarterfinal between Argentina and the Netherlands at Lusail, Qatar. Wahl will be honored at the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame induction at Frisco, Texas, on May 6. Wahl worked for Sport Illustrated from 1996 to 2021, then started his own website. He also worked for Fox and CBS and wrote “The Beckham Experiment” and “Masters of Modern Soccer.”

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The Portland Thorns have fired their athletic trainer after an outside investigation found he illegally distrubted a controlled substance to players, the National Women’s Soccer League said. The NWSL, beset in recent years by abuse and misconduct allegations, announced that the trainer, Pierre Soubrier, was fired along with Thorns assistant coach Sophie Clough. Soubrier is married to U.S. women’s team defender Crystal Dunn. The league said Clough made unwanted contact with a player. The league also said abuse allegations against former Washington Spirit coach Kris Ward were substantiated and he is ineligible to work in the NWSL without the commissioner’s approval. An investigation concluded Ward engaged in “negative racial stereotyping toward a player.”

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Someone will win Defensive Player of the Year this spring, even after a season where no one seems to be able to stop or even slow down anyone with the ball. It’s almost certain that more players will average 20 points per game than ever before. A decade ago, there were a dozen or so players. This season, 50 isn’t out of the question. Players still are playing defense in the NBA. Really, they are. But a combination of rule changes, style-of-play alterations, the ongoing addiction to the 3-point shot and more all adds up to the game favoring the offensive player. Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle adeptly described trying to guard anyone in the NBA these days as a “wild, hot mess.”

AP

New York City’s Madison Square Garden and other sports venues would be barred from refusing entry to perceived enemies of their owners under a bill introduced to the state Legislature Monday. The proposed legislation comes after an attorney who has owned New York Knicks season tickets for nearly 50 years sued Madison Square Garden Entertainment, saying he and others from his firm were barred from the company’s properties. Bill sponsors say MSG has ejected four people working at a law firm using facial-recognition technology. Assembly member Tony Simone says “It’s ridiculous that a corporate boss can use this technology to discriminate."

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Defense stills wins in the NFL playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals advanced to the conference championship games with excellent defensive performances on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles also had a standout defensive effort Saturday night. While high-flying offenses led by star quarterbacks get most of the attention, defense matters. It was evident in the NFL divisional round this weekend. The Bengals will meet the Chiefs again in a rematch of last year’s AFC championship game that was won by Cincinnati. Burrow is 3-0 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Next up for the 49ers is a trip to Philadelphia to face one of the league’s most well-rounded offenses in the NFC championship game.

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Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made his first public appearance Sunday since going into cardiac arrest three weeks ago during a game. He waved to fans from a suite at the Bills' Highmark Stadium during the first half of their AFC divisional playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The stadium erupted when an image of the recovering Hamlin filled the massive end zone screens and fans turned toward the glass-enclosed suite and cheered. The 24-year-old safety had not been seen in public since he needed to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati on Jan. 2, but he has been making regular visits to the stadium to see teammates.

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Joe Burrow threw two touchdown passes, the Bengals swarmed Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen on a snow-slicked field and Cincinnati advanced to its second straight AFC championship game with a 27-10 win. Damar Hamlin’s inspirational presence while watching the game from an end-zone suite was not enough to spark the Bills in a rematch of a regular-season game that was canceled Jan. 2 when the Bills safety went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati. The Bengals advanced to consecutive AFC championship games for the first time in franchise history and will again travel to play the Kansas City Chiefs.

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Jalen Hurts erased lingering doubts about the state of his right shoulder by throwing two touchdown passes and running for a score during a dominant first half, and the Philadelphia Eagles overwhelmed the New York Giants 38-7 in an NFC divisional playoff game. Hurts is back, and so are the Eagles as a Super Bowl threat. Top-seeded Philadelphia will host the NFC championship game next Sunday against either Dallas or San Francisco. Hurts finished 16 of 24 for 154 yards. He showed he was fine when he aired out a pass on the second play of the game and hit DeVonta Smith in stride for a 40-yard reception.

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DeMeco Ryans’ day as San Francisco defensive coordinator started with meetings and then went to the practice field as he focused on implementing a defense to slow down Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. Then instead of relaxing or diving into more film at night ahead of a key playoff showdown on Sunday, Ryans shifted gears and went into job interview mode with an in-person meeting with the Denver Broncos about their head coaching job. Ryans is one of several assistants still alive in the playoffs dealing with the delicate balance of preparing for the most important games of their careers with the most important job interviews.

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A family spokesman for Damar Hamlin tells The Associated Press the Buffalo Bills safety still faces a long rehabilitation despite enjoying a remarkable recovery some three weeks after having to be resuscitated on the field during a game in Cincinnati. Jordon Rooney says Hamlin still requires oxygen and is having his heart monitored regularly to ensure there are no setbacks or after effects. Rooney provided the update to emphasize Hamlin still faces hurdles since being discharged from Buffalo General Medical Center on Jan. 11, and began making regular visits to the Bills facility this week.

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and French President Emmanuel Macron met this week in Paris to talk about ways they can help one another grow the game in France and beyond. The meeting comes with good timing given that French star Victor Wembanyama is about to enter the NBA and the Paris Olympics are about 18 months away. Silver also said the NBA wants to play in Paris again next year. And before that happens, the league is still working with players on a new labor deal. There's also plans coming together to celebrate LeBron James becoming the NBA scoring leader, which could happen in the coming weeks.

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