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Full Friday: Sweet Home, Alden, Akron win

Very quickly for now -- Sweet Home wins at Williamsville South, 77-63, after South point guard Mark Coppola doesn't play the fourth quarter after a hard crash to the floor after a drive.

Alden won the first battle of ECIC IV over Lackawanna, 59-53. Akron got a big measure of revenge on Medina with a 63-44 win. Both are impressive small-school wins that should shake up the poll.

Back with more later -- the blog site is driving me nuts because it is very slowwwww for me right now.

Here are Friday's scores -- did I mention the site is driving me nuts?!?!?!??

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After slugging it out -- more like waiting it out -- with our blog-posting site, here are some notes from my visit to South, another packed gym and some more great action from an already-exciting week:

** The game definitely and understandbly changed when Coppola got hurt. I arrived just after the second half started, and South had got some momentum going -- and as always, Coppola was right in the middle of things. The Billies gritted it out into the early fourth without their leader, but Sweet Home was just too much.

"With [Coppola] out we hung in there for a while," said South coach Al Monaco. "Their pressure -- which Mark usually handles -- eventually got to us. It was a great game. Hopefully we'll have him next Friday."

Said Sweet Home coach Paul Schintzius: "It's a game of momentum, and we had some great answers to some of their runs. [Coppola leaving] was a huge impact. We were a little bit rattled at that point [when Coppola got hurt] and it had a huge impact on the game. ... He's such a valuable piece of their puzzle."

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More from Schintzius on the Panthers:

"Donald Watkins stepped up and played like the senior we need him to be.

"When we get ahead, I want us to be aggressive. Every time that we settled for 'J's, they worked their way back in the game.

"D.J. [Nettles] had a bad ankle and that affected him physically and mentally. ... Will Reese stepped up and had the best game of his career. His athleticism was the difference in the game, I thought. A lot of people want to talk about Keron [Briggs] and Donald, Keron and Donald, but Will Reese deserves some ink. A great job by a senior.

"We have to get better. These are mini-battles, and the war will be staged a month from now at Buffalo State. We're still a work in progress."

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More from the notebook:

** Keron Briggs is good. Very quick on the drive, and he sure can finish. In the fourth quarter, he had three standout drives to the hoop, the righty hitting a one-hander in the opposite direction his body was moving as he floated to the left across the lane, hanging in the air to draw a foul after an end-to-end rush, and a fabulous, left-handed finish high off the glass and over two defenders after he beat everyone downcourt. A  few times he zinged no-look passes across the lane only to have teammates unable to finish. Very active hands on defense led to some steals-and-layups, although we heard Schintzius loudly instructing him, and rightly so, to get those feet moving just as fast on 'D.'

** Sweet Home claimed the game with two highlight plays. Briggs shook his defender at the top of the key, drove to the right and then whipped a no-look pass across the lane to an open Watson, who scored and was fouled. He hit the free throw for a 73-60 lead with 1:27 to go.

After a South turnover, Watkins ended the next possession quite loudly. The lefty was freed on a fast break, coming in from the left side, elevating and winding up for a downright nasty one-handed jam that had the Sweet Home bleacher buzzing for the rest of the game.

** Another Briggs-to-Watkins connection came off a circus-type play early in the fourth. Reese got a steal (one of several turnovers that he and the Panthers caused in the fourth) and went in on a fast break, but got hung up in the air against two defenders -- before he came down he managed a behind-the-back pass he was trying to get to Briggs on the right side. The pass actually went behind Briggs, but he scooted back towards the foul line to scoop up the ball, draw a defender on a drive and set up Watkins for a laypu and a 70-58 lead with 2:12.

** Coppola crashed hard to the court while attempting to finish a fast break from the left side, he was met mid-air and fouled by Brandon Hudson, but it was absolutely a clean, hard foul.

** South's Joe Licata hit a third-quarter layup off a very nice, cross-lane touch pass from Phil Stasiak.

** Just a great atmosphere, with South's pep band booming from the bleachers and both Monaco and Schintzius doing their usual fiery coaching on the sidelines. Lots of familiar faces there as well: Grover's Earl Schunk, Riverside's Ron Killinger and Williamsville East's Dennis Belote were doing some scouting, patron saint of WNY football Dick Gallagher, Albion newly-retired football coach Dick Diminuco and former Hamburg hoops coach Pat Cauley were in one section of the bleachers and South football coach Kraig Kurzanski was in a corner working the game. 

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Check out the roundup in Saturday's paper -- but here's some bonus coverage of some other games:

Williamsville North remained in first place in ECIC I with a 63-50 win over Orchard Park. The game was close throughout. It was 40-39 at the end of the third but North outscored OP, 23-11, in the fourth quarter. North connected for 12 free throws in the fourth quarter.

Andre Davis had 13 points and 15 rebounds as Maryvale outscored Cheektowaga, 15-2, in the third quarter on the way to a 62-49, in ECIC III. Brooks Estarfaa led the Flyers with 14 points.

Kelvin Agee had a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds as Niagara Falls moved to 14-0, 9-0 with an 89-44 win over Lockport in the Niagara Frontier League. Mike Crumpton added 19 points and had 11 rebounds for the Wolverines.

In the Monsignor Martin Association, Connor Kobis scored a game-high 23 points, while Justin Mitchell had 16 points during Bishop Timon-St. Jude's 69-58 win at Cardinal O'Hara. Reggie Martin and Nick Pfohman each had 14 points for O'Hara.

Curtis Hairston had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds as Cleveland Hill beat Tonawanda, 46-41, in ECIC IV. Chris Hartke had 15 points for the Warriors.

In CCAA III, Sherman beat Hinsdale, 68-52, as Corey Sands had 23 points in the win.

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And a quick look back at two notable games from Thursday:

** Nick Harris hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal South Park's 67-64 win over Middle College. Roman Brown had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Sparks (7-7, 4-3), while Alex Woodfork added 14 points. Justin Stokes had 19 points for Middle College (10-3, 4-2).

** A wild ending highlighted Hutch-Tech's 57-54 triumph at City Honors. With seven seconds left and Honors down, 55-54, the Centaurs took a timeout except they received a techical because they didn't have any left. While the Engineers missed both foul shots, they received the ball and Maurice Miles, after being fouled with 4.5 seconds left, sank both free throws for the final margin. Kenny Bulls led Hutch-Tech with 20 points, while Justin Hawkins added 19.

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Did you see one of the many top-notch games tonight? Let us know what you saw.

---Keith McShea

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | [email protected]

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