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How The News voted: Basketball polls tip off

Every week a panel of voters participate in The News' large and small school boys basketball polls. Here's the tipoff edition, published today in the Scholastic Spotlight.

Here's a link to last year's final poll.

My apologies on not doing a preseason poll. Would have done it if I found that eighth day of the week.

In a preseason poll, I probably would have had something like: Jamestown, Will South, Clarence, Niagara Falls, Bishop Timon-St. Jude, Canisius, St. Joe's, McKinley, East, Maryvale.

In a quasi-preseason poll that I usually include with my preview (again, chest-tap, my bad), which is after the first weekend of action, I probably would have had something like: Canisius (thanks to Wilson Tournament win), Jamestown, Will South, Niagara Falls, St. Joe's (bump from Lockport win), Timon (hadn't played yet), McKinley, East, Clarence (after loss to Williamsville East), Maryvale.

And now we get official up in here: 

LARGE SCHOOLS

1. Niagara Falls (2-0) -- Niagara Falls at No. 1. Same as it ever was? We'll see. With a trip to Canisius on Saturday, this just might last a week.

But you have to like the Wolverines have started under Sal Constantino. Could be the two most impressive wins of the young season (Canisius may have an argument there). Falls has has size to go along with the quickness and talent we're used to seeing from the usual Cataract act, and they are playing hard. When's the last time Falls has been underestimated? I know: Never. Seems like the perfect cast to be thrown into the underdog role.

2. Williamsville South (2-0) -- As savvy hoop watcher said Monday night at the Monsignor Martin-ECIC Challenge, in March 2011 we'll probably talk about South's win over Canisius as a Game of the Year.

3. Canisius (2-1) -- Niagara Falls visits the Keenan Classic at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. See you there.

4. Jamestown (0-1) -- If they keep improving the way they did from the first half to the second in the opener at Falls, they'll be just fine. And maybe we should call it Super Saturday? If the first round games go the way we think the first round games will go, it's Will South at Jamestown Saturday night at 7:45.

Hmmm.... Falls-Canisius will definitely start later than 4:30 (there are three games before it) ... could someone make down to Jamestown after Falls-Canisius to catch the top four in two great games? Hmmmmmm..... 

5. Williamsville North (2-0) -- A win over a two-time state final four team that still has a Hoy shooting and scoring gets you here. Like the Canisius-South game, people will be talking about the game where there were 28 points, six three-pointers and one remarkably poised freshman (Sterling Taplin).

6. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (2-0) -- Impressive point margin over OTC Middle College.

7. Riverside (2-1) -- Impressive win at St. Joe's.

8. St. Joe's (2-1) -- Coach Mark Simon said of junior Reggie Agbeko: "Work in progress." Same for the team, but their work progressed pretty well against Depew (45-27).

9. McKinley (2-0) -- Ripped from last week's chat: I like the Macks' balance and depth (and wins over a top 10 small school in St. Mary's and what I think is a high quality OP team) just a little bit more than their Yale Cup mate ... I mean their Yale Cup Division I mate ... 

10. East (2-0) -- ... Panthers, who beat Nichols big (the Vikings' difference in 09-10 to 10-11 could possibly be the biggest one-year difference in the history of Western New York high school sports) and went back-and-forth with now-distant Yale Cup cousin OTC Middle College.

Just getting boxed out: Frontier (won own tourney), Maryvale (debut tonight in the ECIC III-ECIC III Challenge at Depew), Will East (won Amherst), Orchard Park.

SMALL SCHOOLS

1. International Prep at Grover Cleveland Can You Make These New City School Names Any Longer Mr. Superintendent? (1-1) -- Blue-and-gold Presidents lost to OP, beat St. Mary's, have a lineup (and a standout in Holland) that makes them as good a No. 1 as any (they would have been my No. 1 the two previous quasi-polls).

2. OTC Middle College (1-2) -- You try playing an East team still angry you won the Yale Cup last year (with four players that aren't around any more) and Timon in South Buffalo.

3. Wilson (1-2) -- Top-notch win over St. Mary's at Cataract after falling twice against an outstanding field they invited in opening weekend.

4. St. Mary's (2-3) -- Lost to two teams above them here as well as McKinley, beat a very good team in Newfane, so good ... .

5. Newfane (1-1) -- We'll put the Panthers here. I know it's only like one day of results, but looks like you better circle those Wilson-Newfane fun ones in marker on the calendar as likely Niagara-Orleans title deciders.

6. Lackawanna (1-2) -- Edged St. Francis, lost big to OP and Frontier.

7. Maple Grove (2-1) -- Red Dragons beat Olean and Randolph, which makes them unofficial King of the Southern Tier ... for now.

And congrats to the Bemus Pointers! You are the first team in our small school poll with a winning record!

I credit these teams for playing great tough, nonleague matchups early in the year. You would think it can only help them down the road, and of course, we'll find that out while we drive down that road.

What a difference a season makes: If this were football season, there would be blockheaded claims that teams with losing records shouldn't be in the poll; not to mention Neanderthal club-pounding over nonleague games between public and private schools (of the 17 teams listed in these polls so far, 14 of them have reached "across the aisle" to play a school in the opposite category).

Ahh, basketball season is so refreshing. Pardon me while I let that wash over me while I kick my feet up and plan my next visits to a private-public basketball game: Tonight, check. Wednesday, check. Saturday, check.

MLK Classic at City Honors' new gym on Jan. 14 (Lackawanna-Lafayette 11 a.m., OTC-St. Joe's 12:30 p.m.; Sweet Home-McKinley 3 p.m., Canisius-I-Prep, 4:30), check. Last weekend's Cataract Classic, check. Last week's Pastor-Cooper Tournament, check. Ahh, that feels good.

8. Tapestry Charter (2-0) -- 184 points in two games under Earl Schunk. I hope Charter School scoreboards have triple digits.

9. Westfield (1-1) -- Whoops. Just noticed that Dunkirk crushed them in the final of the Westfield Winter Classic. Guess I shoulda voted for Dunkirk. Definitely a my bad (chest tap, head-shake, pounding my forehead with my palm repeatedly), but that's early-season polls for you.

10. Archbishop Walsh (4-1) -- With at least 10 teams to put here, I threw in one that was putting up some serious wins down south early on -- they must be doing something right.

Don't like what you're reading?

The comment space is below, and this week's live chat is at 9:30 p.m. (LIVE from the Monsignor Martin-ECIC Challenge, joining the end of the St. Joe's-Lackawanna game in progress).

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

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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 | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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