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Saturday Evening Live from the Cataract Classic: Falls beats Aquinas in a thriller; Will South edges Canisius; Will North beats Batavia; Niagara Catholic wins at buzzer (with video)

Hello again from the Cataract Classic for day two of the fine early-season event. Plenty of action for hoop fans today here at Niagara Falls.

I'm just in from the 24th annual Western New York High School Sports football award run by Dick Gallagher, once again a great celebration of the best in high school football -- on and off the field. 

3:55 p.m. I'm pleased to see that the Batavia-Williamsville North game is just under way. I was hoping to get here for the end and I'll be able to see much more. It was scheduled for a 3 p.m. start. 

Here's the report of the two earlier games: Wilson scored a very nice win in overtime (thus the time delay), 61-59 over St. Mary's. Amherst lost to Section V small school power Charles Finney, 53-44.

4:10 p.m. At halftime, Williamsville North leads Batavia, 26-20. North has looked very impressive. Freshman Sterling Taplin has showed off his multi-faceted game by hitting a three and orchestrating some very nice passes. Six-foot-4 senior Farhan Hussain has been very nice inside on both ends, blocking a few shots. Junior guard Nick Konotopsky has hit a three as well. Just a good-looking team facing a very strong program in two-time defending Section V champion Batavia.

4:39 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Williamsville North leads Batavia, 38-31. Taplin hit two big threes in the last two minutes after Batavia had cut the lead to 32-30.

5:34 p.m. My apologies. We have a FINAL SCORE: Williamsville North 56, Batavia 53.

Juggling a lot here and was watching quite a game. Taplin had a major game for the Spartans with 28 points and six three-pointers, five of them in the second half, and all of them important as Will North beat one of the top programs in the state.

5:38 p.m. We are under way with one of the best matchups of the day, Canisius and Will South. Might be a big day for Williamsville. Hmm.

6 p.m. Will South had a 20-15 lead after the first quarter after a last-second three-pointer by Phil Stasiak.

South is up, 31-21, with 4:02 left after three three-pointers by Joe Licata, the last of which he was fouled on and he hit the free throw for a four-point play.

6:06 p.m. Canisius calls a timeout with 1:20 left in the second quarter with South leading, 32-26.

6:09 p.m. At HALFTIME, Will South leads Canisius, 32-29. Really good half. Time for some housekeeping here. Going to try and get a photo up from the football banquet and update the basketball box scores from today.

6:29 p.m. Timeout by Will South coach Al Monaco with 4:01 left in the third quarter and South up, 41-37.

6:48 p.m. After the third quarter, Canisius took a 52-44 lead. Great quarter for Canisius: 23-12, including a 19-1 run to go up 10 (52-42).

We have a timeout on the floor with 6:00 left in the game and Canisius up, 54-53, as South has started very well in the fourth. Dan Schaus went off the court with apparently a bloody nose.

6:54 p.m. Great series for South on both ends and they have a 60-58 lead with 3:31 left in the game. Some good defense and great ball movement for the Billies.

6:57 p.m. Timeout Canisius with 2:08 left with South up, 62-61. Nevins just finished a nice coast-to-coast drive, elevating his way through the lane.

7:07 p.m. WOW. We have a FINAL SCORE: In a thriller of a finish, Williamsville South 68, Canisius 67.

Erik Hansen hit a three-pointer with about five seconds left to give South the victory. In the final two minutes, Canisius junior guard Matt Hart and Hansen traded two threes apiece. Crazy, awesome stuff. Hart hit a three for a 64-62 lead for Canisius, Hansen hit one to get the lead back at 65-64, Hart did it again to put Canisius up, 67-65. Will South missed a three by Licata, but they had the ball with 12 seconds left and called a timeout, after which Hansen hit the winning three.

Aaron Nevins -- who has some buzzer-beating shots to his name -- got off a shot but it just missed at the buzzer. Whew.

Here are the highlights:

8:10 p.m. Still catching up on a ton. Niagara Catholic leads East Aurora, 26-20, at halftime.

9 p.m. What a finish to the fifth game of the day as Niagara Catholic beats East Aurora, 55-53, on a buzzer-beating jumper in the lane by freshman guard Johnathan Jackson.

9:18 p.m. We are under way with Niagara Falls and Aquinas.

9:29 p.m. After the first quarter, Aquinas is looking pretty great as it has taken a 17-6 lead at Niagara Falls. Great handling of the pressure, great ball movement, nice finishing inside and out (two threes).

9:35 p.m. Aquinas calls a timeout with 6:42 left in the second quarter owning a 17-8 lead.

9:45 p.m. With 2:24 left in the second quarter, Falls calls a timeout after a loose ball scramble; Aquinas leads, 23-13.

9:52 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Falls has done well to get itself back in the game; Aquinas leads, 23-20. Taijay Williams hit a three-pointer late in the quarter and hit a full-speed pull-up floater in the final seconds to cut the Little Irish lead to three.

Niagara Falls Pep Band has Lady Gaga's Bad Romance in its playlist. I like it.

10:25 p.m. Sorry folks, had to write my story for the first deadline.

Falls fought back to tie the game at 36-36 after three quarters. With 5:30 left in the game, Aquinas is up, 39-38.

10:27 p.m. With 4:25 left, Aquinas coach Mike Grosodonia calls a timeout. Alex Baron, a 6-5 senior, hit a three-pointer on the Little Irish's previous possession to give them a 42-40 lead.

10:35 p.m. What a game (and what a day, huh?). We are tied at 44-44 with Falls coach Sal Constantino having just called a timeout with 55.4 seconds left and 31 seconds on the shot clock for Falls.

10:42 p.m. Did I just say what a game, what a day?

We have a FINAL SCORE: Niagara Falls 47, Aquinas 44; thanks to a three-pointer with the shot clock running down by 6-3 sophomore Jermaine Crumpton, who is not exactly who you would expect to be hitting threes for Falls. 

Aquinas got the ball back with 15.9 seconds left, and after a few fouls to give by Falls, Jammal Coleman's three bounced off the rim a few times and out -- the buzzer sounded as the rebound was batted around. What a finish. 

Great win for Falls, great start for them and coach Constantino. And an epic day here at the Classic.

Off to do interviews and add to my story.

Here is the video from the Falls game: a great exchange of baskets in the last minute (check out the transition basket by Falls, coach Constantino's contortions, and the Aquinas three in the last seconds that was correctly waved off because it was a foul on the floor. Whew).

---Keith McShea

Torch passed at football banquet

As always, today's 24th Western New York High School Sports football awards banquet was an enjoyable event as the season's best were honored.

Dick Gallagher, the driving force and organizer of the banquet, has made an annual tradition of this year's seniors "passng the torch" to this year's juniors. The torch used is one Gallagher received after running a portion of the Olympic torch relay in 1996.

The torch is passed. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

Representing the seniors on the left are: Tyler Stoldt, Mikal Coleman, Shamari Cheney, Glenn Gronkowski and Joe Licata; on the right are Okoya Anderson, Justin Burke, Chad Kelly, Michael Arcuri and Chris Driver.

The banquet also featured the debut of the Day-Day Morris Award, given in the name of former Sweet Home player DeShanaro "Day Day" Morris to a player for overcoming adversity and perseverence. Morris was on hand to present the award to Williamsville East's Sean McNamara who played football in his senior season after battling cancer.

Sean McNamara, Day-Day Morris, Dick Gallagher and John Murphy. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

A tremendous event continues. This can't be said enough: Western New York is fortunate to have Dick Gallagher.

---Keith McShea

Friday Night Live from the Cataract Classic: Falls beats Jamestown, 62-54; St. Joe's beats Depew, Lancaster tops N-W (with video)

Hello from what locals call the "Wolv-arena," the Niagara Falls High School gym, for Day One of the Cataract Classic. We've got quite a season opener for Niagara Falls and Jamestown scheduled for 8 p.m., but there are two games before that: Lancaster vs. Niagara-Wheatfield at 5 p.m. and St. Joe's-Depew at 6:30. 

5:42 p.m. We arrive at halftime of the first time, get situated, and can't help but chuckle at the score. Lancaster leads, 14-8. Yes, that's halftime. Hey, it's early.

New N-W coach Erik O'Bryan is in there somewhere. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) Then I found out the first quarter score. It was 3-3. OK, it's reallllly early. Actually, Lancaster has played three games, winning its own tournament and getting a great ECIC I-opening win over Clarence last night in overtime. So we'll chalk it up to back-to-back games for one team early in the season, and the season opener for the other team, which has a new coach in Erik O'Bryan, formerly of North Tonawanda.

6:02 p.m. After a much better third quarter (we appreciate not being here for the first half :-) ), Lancaster leads Niagara-Wheatfield, 27-16.

The Redskins did well running its offense to get some good shots, while it forced several turnovers by N-W.

6:16 p.m. N-W keeps scratching and clawing and O'Bryan keeps on his Falcons, but Lancaster has maintained a 10-point lead (38-28) as we head under two minutes.

6:29 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lancaster 43, Niagara-Wheatfield 34.

JJ Harrington earned MVP honors for Lancaster.

6:48 p.m. Check out the high school home page for the box score of the game -- that's a cool new feature of our new Web program, which will have futher improvements over the next few weeks.

We're about to tip off with St. Joe's and Depew.  

St. Joe's starters: 5-11 senior A. Keith Louie, 5-10 senior Steven Moser, 6-3 junior Chad Kelly, 6-3 senior Connor Rehbaum and 6-5 senior Jake Spitler.

Depew starters: 5-8 senior Rick Anna, 6-5 junior Jaden Cotton, 5-11 junior Aaron Ertel, 6-3 senior Sam Sallaj and 6-1 freshman Derrick Sekuterski.

Chad Kelly (left), Reggie Agbeko (center) during warmups. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
6:57 p.m. Not in the starting lineup is St. Joe's transfer Reggie Agbeko, a 6-7 junior who is likely a draw for UB assistant coach Jim Kwitchoff, who is on hand and spoke with both coaches before the tip.

6:58 p.m. Agbeko checks in with 3:22 left in the first quarter with Depew up, 3-2.

7:04 p.m. Not a great night for first quarters here at the Wolvearena. St. Joe's leads Depew, 6-3.

7:07 p.m. Depew coach Larry Jones hollers for a timeout with St. Joe's up, 10-5, with 6:44 left in the second quarter. Rehbaum just put in a very nice floater of a drive down the right side a moment ago.

7:22 p.m. We are at halftime and St. Joe's leads Depew, 16-11. The Marauders had a great final possession of the half after a timeout with less than three seconds left, and senior guard Edward Zimheld knocked down a three-pointer from the right side. Depew had played very well in the later stages of the second quarter with good defense and good passing. Joe's had gone up, 13-7, on a three by Rehbaum.

Agbeko picked up a second foul on a charge with 4:19 left in the second and sat the rest of the quarter.

7:40 p.m. Depew's Jones needs a timeout with 4:54 left in the third as St. Joe's has used some good defense to go up, 24-11. Moser had two straight steal-and-layups and Louie later added a clean rip of a ballhandler to give him a layup.

7:42 p.m. Agbeko has shown some serious flashes in the last minute or so, going up to grab a man-among-boys rebound and then going up where few players can get to finish a putback up by the rim. Just now he grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw, skying high enough that I let out a wow, high enough that the Depew player waiting to go in the game said, "that boy gets UP."

7:44 p.m. The lead for St. Joe's is 26-13 with 2:23 left in the third.

7:46 p.m. Rehbaum picked up his third foul after Moser's two steals and just reentered the game with about 1:30 left in the third.

7:48 p.m. Agbeko just picked up his fourth on a reach-in with 45.3 seconds left in the third.

7:51 p.m. After three quarters, St. Joe's leads Depew, 28-15.

7:59 p.m. St. Joe's keeps scoring in transition and now leads, 32-17. Nice crowd filing in here -- should be a great atmosphere for the Falls-Jamestown game.  

8:09 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: St. Joe's 45, Depew 27. Some interviewing to do for me. 

8:20 p.m. The always-fun Falls pep band is ready to go. They just changed over to new Falls coach Sal Constantino: "Hey Sal! Oooooh, nice tie!"  

8:33 p.m. We're underway.

8:39 p.m. Jamestown coach Ben Drake calls a timeout with 4:04 left in the first quarter and Falls up, 11-6, on a jumper by Taijay Williams, a 5-10 junior. Other starters for Falls: 6-3 senior Marcus Feagin, 5-8 junior Jamere Ollison, 5-8 sophomore Ja'leo Wilkins and 6-5 senior Jordan Street.

Jamestown starts 5-8 sophomore Tommy Campion, 6-1 junior Jaysean Paige, 5-8 senior Joey Campion, 6-4 senior Chris Carlson and 6-3 senior Darin Butts.

8:45 p.m. A lot of action here, and Drake calls another timeout with 1:41 left in the first and Falls up, 17-11. Jordan Street has looked very, very good -- he has scored the last six points and has been more aggressive than I remember at any time last season.

8:47 p.m. Street made an unwise move to try and take a charge with two fouls. Now he's got three and heads to the bench with 50.9 seconds left in the first quarter. Rookie coach error there maybe, having him in the game with two, but, like I just wrote, he was doing some great things.

8:49 p.m. After one quarter, Falls has a 19-12 lead on Jamestown in what has been an exciting, fun-to-watch game. Constantino is hopping up and down the sidelines, has already lost his voice, and you can tell that energy has translated to his team. They're playing tough defense, have forced several turnovers, and they have gotten to the basket very well, batting balls around and basically making the game a frenetic one. Which is the way many people have wanted Falls to play for a long time.

8:54 p.m. Jaysean Paige gets up very impressively, but he's up too far, hangs on the rim and is rightly called for an technical foul.

9 p.m. Constantino calls the first timeout of his career with 3:05 left in the second quarter and Falls up, 31-16.

9:06 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Niagara Falls has a 38-19 lead on Jamestown. The Wolverines are playing some fun, hustling, frenetic basketball. There may be an urge to say, "Falls is back," but it's only halftime -- and actually, it's a different team, different playing style. I would just suggest you get out here Saturday night for Game Two.

That said, Jamestown is on the road in a super-tough place to play for its season opener, and they are a good program with a good coach. This game isn't over.

9:26 p.m. Jamestown came out in the third quarter playing very cool, ready to get back in the game and they started with a few baskets, but Falls put together another nice run to push back (45-26). Jamestown still keeps coming and Constantino takes a timeout with a little over three minutes left in the third with Falls leading, 47-33.

9:37 p.m. Things are tightening up here. At the end of the third quarter, Falls leads Jamestown, 51-38.

9:43 p.m. We've got ourselves a ball game. Falls calls a timeout with 4:11 left to play and Jamestown having cut the lead to 52-48.

9:49 p.m. Some fantastic back-and-forth action here. Wilkins has come up with steals on the last two Jamestown possessions and Williams has hit two three-pointers to help Falls hold off the Red Raiders to this point. Falls leads, 58-50, with 1:00 left in the game; timeout Jamestown as Williams heads to the line. 

9:56 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Niagara Falls 62, Jamestown 54.

I gotta write a story very quickly.

---Keith McShea

Live chat Dec. 9: All-WNY football, from politics to tackles to kickers; hoops from Lancaster to Clarence to girls to a killer Cataract lineup

This week's chat will be tonight at 9:30, so get your All-Western New York and other football questions and basketball observations ready (along with all of the other sports, of course). Looking forward to a nice chat after the always hectic end-of-fall-beginning-of-winter week.

There is some quality action going on tonight, with Canisius and St. Joe's going at it during the usual busy lineup of Federation hockey at the Northtowns Center while an early ECIC I boys hoops battle has Clarence heading to Lancaster. I'm not sure if I'll be able to get out to either of those, but we'll certainly be talking about how they went -- if you're heading to those games, drop in and let us know what you saw. We've also got a great basketball lineup at the Cataract Classic this weekend, including Jamestown opening up at Niagara Falls Friday night.

A sidenote: Check out our new scoreboard feature on the high school home page. We have basketball box scores updated as the night goes on, and there will be improvements in the format in the weeks to come.

I promise I'll get to your question or comment in the chat -- but please be patient. It can get busy fielding all of the questions and I can only answer one at a time. And PLEASE don't enter your question/comment multiple times -- that only makes things crazier.

* * *

NOTE/CLARIFICATION/APOLOGY: St. Joe's DID call in their 3-0 win over Canisius in hockey Thursday night. We just blew it. I'm not sure what happened in our office, but while I was doing the chat, the call was taken but then the information didn't get where it was supposed to (like the newspaper! argh). My apologies on behalf of the sports department. You can read about the big win for St. Joe's here.

* * *

Here's a link to last week's chat (Dec.1).

You can check out the final live chat of the fall season -- as well as check out an archive of the 12 weekly discussions of the fall -- via our post of the Nov. 23 chat. For the super-chat-fan out there, this link takes you to the 2009-10 spring and winter archives.

As always, if you have a question but you won't be able to make the chat, post one in the comments section or email me and I'll do my best to address it.

---Keith McShea

Live from the Pastor-Cooper championships: East beats OTC, 73-63; McKinley tops OP; GI girls defeat St. Mary's (with video)

Hello from Daemen College's Charles L. & Gloria B. Lumsden Gymnasium, home of the Pastor-Coooper Memorial Championships, albeit two days later than scheduled.

Friday's tripleheader became Sunday's tripleheader due to snow-aided school cancellations last week.

Exciting photography alert: The girls finalists walk off the court at halftime. In today's first game, St. Mary's takes on Grand Island in the girls championship. It's followed by the Al Pastor Division final between McKinley and Orchard Park, and the Jerry Cooper Division final betwen Yale Cup rivals East and OTC Middle College.

12:20 p.m. After the first quarter of the girls championship, St. Mary's leads Grand Island, 11-10. St. Mary's has executed well on offense and has forced some turnovers with some pressure in the GI backcourt. The Vikings got some nice work inside from big sophomore Cassie Oursler and some baseline swishes from Brooke DeMarco.

12:33 p.m. Danielle Wegrzyn hits a three-pointer from the left side in the final seconds -- answering a nice fast-break finish by Shannon Moody for St. Mary's -- to give Grand Island a 20-18 lead over the Lancers at halftime.

12:52 p.m. St. Mary's coach Keith Junik calls a timeout with 3:19 left in the third quarter and Grand Island having taken a 34-23 lead.

1 p.m. After three quarters, Grand Island has a 42-31 lead on St. Mary's. The Vikings displayed a nice well-rounded game in the third. Ousler has been big in the middle as a nice defensive presence with some blocks while she has been in the right spot at the right time (as she has all game) with some putbacks. Kallie Banker hit a three-pointer, Danielle Wegrzyn hit a three and a jumper, Megan Karpie finished a fast break and hit two jumpers.

1:09 p.m. A nice fast-break finish by Karpie off a steal by Wegryzn gives Grand Island a 46-33 lead with 4:17 left.

1:19 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Grand Island 52, St. Mary's 35.

Time for interviews for me.

1:28 p.m. A very nice, well-balanced performance by the Vikings, with senior Danielle Wegrzyn earning MVP honors with 11 points, including three three-pointers. Oursler had 15 and Karpie added 12; DeMarco had eight and Kallie Banker had six.

KC Sokolski led St. Mary's with 11 points while Raeann Stilwell had 10.

I don't cover a whole lot of girls games, but I know beating St. Mary's in such a well-balanced way is worth noting. The last girls game I covered was at the Federation tournament as the Lancers fell in the final, and they had a lot of talent back. With Stilwell and guard Victoria Fontana returning and a well-balalnced lineup themselves, St. Mary's should have a successful year.

I liked the gritty play of senior Maria Rosati, who played very tough defense and had some very nice passes on the offensive end -- she is one of those 'glue' players that does several things for a team. (She also gets the cool hi-tops/socks award, with some old school Nikes and orange laces along with multicolor socks. I don't go fashion plating on here often, but that was worth a shoutout.)

The Al Pastor Sportsmanship Award for the girls went to Grand Island senior Jessica Yarnes. That award is an important part of this event, which was started by Pastor and then renamed in his honor.

1:41 p.m. McKinley and Orchard Park are warming up and there is about a minute left counting down on the scoreboard.

OP senior Charles Mosey down on the baseline, McKinley players in the air. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)* * *

 1:45 p.m. We've tipped off with the Al Pastor final between McKinley and Orchard Park.

 1:58 p.m. After the first quarter, Orchard Park has a 12-9 lead on McKinley. The Macks came out with a strong start to go up, 7-2, causing turnovers with its usual frenetic defense. OP, as it did the other night against Grover, is playing very smart and is knocking down shots. One great inside-outside series had Zach Schenk nailing a three for OP.

2:17 p.m. At halftime, Orchard Park leads McKinley, 25-19. Kyle Witkowski hit two three-pointers in the quarter to keep OP a step ahead of the Macks, who missed several easy shots inside. More of the same from the Quakers, who I saw beat Grover last Monday in the first round. They play smart and Witkowski nails threes.

Now it's time for the famous chicken wing-eating contest thanks to longtime tournament sponsor Santora's Pizza.

Yummy wings. Pastor-Cooper tradition unlike any other. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 2:25 p.m. I could have eaten more chicken wings. I just gotta keep my typing fingers clean.

2:36 p.m. A OP cals a timeout with 3:57 left in the third after McKinley scored two straight baskets to cut the OP lead to 25-24. Not the prettiest quarter in the history of basketball.

2:39 p.m. Another timeout for OP with 2:41 left in the third as McKinley has taken a 28-25 lead thanks to two straight baskets by Dajuan Rutledge, an inside basket off a pass from Demmis James and a layup off his own steal. Still no points for OP in the quarter.

2:46 p.m. After three quarters, McKinley leads Orchard Park, 32-28. OP found its footing late in the quarter with some late baskets. An Avery layup and a James finish off a breakout Rutledge helped with a one-handed give-ahead gave the Macks a 32-25 lead last in the quarter. 

2:55 p.m. We have a timeout with 4:28 left and McKinley up, 39-33. Anthony Sanders is at the line to attempt the second of two free throws.

3:03 p.m. Nice close by McKinley, which is up, 44-36, with 1:18 to play. Some nice passing by the Macks on the offensive end to get some easy baskets and their defense has been tough, as it's been the entire second half. OP has definitely been cold from the field and has missed some easy ones, but you have to credit the Mack defense.

3:08 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: McKinley 48, Orchard Park 39.

Off to get the stats and some interviews.

3:20 p.m. Antonio Avery earned MVP honors -- he was the Macks' leading scorer in their first-round game, and he had eight points today. Rutledge led the team with 12, including several in the pivotal second half, while John Black had 10 and Anthony Sanders had nine.

Witkowski led OP with 11 points while Matt McCormick had 10 for Orchard Park.

3:27 p.m. We have about a minute left on the scoreboard before East battles OTC Middle College.

* * *

3:32 p.m. We have tipped off with the Jerry Cooper Division title game.

3:50 p.m. After the first quarter, East has a 17-10 lead on OTC. East got off to an 11-2 start. Davon Alexander, the lone returning starter from last year's state championship team, did not start the game for OTC but came in later in the first quarter.

4 p.m. A great second quarter for OTC, which has taken a 25-22 lead with 3:44 left in the second quarter and prompted a timeout by East coach Starling Bryant.

4:14 p.m. We are at halftime with OTC taking a 39-29 lead after a really strong second quarter. Middle College has been great on the break, Alexander has been a great presence and they've had quick hands on defense. Great energy as well. Quite a turnaround from one quarter to the next. 

4:36 p.m. This game has been fun. East has turned up the energy and the defense and has regained the lead. A three-pointer by senior Andre Jackson -- his second of the quarter -- has given East a 48-45 lead with less than two minutes left in the third. Tremmell Fisher also has two threes here in the third. What a turnaround followed by another turnaround.

4:44 p.m. East kept charging through the rest of the quarter with Jackson and Fisher each adding another three -- Fisher hit one at the third-quarter buzzer to put East up, 56-47, heading to the fourth.

4:54 p.m. The back-and-forth quarter stuff continues. East has called a timeout with 4:29 left in the fourth quarter with Middle College having cut the East lead to 59-57.

5:10 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: East 73, OTC Middle College 63.

Interview and stats time.

5:20 p.m. The MVP went to Andre Jackson, who had 18 points today to go along with a 25-point performance in the first game. Tremmel Fisher had a great game as well with 34 points.

Emmit Middlebrooks led OTC with 20 points while Khalid Brown had 16 and Davon Alexander had 12.

An entertaining quarter-by-quarter game. Coach Starling Bryant talked about how East wanted to beat OTC especially after last season, when OTC beat East in the final regular season game to win the Buffalo Public Schools' Yale Cup.

Back to the office to write the story for tomorrow's paper.

* * *

Here's a clip from the fourth quarter of the Jerry Cooper Division final won by East.

---Keith McShea

Will South's Joe Licata wins 39th Connolly Cup

Hello from Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell, the location -- as always -- for the Connolly Cup presentation.

The Connolly Cup, awarded by the Riverside Athletic Club, is given annually to the most outstanding football player in Western New York. It is named for William R. (Bill) Connolly, who passed away in 1971 after a lifetime of service to young people.

The 39th winner will be announced shortly. The presentation is scheduled for 2:15 p.m.

The finalists await the presentation of the award. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)The finalists are: Okoya Anderson, Orchard Park junior RB, Travis Eman, Canisius senior QB, Jordan Johnson, Sweet Home junior QB/DB, Chad Kelly, St. Joe's junior QB/DB, Zach Lauricella, Clarence senior QB, Joe Licata, Williamsville South senior QB, Jimmy Rauh, Southwestern senior QB, Tyler Stoldt, Alden senior QB, Shane Smith, Fredonia senior QB/LB, Zach Williams, Silver Creek senior RB/LB.

2:03 p.m. State senator William T. Stachowski addressed the banquet room, lauding the players, their parents and their coaches, as well as the Connolly Cup committee members who spend all season researching players and going to games.

2:06 p.m. Hall of Famer Jim Kelly is on hand in support of his nephew, Chad.

2:11 p.m. Jim Kelly is helping in the introductions of the finalists, handing out plaques to the finalists as they step up on the stage. Not a bad bonus for the top 10 this year.

Williams of Silver Creek is the only finalist not at the presentation due to a lacrosse committment.

2:23 p.m. Joe Licata is the winner of the 39th Connolly Cup.

No surprise here, as we gave him our top honor as well. A very deserved award.

* * *

The All-Western New York team (check the link for a cool video), including Buffalo News Player of the Year Licata, was announced today in the paper and on

---Keith McShea

How The News voted: Final poll

Every week a panel of voters participate in The News' large and small school football polls. And the final poll determines the poll champions for the season.

We have one vote in each poll. Here's how we voted in the preseason, Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week FourWeek Five, Week SixWeek Seven, Week Eight, Week Nine and Week 10.

And here is our contribution to the 2010 final poll:


1. Clarence (10-1) [last poll ballot: 2] -- Put up a great fight with a great comeback against the eventual state champions. Sidenote: Broyld of Rush was quite unbelievable -- on defense as well -- in the state final; I highly recommend watching the second half of the game, available I believe on cable.

2. Sweet Home (10-1) [1] -- Did not put up as good a fight against another state champion in Aquinas. I'd take Aquinas over Rush-Henrietta due to the completeness of their team, but we still give an edge to Clarence over the Panthers for the top spot.

3. Orchard Park (8-2) [3] -- A top five pick all season, all the way to the end, and a made field goal away from overtime with Clarence at The Ralph.

4. St. Joe's (6-5) [5] -- 5-1 vs. WNY. Could not have finished season with more of a flourish with the Chad Kelly-led rout of St. Francis at The Ralph. Offensive machine over the last six weeks. We just like the depth and complete-ness of the top three a little bit more, not unlike liking Aquinas over Rush.

5. Williamsville South (9-1) [4] -- I still love the idea of fantasy football between Nos. 4 and 5. Talk about a shootout.

6. Canisius (7-3) [6] -- 3-2 vs. WNY. Crusaders not playing at The Ralph certainly a surprise this season. Don't ask me how they finish behind a team (St. Francis) they beat in the last week of their regular season.

7. St. Francis (4-7) [7] -- 4-2 vs. WNY. Just a reminder: The three Monsignor Martin teams have been on this ballot most of the season, and plenty of people squawked about it. Another reminder: If Akeel Lynch isn't hurt, we might be talking about a different order of the Catholic trio.

The last three (and the explanations) remain the same from Week 10:

8. McKinley (6-3) [8] -- Losses at Will East (playoff team), two at Sweet Home (enough said). Big wins: Grand Island, Starpoint by 20, at St. Mary's by 36, at Amherst by 14 in quarters. Look at it this way, after Week One, they're 6-2 with two losses to Sweet Home. I still don't like the mistakes they made against the Panthers in the two times I saw them, but I think we can give the Panthers credit for making a lot of those happen (South sure didn't look like the South we knew at The Ralph with five turnovers). A dangerous team with a good future.

9. Jamestown (5-4) [9] -- Loss Week One at Frontier, loss at Clarence, loss to OP, loss at OP. Big win: at Riverside in quarters.

10. Kenmore West (6-3) [10] -- Loss Week Two at the very good version of schitzo Niagara Falls, loss at home to Riverside, loss at Clarence. Big wins: Lockport and Will North in tough AA North, vs. Frontier in quarters.


1. Alden (10-1) [1] -- Bulldogs hung in there with the eventual state champions, a performance that looked better and better each week as extremely impressive Hornell marched to another title (Top three classes all go to Section V -- still not a bad football year for the Western end of the state).

2. Fredonia (10-2) [2] -- Tremendous year for the Hillbillies, but all year, and in the postseason, Alden looked just a tad deeper (which certainly falls in line with a Class B champ vs. a Class C champ).

3. Southwestern (9-1) [3] -- Same spot as last poll.

4. Lackawanna (8-2) [4] -- Same spot as last poll.

5. Silver Creek (10-1) [5] -- Also put up a great fight against Cal-Mum, and nearly had a play swing the momentum their way. But in line with our voting all year, we have the No. 2s in B and C just a notch ahead.

6. Depew (8-1) [6] -- Same spot as last poll. Their supporters would probably like to think they could beat Silver Creek as well, but the first-round playoff exit pays a price.

7. Burgard (6-3) [7] -- Same spot as last poll.

8. Cardinal O'Hara (6-4) [9] -- Losses remain to Canisius, St. Joe's, St. Francis and Ohio's Steubenville. I moved them a spot ahead of Randolph based on both of the teams' last games. For those voting for Grover, the Nichols games really need to be looked at.

9. Randolph (9-1) [8] -- Drop down a spot behind O'Hara.

10. Grover Cleveland (8-1) [NR] -- I wrote last time, "If Fredonia keeps winning, maybe that pulls up the Presidents." Consider them pulled up, just edging out Pioneer.

Don't like what you're reading? The comment space is below.

---Keith McShea

Snow jumbles weekend basketball schedule

Here are the weather-related updates we've been notified of:

The traditional Friday night championship round of the Pastor-Cooper Memorial at Daemen College has been pushed back to Sunday.

Sunday's tripleheader starts with the girls championship between St. Mary's and Grand Island at noon. Next come the boys games with East meeting Middle College in the Al Pastor Division final at 1:30, followed by the Jerry Cooper Division final between Orchard Park and McKinley championship game at 3 p.m.

The boys consolation games, which were postponed Thursday, will be played Saturday. St. Mary's of Lancaster will meet Grover Cleveland at 10:30 a.m. at Daemen, while Hutch-Tech will host Nichols in their home gym at 2 p.m.

The Town of Hamburg Lions Tournament hosted by Frontier, which had its first round snowed out Thursday night, will play those games Saturday afternoon at 2 (Lackawanna-St. Francis) and 4 p.m. (Hamburg-Frontier). The finals will be next Saturday, Dec. 11, at 2 (consolation) and 4 p.m. (championship).

The Lancaster Tipoff championship game, scheduled for tonight, has been rescheduled for Monday, Dec. 6 as Cleve Hill visits Lancaster at 7:30 p.m. The consolation game between Oracle Charter and Medina has yet to be rescheduled.

The girls' United Way Tipoff at Jamestown is pushing its opening round back from tonight to Saturday afternoon. Frewsburg meets Immaculata at 4:15 followed by Clymer vs. Jamestown at 6. The championship and consolations have yet to be rescheduled.

Also, the first Section VI track meet of the year, which was to take place Saturday at Lancaster, has been canceled.

---Keith McShea

Live chat Dec. 1: Lots of hooping, Pastor-Cooper hype, Fed hockey (now starring girls!) and Connolly Cup chatter & trivia

Our weekly chat is tonight at 9:45 -- the later-than-usual start is due to a very busy night and a very busy week -- as we are wrapping up the fall seasons while the winter is getting started. As always, anything in the world of high school sports or our coverage of it is up for discussion.

We won't be appearing on The Late Nick Mendola show on WECK (1230 AM) tonight due to a UB hoops game, but we'll be on tomorrow night at 9:30.

I promise I'll get to your question or comment in the chat -- but please be patient. It can get busy fielding all of the questions and I can only answer one at a time. And PLEASE don't enter your question/comment multiple times -- that only makes things crazier.

Here are this fall season's previous chats: Nov. 23, Nov. 17, Nov. 10, Nov. 3, Oct. 27, Oct. 20, Oct. 13, Oct. 6, Sept. 22, Sept. 15, Sept. 8 and our kickoff (Sept. 1). Here's a link to the final session of the spring (which also includes last school year's spring and winter archives).

As always, if you have a question but you won't be able to make the chat, post one in the comments section or email me and I'll do my best to address it.

---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.

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