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How The News voted: February at table, ready to check in

Every week a panel of voters participate in The News' large and small school boys basketball polls.

And every week we let you know, like the title says ... how The News voted.

The fifth polls were published today in the Scholastic Spotlight with less than a month until the start of the Section VI boys basketball tournament (Feb. 21), and a week away from the start of February.

Here's a link to our previous How The News voted posts: last week (Jan. 18 after the MLK Classic), Jan. 11 (first poll of 2011), Dec. 21 (holiday edition) and Dec. 14 (first polls). And here's this week's:

LARGE SCHOOLS

1. Niagara Falls (11-0) [last week: 1] -- Thursday evening at Kenmore West.

2. Jamestown (9-2) [2] -- Rescheduling shuffle has Red Raiders at North on a day (Feb. 8) that I'm out of town (by design because there weren't any big games that day :-) ). DOH!

3. Williamsville South (10-1) [3] -- Coaches vs. Cancer week kicks of with their playing at Will East in what could be a nice matchup.

4. Canisius (10-5) [4] -- Some big games they look great in (Wilson Tournament), St. Mary's at home, I-Prep at MLK Classic, even the loss to South. Some other games, not so much: Fourth quarter against Falls, weekend trip to Aquinas (lost in a rout just like St. Joe's did). Can't wait for the 5 p.m. Saturday visit from St. Joe's.

5. Bennett (7-3) [NR] -- Too high? Maybe. Let this be a sign of how impressed I was with how they beat a team that I've been very impressed with (McKinley). A win at Riverside and handing the Macks their first loss are two very impressive results, a more impressive pair of wins than any owned by the other contenders for Nos. 5 through 10 in this poll -- especially recently.

This ballott definitely has a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately vibe. Bennett does have three losses, including one to East in the Yale Cup opener. However, as was mentioned by Tiger senior point guard William Vanoy on PrepTalkTV, they didn't have a full lineup early in the season. I checked Bennett's box score from that East game and there were three players who had key roles Friday who either didn't play or didn't score against East.

6. McKinley (8-1) [5] -- Like I said, I've been very impressed by the Macks, who have been balanced, composed, dangerous and have played together. They just got beat by a team that played with those four attributes as well.

7. St. Joe's (11-4) [7] -- The win at Timon is definitely good, but it's tough to tell where Timon fits in (see below), and the best large school results on the Marauders' schedule are: loss at home to Riverside, big loss to Aquinas, split with two good teams in Syracuse. Hmm, they do have a game on Saturday at the No. 4 large school. ...

8. Williamsville North (7-2) [9] -- North beat Batavia on a nuetral court, Timon lost at Batavia last weekend, so North gets bumped back up a spot.

9. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (10-3) [8] -- Tough to tell the Tigers' tale with a schedule that has been feast (lots of wins they should have won) or famine (they've lost their first three games of the year in their last four games, all to very good teams in St. Joe's, Batavia, Bishop Kearney).

10. Riverside (7-3) [6] -- Tempted to keep them ahead of Joe's, but that head-to-head win was in the second week of December. Another one of those what-have-you-done-for-me-lately deals.

Just getting boxed out: East, whose best win is over a depleted Bennett team. After that there is a dropoff to whoever would be next (Lancaster, Frontier, Kenmore West, Williamsville East, Cheektowaga, Maryvale, Clarence, not necessarily in that order).

SMALL SCHOOLS

1. International Prep at Grover Cleveland (9-3) [1] -- A solid No. 1 -- and that was before I saw some of their best ball of the season in beating OTC on Monday evening.

2. St. Mary's (8-6) [2] -- Will the Lancers take down one of the top 10 large schools from the Monsignor Martin Association? Coming off Sunday win over St. Francis, St. Mary's gets its first of two shots against Timon tonight.

3. Newfane (8-3) [3] --  Friday night marks Panthers' return trip to Wilson (and PrepTalkTV's first trip to the home of the Lakemen -- too bad the outstanding Wilson Boat House is closed for the season).

4. Maple Grove (10-1) [4] -- Red Dragons have won 11 in a row, with five games left -- all against teams they've routed already. The biggest challenge? Perhaps being patient while waiting to see what the Class C bracket will look like.

5. OTC Middle College (7-5) [5] -- A solid No. 5 before I saw them Monday night, when I was again impressed by the relentlessness. It will take a very good C team (like I-Prep) to fend them off.

6. Wilson (8-4) [6] -- See you Lakemen up north on Friday night. Make sure there is a parking spot for PrepTalkTV's satellite truck.

7. Dunkirk (10-0) [8] -- An undefeated team?!?!?! I neglected to realize last week that Dunkirk owned a win over Olean as well (like Maple Grove does) -- now the Marauders have two, with the latest in single digits (young Olean team is growing up). Why Maple Grove at 4 and Dunkirk three spots below? The small school poll is tough to gauge, the Southern Tier's tops are probably tougher to gauge, but it probably comes down to the fact that Maple Grove has been here before -- to borrow from political-speak, the Red Dragons have built up some serious poll capital.

8. Tapestry Charter (10-2) [7] -- Slide a spot again due to a bump to another team (Dunkirk).

9. Tonawanda (9-3) [10] -- Win over JFK still makes them the ECIC IV team to vote for.

10. Panama (11-2) [NR] -- Big win over Clymer to avenge en early-season loss. Panthers also, own win over CV, which was dropped from this spot after a loss at Silver Creek.

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

Or pepper me with questions during our weekly live chat at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

---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 | [email protected]

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