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How The News voted: February Frenzy before March Madness

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 ninth polls were published today in the Scholastic Spotlight, during a final week of February which will set the final fours for all sectional brackets as well as the championship of the Manhattan Cup.

And after the difficulty putting these polls together, thank goodness we have two weeks of games that should help sort things out.

Here are links to our previous How The News voted posts: last week (Feb. 15)Feb. 8Feb. 1, Jan. 25, 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 (17-1) [last week: 1] -- Kept them here due to the closeness of a loss on the road; it's fair to say if the game with St. Joe's is at Falls it could go the other way. Falls didn't play their best at the end of the game, which -- as the Wolverines said afterwards -- should help them over the next week or so.

2. Jamestown (15-3) [2] -- In a recurring theme, no reason to move these guys down.

3. Williamsville South (17-1) [3] -- See No. 2. Sidenote: The ECIC II sweep of Williamsville East looks a little glossier after East won at North. 

4. Canisius (17-7) [5] -- Crusaders win at their rival on Tuesday for possibly their best win of the year, and they watch their rival pass them in the poll. But not this ballot. Which brings us to ... 

5. St. Joe's (19-5) [4] -- Marauders post their biggest win in recent history, and they move down on this ballot.

A little crazy, I know. However, it should be noted that most pollsters didn't skyrocket Joe's to the top of their ballots, either, since the home loss to Canisius dragged them down. I'm weighing a home league loss to a main rival more than a great home nonleague win, which I think makes sense. 

St. Joe's did not play its best game on Tuesday, and then probably did on Friday, making a great coaching move with the zone and Falls didn't handle it well. Falls played a great game -- until the end -- and as I mentioned above, toss the ball up again (at either school), and I think the games could go either way.

The Marauders reached the high ceiling many have seen for them all year in the Falls game: Connor Rehbaum the offensive, at-times-team-carrying force; Reggie Agbeko the not-in-foul-trouble force inside at both ends, contributions from their depth like A. Keith Louie, among many others. If they bottle that the rest of the way, they'll have another shot against Canisius as well as a chance to play a long time and move to the very top of this poll. 

Sidenote: St. Joe's is 19-5 with 13 nonleague games. Falls is 17-1 with four nonleague games, three of which were played in December. The Marauders have had six more games to work on reaching that high ceiling, six more chances to schedule good teams (which they've done, as always) to get them there. Falls admittedly -- players and coaching staff alike -- did not make the best moves in their first crunch-time game of 2011. It's all the more reason for Falls to go independent next year; they'd be in a better position to try and make their team better under the all-too-constricting confines of the state's 18-game regular season.  

6. East (14-4) [7] -- Looked very, very strong in finale rout of Riverside.

7. Bennett (13-5) [8] -- Longtime resident of this ballot makes a big bounce back into the top 10 of the poll after finishing a season sweep of McKinley -- which was especially impressive in that it came at McKinley.

8. McKinley (15-3) [6] -- Nice finish against Hutch-Tech after loss to Bennett. A most intriguing team, with a most intriguing road, in the AA playoffs.

9. Lancaster (13-5) [11th in the bonus below] -- Hutch-Tech (finale loss at home to McKinley) and Riverside (finale loss big at East) didn't keep their momentum going, so they slide out and the Redskins return along with ... 

10. Bishop TImon-St. Jude (16-7) [12th in the bonus below] -- ... the Tigers, who -- as I've been saying for a while now -- have yet to beat a higher-ranked team this season (they went down firing at Canisius -- by three -- on Friday). They've got one shot left at an upset, and if the seedings hold that makes for one dramatic semifinal with Joe's on Saturday.

In the bonus, week two:

11. Hutch-Tech (11-7) [9] -- Engineers' late-season surge boosts the A-1 bracket.

12. Riverside (11-7) [10] -- Have been on and off during the Yale Cup; a Wednesday win over East Aurora would send them into a great quarterfinal ... (jump to No. 14)

13. Williamsville East (14-4) [18] -- Talk about a great way to go into the playoffs. 

14. Maryvale (16-2) [15] -- (continued from No. 12) ... at the Flyers. PrepTalkTV captured the gym-a-rockin in the ECIC III-clincher against Cheektowaga, would be a great gym to be in for a Riverside game.

15. Williamsville North (12-4) [13] -- Maybe the Spartans were looking ahead to the playoffs?

While we're at it ... the what-the-heck expanded rankings (upped from 21 to 30 this week):

16. Clarence [16]; 17. Frontier [21]; 18. Orchard Park; 19. Kenmore West [14]; 20. Cheektowaga [17];

21. St. Francis; 22. Olean; 23. West Seneca West; 24. Lew-Port [19]; 25. Amherst;

26. Niagara-Wheatfield [20]; 27. Depew; 28. Burgard; 29. Lafayette; 30. West Seneca East.

 

SMALL SCHOOLS

1. International Prep at Grover Cleveland (15-3) [1] -- The OT win over OTC Middle College was certainly an eyebrow-raiser, but it was a post-division clinched game and there certainly aren't any challengers to this throne right now. 

We're still in near pick-them-out-of-a-hat-stage, we'll see if we get more help in the next few weeks :-)

2. Wilson (14-4) [2] -- We'll have to see how they fare without Truesdell in the postseason, but I don't see that as a reason to move them down right now.

3. Newfane (14-4) [3] -- Panthers remain attached to the Lakemen.

4. Tonawanda (14-3) [5] -- I freely admit to pushing the Warriors up thanks to a push from the ...

5. Lackawanna (10-8) [6] -- ... Steelers, two ECIC IV teams who should make the B-1 bracket a blast (along with Newfane and Dunkirk).

6. St. Mary's (16-8) [4] -- Loss at Walsh requires a slip; tonight Lancers can erase that and clinch a trip to the Catholic Class B state final.

7. Dunkirk (18-0) [7] -- This may sound familiar to small-school football fans: Win in the playoffs and things will take care of itself (i.e., the Marauders will move up this ballot). I understand the No. 2 train for these guys, but the schedule prevents me from jumping on it. 

8. Maple Grove (16-2) [8] -- Another Southern Tier team with a high ceiling on this ballot.

9. OTC Middle College (11-7) [10] -- Great effort at I-Prep shows how dangerous these guys can be, something I've been saying all season. That City Honors loss is a head-scratcher, however, and anchors them to the bottom half of the poll.

10. Tapestry Charter (15-3) [9] -- Schedule of late hasn't been great, the schedule upcoming should be a lot of fun.

No room in the inn for Archbishop Walsh after their nice win, and Cassadaga Valley would be our No. 12.

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

Or join me for our weekly chat on Wednesday night. We'll start up at 9:45 p.m., just after boys basketball games are finishing up that will finalize the always intriguing quarterfinals.

---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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