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How The News voted: Happy February

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 sixth polls were published today in the Scholastic Spotlight on day we enter the month of the Section VI boys basketball tournament.

Here's a link to our previous How The News voted posts: last week (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 (12-0) [last week: 1] -- LOVED what coach Constantino had to say about going independent.

2. Jamestown (9-2) [2] -- Another two-fer week to see the Red Raiders up north, at Frontier tonight and a big one at Lancaster Friday.

3. Williamsville South (11-1) [3] -- Quality statement in rout at Will East.

4. St. Joe's (14-4) [7] -- If all those pieces keep playing consistent, team ball together, look out. Agbeko is getting better, and Joe's did just fine with him shackled by two early fouls at Canisius. Moser and Louie provided very good two-way guard play. Kelly's rebounding is key. Spitler is always a three threat. Escott returns to provide steady, reliable play down low at both ends. Rehbaum is the go-to scorer who hits big buckets. And there are a couple more trustworthy players off the bench.

A great little scene on the first play of the half at Canisius: St. Joe's runs a great play, Mark Simon nearly narrating it as it happens, knowing that Rehbaum is going to come open and talking through the passes his team needs to make it happen -- almost willing them to be patient and run it ... they do, Rehbaum is open, Simon says "there it is," Rehbaum nails the three, Simon yells "BOOM!" as it hits the net.

Moral of the story: Playing team ball and listening to coach Simon will lead to some loud noise-making.

I had had doubts about St. Joe's consistency and their schedule (thus the No. 7 vote last week), but nine wins in a row and a convincing fourth quarter win at Canisius addressed that.

5. Bennett (8-3) [5] -- A good test of the Tigers' talk about having a full lineup (last week on PrepTalkTV) now after missing some players at the start of the season comes Thursday when Bennett hosts a Hutch-Tech team which started a rough-and-tumble week by hanging at McKinley on Monday (Engineers are at Riverside today).

6. McKinley (9-1) [6] -- Game of the Week: Thursday at East.

7. Canisius (12-6) [4] -- As I mentioned last week, some games they have looked superior in. Those have been the ones in which everyone is involved -- especially those three-point shooters. On the other hand, the fourth quarters at home in losses to Falls and Joe's have not been good. Should be interesting to see what happens Friday down in ...

8. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (12-3) [9] -- ... South Buffalo, where Timon is of course always tough, and where the Tigers lost in OT to St. Joe's. 

9. Riverside (7-3) [10] -- Before Monday: The win over Joe's is a big reason they're still here. After Monday: Never mind the win at Joe's in December; they shouldn't be here.

East would definitely get a top 10 vote, and probably this spot (although it could be higher after Thursday). Big win at Riverside was the kind of victory I needed to see before I voted for them.

10. Lancaster (9-4) [NR] --The what-have-you-done-for-me-lately clause is kicking in here. Very nice win at home over North splits the season series, bumps the Spartans out of the poll and helps us concentrate on the high points of the Redskins (four-point loss at Jamestown, which visits Friday) rather than the low (losses to Depew and West Seneca West).

Williamsville North gets bumped after the Lancaster loss and is a clear No. 11a or 11b with East. Cheektowaga, Maryvale, Kenmore West, Hutch-Tech, Williamsville East and the rest of ECIC I are in the next grouping.

SMALL SCHOOLS

1. International Prep at Grover Cleveland (9-3) [1] -- At least this part is easy.

2. Wilson (10-4) [6] --Once upon a time, Wilson was No. 2 after beating St. Mary's, which had an edge over Newfane because it beat the Panthers in OT.

After seeing the Lakemen hold serve against Newfane, we've moved them back up. We liked the defense and the balance that came through with the Tylers even though senior leader Moxham had an off-night scoring-wise. Martin was clutch, Truesdell was all over the place.

With that said, they have split close games with Newfane, and we think spots No. 2 through No. 6 in this poll are awfullllllly tight. We're giving them credit for the big league win and the balance they showed in it. 

3. Newfane (9-4) [3] -- Definitely were impressive in flashes at Wilson.

4. St. Mary's (8-10) [2] --We saw them put forward what was clearly not their best effort against Timon at home last Tuesday, and that's probably reflected in this poll (so is a closer-than-we-thought-it-would-be win at Nichols). Based on seeing the three teams (not to mention I-Prep and OTC as well) during the week, this is how we're lining it up. Intriguing week for the Lancers -- before the return bout at Timon on Wednesday is tonight's hosting of Archbishop Walsh.

5. Maple Grove (11-1) [4] -- Thought about these guys at No. 2.

6. OTC Middle College (7-5) [5] -- Similarly: These guys might be able to beat anyone on this list but I-Prep (they'll get another shot in the season finale).

7. Dunkirk (11-0) [7] -- These guys are just rolling along undefeated. The Niagara Falls of the South. :-)

8. Tapestry Charter (10-2) [8] -- I think these guys also have the potential to beat any team on this ballot -- other than the one their coach used to coach at.

9. Tonawanda (10-3) [9] -- Rematch with JFK on Friday night. Biggest game in a long time among current ECIC IV teams not named Lackawanna, fair to say?

10. Panama (11-2) [10] -- Representing Class D with a box out of JFK first, then a crew of Southern Tier teams including Walsh, and probably Cleveland Hill in there too. Darkhorse/wild card/look out for these guys: Lackawanna seems to have solved its lineup issues and hosts JFK tonight.

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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