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 eighth polls were published today in the Scholastic Spotlight, during a week which ends with Selection Saturday's announcement of the boys and girls basketball sectional tournament seedings and schedule.
Here's a link to our previous How The News voted posts: last week (Feb. 9), Feb. 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:
1. Niagara Falls (15-0) [last week: 1] -- Coach Constantino deserves massive props for scheduling a game at St. Joe's on Friday. Toughest test I can remember a Section VI team scheduling for itself on the literal eve of the postseason.
2. Jamestown (13-3)  -- Monday happened, then Saturday happened. With Jaysean Paige back in the lineup, the Saturday big win over North all but erased (for poll purposes) the Monday OT Paige-less loss at North.
3. Williamsville South (15-1)  -- The win over Timon was a little bit of a slow-go at the start, but the Billies finished the game like a top-ranked team.
4. St. Joe's (17-4)  -- Only thing scarier for opponents than the 13-game win streak? That it very possibly could become 15 with can't-miss home games against No. 5 and No. 1 this week. Be sure to get to Joe's early.
Aside: This is one of those times when I wonder why St. Joe's, which redid its gym in the last decade, didn't make it just a little bit bigger to fit more fans in. The annual visit from Canisius alone is enough reason to at least have a few more rows of bleachers.
5. Canisius (15-6)  -- The way these guys have been playing, that 57-49 loss at Section V private school power Bishop Kearney should send shudders through prospective Section VI opponents of the Knights.
6. McKinley (14-2)  -- Welcome to the Yale Cup beat-each-other-up portion of the poll. The Macks move back atop the Yale power ratings by saving a win against Riverside, which beat Bennett, while East (split season series with the Macks) lost at Hutch-Tech. The Macks, who beat Tech at home two weeks ago, travel to Tech for their season finale Thursday.
7. East (12-4)  -- Last week I lauded the balance and starting rotation. Then Hutch-Tech, which has been playing teams very tough, handed them a second league loss to drop them into a tie with the Macks.
8. Bennett (11-5)  -- The Tigers lost close ones to East and Riverside, but they had a 15-point win over new tough guy Hutch-Tech? That's got to deserve respect.
9. Hutch-Tech (10-6) [NR] -- Engineers throw the Division I race back up for grabs with a big win over East that followed a win over Riverside and a close win at McKinley. The Macks visit Thursday should make for a full house in the gym that is at the same time the most visually stunning and the most visually-impairing (small, bad sightlines, girders blocking views) gym in Western New York.
10. Riverside (10-6) [NR] -- If they don't inbound the ball against McKinley, they likely beat the Macks, and then what does the Yale Cup look like?
I can hear the squawking already about voting for too many city teams, and I can certainly see that point of view. However, if McKinley (coulda woulda shoulda lost to Riverside) and East (just lost to Hutch-Tech) are worthy of votes (check the poll -- most voters did), then I think the other three are worthy as well. When I've seen all of these Yale Cup teams at their best, they all have multi-range weaponry, have played good team ball and tough defense, enough to earn these spots.
In the bonus:
11. Lancaster (11-5)  -- Still certainly should be ahead of North based on their last meeting as well as the Jamestown games.
12. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (15-6)  -- Lots of losses to very good teams, lots of wins against OK teams. Maybe Tigers are saving their best for last? Friday at Canisius High, then the Manhattan Cup at Canisius College.
13. Williamsville North (12-4) -- Still a must-watch team.
14. Kenmore West (12-4) -- Like Bailey pushing the pace, the size, the threes, the balance.
15. Maryvale (15-2) -- Very nice league-clinching win over Cheektowaga. I see they are getting some votes. However, ECIC III isn't as strong as it has been and the Flyers are the only team on this extended ballot with a loss to an unranked small school (Cleveland Hill).
While we're at it ... what the heck: 16. Clarence. 17. Cheektowaga. 18. Williamsville East. 19. Lew-Port. 20. Niagara-Wheatfield. 21. Frontier.
1. International Prep at Grover Cleveland (13-3)  -- Can clinch the title today thanks to OTC Middle College's loss to City Honors last week, which saps a little bit of buzz from I-Prep's hosting of OTC on finale Thursday.
And now, it's almost pick-them-out-of-a-hat-stage:
2. Wilson (13-4)  -- We slide the Lakemen back up after the events in ECIC IV last week. Bummer to hear that Tyler Truesdell is out for the season -- only saw him once, but his hustle, energy and interior presence were huge.
3. Newfane (13-4)  -- Panthers stay attached to the Lakemen.
4. St. Mary's (14-7)  -- Road trip to Walsh today after a 15-point home win Saturday.
5. Tonawanda (14-3)  -- Warriors are division champs.
6. Lackawanna (8-8)  -- One-point loss to the Warriors should keep them tucked behind, even though the score was a double-take 34-33. Just a theory: Maybe chalk up the lack-thereof-points to two teams not used to big-game nerves getting big-game nervous/sloppy/etc. And just as a point of reference, Wilson's win over Newfane a few weeks back was 49-44, not exactly a barnburner, either.
7. Dunkirk (16-0)  -- Many voters moved the Marauders up this week. I wanted to as well. I swear. An undefeated team at this point in a parity-filled small-school field? Of course they should move up! I thought that's where they would go -- heck, they just put up 100 points. I just wanted to check the schedule again. Their last four: 103-39 over Falconer (1-15); 88-36 over Gowanda (2-14); 67-37 over Oracle Charter (2-13); 92-36 over Maritime Charter (3-9). On second thought, that kind of schedule took the wind out of my moving-Dunkirk-up sails.
8. Maple Grove (12-1)  -- Reports said the Red Dragons had several players out for their loss at Pine Valley. We'll see if they bounce back to hop back to the top half of this ballot.
9. Tapestry Charter (14-2)  -- Interested to see how Dunkirk would have done against this charter.
10. OTC Middle College (9-6)  -- Like Maple Grove, we go from thinking they could beat all but No. 1 on this list to watching them on the wrong end of a surprise (losing to City Honors).
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Or join me for our weekly chat -- which will be this THURSDAY at 9:45 p.m. We've shifted it back due to a busy week. The Thursday talk will be quite timely -- after many season finales, so we might be able to talk about the sectional brackets before they're "official."