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How The News voted: Selection Saturday 11 days away

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 seventh polls were published today in the Scholastic Spotlight, less than two weeks from the start of the Section VI tournament (Feb. 21). Selection Saturday is Feb. 19.

Here's a link to our previous How The News voted posts: last week (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:

(I'm out of town Monday and Tuesday -- and I'm even more angry that the Yale Cup games and the now-classic Jamestown at Will North game were rescheduled to Monday after I arranged a trip around days where I wasn't going to miss anything! :-) Anyways, more details on why the vote went this way are coming Wednesday. For now, it's just how my ballot looked.)

LARGE SCHOOLS

1. Niagara Falls (14-0) [last week: 1] -- James Starks had a 2005 Federation hoops hampionship ... now he'll have a Super Bowl ring. Wow. 

2. Jamestown (11-2) [2] -- When I voted: Very impressive, gutty win on Friday night. Just when the game appeared Lancaster's to take -- cutting lead to two, in home gym, with Paige having fouled out ... the Red Raiders stepped up. Sign of a very good, rock-solid team. Two more tests for the very good, rock-solid team: the ECIC I ringer continues with a two-fer of North this week (Monday and Saturday).

After I voted: It'll be interesting to see how the second half of their meetings with North goes on Saturday and if Paige is playing. 

3. Williamsville South (13-1) [3] -- Three-point festival at South Friday night (Timon visits). The teams should get pledges to raise money for who hits more threes (Just kidding. Like Stupid Pet Tricks: Please, no wagering.)

4. St. Joe's (16-4) [4] -- Eleven wins in a row and counting, Timon visits Thursday.

5. Canisius (14-6) [7] -- Since the loss to Joe's, they look very strong -- they look the way they looked when we had them as a top four team and thought they might stay there all season.

6. Bennett (10-3) [5] -- When I voted: The Yale Cup trio in the next three spots is almost a toss-up heading into Monday's game. We had these Tigers ahead of East based on the McKinley win, so for consistency's sake we're keeping them ahead. Both won at home against McKinley. As noted last week, I'm also considering Bennett's first go-round with East a different Tiger team since it didn't have the full team it has now. I certainly could be proven wrong Monday. I did like the clamp-down on Hutch-Tech last week as well.

7. East (10-3) [NR] -- Split with McKinley home and home, but their recent run (winning at Riverside, beating McKinley) and their balance has been impressive.

8. McKinley (11-2) [6] -- They have seemed a little out of sync, a step behind what I thought they were capable of in the losses at Bennett and East. I still think they're quite capable. We'll see.

After I voted: Proven wrong indeed. East deserves No. 6 as the top Yale Cup team. I still like Bennett and McKinley's depth and balance. East might not be as deep as the other two, but they are playing better team ball and seem to have a stronger starting crew. Fisher can do everything but his unselfishness keys the team; Oden is right there with him; Chris Boyd is a playmaker; Andre Jackson is another do-it-all guy who can score; Dominique House and Jason McDaniel are effective big men on both ends -- I keep getting them mixed up because they both are good at blocking and/or altering shots as well as getting after it on the offensive end.

9. Lancaster (9-5) [10] -- Hanging with Jamestown they way they have deserves respect. Harrington is a major force.

10. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (13-4) [8] -- Home losses to the two Monsignor Martin big guys still sting. But we'll take them just ahead of Williamsville North. The opportunities are there this week on back-to-back road nights: Thursday at St. Joe's; Friday at Will South.

Also considered (in addition to North): Hutch-Tech had a nice win at Riverside and played McKinley tough. ... Just when I thought Kenmore West could be a contender here, they lose up at Lew-Port. ... Cheektowaga or Maryvale? Not until they play on Friday.

SMALL SCHOOLS

1. International Prep at Grover Cleveland (12-3) [1] -- Reminder that the OTC Middle College rematch is the final day of the Yale Cup season (next Thursday, Feb. 17).

2. Lackawanna (7-7) [NR] -- Yes, here. They're back and appear to have things sorted out just fine with an overwhelming rout of JFK and a big win at Batavia. In a year of non-dominant small schools, that's certainly enough to ride an escalator this far. With their key guys, they routed Tonawanda early on -- the likely league champion Warriors visit in a big one Friday night.

3. Wilson (12-4) [2] -- Still like the Lakemen. Only B-2 team on this ballot.

4. Newfane (11-4) [3] -- Still like the Panthers. Speaking of Bs, top five seeds as of filling out this poll: Dunkirk, Newfane, Tonawanda, JFK, Lackawanna. Hmmmm. Should be fun.

5. St. Mary's (11-7) [4] -- Bad week to have two intriguing games postponed (Timon and Walsh).

6. Dunkirk (13-0) [7] -- We thought Maple Grove was the top Southern Tier team ahead of these guys, so while they move past MG, but not much further. Remains tough to gauge.

7. OTC Middle College (9-5) [6] -- Still think the Kats might be able to beat anyone here other than I-Prep. We moved Dunkirk past them because we kept looking at Dunkirk's two wins over Olean (which beat OTC), and even if it is tough to gauge, the undefeated record deserves respect. All of a sudden, this ballott this week reached headache level.

8. Tonawanda (10-3) [9] -- We liked what we saw Friday, althought Warriors saved their best until the third quarter. Losses are to a full Lackawanna team early and large schools West Seneca East and West.

9. Maple Grove (12-1) [5] -- We thought about these guys at No. 2 last week, then they lose at Pine Valley. that's what we're talking about with the headaches and the tough-to-gauge Southern Tier.

10. Tapestry Charter (10-2) [8] -- Kind of in limbo until sectionals with its schedule mostly other charters recently. However, these guys are going to be dangerous ... in about 11 days.

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

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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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