Every week during the basketball season (except a two-week vacation over the holiday break) a panel of voters participates 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.
Here is a link to last year's final ballot.
Here's the season's first polls, and here's our first shot of this season:
1. Canisius (2-1) [last year's final ballot: 2] -- Ever since ESPNHS put them on the bubble in their preseason version of their overall state rankings (they are in the same spot in their first poll), I said that was pretty fair. Crusaders looked impressive to start the season, to get my vote over one other contender, a familiar one in ...
2. Niagara Falls (1-1)  -- ... the Wolverines. Looked very good against Timon, but just a notch below where I have Canisius' cohesive group. How can I say that after just seeing the tail end of Canisius in a blowout? Hey, it's Week One. I'm doing my best :-)
3. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (1-1) [13 in the bonus] -- Liked what I saw in a win over East and a loss at Falls. The vote was registered before the win over South -- at the half it backed up this vote, playing very well despite Bryant Fulton sitting out as a precaution; in the second half it showed how these Tigers might be the most mercurial team in Western New York this season. The certainly look completely capable of beating anyone, including the top two here, while they nearly dissolved in the second half of a game that coach Palano said South probably deserved to win.
4. Jamestown (0-0)  -- Red Raiders tip off tonight. This might be a benefit-of-the-doubt vote. The champs deserve a certainly level of respect, despite who's coming back ... or not coming back. Just for the record: Jaysean Paige, last year's News Player of the Year, was cleared to play for Perry High in Hazard, Ky., this week. He was originally ruled ineligible after transferring there in the fall.
5. Riverside (3-1)  -- Not the longest bench but they've played well early. With Feggans and other factors, I consider them the top city team, which is part of the reason why I put them ahead of ...
6. St. Joe's (3-1)  -- ... the Maurauders (although Agbeko might certainly help them elevate on this ballot), who just squeaked by ...
7. McKinley (2-1)  -- ... the Macks, who ran away from Orchard Park and Maryvale after the opening loss, not a bad pair of wins.
8. Kenmore West (0-0) [NR] -- In an uncertain bottom of a ballot, the Blue Devils return enough to post up a spot here. Very interested to see them tonight against Canisius at the ADPRO Monsignor Martin-ECIC Challenge, part of a super lineup.
9. Hutch-Tech (1-0)  -- I remember that scare they put into Will South at Buffalo State; giving them a nod despite graduation of Maurice Miles.
10. Williamsville North (2-0) [NR] -- Very good start with wins over Depew and Will East. Will South is your No. 11.
1. St. Mary's (5-1)  -- Too good a start with too good a schedule for me to put them in the other spot in a clear two-horse race at the moment. Hey, gotta love it when the horses actually race: Game Two at the Challenge tonight is these Lancers against ...
2. Olean (2-1) [12 in large] -- ... these Huskies. The loss to Batavia enabled me to vote for St. Mary's. I know Batavia is a good team, a very good program. If the loss is closer then I might have put the Huskies on top.
3. OTC Middle College (1-1)  -- These guys will be fun to watch. Big loss in opener was to the No. 1 large school.
4. MST Seneca (2-0) [NR] -- This poll was maddening. I feel like I considered 30 teams for spots. On a ballot where strength of schedule is going to get some teams on here, I think these guys deserve this spot after wins over two large schools to win the Pioneer Tipoff. Time will tell.
5. East (0-3) [4 in large school] -- Oh-and-three? Yes, oh-and-three.
We would like to pause at this moment to acknowledge the beauty, peacefulness and serenity of the level-headed basketball season, where teams can be ranked (I'm certainly not alone in ranking what has been a large-school power in recent seasons -- the Panthers are No. 6) even though their records are, as non-impressive as they can be. Try ranking an 0-3 team in football (or even an 0-1 team!) and people get apoplectic. Thank you, basketball.
Back to the blog: East lost to Timon, at Olean and at Aquinas, about as impressive a three losses a small school could have. The Panthers are always in the race for the top of the Yale Cup, we think they will be again, and that puts them about here.
6. Depew (1-1) [NR] -- Impressive early, including in loss to top 10 large school Will North.
7. Lackawanna (1-2)  -- After two tournament losses to Hamburg and St. Francis, I was like, "Huh?" Then the Steelers knock off Section V power Charles Finney, and I'm again like, "Huh?" The Finney win deserves a vote.
8. Tonawanda (3-0)  -- Nice start, although I would have expected a higher margin of victory over Alden (five).
9. Maple Grove (0-2) [NR] -- Losses to Olean and Batavia. But deserve respect. Right now we'll consider them No. 1 from the Southern Tier. We shall see.
10. International Prep at Grover Cleveland (0-2)  -- Graduated a lot but that dropoff might not be so bad from last year's wire-to-wire small school No. 1. Losses to Joe's and Lockport at Lockport's Tournament were close enough that they deserved a vote.
OK. And now, the ridiculous amount of teams I wanted to vote for.
I wanted to vote for Panama, which beat Cassadaga Valley, which I also wanted to vote for, and at one point I had both of them at the bottom off the ballot. Then I scratched them out. It might have been when I thought of voting for Archbishop Walsh, which I definitely wanted to do, but it was tough to tell -- Walsh vs. Panama? Hmmm....
Then I was like, I should vote for Newfane -- they have enough back from a strong team in a strong small-school league in the Niagara-Orleans. ... But what about their buddy Wilson? What about look-out-here-we-come CSAT? Hmmmm....
Then there was City Honors (they don't tip for a few weeks), Holland, and a few more.
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