Every week during the basketball season (except a two-week vacation over the holiday break which has concluded) 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 are this week's polls, and here's our ballot:
1. Canisius (6-4) [last ballot: 1] -- Did Santa show up at pollsters houses and give them Niagara Falls prize packages? Before the break: Canisius eight first-place votes; Falls two. After the break: Falls eight first-place votes, Canisius two.
Canisius did well against national competition at Father George Jesuit Classic at Georgetown Prep in Maryland. They were 1-2 for seventh place, but they were in the much tougher half of the bracket, and had a eight-point loss to one of the best teams from Washington state (Bellarmine). Plus, I view a Matt Hart-less tough home loss to Aquinas just as good, and probably better, than Falls' home loss to Kearney because I consider Aquinas better than Kearney (we'll find out about that on Wednesday night). It's enough to keep them where I had them (and where everyone else had them) before Falls won two Niagara Frontier League blowouts. I could see perhaps a shift. But 8-2 to 2-8 has me turned around as if Loren Stokes just broke my ankles at the top of the key.
2. Niagara Falls (5-1)  -- Falls gets its shot at national-caliber competition this weekend at the Burger King Classic in Erie, Pa.
3. Jamestown (7-1)  -- I repeat: You can depend on Jamestown. They deserve this spot. Very impressive win over a fine Kennedy Catholic program of Section I, loss is to a Kingston team ranked third in the state in AA.
4. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (9-3)  -- The Timon-Joe's matchups will certainly be fun to watch; Timon's last lost was to Mount St. Michael, ranked 10th in state in AA, I like their competition better than ...
5. St. Joe's (10-2)  -- ... the Marauders, who beat two Syracuse teams to win a tourney there. Still think they are a step behind the top four, and remember they started with a one-point hold-on win against ...
6. McKinley (4-1)  -- ... the Macks, who had a nice start to the Yale Cup with close win over ...
7. Hutch-Tech (3-2)  -- ... Engineers, who beat East two days later; and East beat ...
8. Riverside (4-2)  -- ... the Frontiers, who we still think will be heard from and certainly see as rounding out a top eight (these guys had that No. 5 ranking before the break).
9. Kenmore West (5-2)  -- Two big losses to Canisius and Falls, but you can see the talent there, particularly with a strong leader like Bailey. We'll give the NFL's No. 2 the edge over the No. 2 from the entire ECIC ...
10. Williamsville East (8-2) [NR] -- ... and that's the Flames. We like East as with their one-point win at Clarence at the Red Devils' holiday tournament. It was a close one, as that is Clarence's only loss, and the Devils are coming off a big win over Frontier. East has been routing ECIC II competition; its losses are not bad: to Will North in its opener and to St. Joe's in the Lockport Tourney final.
1. Olean (8-1)  -- Again the easiest spot in the poll.
2. OTC Middle College (3-2)  -- Initially, the dilemma was, St. Mary's or Depew? What to do here after No. 2 St. Mary's lost at Depew by one point? Head-to-head is as good as you're going to get when it comes to poll-making, but the body of work of St. Mary's was clearly at a different level than Depew's (notably there's a loss to Amherst and the lack of another big win).
Then I looked at the ballot, was impressed how OTC ran away from I-Prep the other night, and went with the formidable Kats.
3. St. Mary's (8-4)  -- Still struggled with the next two, but I'll go with this: If Depew is at St. Mary's, who wins? I'd say St. Mary's, and they have that body of work thing going for them.
4. Depew (6-2)  -- Nice tough test at East Aurora on Thursday night.
5. East (1-5)  -- Yale Cup-opening win over top 10 large school Riverside backed up the votes I've been giving the Panthers so far. Five losses have come to large schools, and very good ones at that: Timon, St. Joe's, Olean, Aquinas, Hutch-Tech.
6. MST Seneca (5-0)  -- Very interested to see these guys take on OTC, I'll have to be patient -- their meeting is the last in the Yale Cup II rotation.
7. Archbishop Walsh (9-2)  -- Like the big wins, like them hanging around with Olean, other loss was to Timon.
8. Tonawanda (9-0)  -- Two of their last three wins might be their best of the season: East Aurora and Cleve Hill. Great undefeated roll, but a two-point home win over Roy-Hart tempered things for me.
9. Silver Creek (5-0) [NR] -- Undefeated (entering Monday night's play) makes them king of the Section VI Southern Tier ... for now. But there are mannnnnnnnny candidates (Maple Grove, Portville, Panama, Randolph, Cassadaga Valley, Dunkirk ... whewww).
10. Newfane (4-1) [NR] -- The crazy competitive Niagara-Orleans League deserves a nod. The Panthers' victories over Will South and St. Francis at Will South's holiday tourney deserve a nod. The N-O is so wild they could have three or four reps in this space by the time we get to Buffalo State.
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