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Live chat (March 14): Talking hoops postseason, taking NYSPHSAA's crazy idea & fast-breaking with it

We'll have our live chat tonight at 9:30 [UPDATE: We pushed it back from 9], and we can certainly talk about today's Prep Talk column (and blog) along with this weekend's state basketball championships.

As always, anything in the world of high school sports -- or our coverage of it -- is up for discussion.

I promise I'll get to your question or comment -- but please be patient. It can get busy fielding all of the questions and I can only answer one at a time. And PLEASE don't enter your question/comment multiple times -- that only makes things more hectic.

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Our previous winter chats: March 7 (pre-Far West Regionals), Feb. 22 (Prequarterfinal Wednesday), Feb. 15 (starting with Ken West at Ken East), Feb. 8 (scorekeepers), Feb. 1 (twitter smh column & football signing day), Jan. 25 (pre-Canisius-Joe's), Jan. 18 (2012 video debut), Jan. 11 (2012 debut/Aquinas-Kearney viewing), Dec. 14 (from the MMA-ECIC Challenge), All-WNY football talk (Dec. 7 w/video); our first was Nov. 30 (live from the Pastor-Cooper Showcase tipoff).

Our chats of the 2011 fall season: Nov. 16Nov. 9Nov. 2Oct. 26Oct. 19Oct. 12Oct. 5Sept. 28Sept. 21 (our video chat debut)Sept. 14Sept. 7 and our preseason chat (Aug. 31), which also includes links to all of of the chats from 2010-11.

As always, if you have a question but you won't be able to make the chat, post one in the comments section here, email me, Tweet it or post it on Facebook and I'll do my best to address it.

---Keith McShea

More on today's Prep Talk column: 'NYSPHSAA deserves to be benched'

Before you read this (blog), read this:

* My column today, headlined, "NYSPHSAA deserves to be benched."

Then you should probably read this: 

* The story which (as far as I know) broke the news that the New York State Public High School Athletic Association wants its sections to discuss "placing a two-year moratorium on all state championships" and "curtailing the number of state championships."

Then, because if you are like me and can not comprehend that actually happening, you should read this so you can see it actually printed on an actual document:

* The NYSPHSAA's "Items To Be Brought Back To The Sections For Discussion" memo.

That document is accessible via the Section VI web site's page regarding the agenda for next Wednesday's Athletic Council meeting (March 21). For web site fans or agenda fans, from the main Section VI site you go to the "General Information" menu at the top of the Section VI page and drag down to "Athletic Council Meetings," which takes you to this year's schedule.

* * * 

Often times when you write stories, stuff ends up on the cutting room floor. There's only so much space. Thank goodness for blogs :-).

Some more thoughts regarding the NYSPHSAA that I couldn't jam into today's column: 

* If you're thinking that this isn't the first time the NYSPHSAA has come up with a cost-cutting idea that didn't exactly go over well, you are correct

For the 2009-10 season, the NYSPHSAA enacted measures aimed at helping the NYSPHSAA and its districts reduce costs. In December 2010, it extended these measures through this school year.

Most measures were fairly benign. The one that got the most attention -- and which continues to get attention -- was the reduction of games in all sports.

The NYSPHSAA thought it was best for it to decide that ALL districts in the state should have to reduce their games. It would seem to make sense that any school could limit its games on its own, but by putting this measure into effect, the NYSPHSAA has stunted the growth of its own sports.

Fewer games for teams, fewer games for entire sports, limit the growth of those high school programs from a district-by-district perspective and from a public school-vs.-private school perspective. By definition, the NYSPHSAA has limited the opportunities of its own student-athletes.

It was a decision made by administrators to benefit administrators (and we're not talking ADs here, school boards and superintendents). Why make more tough decisions about which programs to cut when the NYSPHSAA will help make those decisions for you? It was a cop-out that hurt the student-athletes, coaches and ADs, the very people that the NYSPHSAA is supposed to benefit (the idea of cutting state championships is a similar move).

This point comes up in our live chats year after year: If you chose to attend a private school in Western New York, you can play up to 24 basketball games in a regular season. If you go to a public school (member of Section VI of the NYSPHSAA), you are limited to 18. Even if you played just two varsity seasons, you'd play 12 more games. That hurts local teams on two levels -- their teams don't get the opportunity to compete as much as private schools, and its programs could potentially lose athletically-geared students to private schools which have more opportunities to compete. 

Here's a good breakdown of the measures, including the reduction of games broken down by sport, thanks to the Albany Times-Union's blog.  

Here is a great blog about the topic written by New York State Sportswriters President John Moriello in Dec. 2010, before the game reductions were extended.

The reduction of games has been fought vigorously by the Basketball Coaches Association of New York and other groups.

Sidenote: I'm not exactly sure when it extended the measures for the 2012-13 season (I sure looked), but I did find that they indeed have been. It's in the NYSPHSAA handbook (on Pages 110-111).

To summarize, the NYSPHSAA's most 

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The fact that this started with Section XI (Suffolk County) talking about reducing its own costs by not having to travel, or even by hosting state events in its own section, is maddening on two levels. 

(Sidenote: I love Section XI. I'm a native of Section XI. But things are just out of whack here.)

1. Section XI has hosted state championships before, including recently. It hosted the cross country meet in 2002 and 2008. Neighboring Section VIII (Nassau County) has hosted wrestling (2006), boys swimming (2009, 2011) and girls swimming (2003, 04, 07). 

That's a decent amount of state championships on Long Island, and I'm fairly certain it is about the same amount of state championships that Section VI has hosted in this end of the state -- ECC-City has been solidly in the rotation for swim meets; wrestling hasn't been here since 2004, cross country hasn't been here since 2001. I believe Section VI has hosted bowling and softball in the last decade.

So, there is no real grounds for Section XI to complain, even with its geographical location.

2. Ten times as maddening as the original premise is NYSPHSAA's reaction to it. Most state championships are centrally located. A look at the state sites for the last decade (which is what I just did via google; they have to have records of this stuff) shows that things have been moved around fairly well (which is a credit to the NYSPHSAA). The NYSPHSAA should have talked about cost-cutting measures (which it is doing) rather than putting on the table the Draconian, self-mutilating step of discussing taking state championships away. 

It makes absolutely no sense. 

* * * 

In my column I made reference to the tail wagging the dog in the NYSPHSAA, especially regarding the classification of private schools.

Of the 20 teams competing in the boys basketball final four in Glens Falls, six of them are private schools. Three of them are in small-school divisions, two in B and one in D. 

On the girls side, there are two girls basketball teams in the final four, and both are in small school divisions, one in B and one in C.

Some Sections are vigilant in how private schools -- which do not have the geographic restrictions that public schools do -- are classified. For example, Section II (Albany area) and III (Syracuse area) are historically more vigilant than Section V (Rochester area). Section IX (Ulster and surrounding counties) moved up the Coleman Catholic girls from D to C this year, and Coleman made it back to the final four. 

This year, Section V had a private school win its Class D boys basketball crown for the seventh straight year. Class D is the smallest classification in the state, one comprised overwhelmingly of rural public schools. Class D public schools couldn't be more different than private schools located in large districts like this year's champion, Notre Dame (located in Batavia, a Class A district) and two-time Class D state champion Charles Finney (located in the Rochester suburb of Penfield, a Class AA district). Coleman Catholic is located in Kingston (a Class AA district) and attracts players from beyond.

The point of this is that the NYSPHSAA allows individual sections to classify their own teams, and when different sections take different approaches, it results in inconsistencies that take away from the quality of the state championships. In my view, it hurts the small public schools of the state (which greatly outnumber private schools, yet private schools continue to have success in small-school divisions -- doesn't that tell you something?). At worst, the incorrect classification of private schools in small-school divisions corrupts the entire championship tournament. 

I've been banging this drum for a while (here's a link to a 2008 blog post), although no one seems to be tuning in.

Shows you how much clout I have :-) 

* * * 

If anyone wants to agree, disagree or raise more points or counterpoints, I'll hold our weekly live chat tonight at 9.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Live from the Far West Regionals evening session: Kearney routs EA; Aquinas comes back to beat Falls

Welcome to the Far West Regionals at Buffalo State College, a great venue for high school hoops and it should be buzzing today. The evening session includes a ton of talent in the Class A (East Aurora vs. V-Bishop Kearney, 6:30 p.m.) and AA (Niagara Falls vs. V-Aquinas) matchups. 

I'll have play-by-play updates in the live blogs below. Tweets to the hashtag #preptalkscores will also automatically show up in the live blog, so if you want to offer commentary via Twitter, be sure to include that hashtag. I'll also have quarterly tweets updating the game at @KeithMcSheaBN.

Check out today's entire playoff schedule on our scoreboard page, where you can check back for updated box scores.

See you out at the games, in the live blog and on the tweeter. :-)

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

PrepTalkTV: Far West Regionals

Class AA regional: Aquinas 57, Niagara Falls 49:

Class A regional: Bishop Kearney 64, East Aurora 43:

Class B regional: Olean 47, Wayland-Cohocton 39:

Class C regional: OTC Middle College 53, East Rochester 36:

Class D Regional: V-Notre Dame 62, Panama 51:

Girls FWR AA, A, D games at Finger Lakes

Section V takes 4 of 5 games from Section VI with only Randolph advancing in Class C.

East 15, Grand Island 6 after first quarter.

FINAL: East High of Rochester 59, Grand Island 54.

CLASS AA game, Lockport and Penfield. Lions miss their first 8 shots. Penfield ends quarter on a 10-1 run to take a 20-8 lead after the first quarter.

Penfield 36, Lockport 27 after 3 quarters.

Final - Penfield 54, Lockport 37

FINAL, Elba  53, Clymer 37

---Mary Jo Monnin

Live from the Far West Regionals afternoon session: Olean, OTC win; Panama falls

Welcome to the Far West Regionals at Buffalo State College, a great venue for high school hoops and it should be buzzing today. The afternoon session includes the Class D (Panama vs. V-Batavia-Notre Dame, noon), C (OTC Middle College vs. V-East Rochester) and B (Olean vs. V-Wayland-Cohocton) matchups. 

I'll have play-by-play updates in the live blogs below. Tweets to the hashtag #preptalkscores will also automatically show up in the live blog, so if you want to offer commentary via Twitter, be sure to include that hashtag. I'll also have quarterly tweets updating the game at @KeithMcSheaBN.

Check out today's entire playoff schedule on our scoreboard page, where you can check back for updated box scores.

See you out at the games, in the live chat and on the tweeter. :-)

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Girls Class B FWR, Olean vs. Aquinas

Dribs and drabs from Finger Lakes CC:

After 1 - Aquinas 21, Olean 9

At the half, Aquinas, 31-17

After 3, Olean down by 20, 47-27.

Olean loses, 58-37. Section VI batting .500 after the first day,

---Mary Jo Monnin

Prep Talk's 11th annual Championship Week awards show (extended blog remix & a mom's great dunk photo)

Michael Rhodes' dunk was the play of Championship Week, and his mom's photo was an award-winner, too. (Photo by Sharon Rhoades)

* * *

Note: This is the extended (verrrrrry extended) version of my story in Friday's Buffalo News.

* * *

The only thing more fun than watching 30 basketball games in 14 days is going through and coming up with our version of One Shining Moment.

I look over the stories we've written, the box scores, the live blogs, and my notebooks to try and come with the best stuff from Championship Week. I get the best stuff in the story in the paper, and I get everything else here on the blog. 

For the 11th straight year, here are our Championship Week awards based on the boys basketball semifinals and finals at Buffalo State, Canisius College and Jamestown Community College.

Best dunk: It is not every day that a reserve of a team hammers in an alley-oop slam dunk to help push his team to a championship. That's what East Aurora senior Michael Rhoades did in the third quarter of the overall Class A final. Rhoades took an inbounds lob pass from senior James Ritchie underneath the basket and stunningly finished with two hands. The basket gave EA a 37-34 lead over McKinley and was part of a game-ending 20-7 finish for the Blue Devils.

Best photo taken by a mom: Michael's mother Sharon, who takes her camera to every game, was in the right spot at the right time to get a shot of her son's dunk. Check it out above.

"When the team is playing the game I am always ready with my camera," Sharon wrote in an email. "My kids [Michael and twin sister Elizabeth, a volleyball player] have shown tremendous improvement since freshmen year. I am so proud of them both.

"You asked if I knew if this play was being called when I took the picture -- I know they have been working on this, but to tell you the truth, I just followed the play and was able to get this great shot."

Best shot: This one is easy. Taijay Williams' three-pointer from the right corner with 13 seconds put Niagara Falls ahead of Jamestown in the AA final.

Best nickname: Williams' "Mr. Big Shot," a la NBA-er Chauncey Billups, which he was tagged with as a sophomore.

Best pass: Clymer's Lee Barczyk of Clymer threw a slick, one-hander over three defenders more than halfway downcourt to Adam Walker for a layup in the D final.

Best behind-the-back pass: CSAT freshman Dylanta Carson drove baseline and found Justin Black, who scored while being fouled in the B-2 final.

Best backdoor pass: Matt Hart's textbook delivery to Adam Weir during Canisius' Manhattan Cup final win.

Best fast-break pass: Hart again in the final, going behind-the-back for a Weir layup.

Best block: Connor Keenan of Williamsville East hustled back during the A-1 final and got up to erase what looked to be a sure layup for McKinley.

Best block by someone under 6 feet: Falls' Jaleo Wilkins -- all 5-10 of him -- swatted a taller Williamsville North forward from behind in the AA semifinals.

Best alley-oop dunk (non inbound-division): Niagara Falls' Williams passed over the Jamestown zone to Jermaine Crumpton, who hammered it in for the second basket of the AA final.

Best drive: While moving forward, CSAT junior Darnell Carson put a dribble through his legs from behind as he scooted past defenders and finished against Olean in the overall B final.

Best drive-and-dish: Carson again. In the B-2 final, he went behind-the-back to avoid Wilson defenders as he got out of the backcourt, sped to the lane, went airborne and no-looked a pass to Jaquille Peay for the finish.

Best drive-and-bank: St. Mary's guard Erik Simmons set the tone early in an excellent performance against St. Joe's in the Manhattan Cup final early by driving through a sliver of space in the lane and reverse-English-ing the ball off the board while falling to the floor.

Best drive-and-bank in OT: Maple Grove senior Alex Grace's whirlybird finish down the left side off the glass for the Red Dragons' only basket in overtime C-1 final loss to Silver Creek.

Best drive-and-no-bank: East Aurora's Brendan Cox swooped in from the right baseline and converted a tough reverse layup from the left side without use of the backboard in the overall A final.

Three best threes: 1. Falls' Williams vs. Jamestown. 2. Maple Grove fans tried a fake shot clock countdown, and it appeared Silver Creek's Jon Jimerson may have fallen for it when he let a three go in overtime. It went in for the game-winner. 3. Depew came back from 11 to tie up Olean in the B-1 final, and then Nick Schmidt delivered a dagger from the left side with about 1:30 left to push the Huskies to victory.

Best steal: OTC Middle College senior Devonte Harper's sneaky theft at midcourt in the final seconds of the C final led to the free throw that gave the Kats a 58-57 victory over Silver Creek.

Smartest play: Silver Creek's Zeddie Williams got into the lane, then waited a split second for a defender to come over, just so he could pump-fake him and then score while getting fouled. He hit the free throw as well late in regulation of the C-2 final.

Best fake: Silver Creek's Williams came in from the left side and did a nice old-school-pick-up-game ball fake with one hand before scoring in the overall C final.

Best game: The AA final between Niagara Falls and Jamestown included Taijay Williams' three-pointer and wasn't complete until Tommy Campion's three went off the rim at the buzzer. It makes you want them to keep playing every year at Buffalo State (which they almost do already -- eight times in last 12 postseasons).

Best quarter: Wilson shut out City Honors, 9-0, in the fourth quarter to win its B-2 semifinal, 51-48, after trailing by 10 late in the third quarter.

Best game in a loss: Bishop Timon-St. Jude senior Jordan Williams did his part to keep Timon within range of Canisius in the Manhattan Cup semifinals, hitting five three-pointers during a 29-point game.

Worst call: We don't do this unless we have to. In the final seconds of Falls' AA win over Jamestown, Williams stole the ball and was going in alone for a layup when he was shoved clearly from behind. A foul was called, but an intentional foul should have been whistled. Overall, as usual, it was a great week from the officials.

Best coaching move: Niagara Falls had a three-point lead in the final seconds of the AA semifinal as Williamsville North's Sterling Taplin drove up the right side. Falls, with fouls to burn, fouled him to leave North with just 3.3 seconds to work with for a final shot, which they missed.

Best composure (for one play): Trailing by two with less than 30 seconds to play, Niagara Falls had every player on the floor touch the ball in a six-pass, draw-it-up-play which ended with junior reserve guard Jamere Ollison driving in from the left baseline and kicking out to Williams on the right baseline for his three against Jamestown.

Best composure (for every play): Silver Creek was cool, calm and collected every minute it was on the court.

Best league: ECIC III had four teams at Buffalo State. Overall A champion and A-2 winner East Aurora, A-2 finalist Amherst, A-2 semifinalist Cheektowaga and B-1 finalist Depew, which gave Olean a great game.

Best district: Williamsville had teams at Buffalo State in every one of its directions: North, East and South.

Best statement performance by a team: St. Mary's routed St. Joe's, 62-45, to advance to the school's first Manhattan Cup final.

Most impressive playoff runs: East Aurora beat higher-ranked and/or higher-seeded teams Riverside, Amherst and McKinley.

Maple Grove took out I-Prep at Grover and higher-ranked Seneca before losing to Silver Creek in OT.

Depew won in OT on road vs. Dunkirk, beat Tonawanda and gave Olean a great run in the B-1 final.

For the history books: Canisius won back-to-back Manhattan Cups, the first time that has happened in 12 years.

CSAT is the first charter school to win a Section VI title.

East Aurora earned its first trip to the Far West Regionals.

Williamsville North's Sterling Taplin surpassed 1,000 points in the AA semifinals -- as a sophomore.

Panama won its first sectional title in 41 years.

Jaysean Paige MVP Award (named for last year's winner from Jamestown): East Aurora senior Stan Wier.

All-Championship Week team: CSAT junior Darnell Carson, St. Mary's senior Erik Simmons, Canisius senior Matt Hart, Williamsville North sophomore Sterling Taplin, Williamsville East senior Connor Keenan, Niagara Falls senior Jaleo Wilkins.

Honorable mention: Bishop Timon-St. Jude senior Jordan Williams, Canisius juniors Aaron White and Adam Weir, McKinley junior Marcus Morris, Depew senior Jon Gemerek, Holland senior Jordan Farrant, Niagara Falls senior Taijay Williams, Panama senior Nick Lenart, St. Mary's senior Jake Denz, Frontier senior Matt Taylor, Olean sophomores Wil Bathurst, Nick Schmidt and Sam Eckstrom, Silver Creek junior Zeddie Williams.

Can't-wait-til-next-year team: Juniors Justice Feggans (Riverside), Max Portlow (Olean), Chaquiel Nettles (Williamsville South), Lovell Smith (McKinley), Tommy Campion (Jamestown), Keir Anderson (OTC Middle College), Zeddie Williams (Silver Creek), Jaquille Peay (CSAT).

Special can't-wait-til-the-next-year team award: Amherst started five juniors in its semifinal win over Cheektowaga.

Can't-wait-til-next-two-years team: Sophomores Brendan Cox (East Aurora), Bri'an Brown (OTC Middle College), Willie Smith (Riverside), Johnathan Lewis (East), Tyree Tyson (East), Kaine Kettle (Silver Creek).

Special can't-wait-til-the-next-two-years team award: Olean starts sophomores Sam Eckstrom, Wil Bathurst, Nick Schmidt and Luke Hennessey.

Can't-wait-til-next-three-years team: Freshmen Dorian Billups (Amherst), Zack Panebianco and Brendan Kellam (Jamestown), Cort Williams and Nicholas Clough (Williamsville East), Derrick Sekuterski (Depew), Dylanta Carson (CSAT), Clay Lewis (Holland).

A'aron Mungro Hustle Team (named for the 2003 City Honors state champion who packed 7 feet of heart into his 5-10 frame): East Aurora senior D.J. Miller (team captain), Cleveland Hill senior Daryl Spencer, McKinley junior Deonte Bell, OTC Middle College senior Devonte Harper, Williamsville East senior Michael Kyarunts, Williamsville North senior Brian Dobmeier.

Glue guys: Silver Creek junior Jon Jimerson, East Aurora senior James Ritchie, Niagara Falls junior Ramir Burton, Williamsville East senior Isaiah Kaudeyr, McKinley senior Michael Davis.

Super subs: St. Mary's junior Paul Rath and senior Nicc Johnson, OTC Middle College junior Kevin Reese, Williamsville East junior Michael Spina, Niagara Falls senior Jamere Ollison, Silver Creek senior Kevin Rocque, Olean junior Evan Ryan.

Best fans: Williamsville North's Green Squall brought it usual festive bunch with the hats and the ties and the headbands and the facepaint and the signs and the hardhats and the leis and a ton of green and gold.

Runners-up: Jamestown, Amherst, CSAT, Canisius, St. Mary's, East Aurora, Maple Grove, Panama, Clymer, Silver Creek.

Some highlights:

Jamestown's sizable contingent had some politically incorrect headdresses but also had enough body-painted fans to spell out: "H-A-I-L R-A-I-D-E-R-S-!"

There was a row full of Amherst girls with Tiger print tank tops also spelling out "T-I-G-E-R-S."

Maple Grove had one student leading their pack with noises and waves from side-to-side during Silver Creek free throws.

CSAT's fans were super-supportive, including during a B final in which they trailed big in the second half. When Dylanta Carson stoel the ball and scored on a layup to cut Olean's lead to 51-34, Eagle fans hollered as if it was a two-point game.

EA's students came strong to the final, waving a big sign to distract free throw shooters; one female Blue Devil fan was painted blue and wore blue horns.

Best fan: Not even close. Jamestown's Green Man. Covered head-to-toe in a green body suit and holding his own toy basketball, he spent the first half going side-to-side as if he were defending along with the Red Raiders on the court.

Best chant: Late in the Manhattan Cup final, a St. Mary's cheerleader did about 15 flips from the St. Mary's end of the court to Canisius', finishing right in front of the Crusaders' white-out student section, which responded with a very gentlemanly: "What's-your-num-ber!?"

Best fan back-and-forth: Canisius fans declared "This-is-our-house!" during the Manhattan Cup championship; St. Mary's fans retorted with: "It's-a-coll-ege" by St. Mary's.

Best sign (which had no bearing on the best fan award, I swear): Jamestown's Green Man held up a sign early in the AA final that read: "Keith McShea, it's blog time!"

Worst fan: Whoever sucker-punched one of the Green Squall's leaders outside Kenmore West after the quarterfinals.

Best bands: Niagara Falls gets the lifetime achievement award, Clymer and Panama are co-winners for their wonderful battle-of-the-bands during the D final.

Best quote: "This group is such a good group of kids, on the court and off the court, I'm really happy for them. For me, it's going to help long-term, because now we're proving to the younger kids that we can win with good kids, and that's going to help our program."

Runners-up: "It's probably the most gut-wrenching loss that I've had as a coach in my 14 years." -- Jamestown coach Ben Drake.

"In 26 years, this is one of my favorite teams." -- said Frontier coach Gary Domzalski.

"Sometimes he'll just say, 'Jump on my back and let's go for a ride.' He took us on a ride." -- Williamsville North coach Chuck Swierski on Sterling Taplin.

"People think we should have won by 20, all I care is that we won." -- Constantino after beating Will North.

"41 years - I've only been alive for 17 - That's a long time." -- Panama senior Nick Lenart.

"I've been wanting this my whole life." -- St. Mary's guard Erik Simmons.

Overheard: Amherst coach Chris Kensy protesting to a call -- very respectfully -- during the A-2 final to official Steve Allen, who officiated Kensy as a player at Maryvale. "Mr. Allen!! Mr. Allen!!"

An official getting the message across (be quiet because you don't want a techinical) to Will North's chirping assistants early in the AA semifinal. "Too important a game! It's too important a game."

After a Maple Grove player committed a dumb foul during the C-2 final, coach Curt Fischer told the player: "Dumb foul!"

After officials conferenced very nicely to reverse an erroneous travel call that had gone against Silver Creek in the C-2 final, Fischer confided to one official: "I hated that call but that was a great call."

Holland coach Tim Schulz watched senior Jordan Farrant unleash an off-balance three and said, "That's a heckuva tough shot, Jordan ... " Of course, it went in.

Larry Jones to an official after his player was called for a foul for pushing back vs. Olean. "That's basketball, he's going to get thrown, and he's going to throw him right back."

After a Depew player fouled out but continued to protest to an official, senior Jaden Cotton displayed some booming senior leadership: "It doesn't matter!"

After a McKinley player missed a fundamentally unsound lay-up, an adult woman from Mack crowd, very loudly: "USE the back-BOARD!!!!"

Highlights: Programs were available on the first day at Buffalo State.

Taplin fouled on a reach-in along the baseline and he classily acknowledged his foul to the official.

Great sportsmanship all week, including big Jermaine Crumpton of Falls giving the head of Jamestown guard Tommy Campion a good rub in the handshake line after the AA final.

Canisius carrying senior Russ Fiorella on its shoulders in celebration after the Manhattan Cup win (Fiorella -- who I've never seen play in a game -- is still a key part of team; he famously went ballistic during halftime last year before Canisius came back to beat St. Joe's).

Dobmeier embracing a disconsolate Taplin after his buzzer-beating attempt missed in the AA semifinals.

Amherst coach Chris Kensy watched a player miss a dunk -- rather than go crazy on the sideline, he just smiled and encouraged him (of course, having a Tiger get the rebound for a three-point play helped).

Will East coming to huddle with fists-a-pumping as their game jelled in the second half against rival (and co-ECIC II champion) Will South.

As the Panama and Clymer bands went back and forth during the D final and the first game of a tripleheader, Holland players, who played the third game, were up and dancing to the big band jams.

Zeddie Williams used a spin move I swear I've seen him use in lacrosse games to earn a foul in the C-2 final.

The smile on Zeddie's Williams' face after securing final rebound of C-2 final, after which he headed to the bench for a big embrace with coach Robert Genco.

The collective gasped-breath sound in the arena on final shots that just missed at the buzzer: Jamestown in the AA final, Will East in the A-1 final, Will North in the AA semifinals, Silver Creek in the C final.

Olean kid at the end of the bench wearing a red T-shirt with yellow "WATERBOY" printed on the upper back.

Lowlights: The concessions at Buffalo State were awful. This year the prices were higher, the inclusion of tax made for odd change being returned, and that was part of an super-slow process that left many fans grumbling -- including this one. I arrived for Tuesday's tripleheader as a fan, got on line during halftime of the first game and got back inside the arena with one minute left in the third quarter.

While the programs were available on Monday at Buffalo State for the first time in forever, a printing error resulted in two pages being included from last year's program. Section VI committee members worked hard to rip out pages so they could continue to sell them, then replacements were printed for later in the week.

That was a popular error this year: The Monsignor Martin program included Timon's roster ... from last season.

Scheduling Part I: For the second straight postseason, the Manhattan Cup final was held on a Wednesday evening at Canisius College while the Section VI A-1 semifinals were held at Buffalo State. This year the Manhattan Cup semifinals were on a Monday while three games were at Buffalo State.

I understand that high school associations are dependent on the host college's schedules, but it might be time to come up with some outside-the-paint thinking.

How about a Hoopfest Championship Week at Buffalo State which would include -- gasp -- Section VI AND Manhattan Cup games? If there are tripleheaders on two nights, how about tripleheaders on three or four nights? Having the Manhattan Cup semifinals on a Sunday -- which has happened in the past -- would certainly help facilitate things.

Sure, I'd like to be able to see all of the games, but this isn't solely a selfish thing. It would be ideal for fans, media, the participants and attendance numbers (and, ahem, the revenues), if the boys basketball playoff spotlight was only shining on one location each night.

Scheduling Part II: Putting the small-school finals at JCC has been a major success and any basketball fan should make the trip down for one of the best environments for a high school event in Western New York -- and that's any sport, any season.

However, the C-1 final played at JCC was between two Erie County schools in OTC Middle College and Holland. Similarly, last year's C final was between I-Prep and Tapestry Charter. Only two of the eight teams in the C-2 bracket were from the Southern Tier this year; classification shifts for next season would obviously be where the discussion should start.

How about playing the C-1 semifinals in tripleheaders on Wednesday and Thursday -- barring my crazy Manhattan Cup final idea happening -- and playing the final at 10:30 a.m. on Championship Saturday at Buffalo State? (Thank you, Holland coach Tim Schulz, for this idea).

I know that would make Saturday even longer, and there may be logisitic issues there with having to staff that long of a day, but having that game closer to fans of the teams might be worth it.

Worst scoreboard: During timeouts, Canisius College's scoreboards -- all six of them or however many there are -- count down the time of the timeouts rather than displaying the time remaining in the game. Drives me crazy. Sure, it might have something to do with me wanting to type in the time in the live blog, but really, don't fans want to know the time left in the game/quarter? Who cares about the how much timeout? Can we keep the time left in the game on the major scoreboards and count down the timeout over the basket or something?

Best assist: Chad Andrews, aka Centercourt of his own blog, loaned me his laptop not once, but twice during Championship Week when technology and I weren't on the same page.

Best-dressed coach: Ben Drake for the umpteenth year. Runner-up: Chris Kensy sported a snazzy Amherst coaches polo shirt; Larry Jones of Depew (until his sideline moves left his tie a little askew).

Best-dressed team: Depew sported sweet baby-blue roadies for B-1 final with Olean.

Best blog color commentary: Chad "centercourt" Andrews during the Friday night championships at JCC: "The best two games of the week so far have been right here. I'm renting a winter cottage in Ellicottville or something."

Best place to read this: At Saturday's Far West Regionals at Buffalo State (which will be previewed in Saturday's paper).

In the bonus: This is the expanded version of the awards that appeared in the paper -- more than twice as much content.

Your call: Have your own winners and losers? Call your own plays in the comments section below.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Hurley to speak Monday at Lancaster Elks

One of Western New York’s own, Bill Hurley, will speak on Monday at the Elks Lodge, 33 Legion Parkway in Lancaster as part of the WNY Football Coaches’ Association weekly clinic.

Hurley, a member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, is currently an assistant coach at Robert Morris University.

His career as a quarterback at St. Joe's was punctuated by a sensational 1974 senior season in which he was honored as first-team All-Catholic, first team All-Western New York and first-team All-New York State. Hurley set many single-season and career records at St. Joe's, the most significant was his 381-yard rushing total (on 17 carries) against Bishop Turner, a New York State record.

At Syracuse, he continued to put up big numbers. As a sophomore, Hurley threw for 329 yards against ninth-ranked Penn State, breaking the school record by nearly 100 yards. Hurley was a four-year starter at Syracuse (as well as captain and team MVP junior and senior years), and set 23 game, season, and career records. He became just the third quarterback in modern NCAA history to rush for at least 2,000 yards and pass for at least 3,000 yards in a career.

A two-time honorable mention All-American and All-East quarterback, Bill was ECAC Offensive Player of the Year in 1979, selected for the Blue/Gray Football Classic, and was MVP of the East/West Shrine Game and Hula Bowl. He also led the Orange to an Independence Bowl championship in 1979.
Hurley spent four seasons in the NFL as a safety with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, and Buffalo Bills.

There is no admission to attend Monday’s event.

Return of live chat (March 7): Football, charter schools, Section V finals set stage for great boys regionals, Section V's classifications drive us nuts

We'll have our live chat tonight at 9 (no video since Lauren is off), and there is plenty to talk about.

Basketball's Championship Week has concluded, the Far West Regionals are this weekend, and there were many accomplishments this winter season just in the last two weeks. Section VI's league alignment for football has been announced, and on a nice day like today, there will be spring teams practicing outside.

As always, anything in the world of high school sports -- or our coverage of it -- is up for discussion.

The chat will begin just as the Section V overall boys basketball finals are ending, so we'll be able to discuss the matchups for Saturday's boys regionals at Buffalo State.

I promise I'll get to your question or comment -- but please be patient. It can get busy fielding all of the questions and I can only answer one at a time. And PLEASE don't enter your question/comment multiple times -- that only makes things more hectic.

* * *

Our previous winter chats: Feb. 22 (Prequarterfinal Wednesday), Feb. 15 (starting with Ken West at Ken East), Feb. 8 (scorekeepers), Feb. 1 (twitter smh column & football signing day), Jan. 25 (pre-Canisius-Joe's), Jan. 18 (2012 video debut), Jan. 11 (2012 debut/Aquinas-Kearney viewing), Dec. 14 (from the MMA-ECIC Challenge), All-WNY football talk (Dec. 7 w/video); our first was Nov. 30 (live from the Pastor-Cooper Showcase tipoff).

Our chats of the 2011 fall season: Nov. 16Nov. 9Nov. 2Oct. 26Oct. 19Oct. 12Oct. 5Sept. 28Sept. 21 (our video chat debut)Sept. 14Sept. 7 and our preseason chat (Aug. 31), which also includes links to all of of the chats from 2010-11.

As always, if you have a question but you won't be able to make the chat, post one in the comments section here, email me, Tweet it or post it on Facebook and I'll do my best to address it.

---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 |