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Clarence softball honored with state championship page

As we have all school year, The News will pay tribute to the state champions of the spring season as we honor the Clarence softball team as well as the spring's individual champions.

The poster pages will be featured on the sports section's weekly Monday Extra page for the next two weeks. Clarence softball's page is Monday, June 26. That will be followed with a July 2 page on individual champions in track and field as well as girls golf winner Cat Peters of Clarence.

On July 7, a special page will wrap up the 2011-12 as I put together a Power 10 ranking that incorporates all teams from all the seasons of what was another eventful year in high school sports. How did the spring Power 10 shake out? You'll find out when my Prep Talk column is published Saturday.

The winter state championship pages, which were all also published as part of our weekly Monday Extra sports page, included the Section VI girls gymnastics team (April 16); Kenmore East boys hockey (April 23); the Niagara Falls girls bowling and Section VI boys bowling teams (May 7); and Western New York's individual champions in indoor track, wrestling, boys swimming and rifle (May 14).

In the fall, state championship pages were devoted to Orchard Park football (with the All-Western New York team on Dec. 3), girls volleyball champions Eden (Dec. 26) and St. Mary's (Dec. 31), girls swimming champion Clarence (Jan. 9) and the cross country champion East Aurora boys, Barker boys and Maple Grove girls (Jan. 16).

High-quality versions of the championship pages -- from this season and previous seasons -- can be purchased at

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Weir going from Canisius High to Canisius College; Falls' Crumpton recommits to Griffs

Adam Weir, a first-team All-Western New York boys basketball player who just completed his junior year at Canisius High School, plans to have Canisius on the front of his uniform for a long time. 

Weir accepted a scholarship offer from Canisius College and verbally committed to the school over the weekend, according to Canisius High coach Kyle Husband. 

The 6-foot-4 junior averaged 18 points and seven rebounds per game and earned MVP honors as Canisius High won its second straight Manhattan Cup as champions of the Monsignor Martin Association. Weir will be part of another strong Canisius unit next season as fellow juniors-turning-seniors Aaron White and Matt MacDonald will be back.

It is certainly a strong local signing for new Canisius coach Jim Baron. Weir can (perhaps most importantly) shoot the lights out, has a very good all-around game and is super-competitive.

The signing will also continue to keep us at The News (and anyone else who covers, or even follows, local college basketball) on our toes. 

That's because fellow first-teamer Stan Wier of East Aurora -- this past season's winner of the Allen Wilson Player of the Year Award -- will be a freshman at the University at Buffalo this winter. Two top local players, both pronounced "weer," both playing at Big 4 schools. To sum up: Wier went from EA to UB. Weir will go from Canisius to Canisius. Whew. :-)

* * * 

According to Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino, Wolverines junior Jermaine Crumpton also verbally committed to the Golden Griffins this weekend.

Crumpton originally gave a verbal committment last November to former coach Tom Parrotta. The process started anew after the coaching change.

The 6-5 Crumpton was a second-team All-WNY selection this past season as the Wolverines won the Section VI Class AA championship. He averaged 17 points and nine rebounds and is an outstanding mid-range shooter for a high school big man.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Live from State Championship Saturday: Clarence softball WINS STATE TITLE, GI baseball falls in final & other #preptalkscores (plus video)

Class AA state champion Clarence. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

If it is the second weekend in June, it must be State Championship Saturday.

Today there are state championships being decided all over upstate and downstate New York. I'll be spending the day at the softball final four at Queensbury. Nick Veronica is with Mary Jo Monnin covering state track in Syracuse. Aaron Mansfield (Grand Island) and correspondent Scott Eddy (Frewsburg) are in the Binghamton area for the baseball championships.

While I'll have updates on the three softball games (featuring Clarence in AA, Hamburg in A and Frewsburg in C), tweets to the hashtag #preptalkscores -- including those from our reporters in the field -- will also automatically show up in the live blog below. So if you are on the road at states and you're updating via Twitter, be sure to include that hashtag. I'll have periodic tweets updating softball at @KeithMcSheaBN, but most of my play-by-play updating will come in the live blog (weather and battery permitting).

Check out today's full schedule on our scoreboard page, where you can check back throughout the day for updated scores and highlights.

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

* * * 

Some highlights from Clarence's win:

And the postgame show: 

* * * 

My stories from Sunday's paper: Clarence's state championship and Hamburg/Frewsburg's semifinal losses.

* * *

Also, here's a look at the final out of Hamburg's game (they had runners at first and second):

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

More notes & quotes from a special story

My column today on the Grand Island baseball team's stirring victory in the Far West Regionals is one of the most special stories I've ever had the privilige to write.

I had a lot of information and not all of it made the paper. Our copy desk, particularly Greg Connors, did a great job editing a large story that, largely due to doing some of the interviews on a busy Thursday (including the Corporate Challenge), was filed much later than it should have been.  

Here are some additional notes and quotes regarding the story: 

* There was another sign during the game that struck Matt Lenz:  

“My dad just loved baseball,” he said. “And he loved watching those big planes from the [Niagara Falls] air base go by. … Right in the 10th inning, there were two of them that flew over the field. I saw that and immediately thought of him.”

It was just moments later that Matt was called to pinch-run by coach Santorio.

* Santorio on what happened after Lenz scored in the 10th:

“Twenty-two other guys -- we have a big squad -- they run out to home plate, and each guy hugs him,” said Santorio. “There was another standing ovation. At that point, no one cared about the game or the score. He might have scored the last run of the year, and that would have been OK.”

* Phil Lenz, the eldest of the five brothers, on the game-winning hit: 

“When Dylan’s hit got down,” said Phil Lenz, “we said, ‘He's got to be watching right now.’ What unfolded was incredible.”

* Matt Lenz: “When I stepped on third base, things just felt different. It felt like my dad was just watching down and he made the game go our way.”

* One thing I've thought about is the circumstances of the game. If GI gets a walk-off hit earlier in the game, things don't happen the way they did. If Santorio put Lenz in as a pinch-hitter, as he considered earlier in the 10th, perhaps this story twists a different way. 

“We had a couple of chances in the seventh and eighth to win, but we didn’t come up with the hit. There was a chance it wasn’t going to happen,” Santorio said of getting Lenz in the game. “It was that type of baseball game, where every pitch meant the difference. Maybe it was meant to be.”

* During my research of the story, I learned that there was some sort of letter-to-the-editor in the local Grand Island paper which blasted GI coaches and the athletic department for valuing winning more than getting all of the players involved. Time for a retraction, or some letters from the other side. Tuesday's events probably crystalized it, but it didn't need to: GI, with the tradition of the late, great Gene Masters influencing many coaches, including Santorio, is like most WNY programs, which show that it's possible to do both. You can have the goal of winning games while doing it the right way. 

* Another jaw-dropper came in an email today: "If you want to be more amazed. ... Go back to yesterday's photo in the sports section of Alex Kovacs of St. Joe's. ... He won the game for Joe's and was coached by Ken."

* And another "whoa" moment from an email -- regarding how Grand Island's state semifinal opponent advanced: "As you may know by now, New Hartford scored three in the bottom of the seventh with two outs last night to beat Glens Falls, 7-6. That is ridiculously similar to Grand Island and now they match up Saturday."

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Super Tuesday Two: Clarence, Hamburg softball win Far West Regionals (with video) & other big #preptalkscores

Class A Far West Regional winners Hamburg softball. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

Class AA Far West Regional champion Clarence softball -- with, as the team wanted, the scoreboard in the background. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)
For the second straight week, we have a Super Tuesday in high school sports.

Today is all-diamond action with Far West Regional games in baseball and softball as well as the first day of the Georgetown Cup championship series. I'll be spending the afternoon and evening at the three regional softball games at Niagara Falls. We'll also have reporters at the Georgetown Cup as well as the AA and A baseball regionals. 

While I'll have updates from the three softball games, tweets to the hashtag #preptalkscores will also automatically show up in the live blog below. So if you are a game tonight and you're updating via Twitter, be sure to include that hashtag. I'll have periodic tweets updating softball at @KeithMcSheaBN, but most of my play-by-play updating will come in the live blog (Actually, with two games going on at once, tweeting might be a better option than the blog -- we'll see. Either way, my updates will show up in the blog).

Check out today's full schedule on our scoreboard page, where you can check back throughout the evening for updated scores and highlights.

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

* * *

Some video highlights and interviews: 

Here is the final out of Hamburg's win in the A game. It was a great play. It is not a great video because I didn't move the iPhone to get the play at third. I watched the play and forgot to move the phone. Ugh. E on the cameraman. 

The postgame show with Hamburg pitcher Bridget Hogan, the members of that game-ending relay -- Leah Jones, Heather Tighe and Allison Salerno (the talk in order of how the relay went, RF to SS to 3B) -- and coach Lisa Palma:

The Clarence wrapup: Clarence seniors Tori Nappo (left) and Mo Harris (right) as well as coach Todd Banaszak and the final out:

With Clarence, Hamburg and Frewsburg all in the final four, I'll be hitting the road this weekend to cover the state championships in Queensbury. 

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Live from Section V's sweep of the boys lacrosse regionals (plus video highlights & interviews), and all of Saturday's #preptalkscores

I'll be spending the afternoon and evening at the Far West Regional boys lacrosse games championships at Hamburg High School.

While I'll have updates from those games, tweets to the hashtag #preptalkscores will also automatically show up in the live blog below. So if you are a game tonight and you're updating via Twitter, be sure to include that hashtag. I'll have periodic tweets updating these games at @KeithMcSheaBN, but most of my play-by-play updating will come in the live blog.

Check out today's full schedule on our scoreboard page, where you can check back throughout the evening for updated scores and highlights.

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

* * *

My story is here.

Here are some video highlights from the Class C game -- pretty cool ones at that, particularly the exciting endgame. It's either really cool, or really distracting -- but there are two play-by-plays going on with the Penn Yan radio coverage along with the Time Warner Cable broadcast. And yes, I'm kicking myself for missing Zed's game-tying record-breaker. Talk about a turnover/failed clear by me. Ugh. Chest-tap (my bad):

Some of the postgame show:

More quotes from postgame interviews:

Silver Creek junior Zed Williams:

"I'm disappointed -- I wanted to win it for the seniors.
"I saw time ticking down, and I had to take a shot, in case we missed we'd get another chance -- but he made a good save."

Orchard Park coach Gene Tundo:

"We just didn't have a whole lot of scoring opportunities. They slid fast and took away our [offense]. They're just good. Big defenders, a big goalie, we just never really got in a flow.

"We didn't clear the ball well. We had the ball 8 or 9 times where we just didn't get it in the offensive zone. They' played defense the whole length of the field -- they're a good team.

On OP's defense: "They did a great job , awesome. They played great. Our goalie [Taylor Ferrino} made some great saves. They got tired. You play that much defense, you get tired."

"We threw the ball away a couple of times clearing it, and on offense, and those extra possessions hurt you.

"We needed a little spark, and we just didn't get it. Their defense shut down any hope we had. They don't really have any weaknesses. Their attack is good, middies are good, there's not really a weakness. And they play a tougher schedule, too.

"I don't think we've ever been shut out. Never. I don't think we have."

Irondequoit senior Nick Doktor:

On difference of first & second halves: "I think we were a little antsy at first. We had a lot of bad turnovers, not taking care of the ball, and that allowed them to get off to a good start. They were capitalizing on our turnovers and our mistakes. That was a catalyst for them.  Another big problem in the first half was they were killing us on time of possession.

"We wanted to settle the ball down once we got it, and work our offense, and once we knew we could do that, we know we have a lot of offense, a lot of guys that can put the ball in the back of the net.  

On winning on Hamburg's home field: "They had a great crowd, it was a great atmosphere, and obviously they're very comfortable here playing on their home field. We battled and they battled and it was a great game.

On Hamburg pulling its goalie in a one-goal game with three minutes to play: "We were just trying to be patient. They have a lot of guys on offense -- they could have come back as easily as we did. We were just trying to keep it from them as long as we could."

Irondequoit coach Craig Whipple:

On playing on Hamburg's home field: "It was a difficult situation -- we couldn't do anything about it. We just knew that we would have to take care of our business to come out with a win. Was it a difficult scenario? It definitely was. But I'm proud that they were able to come out and captailize and adjust to being in this environment.

On the great second half: "I think they settled down. It was a hostlie environment, and once they settled down and knew they could play their style of lacrosse they came out and did that. That represented in goals, and then it represented in everything else on the field. As soon as everyone settled down and put a few in the back of the net, they understand all right, we're comfortable. The defense settles down, the next guy hustles a bit harder and finds those ground balls and we're able to capitalize.

On Section V's sweep: "Definitely [pleased to complete the sweep]. You battle teams thoughout the year, but when you leave [the section], you want the guys around you to do well as well. So I'm excited about that.

On faceoffs: "It defintely changed the flow of the game. It enabled us to get back in there because we were seeing more poss on offense, and I thought if we were to see more possessions on offense, that we would establish goals, and once we get comfortable scoring , you thrive off of that and you build off of that.

On if Hamburg pulled its goalie too early -- with three minutes left in one-goal game: "Not necessarily.

"I think they respected the fact that our six guys on offense are really good ballhandlers. I think they respected the fact that we were going to be able to capitalize and maybe even put one more by them. I appreciate the fact that they went out swinging. They wanted the ball back. If they created a turnover , who knows, they could have went down there, got a goal and got the momeneum. I don't think it was necessarily too early for them. I think they knew we've been in a lot of tight games before this year [and were able to close them out]."

Hamburg coach Jerry Severino:

"We were supposed to end this game in a different way. We played a great first half, I was so happy with the way they were playing. We were really attempting not to have what happened in the second half. But Irondequoit was a great challenge. They took advantage of our mistakes. Honestly, we played our worst half at the most important time of the year. We played a pretty poor second half.

"When we get on a run like that [like Irondequoit did], we say it's like sharks when they sense blood in the water, and that's what happened. They had a sense that they could do what they did; and we weren't able to stop them. The ball bounced one way a couple of times. They were much better on the ground ball; they were better on the faceoff in the second half. we made some decisions that we we'd like to have back.

On pulling the goalie late in the game: "it's risky when you do that, but we were in a desperate situation and that's the way it goes.

On faceoffs: "We had an awful lot of trouble getting the ball at the faceoff 'X'. I rotated three or four guys in, but they gained probably three or four faceoffs for every two we got. Those kind of possessions are huge."

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Section VI softball finals postponed to Saturday

Friday's Section VI softball championship doubleheader has been postponed. 

The games will be played Saturday at Niagara-Wheatfield. 

Hamburg will play Albion in the Class A game at 3:30 p.m.

Clarence will play Niagara Falls in the Class AA game at 4.

The Section VI committee made the call shortly after 1 p.m. Friday due to rainy conditions and more forecasted to come.

The games had been moved Thursday from Niagara Falls to Niagara-Wheatfield. The move was made due to Falls' presence in the title game; the finals must be held at a neutral site.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)


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 |