By Keith McShea
Every week during the basketball season 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.
The president of this great nation was inaugurated Monday (actually Sunday, too, talk about a double dribble), and Barack Obama is not only a shot-caller, he's a baller. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
Here's last week's ballot (Week Four, Jan. 15). Previous polls: Week Three (Jan. 8, which followed a two-week holiday break); Week Two (our Christmas edition on Dec. 18); Week One (Dec. 11). Here's the final 2011-12 post.
1. Niagara Falls (9-1) [last week: 1] -- The Wolverines sold T-shirts last week, then collected donations rather than admission for last Friday's rout of North Tonawanda, in a fundraiser for Children's Hospital. We're still behind Falls being in this spot even though ...
2. Canisius (11-3)  -- ... the Crusaders, if they hadn't already, made this even more of a 1-and-1a situation with a very strong win over McKinley Saturday. Ten days off now for the Crusaders.
3. Williamsville North (10-2)  -- Another week, another gut-ache trying to figure out the next four teams. They are VERY close. And when it's close, the results pave the way: North won at Jamestown, which won at the Monsignor Martin-ECIC Challenge over St. Joe's, which won at McKinley.
North's home loss to Clarence (right before the win at Jamestown) had me a little confuzzled a few weeks ago, and it still does, but this is what we've got for now. Playing fantasy hoops amongst the four is fun stuff.
4. Jamestown (11-2)  -- Red Raiders lost a tough one Monday at a good program in Irondequoit (the teams met in the regionals two seasons ago). Tourney was postponed from December. Irondequoit was the sixth-ranked large school in Rochester last week. Red Raiders visit Clarence on Friday night.
5. St. Joe's (12-4)  -- Marauders have their backcourt back, and they lost a tough home one to a full-strength Bishop Kearney and then lost at Aquinas. We think the Marauders could have something for Will North (or Jamestown if they played again), but the results leave them here.
6. McKinley (9-2)  -- The 18-point margin says much more about Canisius than it says about the Macks (who I think could have something for North or Jamestown -- but with the Macks in Class A, we won't be seeing those meetings).
7. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (7-6)  -- Tigers lost to very good Section V team Batavia last Wednesday. Tonight Timon plays what should be a fun one at St. Mary's.
8. Clarence (10-3)  -- Bottom four here are the same as last week. Red Devils will try and change that Friday.
9. Kenmore West (9-3)  -- If you're wondering (I was), West doesn't host Falls until Feb. 5.
10. Amherst (11-1)  -- Tigers and coach/son Chris Kensy head to surging Maryvale and coach/dad Mark Kensy in a fun ECIC III deal Friday.
Who's next? Perhaps ECIC II unbeaten Sweet Home, but 16-point loss to Ken West pushes it a little futher back from the established crowd (check out the "others receiving votes" at the bottom of the poll).
1. Olean (11-1)  -- Huskies seem to have picked up where they left off (pre-Eckstrom injury).
2. Silver Creek (12-0)  -- Six more regular season games for Black Knights: Home for Salamanca Friday; at Portville Jan. 29; vs. Cassadaga Valley Feb. 1; at Cattaraugus-Little Valley Feb. 5; vs. Randolph Feb. 8; vs. Dunkirk Feb. 14.
3. East (9-4)  -- Followed last week's nice OT win at Middle Early College with a rout at Riverside and Saturday's sturdy win over East Aurora. Tyson was a major factor inside on both ends.
4. Nichols (12-3)  -- Gritty OT win at Frontier Friday; this Friday it's finally one we've been waiting for as they hit the road to play the ...
5. St. Mary's (9-4)  -- ... Lancers, whose loaded home week starts with tonight's visit by Timon.
6. Middle Early College (8-4)  -- Nice win over Sweet Home at MLK; tough OT loss following day (Sunday) after a trip down to Erie, Pa. Kats have great pieces. They've been taking a few bruises lately (OT loss to East, loss in final seconds at McKinley), but they're not far from having it all come together.
7. Cleveland Hill (11-1)  -- Off for a week -- big one Jan. 31 at Lackawanna.
8. Maple Grove (9-1)  -- Big one tonight at rival Randolph, which MG beat by 20 early but the Cardinals hung with Silver Creek in a close one (Bryce Morrison 39 and nine threes).
9. Lackawanna (9-2)  -- Overwhelmed City Honors on Saturday. Steelers' pressure and sophomore point guard Damone Sylvers were very impressive.
10. East Aurora (7-4)  -- Keeping them here despite loss to East at MLK, a day in which much of the team was still getting over a major flu hit. I don't think EA would have won the game, but I think this is another example, like MEC, of a team which has a lot of great pieces (James Ritchie was terrific last week vs. Cheektowaga -- 32 in OT win as several starters were out sick; Ian Allen was terrific against East). If the Blue Devils get on the same page like they did last year, they could be very good like last year. Refresher: Recent wins over CSAT and Maryvale keep EA ahead of both of those teams.
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