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How The News voted: Polar Vortex edition

By Keith McShea

Every week during the basketball season a panel of voters participates in The News' large and small school boys basketball polls, which are published in today's Scholastic Spotlight.

And every week we let you know, like the title says ... how The News voted. This is just one ballot -- there are nine other voters in each poll, which debuts this week. It returns next week before taking a one-week break for the holidays. 

Here's our ballot from the first poll of the season (there was no blog last week as I was on vacation, but team's previous spot in the poll is noted as always); and here's last year's final poll

With the Polar Vortex pulling a Dikembe Mutombo on tonight's would-be lineup of games, it looks like this might be all the hoops we have until the snow clears:

LARGE SCHOOLS

1. Canisius (8-1) [last week's ballot: 1] -- Fine performance against fine competition at D.C. tourney, which included the Crusaders' first loss, to St. Peter's of New Jersey. 

2. St. Joe's (6-5) [6] -- Well would you look at these two getting all chummy at the top of the poll heading into Saturday's first meeting of the rivals at Canisius College (1 p.m.). The Marauders deserved some big ups in the poll after following its ADPRO Sports Public-Private win over McKinley with its own tournament win (Cheektowaga and Middle Early College) and most significantly a major road win in South Buffalo against Timon (our No. 2 in the last poll) on Friday.

3. McKinley (4-1) [7] -- Teams in the No. 3 to No. 7 spots are all very, very close. The rise of St. Joe's helped pull up the Macks, whose only loss is a two-pointer to Joe's, a team we had at No. 2 early on.

4. Clarence (6-1) [3] -- Red Devils still getting good credit for early win at North, but it is crowded here. Lot of good teams. Timon has a win over St. Mary's, which handed Clarence its only loss. Clarence was due for a visit from McKinley Monday evening before the Polar Vortex crossed us over like Loren Stokes (Turner-Carroll) used to do to many a defender.

5. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (5-4) [2] -- Drop from five with home loss to Joe's, but talented Tigers have enough quality wins to stop here.

6. Williamsville North (5-2) [4] -- Poll-wise, the opening pair of losses to the two teams in front of it keep them here, but there's an argument to place them higher based on a five-game win streak and a really nice showing in winning its own Five Guys Tournament (including a very nice win over St. Mary's).

7. Jamestown (3-3) [5] -- Poll-wise, the loss to North keeps them here, but there's an argument to place them higher based on a nice showing in the -- long name alert -- National Division of the 15th annual Josh Palmer Fund Elmira Holiday Inn Tournament. 

8. Amherst (5-1) [10] -- Schedule still leaves something to be desired. Poll-wise, the Will South tourney win is nice (St. Francis and Will South), but right now there's a top seven, then there's Amherst, then there's a major question on who to put in the next spots, but we went with ... 

9. Sweet Home (3-3) [NR] -- ... the Panthers, who had a poll-vote-worthy win over Ken West, at Ken West, in Ken West's tourney to earn them this spot despite a less-than-impressive record. Losses are to Liverpool (now 5-2) of Section III at the Cataract Classic, by two to Iroquois and by 10 to Timon. Not bad. Also beat Ken East and Will East. Not great. 

10. Kenmore West (6-2) [8] -- Blue Devils' results say they are the best in the Niagara Frontier. For now, that gets you this spot.

Next up? Lockport got bumped with the West loss to Sweet Home, so they're a clear No. 11 to us; and fellow NFL-ers North Tonawanda and Niagara Falls are probably not far behind -- it'll likely be a competitive, multiple-losses-for-the-league-winner kind of NFL season. Cheektowaga got some consideration from us after playing St. Joe's decently on the road, but the loss to Lake Shore trumped their best wins. Actually, Lancaster might have a case for No. 12. Maybe throw in Will East or Iroquois at this point as well. 

SMALL SCHOOLS

1. Olean (7-1) [1] -- After East won at Aquinas, I was ready to put the Panthers at No. 1. That's a high-quality win. Then Olean trumped them by handing Greece-Athena its first loss. Greece-Athena was ranked ahead of Aquinas in the Class AA poll at No. 11, and was just the second NYSPHSAA team in the poll (most others were downstate New York City, Catholic or private schools). That was enough for me to continue to give the Huskies a slight edge in what should be a great discussion all year, possible all the way to the Class B title game.   

2. East (5-0) [2] -- Really looking forward to seeing these guys. Next two games are this Wednesday at Middle Early College (at ECC) and next Wednesday hosting McKinley. Hey now. 

3. St. Mary's (4-3) [3] -- Little head-scratchy on the loss to Will East, but regained its ground by beating Park. 

4. Nichols (7-3) [6] -- Could make an argument for them to be a spot higher after going toe-to-toe with Olean. 

5. Park (4-7) -- These guys have a win over St. Joe's. Based on this poll, that means the top five small schools are five of the top six teams in Western New York. Hmmmm... 

6. Middle Early College (3-2) [4] -- Certainly see the Kats (loss at St. Joe's) as the next team after those MMA toughies and a step ahead of these CCAA toughies.

7. Silver Creek (5-2) [10] -- Thursday's schedule has the Black Knights playing at ...

8. Fredonia (5-3) [5] -- ... the Hillbillies. Feb. 7 has the two at Silver Creek, part of this year's revamped CCAA lineup. 

9. Sherman (6-0) [7] -- Randolph win doesn't look as great as it did a while ago (Cards lost its next two as well), but we still like them here.

10. Barker (6-0) [9] -- Five of six wins have come by at least 29 points, two of them have come against perennial non-pushovers Akron and Newfane.

Who's next? Probably Cleveland Hill, Health Sciences and Randolph, then maybe Depew and Lackawanna, although many others probably deserve to be in this paragraph as well.

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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 | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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