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How The News voted: Sectionals two weeks away

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.

Here are our previous blogs: last week (Jan. 28), Jan. 21, Jan. 14, Jan. 7; and our first ballot (there was no blog after the second poll as I was on vacation). Here's last year's final poll

And here's this week's ballot (note: this vote, just like all votes, was put together before Monday's games). When next week's poll rolls around, we'll be five days from Selection Saturday:

LARGE SCHOOLS 

1. Canisius (14-2) [last week's ballot: 1] -- Fine win in Rochester. With every week, it seems like Crusaders push further ahead of the tightly-bunched pack below. Big state-wide matchup Tuesday when they host Aquinas (which has beaten St. Joe's, Timon and Olean).

2. Bishop Timon-St. Jude (11-7) [4] -- They do own the OT win over Will North in December, but this spot is more about its performances against a high-quality schedule. We get to see Wednesday if they can return the favor to St. Joe's after losing to them at home last month. 

3. Williamsville North (11-3) [5] -- Authoritative win at Clarence three Fridays ago, combined with Jamestown's loss at Clarence two Fridays ago, makes the Spartans the top ECIC I seed in our eyes. North is at Jamestown on Feb. 10.

4. Jamestown (10-4) [6] -- See above. 

5. Clarence (11-3) [7] -- Nice win over McKinley Saturday has Red Devils trending upward; we keep them behind the Red Raiders because the game in Jamestown was a 30-point deal.

6. St. Joe's (10-6) [2] -- McKinley fell hard this week, and just as its McKinley win kept St. Joe's at No. 2 on this ballot for a long time, the Macks also dragged them back down -- the recent eyebrow-raising close calls against O'Hara and St. Francis played a role as well.

7. McKinley (9-4) [3] -- Little history lesson: Last year around this time, McKinley lost big to Canisius at MLK, then lost at home to Oracle before focusing come playoff time and winning a state title. Loss to Middle Early College was more then well-deserved by the Kats; the Macks, however, did look a bit off. Seems they were still that way a few hours later in Clarence, where we expected a much closer game.

8. Lockport (11-3) [9] -- Nice underlining of its NFL top-team status be beating North Tonawanda by double digits.

9. Kenmore West (10-3) [10] -- The split with the Lions keeps them tucked right behind.

10. Cheektowaga (8-5) [NR] -- First game vs. Amherst was a road win, and on this what-have-you-done-for-me-lately ballot, that's enough to bump the Tigers out and bring the Warriors in. We'll see how things go at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at home. 

SMALL SCHOOLS

1. Olean (12-3) [1] -- Loss in Rochester to a very fine -- and Class AA -- Greece-Athena team which it beat at home last month. Still a clear choice here. 

2. Middle Early College (10-4) [5] -- Outstanding week with home wins over East and McKinley -- can they beat those same two on the road this week? Wednesday at McKinley, Friday at East.

3. St. Mary's (11-5) [3] -- Small schools is now a clear top two ... Yes, St. Mary's beat MEC in the teams' opener, but Bri'an Brown started the season injured and MEC's past week more than vaults it to a clear No. 2.  

4. Park (8-8) [4] -- We think Pioneers' athleticism and composure would be too much for ...

5. East (10-3) [2] -- ... a Panthers team which is talented but just does not seem to playing solid ball, especially without big man Tyree Tyson.

6. Nichols (10-7) [6] -- Hosted St. Joe's Monday night. Vikings are overdue for a big win. I think they get it.

7. Fredonia (12-3) [7] -- Love the Hillbillies' finish: Monday home for Maple Grove, Friday at Silver Creek; next Wednesday home for St. Mary's. 

8. Barker (14-0) [8] -- Raiders and all-time leading scorer Jake Haight four wins away from perfect regular season.

9. Cleveland Hill (8-3) [9] -- ECIC IV co-leader with Holland hosts the Dutchmen a week from today.

10. Sherman (9-4) [10] -- We're sticking with the Wildcats, who have split with Randolph, who just had a doozy of a win over Salamanca, which last week beat Silver Creek ... whew. Can't wait for sectionals.

* * * 

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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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