I was unable to cover it this year, but here is the rundown from Thursday night's Niagara PAL/ACE All-Star Classic at Niagara Falls. Both games featured impressive performances by Canisius guards, one graduating (Aaron White), and two seemingly poised to step up as they heads into their junior (LaTerrance Reed) and sophomore (Howard Washington) seasons.
Falls coach Sal Constantino reported that the Freshman/Sophomore game that tipped off the night was "the best game we've had since I have been involved" with the games.
The East beat the West, 95-91, in TRIPLE-overtime. "It was a tough game all the way through, and at the end of regulation and the OTs, kids kept hitting clutch shots," said Constantino.
East High sophomore Percy Bryant (22 points) and Canisius freshman Washington (16) led the winning East side while Canisius sophomore Reed had 30 for the West, including many clutch shots in the late going.
Usually one of the most entertaining chats of the year is scheduled for tonight at 9: You ask, I answer on the All-Western New York basketball team. I'll likely get things started by going over some of the tweets that have been fired off since Saturday.
The complete lists of the teams, including honorable mentions are here: boys and girls. Here are bios of the second, third and fourth teams for boys and girls. And the bios of the first team for boys and girls, except the Players of the Year: Canisius' Adam Weir and Grand Island's Cassie Oursler.
It's a BIG week for us here as we prepare for Saturday's annual All-Western New York basketball issue.
Here's a look at some key upcoming dates:
Friday: As we did during football season, we will have a special digital tipoff to the All-WNY festivities. Lauren Mariacher and I will host a special PrepTalkTV episode in which we will reveal the first team selections in boys and girls basketball. It will first air at 11:30 a.m. at buffalonews.com (following the Bucky & Sully Show and GustoTV) and will be available throughout the day.
Saturday: The complete 55th annual All-WNY boys basketball team and complete 33rd annual All-WNY girls basketball team will be unveiled, as will The News Players of the Year, in our special keepsake edition.
The All-Western New York edition will again feature a wraparound poster page cover and will also include the final poll winners, the all-league teams from every division in Western New York, the all-time WNY basketball teams and scoring leaders, and more.
Here are all top 40 All-WNY players introducing themselves in a video released Saturday:
Wednesday, April 10: I will discuss this year's team and our selection of it as well as our special issue in a live chat at 9 p.m. Along with the post-All-WNY football chat, it is usually one of our most lively discussions of the year.
Monday, April 15: The second annual Prep Talk/BCANY boys basketball banquet will be held from 6-9 p.m. at Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant, 3785 South Park Ave., Blasdell 14219.
Honored will be the Allen Wilson Player of the Year, the entire All-WNY team and many other players, as well as the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Western New York chapter's coaches of the year. Honorees have been contacted or will be in the coming days.
Tickets to the event are $20 ($18 for BCANY members) and can be reserved by forwarding payment (make checks out to BCANY) by April 10 to Al Monaco, 1956 Hanley Drive, Lake View, 14085; after April 10, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Award recipients are guests and do not have to pay.
ALBANY -- Cardinal O'Hara had its season end Sunday afternoon to one of the best high school girls basketball programs the state has ever seen.
Four-time reigning public school champion Irvington of Westchester County won its third overall Federation state title in four years by beating O'Hara, 65-48, today before an estimated 250 at the Times Union Center.
Senior 6-footer Lexi Martins earned MVP honors after putting forth a 22-point, 16-rebound performance despite serious foul trouble (three in the first half) while outstanding senior point guard Brittni Lai had 15 points, four assists and four steals for the Bulldogs, who have won 105 games over the last four seasons.
Cardinal O'Hara was led by senior Leah McDonell, who had 13 points (on 5-of-18 shooting) and was named to the All-Tournament team, and junior forward Kelsey McCarthy, who scored 12 on 6-of-10 shooting and had 11 rebounds. Junior guard Aisha Shabazz added nine points, senior forward Sara DiPasaquale had six points and six rebounds and senior guard Kayla Brown had five points and four steals.
O'Hara injured standout Keyonte Edwards, who was unable to be on hand for the Hawks' semifinal victory here Saturday morning, was on hand to support her team. She surprised her teammates in the locker room for the team's pregame meeting and spent the game seated on the bench just after the coaches, cheering and encouraging her teammates.
The Hawks trailed, 15-8, after the first quarter but made a game of it in the second, when it appeared they would be in the contest the entire way. Martins picked up her third foul with 5:41 left in the second quarter, and with two minutes to go until halftime, O'Hara was within 24-22.
But the Bulldogs closed the half with a 6-0 spurt to take a still precarious lead of 30-22 to halftime. in the third quarter, Irvington displayed the kind of basketball that has earned it piles of plaques and ribbons the last four years.
Martins scored Irvington's first eight points of the third quarter as it opened a 38-26 lead. Two of the baskets came after wonderful hot-potato ball movement which left Martins in the lane with a good shot opportunity.
Then it was Lai's turn, making a steal and layup, and then a three-pointer swished from the left side to put Irvington up, 43-26, with 3:20 left in the third. Irvington kept its cushion to the end of the quarter as it took a 53-35 lead to the fourth, where the lead would hit 19.
Cardinal O'Hara played inspired basketball without one of its best players.
Now they get to do it again tomorrow.
Playing without standout junior Keyonte Edwards, the Cardinal O'Hara girls basketball team dug out of an early hole and went on to a 66-54 victory over Scholars Academy in the state Federation Tournament of Champions Class B semifinals at the Times Union Center.
Edwards did not make the trip due to a blood clot in her right shoulder. The 5-foot-9 junior averages 15 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 4.0 steals.
Senior Leah McDonell and junior Kelsey McCarthy each had 18 points as O'Hara (28-1) advanced to Sunday's 1 p.m. state Federation championship game against public school champion Irvington (23-2).
O'Hara fell behind, 11-4, to start the game, but closed the first quarter with a 10-2 run, capped by a McDonell three in the final minute, to take a 14-13 lead. The Hawks used its quickness -- namely from 5-4 senior Kayla Brown (five steals) and the 5-5 McDonell (four) to consistently cause turnovers and hurry up Scholars' shots (20 of 50 for 40 percent).
The teams exchanged the lead in the second quarter before O'Hara used a 10-0 run to go up, 28-21. Scholars cut the lead to 28-25, but O'Hara closed the half with three straight baskets in what would be a 6-1 spurt resulting in a 34-26 halftime lead.
In the third, Brown added a three that pushed the Hawks lead to nine (41-32) and O'Hara would head to the fourth with a 47-36 advantage. Scholars surged back with a 13-6 run to come within 53-49 with 3:33 to go, but McDonell hit two free throws to push the O'Hara lead to six. Scholars junior Jessica Glaz (team-high 18 points, 10 rebounds) scored to make it a four-point game again (55-51), but she fouled out seconds later, with 3:09 left.
O'Hara closed the game with a 15-3 run that started with two Dickson free throws and a three by Brown that put the Hawks up, 60-51, with less than two minutes to play.
McDonell had 18 points on 5-of-15 shooting, including 3 of 7 from three-point range and 5 of 6 at the free throw line. McCarthy, the 6-1 forward, got her 18 on 7-of-15 shooting and she had six rebounds while fellow front-courter, 6-foot senior Sara DiPasquale, had five points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Aisha Shabazz, a 5-6 junior, had nine points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Brown had eight points, as did 5-8 junior Jailyn Dickson (five rebounds, three steals).
In the live chat below, Edwards said she would be on hand Sunday to support her teammates.
Look for more on O'Hara's win in the Sunday paper.
We'll be back tomorrow for another live blog and postgame PrepTalkTV video.
McKinley's very memorable season came to an end with a 69-54 loss to New York City's John Adams Friday afternoon at the Times Union Center.
The Macks, who had a memorable run to win the state public school title last weekend in Glens Falls, ran into a team which was a bit bigger, a bit better at slowing the pace and better shooting the ball. The New York State Public Schools Athletic Association champion Macks finish 22-4.
The victory makes John Adams (25-5) the first PSAL Class A team to reach Federation final since Benjamin Banneker in 2001. Adams will play independent representative Albany Academy in Saturday night's 5 p.m. final. Albany Academy (16-4) hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer for a 43-40 victory over state Catholic champion Nazareth (which defeated Canisius in the Catholic final).
Senior Marcus Morris had 18 points (on 7-of-17 shooting, including 3 of 8 from three-point range) to lead McKinley. Morris was hampered by foul trouble which included a questionable technical foul with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
Senior Reyjzon Jordan had 15 points for the Macks, including four three-pointers, many of which were launched late and kept the Macks hovering about 10 points behind John Adams.
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.
Lauren Nicole Mariacher joined The News in 2009 after graduating from the Columbia University School of Journalism. The Elma native and Iroquois graduate can usually be found on a sideline, capturing highlights for PrepTalkTV. She also hosts Prep Talk's weekly live show, with Keith McShea, as well as The News' live postgame Bills show — [BN]TheHuddle.