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Countdown to Friday Night Lights: B North

By Keith McShea

Who’s who: The nine-team division consists of the Albion Purple Eagles, Amherst Tigers, Barker/Roy-Hart Raiders, Bennett Tigers, Burgard Bulldogs, Cheektowaga Warrriors, Lew-Port Lancers, Maryvale Flyers and Medina/Lyndonville Mustangs.

Continue reading "Countdown to Friday Night Lights: B North" »

More cool notes & quotes from Bennett (& web radio link)

Sometimes you have a ton of notes and quotes after doing interviews that you can't possibly fit them all into a story. And sometimes you actually have time to gather them all up and throw them on the blog.

Here's today's feature story about the Bennett football program.

And here's a whole lot more from Bennett coaches and players:

First, here's the internet link for tonight's live radio broadcast, which will be done by the Intense Milks crew. The recording of the game can be heard at 2 p.m. Saturday on WJJL (1440 AM), which is broadcasting Niagara hockey tonight. 

Bennett assistant and former St. Joe's coach Bob O'Connor:

"I knew I'd be on a sideline somewhere. I've found a home here with these guys. I like these kids. They're fun to be around. Getting everybody to practice all the time -- that's what put us in the playoffs."

* * * 

O'Connor helped the Bennett program last season out by raising funds for helmets and other necessities through some former St. Joe's players.

"I tapped a couple of Joe's guys and we raised about $10,000 through former players. We bought helmets, and we got more from the city this year. We're trying to expand the programs to the point where we don't have to cut any kids, so no matter how many kids want to come out, we can suit everyone up.

"That was the problem the city always had in the past. They didn't have enough equipment for guys. You never want to turn away a freshman, you hate to cut young kids that want to play the game.

On the differences between St. Joe's and Bennett:

"One of the big thing certainly was there was more discipline at St. Joe's, private school kids are used to more discipline in the school itself. In the city, it's getting the kids to discipline themselves to show up at practice. The kids that didn't come last year are here every day and that's been the change this year.

On the similarities between St. Joe's and Bennett:

Continue reading "More cool notes & quotes from Bennett (& web radio link)" »

Bennett forfeits Week One win; Lafayette forfeits Week Two game

Buffalo Public Schools athletic director Aubrey Lloyd just notified me that two city schools have had to post forfeits in what is a very young football season.

Bennett has forfeited its impressive, season-opening 44-16 nonleague victory Saturday over Grand Island because it used an ineligible player. A player who had transferred from Lafayette participated in the game; while some of the player's paperwork had been completed, it had not been completed in its entirety, thus making him ineligible, Lloyd said. 

The paperwork has been completed and the player is now eligible to compete in Week Two. 

Lafayette has forfeited its Week Two game with Fredonia, which had been scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. Friday at All High Stadium. That forfeiture is a result of the suspension of 12 players for academic reasons.

"We have to do things the right way," said Lloyd. "It was a great game for [Bennett] the kids to win, a morale booster, and they're turning things around with a new administration and a new coach -- but the kids have to be eligible."

Regarding Lafayette's situation, Lloyd said: "It's about academics, that's what we're here for. We all support the principal [Naomi Cerre]. Academics come first. Students need to know that. If they don't achieve certain grades, they can't play or will be put on probation."

This is certainly a bummer for Bennett after starting the season with such a good win, but it was a nonleague game so it doesn't affect their playoff chances. It was merely a clerical error, and the player is now eligible, so one would think there wouldn't be any issues going forward. The re-enthused Tigers should still optimistic about the season.

The news regarding Lafayette is not totally surprising, considering the on-again, off-again status of not just the athletic program but the school itself. Here's hoping that the students involved improve their academics and earn their way back on the field. The forfeit doesn't affect Lafayette's playoff status either; the Mighty Violets were already ineligible for the playoffs this year because it was added to the Section VI schedule well after the leagues and schedule were set up. Lafayette's athletic program was thought to be defunct following last season. 

One aspect of Lafayette's forfeit this week that should be considered is that Fredonia is now without a game. I doubt they would be able to schedule some sort of contest at this juncture, and that is unfortunate for them.

Many a football coach has stressed to his team that players only have a certain number of opportunities to be a football player, to take the field with your teammates. In Section VI, the regular season lasts just seven weeks. Fredonia has unfortunately lost one of those opportunities due to a situation beyond their control. 

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

Live from the boys A-1 semis: Bennett, Will South advance (with audio & poll)

Hello once again from Buffalo State, and a big apology. We had some power problems here at the start, but should be good to go now.

We're in the second quarter of the first Section VI Class A-2 semifinal between No. 3-seed Bennett and No. 2 Kenmore East. It's Big Wednesday in the high school basketball world, as colleague Keith McShea coined it earlier today. Keith is at Canisius covering the Manhattan Cup, while Tyler Dunne is down in Jamestown, covering the Class C semis. We've got all the bases covered tonight.

We'll be live the rest of the night, so stick with us.

Second quarter

4:36 left in the second quarter: A pair of free throws by William Vanoy has given Bennett a 23-9 lead. 

3:05 left:A 7-0 run by East has cut the score to 23-16. Dante Bono has five of those points for the Bulldogs.

1:00 left: P.J. Blanch put on a sick dribbling display there for Ken East, drawing a reaching foul, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1, so East still trails, 31-18.

Halftime: Bennett 32, Kenmore East 22. A nice drive and layup by Bono brought the half to a close.

First-half notes: Both teams are led by a few select scorers. For Bennett, William Vanoy has 11, Mckenzie Brown has 8, Forest Richardson leads with 12 and Kevin Johnson has 1. Dante Bono leads the Bulldogs with 10, while John Alessandra has 8. P.J. Blanch has 2, as does Jakai Daniels.

Third quarter

6:47 left: Eden Asipi cleans up a miss and puts it back and the Bulldogs are making a game of it with the first four points of the quarter.

5:32 left:Bennett gets the next four to get its lead back up to 10, with buckets by, who else, Vanoy and Richardson. It's 36-26.

4:44 left: The pace has slowed a bit with fouls on both ends. After Bono went 1 of 2 for East, Vanoy hit a pair for the Tigers, who lead, 38-27.

2:58 left:Steal and bucket in transition for Derrick Turner gives the Bulldogs a 40-29 lead and frustrates East, which thought Bono got fouled underneath. He probably did, but no call.

2:43 left: Bono hits a three after a nice set play to beat a 2-3 zone. Bennett's up 40-32.

1:24 left: Bono is trying to shoot the Bulldogs back into it. He hits a deep three from the right wing to make it 42-35.

End of third quarter: Bennett 42, Kenmore East 37. This is as close East has been since almost the tip.

Fourth quarter

6:02 left: Bulldogs are getting a huge lift from Alessandra, who has five points this quarter -- the only points scored -- to tie the game. He just completed a traditional three-point play after a strong drive to the basket. Bennett has called timeout.

5:23 left: Bulldogs call timeout to maintain possession with it still tied at 42. Important because East has just two timeouts left now.

4:51 left: Back-to-back turnovers by East has led to five points by Bennett. A transition layup by Richardson and a three-pointer by Derrick Turner. Huge momentum changer. Bennett leads, 47-42.

Stoppage in play with 4:05 left after a collision between Bono and Vanoy resulted in a cut above the eye of the Bennett player. He's being attended to by the trainers on the Bennett bench.

3:05 left: Derrick Turner with his second huge three-pointer of the final quarter to give Bennett an eight-point lead, 50-42.

1:47 left: Bono with a transition layup to cut it to six, 50-44.

1:07 left: Full timeout by East, which has one left. The Bulldogs trail, 52-44, after Richardson hit a layup for Bennett after the Tigers broke the press.

:29.1 seconds left: Bono can SHOOT. He hits two silly-deep threes to pull East within four, 54-50. Timeout by Bennett.

:11.5 left: Bono fouls out, a huge blow to East's chances. Vanoy goes to the line and makes 1 of 2 to put Bennett up five.

Final: Bennett 57, Kenmore East 50. Off for interviews.

Bennett coach Randy Rakowski

Bennett senior Forest Richardson

We're back for the second game, with the starters.

Hutch-Tech: Cherry-Clark-Miles-Nelson-Washington

Will South: Stasiak-Licata-O'Connell-Hansen-Adams

First quarter

3:52 left: Timeout, H-T, after losing an 8-2 lead. Engineers now trail, 9-8, after a reverse layup by Erik Hansen of South.

2:50 left: Stasiak to the line. He hits 1 of 2 and it's tied at 10.

2:22 left: Stasiak for a three to put the Billies ahead, 13-10.

End of first quarter: South leads, 18-12. Stasiak hit another three for the Billies. Updates will probably be limited for the next hour or so while I write a story for our print edition.

Second quarter

7:19 left: Hansen with a great tip-in off a Stasiak missed three. Hansen was fouled on the play, as well, but missed the free throw. It's 20-12, Billies.

6:11 left: Full timeout by H-T coach David Rappl. His team trails, 22-15.

4:01 left: Joe Licata fouled on a three-pointer for South, but he misses 2 of 3. South is up, 25-19.

Halftime: Will South leads, 27-25.

Scoring update: Hutch-Tech -- Andrew Strugg has 4, Marcus Nelson's got 9, Nelson Clark with 4, Maurice Miles has 2, Denzell Washington has 2, as do John Cherry and Tim Whitehead.

Will South -- Aaron Adams has 5, Joe Licata 1, Dan Schaus 4, Phil Stasiak's got 7, Kevin O'Connell with 6, and Erik Hansen with 4.

Third quarter

4:39 left: Stop me if you've heard this before: a three-pointer for Joe Licata. His first of the game gives the Billies a 34-27 lead.

:48.8 seconds left: Consecutive baskets in transition, one by Miles and one by Nelson, has given Hutch-Tech a 40-36 lead.

Note: Bennett is on a 13-0 run.

:22.5 left: Stasiak stops the run with a free throw, making it 42-37.

End of third quarter: Hutch-Tech leads, 45-37. Engineers ended the third quarter on a 16-1 run.

Fourth quarter

4:34 left: Will South senior Aaron Adams gets good position inside and finishes the layup to pull the Billies within two, 47-45. Adams is a 6-foot-4 senior.

:21.7 seconds left: Will South has completed the comeback and looks like it will advance. Phil Stasiak had the play of the game, a driving layup on which he was fouled with :55.2 seconds left. Stasiak hit the free throw to give the Billies a 56-52 lead.

:13.8 left: A desperation three-pointer is off the mark for the Engineers, and South is going to advance. Schaus is at the line for the Billies. He hits them both and it's 61-52.

Final: South 61, Hutch-Tech 52. Final score doesn't indicate just how close the game was. Back later after interviews with some audio.

Here's a couple postgame interviews from the winning side:

Billies coach Al Monaco

Billies senior Phil Stasiak

And finally, a poll on Saturday's game:

---Jay Skurski

Video & more from the All-High track championships

It was a fantastically sunny day for the All-High championships in track and field, an event I've covered the last few years just because it works out that way with my schedule -- this year I covered it before the weekly live chat.

The start of the boys 800. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) This year I had my first track and field experiment with video, which went OK. I should have realized that if I'm shielding my eyes against the sun looking in a particular direction, then the camera is going to have the same issue.

The details can be fuzzy on some races -- particularly the full-lap look at the boys 400 relay -- but part of what I like about the videos is that you get the sounds of the event, too.

As I wrote in my story, it was a big day for Hutch-Tech -- in particular seniors Donte Ettipio and Ondrea Barker. 

We'll start with probably the highlight that is the most fun: Hutch-Tech coach Dave Sardo getting a celebratory soak from his team -- twice.

Next up are interviews with a trio of Techsters -- my apologies for not holding the iPhone straight sometimes, I guess I'm still working on that.

Here is Barker finishing off her first sub-minute 400 of the season.

* * *

Below are a few more highlight videos:

Hutch-Tech's Sam Harris wins the 100.

Bennett's Brandon Davis wins the 200.

Davis is back to anchor Bennett's 400 relay victory.

Andrea Marion of Riverside wins the girls 100.

Shontai Moye of East wins the girls 200.

Hutch-Tech wins the girls 400 relay.

* * *

One great tradition at the meet is the seniors' final lap -- all seniors from all events go for one last trip around the All High Stadium track after competing there all spring.

It's a fun finish and a nice touch as there is a final round of applause for the athletes. It's not a race -- a group of Hutch-Tech girls even went skipping around the track -- but Antae Miller of Tech burst ahead of the pack and then sprinted home to the finish, which was a neat moment since he's a three-time boys shot put champion.

---Keith McShea

More from McKinley's A-1 win (with video)

Since we weren't able to do much live blogging Wednesday night from the Section VI Class A-1 semifinals, we've got plenty left over to post here on the blog. Here's some notes, observations and plenty of quotes that didn't make the print edition:

* Markus Mathews scored the first five points of the game, including a three-pointer, to help Bennett to a 5-2 lead against McKinley. Dwain Laws also had five points, including a three-pointer, for Bennett in the first quarter. The Tigers used an opportunistic defense to create steals. As you'll read later in this post, McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey called his offense tentative in the first eight minutes.

* Bennett's Dion Artis has a ton of athleticism, but often met with McKinley's Shaquille Holman at the basket. Holman was a huge presence in the game, blocking five shots and altering several others. In a two-point game (47-45 McKinley), that made all the difference.

* Bennett's free-throw shooting was a huge reason for the Tigers loss. Coach Randy Rakowski estimated after the game his team had shot between 50 and 60 percent (he hadn't looked at the stats yet), a number that sounded right.

* Here's my first shot at stealing a page from Keith McShea's playbook and posting a video. Sorry it's only one relatively standard play, Antonio Averyscoring on a backdoor cut and nice pass from Tamar Redden. I'm still learning the video game (and trying to figure out how Keith handles 15 things at once). 

Here's some additional quotes from the game:

Bennett coach Randy Rakowski

On going to a press in the fourth quarter: "It was almost do or die at that point. You have to give them pressure. It seemed to be working. It got us back in the game and almost ahead, but we just fell a few baskets short there at the end."

On the end-to-end play: "That’s how it is when you pay in sectionals against another Yale Cup team. You can go back and forth like that. Sometimes we’ve been down and we’ve had to come back. You never count any team out and you never count yourself out, You just keep plugging away and making adjustments and go from there."

McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey

His breakdown of the game: "I thought the first quarter we played really slow and kind of tentative. Second quarter we got going, third quarter was pretty good. Fourth quarter we kind of relaxed and were careless with the ball. We didn’t rebound as well."

On Shaquille Holman:  "His presence was big tonight. It’s been big all year. He’s averaging about four or five blocks per game. All of the city kids know each other, they play recreation ball, they play AAU ball together. They know what he can do around the basket. He was a big force."

On other contributors and the team's outlook: "Erik Simmons was big for us tonight. He grew up a lot. We've got one more game to win. Our goal coming in was Glens Falls. We’ve got six losses, but we learned from every one of them.

Shaquille Holman

On protecting the rim: "I rely on my teammates to force [other teams' players] into me to block their shots. Without them [his teammates], I wouldn’t get that many blocks."

---Jay Skurski

Wednesday Night Live from Buffalo State: McKinley, Will South move on

Hello from the Buffalo State Sports Arena, where we're live for the Section VI Class A-1 semifinals. Sorry for the delay in getting this posted: Buff State doesn't have a wireless Internet connection, so I was bailed out by Keith McShea, who graciously let me borrow his wireless card.

Since we're short on time, here's the update: McKinley beat Yale Cup rival Bennett, 47-45, in the first game to advance to the A-1 championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Shaquille Holman led the Macks with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Macks will play the winners of tonight's second game, which is at halftime with Williamsville South leading Hutch-Tech, 34-25. We'll have sporadic updates here on the blog, and then much more from both games later tonight.

Third quarter

4:13 remaining: Hutch-Tech is hanging tough, but free throws are killing them. Maurice Miles just missed a pair, leaving the score, 43-32, Will South.

3:11: Michael Daniels hits one of two from the ine for H-T after the teams traded three-pointers. It's 46-36 South.

2:08: Mark Coppola of South, like always, has been fun to watch. He's got the last five points on a trey and a steal and layup to extend the lead to 53-38.

00.0: End of three, 58-45 Will South. Maurice Miles of Hutch-Tech ended the third quarter with a layup.

Fourth quarter

6:00: Some sloppy play comes to an end with a timeout. South is still holding a 10-point lead, 60-50, but Hutch-Tech won't go away.

4:17: Timeout, Hutch-Tech as the Billies begin to pull away. South is up, 67-50, after a nice layup by Kevin O'Connell underneath.

00.0: It's a final, 73-61, Williamsville South. Be sure to check back later for much more on both games. Off now for interviews.

---Jay Skurski

Riverside boys hoops postponed

Today's Lafayette at Riverside boys basketball game has been postponed to Jan. 28.

On the girls side, the Lafayette/Riverside game has been moved to 4:15 p.m. after the cancellation of the JV game; also, the Bennett/East girls game is also at 4:15 after the JV game was cancelled.

---Keith McShea

Get the 411 on some great hoops

The annual 411 high school hoops game is Saturday (3 p.m. at Villa Maria College, 240 Pine Ridge Road, Buffalo), and I'm a little grrrrrrrrrrrrrr mad that I'll be at vrooooommmm Watkins Glen covering auto racing. It seems like every year I'm out of town for what has become a great Western New York sports event.

The cost is $4 for the game. I must be getting older because there's a bunch of guys I covered in the last nine seasons -- like the Riverside's Rainey brothers, "Trooper" Barnes and Loren Stokes of Turner-Carroll, Bishop Timon-St. Jude's Corey Herring and Don Juan Tyson of Traditional, just to name a few.

Check out the list of players who have played in games in the past as well as this year's rosters -- there are a lot of names that popped up during our All-Western New York boys basketball 50th anniversary series (check out the high school home page for all the links). 

“This has become a reunion of sorts,” John Thomas, the events organizer and former All-Western New York Athlete at Bennett said in a release.“This event gives everyone involved an opportunity to come back home and share their talents as well as knowledge of the game we love. This also gives us a chance to see guys we have not seen since high school and share great stories, no matter how accurate."

Past participants have included: Ray Hall, Leonard Stokes, Dwight Williams, Trevor Ruffin, Jason Rowe, Marcus Whitfield, Tim Wynn, Dave Skolen and Willie “Hutch” Jones and many other All-Western New York players.

This year's teams:

Team One: Trevor Ruffin, Modie Cox, Chris Moore, Loren Stokes, Frank Harris, Adrian Baugh, Jerry Young, Jeremy Richardson, Marcus Hall, Darius Corbett, Karl Rainey, Shondell Dupree.

Team Two: David Ruffin, Jason Rowe, Damone Brown, Malik Campbell, John Thomas, Ka'Ron Barnes, Shane Johnson, Ed Rainey, Corey Herring, Quentin Bryant, Don Juan Tyson, Mark Price.

Allen Wilson has a story in Friday's paper taking a look at the game.

---Keith McShea


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 |