If it's the last Saturday of August, it must be Scrimmage Saturday, and we must be on our way to seeing as much football action as we can.
We'll be bopping around Western New York today -- as we have the last two years -- to catch as much football as we can in a limited time.
Disclaimer/explainer: Regular visitors to the blog know how much I love it when fans cite scrimmages as evidence for one team being better than another during the regular season, especially when it comes to the discussion of our polls. Just because I'm interested in all of the scrimmages (and getting to as many as I can), and learning about teams and players, they are still scrimmages. Once the season starts, I don't want to hear about them. :-)
If you're out and about like we are today, we want your reviews and breakdowns of what you saw. Keep it in context -- try and notice which first-team units are out there and what the teams are trying to do. Be sure to comment here our on our Facebook page, tweet us at @KeithMcSheaBN or send an email.
8:34 a.m. We are on our way. I met up with photographer Mark Mulville at One News Plaza and we're headed to Cheektowaga for our kickoff.
Eden, Springville, Tonawanda and West Seneca East are visiting Cheektowaga. We're planning a quick stop before heading nearby to Cleveland Hill.
9:22 a.m. Great start to the day for us -- and for Eden. The Raiders, known for their ground-and-pound-and win formula, threw for two touchdowns against Cheektowaga -- including one on the first play of the scrimmage! -- and added in another touchdown as we were leaving.
We were on hand for some warmups before things got started, with Tonawanda coach Rob Gross asking his team, quite loudly, "What's this half-speed!? Why are we doing anything half speed?!"
After a fairly lenghty prepractice address by the officials, we got started as the head referee said, "Rock and roll, Scott," to Cheektowaga coach Scott Zipp.
And early misstep by Cheektowaga against Eden prompted a "Do your job!" admonition from an assistant coach to a player.
On the other half of the field, West Seneca East scored a TD against Tonawanda.
And let's go to the video:
Above is our first play of our season as West Seneca East got things off and running against Tonawanda.
Talk about a great start for Eden. This is their first play as their offense went against Cheektowaga.
A nice run for Eden.
9:30 a.m. Just about to pull in to Cleveland Hill. (Reminder for any hey-buddy-keep-your-hands-on-the-wheel fans: Mulville is driving).
9:37 a.m. iPhone update from Cleve Hill, where they haven't started due to Silver Creek being late. This may screw up some of our travel plans. We'll see.
9:48 a.m. Official addresses teams: "Next week it starts for real, today's for fun."
10:24 a.m. Back in Mulville's Honda heading north to Lockport. It's a super bummer that Cleve Hill was behind because we're a half hour off the ideal schedule I had set up for the day. That's alright. Every game (and every assignment) isn't going to go as planned and you've got to make those key adjustments, right?
On the bright side, we saw the first-stringers for all four teams at Cleve Hill. The defenses ruled the first round as a fired-up Silver Creek unit bottled up Burgard and the Cleve Hill defense kept Cardinal O'Hara out of the end zone.
Daryl Spencer had a nice sack for a big loss for Cleve Hill on defense, then looked very good with some rollout completions on offense. Zeddie Williams, who should be the feature back after the graduation of older brother Zach, looked solid out of the backfield for Silver Creek. Burgard also had some very solid run stops.
Here are the top videos from Cleve Hill:
10:36 a.m. It's a long trip to Lockport. We're just on to Transit from Millersport & the I-990. Six top programs in action up at Emmet Belknap Intermediate: St. Francis, Sweet Home, North Tonawanda, Williamsville South, Grand Island and the host Lions.
Trying to plot out a backup plan -- a main stop for us is Orchard Park, which is hosting Canisius in a scrimmage that started at 10.
11:02 a.m. Got to Lockport in time to catch the tail end of Jordan Johnson of Sweet Home leading the offense against Will South. Johnson and Sweet Home looked to be moving the ball fairly effectively -- he had a touchdown pass to the far left side of the field called back on a penalty. We didn't see a ton of Sweet Home against Will South but we saw a few more plays against Lockport.
Williamsville South and Grand Island were paired up on the other end and there were some hard hits, including a busted play for South that almost resulted in a hit on coach Kraig Kurzanski, who was in the customary coaches' spot behind the huddle.
St. Francis finished strong on defense against Grand Island and then paired up with North Tonawanda. I caught the second half of that pairing, with NT making some nice stops on defense.
Here's our best video from Lockport:
11:31 a.m. We're on the road again, heading south and hoping to fit in a stop at Riverside but that might not be a great decision with OP are key final stop.
11:37 a.m. Just talked to PrepTalkTV partner Lauren Mariacher at Canisius. The first-stringers are done there -- she has video and interviews from there so I might not go down there. I think we'll head to Riverside.
11:40 a.m. Just checked in with Lauren again. Canisius and OP will be on the field for another hour, so Mark and I are going to squeeze in a visit to Riverside, which is hosting McKinley, Bishop Timon-St. Jude and Maple Grove.
Even if we stay just a few moments, we'll be able to get some video, photos and some looks at the teams. Right now we've seen 14 teams in three stops.
With Scrimmage Saturday, it's certainly about quantity, not quality.
11:54 a.m. And JUST when we think we've come up with a great plan, we pull into the Riverside parking lot and pass a kid wearing orange-and-black carrying his shoulder pads out.
"That's not a good sign," says Mark.
It wasn't. The Riverside field was empty.
The kid was from McKinley. Arghhhhhhh.
If I wrote what I'm feeling right now, I'd get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Maybe two.
Off to OP. Arrrrrrgh. Sigh.
1 p.m. We caught the very end of the Canisius scrimmage at Orchard Park, did some interviews and filmed an intro for PrepTalkTV. Lauren Mariacher is working on that and it'll be posted later today.
I'm headed back to One News Plaza to get some more videos and details posted before heading out to evening scrimmages at Iroquois and Amherst.
More updates to come ...
3:02 p.m. Here is the finished PrepTalkTV product (now starring on the buffalonews.com home page):
3:49 p.m. I've posted a bunch of video here, and I'll have more to come from the six-team Lockport scrimmage as well as some from my next two stops -- Iroquois and Amherst.
4:26 p.m. Hello from the awesome back field setting at Iroquois.
5:40 p.m. Note to football coaches and athletic directors. If you want Prep Talk hanging out at your scrimmage for a long time, have it at night :-).
Got a good long look -- along with the Prep Talk blog's "Milt Latimer" -- at Lackawanna, Frontier, Iroquois and Niagara-Wheatfield, seeing all of their first-strings go at in in their second go-round of '1's.
Lackawanna was very impressive with Keith Taggart leading the way not only at running back but on defense. Some big hits there.
Niagara-Wheatfield sure looked the part, sporting uniforms which looked ready for gameday, right down to every player's pulled-up red calf socks with a black Falcon logo on them. Coming off a winless season and with a new coach in Tim Hagerty, the program looks like it has a little spark. The sideline was extremely into the final offensive session against Iroquois in the first go-round.
Iroquois and Frontier both had good spurts in their session against each other, some nice run stuffs and scoring drives. Frontier got a spark on its offensive series after it made a change at quarterback.
It looked like a productive scrimmage for all four teams.
Here are the video highlights, which were included the best stuff I saw all day:
With six stops and 20 teams seen, now I'm off to Amherst for the final stop of the day.
6:25 p.m. Arrived at Amherst, which is hosting West Seneca West, Kenmore East and Hutch-Tech.
7:09 p.m. Saw some nice play at Amherst's Dimp Wagner Alumni Field, where it appeared that the hosts were the top unit -- not too surprising based on last season and the Tigers' returning experienced players, but certainly impressive nonetheless. Amherst is very fast, and they showed it off on both sides of the ball against a West Seneca West unit that made a few unforced errors, including some turnovers on offense. The Tigers had one player sprint from the backside to chase down a run, and also sped to big gains off of short passes.
Hutch-Tech had some nice run stops and moved the ball better than Kenmore East did in their two series.
And check this out -- I call it a day and walk off the field, and as I walk out of the gate, I run into Tonawanda coach Rob Gross. He was the first coach I saw this morning, and the last coach I see as I leave. Can't make this stuff up.
I think that gives us a very strong finish to our Scrimmage Saturday -- looks like we're ready to go for next weekend.
Hello from the Buffalo State Sports Arena. We're moments away from our first game of a tripleheader tonight: the B-2 semifinal between Cleveland Hill and Wilson.
It's one of the best weeks of the year if you're a high school sports fan, and I'm excited to be here. We'll be back in moments with the tip.
Wilson starters: Thilk-Moxham-Parrott-Martin-Walch.
Cleve Hill starters: Glover-Tompkins-Barker-Molson-Spencer
5:31 p.m.: CH controls the tip, and we're off.
5:37 p.m.: CH leads, 6-4, midway through the first quarter. Brennan Moxham has three of Wilson's points, while Jeru Molson just converted a nice layup off a steal for CH.
5:39 p.m.: Maybe some nerves on the big stage? Lots of sloppy play on both ends. Cleve Hill definitely trying to run more, while Wilson is trying to slow the pace.
5:42 p.m.: CH is out to a 13-4 lead, prompting a timeout by Wilson coach Brett Sippel. A three-pointer by Jordan Parker on the Golden Eagles' last possession were the last points.
5:44 p.m.: Golden Eagles lead, 13-8, after one quarter. Moxham hit a three and Pat Walch went 1 of 2 at the free-throw line with 4 seconds left for Wilson to cut into the lead.
5:48 p.m.: CH timeout, leading, 17-15. Moxham has five in the second quarter for Wilson, which took a 15-13 lead, but the Eagles responded with a bucket in the lane by Barker and a steal and layup by Spencer.
5:53 p.m.: CH timeout, leading, 19-18, 3:35 left in the first half.
6 p.m.: Halftime, with the game tied, 25-25.
First-half note: Here's your scoring summaries: For CH, Tompkins has 2, Barker 4, Parker 3, Molson 4, Watkins 2, Davis 4 and Spencer with 6. For Wilson, Moxham leads all scorers with 15. DiLaura has 1, Walch 1 and Martin 8.
Programming note: Tyler Martin is wearing No. 30 for Wilson, not the No. 11 he's listed as having in the program.
6:10 p.m.: Third quarter is underway.
6:13 p.m.: Martin misses both free throws for the Lakemen, who trail by a pair. Wilson has been bad from the free-throw line, a big reason it's trailing.
Quick blog note: Making an executive decision to switch up the format and go with the time left remaining in the quarter. If you need to know what time it is, look at the corner of your monitor. :).
4:49 left in the third quarter: Jordan Thilk makes a traditional three-point play, Wilson's first points of the third quarter, and CH leads, 31-28.
3:01 left: Moxham gets his first points of the second half, as Wilson uses good ball movement to beat the 2-3 zone the Eagles have employed. CH leads, 33-30.
:24.3 seconds left: Spencer draws the foul and knocks down a pair of free throws to give the Eagles a 35-30 lead.
End of three, Cleve Hill up, 35-30. Martin missed a good look at a three for Wilson at the buzzer.
7:08 left: Moxham hits a pair of free throws after Martin started the quarter with a three and it's tied, 35-35.
5:04 left: More than 2 minutes without a hoop ...
4:18 left: The drought comes to an end when Walch hits 1 of 2 free throws to give Wilson a 36-35 lead.
3:36 left: Big-time three-pointer for Spencer to put CH up, 38-36. That's followed by a timeout.
2:47 left: Another clutch three by the Eagles, this time from Julian Glover. CH leads, 41-38. Wilson has possession.
1:22 left: Moxham drills a deep three for Wilson to tie it at 41. Wow.
1:07 left: Molson responds for the Golden Eagles with a contested 16-footer in the lane. It's 43-41. Good finish here.
:31.1 seconds left: I wasn't kidding about the great finish. Martin pures a deep three from the right wing to put Wilson up by one, 44-43. CH has possession after Wilson's Walch picked up his fourth foul on a battle for a rebound.
Here's Martin's three:
:11.4 left: Moxham grabbed a big board on defense for Wilson, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1. That gave the Eagles the ball, but Molson lost the ball in traffic. Wilson's Martin recovered. He hits 1 of 2 free throws to make it 45-43 Lakemen. Cleve Hill will have a chance to tie or win on the final possession. The next Wilson foul puts the Eagles in a 1-and-1 situation.
:3.7 left: Barker goes coast-to-coast, but can't finish at the rim. Ball goes out of bounds off CH. Wilson has possession. Eagles will need to foul, and hope for a miss.
0.09 left: Diez gets open under the basket, and Cleve Hill is late to foul him. He rattles home the first and knocks down the second, giving Wilson a four-point lead.
4:35 left: The shutout is over. Alex Curtin hits a long jumper to give Olean a 2-0 lead. On East's next possession, Chris Boyd hits a three. East leads, 3-2.
End of first quarter: East leads, 10-6. Sorry for the lack of updates, combination of a lot to do, and not a lot happening at the start. East got hoops from Jasen Oden, Tremmell Fisher, and a three-pointer by Chris Boyd for the lead. Nick Schmidt hit a three at the buzzer for Olean.
7:31 left: Sam Eckstrom opens the quarter with an inside field goal to bring Olean within two, 10-8.
3:51 left: Andre Jackson knocks down a pair of free throws and East leads, 19-13.
2:58 left: Max Portlow, a sophomore, has back-to-back baskets for the Huskies. The last one cut it to 19-15.
2:19 left: Fisher gets inside position and finishes a traditional three-point play to give East a 22-17 lead. If he catches the ball there regularly, Olean will be in trouble.
:40.8 left: It's turned into a three-point shooting contest. A three by Curtin for Olean was answered by a three for Boyd, only for Schmidt to respond for Olean. After all that, the Huskies are up one, 26-25, their second lead after Curtin's shot gave them their first.
End of first half: East 30, Olean 26. Action really picked up at the end of the first half. Boyd hit another three for East, which then got a steal by Oden on the inbounds pass. He kicked it to Jackson for a 12-foot buzzer-beater, and the Panthers are up.
7:00 left: The Huskies didn't forget their shooting stroke in the locker room. Sophomore Pat Scholla knocked down a three in the first minute to cut East's lead to one, 30-29.
5:56 left: Olean goes back in front as Eckstrom gets nice position inside and finishes with a short bank shot for a 31-30 lead.
4:03 left: Dominique House is cleaning up -- the glass. The 6-foot-4 East senior has back-to-back putbacks, the second of which he was fouled on. He knocks down the free throw and East leads, 37-31. The Panthers are on a 7-0 run.
1:47 left: East has extended the run to 13-3, taking a 43-34 lead and prompting a full timeout by Olean coach Jeff Anastasia. House had a long jumper, then a steal and pass to Oden, who's got back-to-back layups in transition.
:19.7 seconds left: Olean gets a much-needed hoop underneath by Eckstrom, who was fouled and hits the free throw to pull the Huskies within six, 43-37.
End of three: East 43, Olean 37.
6:44 left: Scholla at the line for Olean. He knocks down a pair of much-needed free throws, as East is threatening to run away with things. It's 48-39, East.
6:31 left: Another three-point play for House, making it 51-39, East. Coach Starling Bryant calls for a 30-second timeout.
4:26 left: Timeout called, with East ahead, 55-42. Updates will be minimal from now until sometime during the last game as I write a story for our paper's first edition, which of course, you can pick up tomorrow. :) I'm sure you understand.
3:19 left: Full timeout called by Olean, which trails, 56-44.
1:42 left: Beautiful passing by East finishes with an easy layup (sorry, I missed by who) and East leads, 61-46. The Panthers will face the winners of the night's final game between Cheektowaga and Riverside for the A-2 title at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
:30.7 seconds left: Olean is hanging around, but running out of time. The Huskies trail, 61-53.
Final: East 66, Olean 56. Off for interviews. Back at some point during the last game with some more coverage.
What's the question mark for, you ask? A No. 3 is on the court for Cheektowaga, but not the roster. I'll get his name after the first quarter. As for the action, Riverside leads, 8-6, with 2:39 to play. We'll update after the first quarter and halftime, then hopefully be able to give more updates in the second half.
End of first quarter: Cheektowaga 12, Riverside 11.
Halftime: Riverside leads, 28-21, after outscoring the Warriors in that period, 17-9.
5:23 left: A bucket by Willie Jefferson has given the Frontiersmen a 35-23 lead. Cheektowaga has just 11 points in the last 11 minutes.
4:36 left: Lamont Little to the line, and he makes both for his first points of the night and a 39-23 lead.
3:06 left: Delaney hits the layup and is fouled. He makes the free throw and Riverside leads, 39-28. A modest 5-0 run for the Warriors.
2:38 left: Make that 7-0 as Aswad Jones knocks down an 8-footer and it's 39-30. Riverside coach Ron Killinger calls timeout after that.
1:00 left: Justice Feggans just buried a pretty three-pointer from the right wing to give the Frontiersmen a 44-31 lead.
End of three: Riverside 44, Cheektowaga 33
5:33 left: Dagger for the Warriors. Feggans knocks down a three after Riverside uses up almost the entire shot clock. That gives it a 53-35 lead.
3:31 left: Riverside still in control, up 55-37.
3:09 left: Killinger calls another timeout, still 55-37. Brandon Nance has all four points for Cheektowaga this quarter.
1:35 left: Riverside still on cruise control, so Killinger empties the bench to get the reserves some playing time on the big stage.
Final: Riverside 58, Cheektowaga 42. Off for more interviews.
Riverside coach Ron Killinger
Postgame: Audio from the winning coaches is now posted in this blog. The East-Riverside matchup Saturday will be the third of the season for those two teams. Be sure to listen to Killinger's thoughts on that game, he's got some interesting thoughts.
Williamsville South's Joe Licata has been a PrepTalkTV subject for his record-breaking football career, and Friday we saw him do his three-point shooting thing in basketball. It is part of a three-pronged episode featuring a big win for Maryvale and fine performance by Sacred Heart in our first visit to a girls hoops game.
Review the action -- thanks to video reporter/producer Lauren Mariacher -- and get our breakdown of the top games of the upcoming week:
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My bad (chest-tap): Please excuse my stuffy voice due to my stuffed-up head and the cold I'm fighting.
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You can find all of our videos easily by going to the video player and clicking "PrepTalkTV."
I fumbled in today's football story, although I'd like to think I got a little help from Section VI.
East is a Class A school playing down in the Class B Central (at the school's request) so the Panthers are ineligible for the Class B playoffs.
(I'm assuming they are out of the playoffs altogether, and yes, I know what happens when you assume. I have an email into Section VI about it).
When looking at the standings, it would appear that Cheektowaga (thanks to a loss to East) would be on the brink of not making the playoffs. That's because Section VI's Class B playoff format has the top two teams in each of the three divisions moving on along with the two best third-place teams. The B Central has Depew, Burgard, then East and Cheektowaga. But the Warriors appear safe and could even snare the No. 2 seed in the Central if it wins its next two games (including a finale against Burgard at Riverside).
In researching my story I went to the Section VI football handbook to check on the Class B tiebreaker. I did not notice the very fine print on the teams page which says East is a Class A school, but -- unless I missed it -- nowhere does it say that East is not eligible for the playoffs.
I'm trying to figure out why this would be allowed to happen -- maybe the scheduling worked out better overall? I can't think of any other examples of teams playing down in class and not being eligible for sectional playoffs. Obviously, it messes with everyone's perception of what is happening in a particular league and corrupts the regular season.
So Class B Central teams have league games, nonleague games, and league games against East that don't really count? That makes sense.
Ultimately the mistake in the story today it is my fault. My apologies about any confusion and for Cheektowaga coach Scott Zipp having his email box fill up this morning due to the story.
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Another angle on this: So if East is a Class A school, that makes them a large school. So much for voting on East in the small school poll, which I won't be doing anymore.
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UPDATE (Oct. 6): Section VI football chairman Ken Stoldt returned my email, apologized for the confusion and set some things straight.
East is not eligible for the postseason in any classification. East will appear at the bottom of the Class B Central standings no matter what happens. The league games between Central teams and East count in the standings so that all B teams have six league games (making clearer to determine those last two B playoff spots -- the two-best third-place teams from the B North, Central and South divisions (which all have seven teams and six league games).
And a few final thoughts from me: Who ends up the loser in this situation? The players at East! The whole reason the Buffalo Public Schools moved into Section VI is to participate in the sectional (and state) playoffs, and the district and/or East decided to move the Panthers into the section without any possibility of the postseason. The players obviously put together a great season, but there's no reward.
I just hope that the East players knew this situation from the start of the year (unlike the media :-) ), because I sure wouldn't be an East player hearing about how city teams are going to the playoffs this season, and rightfully enjoying wins like that over a team like Cheektowaga, and then learning that there were never any playoffs to even qualify for.
There shouldn't be any playoffs for them, of course, because they are an A school and have played a B schedule. This was just a bad move by the city while Section VI should have been clearer letting everyone know what the deal was.
Finally: Since East is a large school, it is no longer eligible for the small school poll.
* Another of Eden's fab four seniors in volleyball, Katie Eschner, is headed to Roberts Wesleyan in suburban Rochester.
* Check out the bios of Willie Ruiz of Canisius and Matt Fox of Maple Grove, who are both playing football at Robert Morris.
* Read up on five locals heading to Gannon football: Ian Kennedy, Bishop Timon-St. Jude; Keith Bykowski and Matthew Hornung, Cheektowaga; Ryan Sweet, East Aurora and Jeff Bellanca, St. Joe's (also baseball).
* Amanda Serafini of Frontier softball is off to Davis & Elkins in Elkins, W. Va.
* Kyle McLain of Canisius will play baseball at Washington & Jefferson, which is ranked in the Division III top 25.
* Jamie Nash of JFK will play softball atop South Hill with the Ithaca College Bombers, ranked in the Division III national top 25.
Have an update to the list or information like is posted here? See the top of the college list page for guildelines and e-mail me.
Hello from Buffalo State and the second day of the best week of the high school sports year.
After a few minutes for a program upgrade, we're online for another tripleheader: the 5:30 B-2 semifinal between Niagara-Orleans rivals Wilson and Akron and two A-2 semifinals. East meets fellow Yale Cup-per Lafayette in the first game at 7 p.m. with Maryvale and ECIC III neighbor Cheektowaga getting together at 8:30.
East beat Lafayette in the regular season while Wilson and Maryvale both swept the season series from tonight's opponents, but wacky things have been known to happen at Buffalo State.
That being said, I'm going with Wilson in the first game.
5:31 p.m. This is when the game is supposed to be a minute in of real time. But we're two minutes in, with Wilson calling a timeout after Akron has taken a quick 6-0 lead with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
5:35 p.m. Akron coach Justin Gerstung calls a timeout with 3:41 left in the first quarter holding an 8-6 lead -- Brennan Moxham has swished two three-pointers for Wilson.
5:43 p.m. We are at the end of the first quarter and Akron leads Wilson, 11-8. Trevor Short has nine of Akron's 11 points.
5:47 p.m. Wilson coach Brett Sippel calls a timeout with 5:49 left in the second quarter and Akron having taken a 20-11 lead on a fast-break basket by Alec Short. Akron is fired up in its huddle. Wilson started slow against City Honors so maybe this is just how they roll.
5:51 p.m. N-O coaches like using their first-half timeouts. Akron gets one ahead, 22-15, with 3:34 left in the second quarter. I think maybe Gerstung used it just to protest a call he wanted on Alec Short fast-break attempt. I'll side with coach on this one but it's all part of the game.
5:58 p.m.We are at halftime and Akron leads Wilson, 27-22.
6:16 p.m. Akron calls a timeout with 4:04 left in the third quarter with a 33-26 lead. Trevor Short continues to score for the Tigers, often just too much to handle on drives to the basket and he's been nailing some fadeaway jumpers.
6:23 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Akron continues to lead Wilson, 37-33. Moxham had a late three-pointer to answer one by Akron's Seth Goodier.
6:27 p.m. Wilson calls a timeout with 7:13 left and Akron's lead down to 37-35. Ethan Baker with a putback of a missed free throw opened the scoring. Trevor Short just got fouled hard by Wilson's Nate Meier and the officials do some talking to both players.
6:33 p.m. After a nice big rebound by Alec Short, Akron brings the ball upcourt and calls a timeout with 4:26 left and a 42-38 lead over Wilson. Nice back and forth going on between the school's fans, and I'm pretty sure Akron's outnumber WIlson's, student-section-wise.
6:36 p.m. Wilson calls a timeout with 2:53 left and the Akron lead now at 47-39. BIG three-pointer from Jon Rink for Akron as the Wilson defense sagged towards Trevor Short in the post. On the other end, Trevor Short jumped out to block a three attempt by Baker.
6:39 p.m. Timeout by Akron with 2:24 left and a 47-41 lead. Baker just scored inside and Wilson turned up the pressure on the inbounds.
6:43 p.m. Wilson makes its move to cut it to 47-46, but Alec Short nails a three-pointer from the left corner to give Akron a 50-46 lead. Wilson brings it up and calls a timeout with 36.5 seconds left.
(Sorry about the poor view of Alec Short's shot, on which coach Gerstung ran a nice screen on me).
6:45 p.m. Wilson cuts it to 50-48 on a Collin Okoniewski putback and Trevor Short is fouled with 18 seconds left and Akron leading, 50-48. Timeout, Wilson.
6:48 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Akron 51, Wilson 48.
Short hit one free throw, Moxham missed a decent look from the top of
the key for three; Alec Short was fouled with 5.7 seconds left and
Baker's desperation three missed.
And that's why they play the games. Back for the A-2 semifinals in a bit. Still sticking with my poll for the next two games.
7:09 p.m. Back in our press row saddle just in time for tip-off of East-Lafayette.
7:23 p.m.At the end of the first quarter, East has a 16-10 lead on Lafayette. The Panthers are looking good with Domonique Jackson back on the floor. His passing as is impressive as anything else -- the 6-4 senior has already had some nice setups.
7:29 p.m. Lafayette calls a timeout with 5:24 left in the second quarter. East leads, 19-13. I only saw the Mighty Violets briefly in a game at East, but they have some serious height and length in 6-5 senior Darius West and 6-5 junior Davone Ferguson, who has already put in a very nice looking fast-break dribble drive finish.
7:31 p.m. East's turn to take a timeout with its lead now 19-14 with 5:02 left in the second.
7:36 p.m. Lafayette needed a timeout and has one witih 1:49 left in the second with East now up, 30-21. Jackson just put on one of the Moves Of The Week right in front of me. He took on a close-guarding defender just inside midcourt, crossed him over so bad he fell over, then calmly stepped to the three-point line and swished a three. Whoa.
7:47 p.m. Sorry about a semi-delayed halftime update. Had to run to the car to get a very valuable cord to power the iPhone. I'd be dead without it. Thanks much to 8-year-old Wyatt Walker, one of Section VI's administrators here, for manning the door after my full-out sprint to the parking lot across Grant. Booyah.
At halftime, East leads Lafayette, 39-24. Deon Robinson hit a free throw with 3.4 seconds left after an intentional foul (he was dragged down after a steal in the open court), then he hit a buzzer-beating fling for a three-pointer and a great finish to the half for the Panthers.
7:56 p.m. Lafayette coach Karl Maggiore calls a timeout with 4:43 left in the third quarter and East now up, 44-26. The Panthers are just too much -- not just too athletic but too good defensively too unselfish offensively. They had a fast-break moments ago which went Deon Robinson to Tremmell Fisher to Robinson to Dale Gray for the basket. Almost too much passing.
8:03 p.m. Lafayette calls another timeout with 2:14 left in the third and East leading, 54-33. Jackson had a three-point play after a whirling drive through the lane, and Robinson had a layup after he slapped the ball away for a steal.
8:05 p.m. East coach Starling Bryant with a timeout with 1:05 left in the third leading, 54-36.
8:08 p.m. We are at the end of the third quarter and East leads Lafayette, 54-38. The Violets had a great finish to the quarter as West took a pass on a fast break and -- in traffic -- put down a serious two-handed jam. Very impressive.
8:23 p.m. East has put its subs in with 1:29 left and a 68-43 lead.
8:27 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: East 68, Lafayette 48.
Interviews and then some writing while I watch the Maryvale-Cheektowaga game.
8:51 p.m. Great start for Maryvale, which leads, 8-0, with 5:54 left in the first quarter, prompting a Cheektowaga timeout by first-year coach Pat Cullinan.
9:03 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Maryvale leads Cheektowaga, 15-10. Nice job by the Warriors to keep their heads in it with some active defense. The Flyers hit three threes in the first, including two by senior Matt Wendling.
9:12 p.m. Maryvale coach Mark Kensy calls a timeout with 4:43 left in the second quarter and holding a 17-13 lead as Cheektowaga has played some solid defense and is getting some offense going inside and on the boards.
9:36 p.m. Sorry. Second half has started. Maryvale led, 26-19, at halftime. I'm doing a lot of writing right now.
9:51 p.m. Maryvale 40, Cheektowaga 33 after the third quarter.
10:04 p.m. Story is done for first edition. Jeesh. Right on time. Cheektowaga just scored on a fast break to cut Maryvale's lead to 46-43 with 2:23 left. The lead had been up to 10 (43-33).
10:09 p.m. Wow. Cheektowaga just had a couple of chances to tie the game but the ball wouldn't go down. Maryvale leads, 46-44, with 24 seconds left and has called a timeout. Maryvale inbounding under its own basket.
(Note to self: Be sure to move the phone while you're watching these big plays -- although the perspective on the first jumper is pretty neat since all you can see are players looking at the ball in mid-air. Sorry about that.)
10:12 p.m. A foul by Cheektowaga, and another timeout by Maryvale before it inbounds the ball with 19.7 seconds left. Maryvale inbounding at the sideline in its backcourt, right in front of me.
10:15 p.m. A foul by Cheektowaga, one free throw made, one free throw missed for Maryvale's Bryce Shepard, and a fast-break basket by the Warriors. Maryvale leads, 47-46, with nine seconds left.
10:17 p.m. Foul Cheektowaga, one free throw made by Alex Wendling, Cheektowaga takes a timeout. There are 6.3 seconds left, Maryvale is up two (48-46) and may be up three after the second free throw.
10:19 p.m. Wendling's free throw fell and Cheektowaga's desperation three missed off the backboard.
Clutch job by Wendling. The way Cheektowaga was getting to the basket, a three-point game was a whole lot different than a two-point game.
We have a FINAL SCORE: Maryvale 49, Cheektowaga 46.
12:10 p.m. I love basketball. I love writing. I love the best week of the high school sports year.
But I think I hate sectional tripleheader nights. OK. Got that out of my system. So much action, so little time, so little space. I'll be adding some additional notes and quotes, the scorebooks and some videos here. If you're still out there now, they'll be on here when you wake up.
* * *
Some thoughts on the evening ...
* Seeing Akron here tonight (after not seeing them during the regular season), I'm wondering where this team was all year. I guess the three-pointers from five different Wilson players was a difference, one that was cited by both coaches. Trevor Short, who Sippel called the best player in the N-O, was outstanding. It sure had to help playing at Buffalo State considering the success the Tigers had here last year. They sure looked comfortable while Wilson may have felt the pressure of living up to its ranking and beating Akron three times. Alec Short didn't have to hit as many threes as he did last year (he had a ton -- I've got to check the records) -- but the one he did hit was super clutch.
Akron and Cleveland Hill makes for a great matchup, I think. Who needs ranked teams? Both teams played extremely well and deserve the championship game. They both also brought a lot of fans so the energy level should be good in the first game of Saturday's quintuple-header. Tip-off is at noon.
* Game Two got out of hand because East is just too good. Lafayette knew this after losing to the Panthers in the regular season, and tonight's Panthers were back playing like the Panthers that Lafayette lost to in the first week of February. After that, East lost Domonique Jackson and some other players to academic suspensions and things became quite uncertain. The way East is playing they are going to be super-tough to beat.
There was a lot of moaning that the game wasn't fun to watch, but I starred plenty of plays in my notebook. Jackson, as I wrote, is an outstanding player because of his well-rounded play, including unselfishness and defense (several blocks). Deon Robinson had a clean, standing-still steal of a full-speed Lafayette player which turned into a fast break and a behind-the-back pass to Jackson for a finish. The Jackson killer crossover I wrote about already as well as the super-unselfish fast break by the Panthers and the Lafayette dunk.
I will admit that the blowout helped me get some work done, so maybe because I had other stuff to do it averted me from what obviously wasn't a close second half.
* Maryvale led the entire game against Cheektowaga, with the closest the Warriors getting the two-point deficit in the final minute. Warriors could never get over the hump thanks in large part to the shotmaking of Shepherd. Impressive showing from Cheektowaga and understandable how they were able to beat Amherst. Maryvale definitely makes you beat them. They just do not make mistakes.
SANBORN -- Greetings from Niagara County Community College, site of the Section VI wrestling championships this weekend. Division I (large schools), finished a couple hours ago, while Division II (small schools will wrestle all day Saturday, with finals set to start at 4:30 p.m.
We're finished with our print responsibilities for the night and have plenty of notes left over to share. First, an observation: The simple finalist information sheet each coach fills out for his wrestlers is a valuable tool for the announcer and media in attendance. One of the toughest aspects of covering high schools sports is the availability of (reliable) statistical information, so when coaches have stuff like that prepared, it helps journalists write a better, more complete story on their student-athletes.
On to the winners and some information about them, as well as additional quotes that didn't make the paper.
96-pound champion: Steve Michel, Lancaster: Michel beat teammate Eric Lewandowski, 4-3, in a match I'm not sure either wanted to wrestle. Lewandowski was emotional after the loss, while Michel didn't seem to take much happiness out of his second straight 96-pound title. Here he is on the move that gave him the deciding points: "I shot a sweep single, then I hooked his leg and I stepped over."
103: Ronald Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowaga: The Class AAA winner improved his record to 32-5 and was the youngest competitor (eighth grade) to win a sectional title.
112: Tim Schaefer, Lancaster: Schaefer is 3-for-3 in sectional tournaments. He won at 96 in seventh grade, 103 last year and now 112 as a freshman.
119: Dylan Caruana, Kenmore West: One of the best matches of the night, Caruana held off Daiquann Burney of Sweet Home with a late reversal for a 6-3 decision. Here's Caruana on the fantastic finish: "The end was really exciting. I just didn’t want to give up that take down. He was about to get behind me and I couldn’t let him do it. I was only up by a point, so it was real close." Caruana has won two most outstanding wrestler awards this season, at the Orchard Park Tournament and last week at the AAAA tourney.
125: Joey Malvestuto, Niagara-Wheatfield: Plenty on this match in the print product, but a quick note: Malvestuto has overcome a broken hand and knee injury this season. He's rounding into form and improved to 31-3. Opponent Ben Mikac lost his first match of the season, falling to 34-1.
130: Joe Kalinka, Iroquois: The first of three Iroquois champions on the night, Kalinka (46-2) will make his second straight tip to states. He won the AAA tourney last week, while his opponent, Mike Feeney of Lockport, won the AAAA tourney.
135: Pat Mix, Lake Shore: Both Mix and opponent Zack Fummerelle had just one loss entering the mach. Mix took control with an early takedown, then held on for the win. Nice celebration by the Lake Shore coaches and Mix after the match, too. A school not known for its wrestling program made nice strides this season.
140: Jimmy Kloc, Iroquois: Kloc, who is a pitbull on the mat, looked like he was going to cruise, but Gage Bateman of Sweet Home gave him all he could handle. A fitting final for a weight class my wrestling go-to guy, Fredonia assistant coach Ross Conti, called the deepest of the tournament.
145: Jacob Beichner, Williamsville East: Beichner was the only wrestler not seeded first or second (he was third) to win. His reaction after winning showed all that's right with high school sports: a tearful hug with his parents. Here's Beichner on what the win meant to him: "He was beating me up pretty good in the beginning, but I’ve been training my whole life for this moment. I just wasn’t going to let that stop me. I knew he was getting tired and he was breaking. It’s my senior year, I just went full force." The loss was the first of the season for Irvin Buck of Niagara Falls.
152: Kris Duge, Clarence: It was the 38th win of the season for Duge, a senior.
160: Raleigh Defields, Iroquois: Defields was struck with pneuomia during the season and didn't start to get healthy until the end of January. He had dropped an earlier decision by one point to his opponent Friday, Lancaster's Sean Woods. Defields was a fun interview after his match. Here's some of what he had to say: "I set a goal as a freshman that I always wanted to at least win [a] class [tournament] and going to states is just an awesome bonus." On his recovery: "I've been busting my hump in practice getting my conditioning levels back and it paid off because I could have gone another minute if need be." On the end of the match, which went to overtime: "I looked up at the clock with five seconds left, held on for dear life and smiled."
171: Tony Lock, Pioneer: A sophomore who has progressively improved this season, Lock picked up his 40th win.
189: Angelo Malvestuto, Niagara-Wheatfield: Falcons coach Rick Sweney called him the best wrestler ever to come through Niagara-Wheatfield, which sums up Malvestuto's career well. He was the only one to record a pin Friday night.
215: Kyle Colling, Pioneer: A 2009 national champion, the only surprise in Colling's title is that it didn't come by pinfall. According to Conti, it's believed Colling could become the first wrestler in state history to win class titles in Division I and II, due to Pioneer moving up to Division I this season (he won Division II last year).
285: Jim Donner, Niagara-Wheatfield: Donner gets a chance to build on his fifth-place finish at last year's state tournament.
Talk to you tomorrow from the Division II tournament.
Tell us why you voted the way you did in the comments section below. Also, what do you think of the list? Who's not on the list that should be?
Remember to be RESPECTFUL of ALL of the players because they all had a great seasons.
I'll be keeping my thoughts to myself for now since we are deliberating the All-Western New York team.
The winner will be announced Wednesday, Dec. 9 at the Lancaster Elks Lodge No. 1478, which is the sponsor of the award. It is located at 33 Legion Parkway, Lancaster.
Reserve tickets are available by calling
the Lancaster Elks at 685-1478 or by calling Carl Kuras at 698-1893.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and dinner will follow at approximately 6:30 p.m.
The cost per ticket is $20.
As always, another great job by the Trench Trophy committee to honor high school athletes. This award is a result of a lot of people doing a lot of hard work and they should be commended for adding another tradition to high school football in Western New York.
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.