Greetings from City Honors, again site of the seventh Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Classic, hosted by the Buffalo Public Schools.
Today's lineup includes ranked teams in each of the four games here at City Honors. The day begins with No. 8 small school Lackawanna taking on the host Centaurs at 11 a.m., followed by No. 3 small school East meeting East Aurora (not ranked but I had them at No. 10 in my ballot) at 12:45.
The second session begins at 4 p.m. with ECIC II leader Sweet Home taking on No. 6 small school Middle Early College. The marquee matchup of the day has No. 2 large school Canisius meeting No. 3 McKinley at 5:45.
I'll have updates from games in the live blog below and via #preptalkscores updates on Twitter.
I had a summer break that started as soon as the 2010-11 season concluded, and now I'm back -- and here to throw some notes out regarding some summer news and notes ...
* Late in the spring season we told you about the BCANY Hoops Festival set for Johnson City from Aug. 5-7. The event seems like a great one, and it's one that came about due to the unfortunate absence of the Empire State Games this summer.
The roster has been selected by the coaching staff of head coach Larry Jones (Depew) and assistants Mike Haskell (retired Pioneer) and Mike Berkun (Medaille):
Reggie Agbeko (St. Joe's), Stan Wier (who has transferred back home to East Aurora), Sterling Taplin (Williamsville North), Ryan Whelpley (Walsh), Matt Hart (Canisius), Aaron Frasier (Seneca), Aaron White (Canisius), Jamaal Carter (City Honors), Adam Weir (Canisius), Jordan Williams (Bishop Timon-St. Jude).
The team will play Long Island on Friday, Aug 5 at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 6, the Buffalo team plays New York City at 9 a.m. and Hudson Valley at noon. Saturday's evening session includes a dunk contest and three-point contest at 4:30 p.m.; a parent clinic on recruiting at 5:30 and a player clinic with college coaches at 6:30.
The event concludes on Sunday, Aug. 7 with the seventh-place game (9 a.m.), fifth-place game (10:30 a.m.), consolation (noon) and championship (1:30 p.m.).
While the event is being run by BCANY, there are some expenses that will need to be covered for teams and players (food, lodging, transportation -- costs mostly taken care of by the ESG during the Games). The squad is seeking sponsorships -- if you are interested in helping the team defray some costs, call Jones at (585) 746-8327.
This team deserves some serious commenting -- that squad is a really good one, a much better collection than I expected for what is a startup event this year. Great talent, great depth, great mixture of schools. Excellent job by the basketball community in getting the word out and credit the coaching staff for what must have been some difficult choices after the tryouts.
* Speaking of some good hoops competition, this weekend might be the Taste of Buffalo but fans can get a taste of hoops up in Niagara Falls. Some top programs are in action at the Niagara PAL Team Camp at Niagara Falls. Here's the lineup:
Friday: 5 p.m. -- Main gym, Niagara Falls vs. Canisius; Aux. gym, St. Joe's vs. Niagara-Wheatfield; 6 p.m. -- Batavia vs. Grand Island; Aux. gym, Wilson vs. Holland; 7 p.m. -- Main gym, Jamestown vs. Sweet Home.
Saturday: 9 a.m. -- Main gym, St. Joe's vs. Niagara Falls; Aux. gym, Canisius vs. Jamestown; 10 a.m. -- Main gym, Sweet Home vs. Wilson; Aux. gym, Batavia vs. Niagara-Wheatfield; 11 a.m., Main gym, Grand Island vs. Holland.
Single elimination tournament begins at noon, with championship at 5 p.m.
There is a $2 admission for fans 13 and older.
* I will hopefully hit some summer events of all sorts -- I'll be soon selling raffle tickets to benefit the Tom Borrelli Award and Scholarship Fund. We have some great prizes and it's a great cause as we continue to honor our fallen coworker.
The third Borrelli Award for boys and the inaugural Borrelli Award for girls will be announced later this month and the winners will receive their trophies at the July 27 Tom Borrelli Golf Tournament at Holland Hills. For those interested in golfing ($100 per person) or donating, please email me at email@example.com.
* By the way, the spring All-WNY teams and all-league teams (for baseball, softball and boys and girls lacrosse), which have been published over the last month, have all been collected at the high school home page.
I'm starting here at One News Plaza, but the plan is to catch a little bit of Hutch-Tech's boys game against City Honors, and then head to Clarence for its girls-boys doubleheader against Orchard Park (girls at 6 p.m., boys to follow). Not a bad ECIC I doubleheader -- Clarence, which is having good basketball seasons in both boys and girls, is hosting the No. 1 girls large school and the No. 10 boys large school.
5:54 p.m. We're signing off and making the trip a few blocks away uptown to Hutch-Tech.
6:19 p.m. Hutch-Tech has an 18-16 lead with 6:24 left in the second quarter. I was there for the final minute of the first quarter and the first minute of the second, and the only basket scored made for a nice highlight -- a nice drive for Hutch-Tech.
I'm off to Clarence.
6:55 p.m. Arrive at Clarence where the host Red Devil girls are trying to hand top-ranked Orchard Park its first loss of the season. Clarence leads OP, 41-37, after three quarters.
OP standout senior Jaymie Druding is out for about three weeks with an leg injury, obviously a big loss for the Quakers. You can see her crutches near the bench.
Sidenote: A flying chest-bump to copy editor Geoff Nason, who changed the headline of this blog from Wednesday Night Live to Thursday Night Live. Whoops.
7:03 p.m. Some nice back-and-forth action and Clarence has a 47-44 lead with 4:31 left in the game.
7:18 p.m. Senior guard Val Nappo has hit six straight free throws and Clarence continues to lead, 55-51, with 21.3 seconds left.
OP junior Taylor Swiatek hits a huge three-pointer to bring the Quakers within one at 55-54.
7:23 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE from the girls game: Clarence 56, Orchard Park 54.
The Quakers had a final shot to tie but it came up short. A big celebration and a big finishing call by Clarence sophomore PA guy/team manager Dominic Taverna.
Scorebooks for each team are at the right.
The Clarence reaction, starting with coach Erin Roos:
Coach didn't say anything about cookies, though ...
8:01 p.m. After the first quarter of the boys game, Clarence has a 16-11 lead. Nice pace to the game.
8:03 p.m. Rant alert: I HATE scoreboards that, during timeouts, don't show the time left but instead show the time counting down in the timeout. Hate it. The game is tied at 19-19 at some point in the middle of the second quarter but I don't know how much time because I'm staring at 11 ... 10 .... 9 ... . Canisius and Clarence get D-merits for that. Do they still have D-merits?
8:08 p.m. Really nice game here, and Troy Nowak of OP seems to have a ton of points. OP takes a 26-24 lead and Clarence calls a timeout with 2:02 left in the second.
8:13 p.m. At halftime, OP leads Clarence, 26-24.
A funny moment of the first half. Some Orchard Park dudes and dudettes have made the trip (nice job by them), and when a Clarence player was at the free throw line, an OP player on the bench turned around to his OP people.
OP player on bench: "Hey, say something."
Buddy in bleachers, a little confused: "What do you want me to say?"
[Pause as Clarence player steps to the line]
Buddy in the bleachers: "AHAHAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!"
8:29 p.m. I've been checking in with the office about the girls game so I've missed some action but OP leads, 30-26, with less than five minutes left in the third.
8:32 p.m. OP coach Bob Rumschik calls a timeout with the Quakers, leading, 35-28, with 3:08 left in the third.
8:38 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, OP's lead is cut to 37-36 on a three-pointer in the final seconds from Clarence's Greg Lucsok.
8:43 p.m. OP calls a timeout with Clarence ahead, 40-39, with 5:52 left.
Hill's three-pointer puts Clarence up, 43-39, and DJ Dominic gets busy.
Nesci finishes off a nice hustle play with a three to put OP up, 44-43, and Nowak blocks a big man's shot on the other end.
8:49 p.m. A great finish of a tough fast-break drive by OP sophomore Matt McCormick gives the Quakers a 46-45 lead.
With 2:28 left, Rumschik calls a timeout.
8:54 p.m. After a McCormick three puts OP up three, Clarence calls a timeout trailing, 49-46, with 20.7 seconds left.
Late in regulation, DJ Dominic with a nice job, reminding the Clarence fans who are nearly spilling on to the court across the way that sportsmanship comes first in "the Devil's Den."
8:56 p.m. Clarence dribbles across halfcourt and calls another timeout with 15.5 seconds left.
8:58 p.m. Clarence's David Hill takes a DEEEEP three-pointer and swishes it in the final seconds; OP misses a desperation heave, and we're going to OVERTIME.
High school fans, make sure you check out The Buffalo News over the next week.
After six teams survived sectional, regional and state championship playoffs to win state titles, we at The News are honoring each champion with a poster page. They are similar to the pages we produced last year for the four football state champions.
The commemorative posters include photos, rosters, complete schedules and results and a summary of each team's road to the finals.
The pages start Saturday. There will be a team championship poster page in each day following, except for Wednesday (Bills poster day).
Also definitely check out the online end of things, where we have produced some awesome audio slideshows detailing the teams' run to the championships.
Here's the schedule:
Saturday: City Honors girls volleyball. Sunday: Eden girls volleyball. Monday: Randolph football. Tuesday: Southwestern football. Thursday: Sweet Home football. Friday: North Tonawanda football.
For a special 25 percent discount online, enter the code: preptalk. (cool code huh?)
This championship week also includes the boys basketball preview on Tuesday and the All-Western New York football issue on Saturday, Dec. 12. The All-WNY football issue will include not only the team, but the final polls, coach of the year award and all of the all-league teams.
Photographer Mark Mulville compiled some great photos, sounds of some of the voices that helped teams win state championships (and one of the voices that covered them) in some awesome audio slideshows about our state champions. There will be slideshows for all six state champions, corresponding with the six state championship pages we are producing.
Eden went unbeaten in six games of pool play, including a 25-15, 25-9 sweep of Hendrick Hudson. The matchup with Hudson was the last of pool play and was meaningless because both teams had already clinched a berth in the final. The teams will meet again at 10 a.m. Sunday.
City Honors earned its first trip to the state tournament in 10 years Saturday by sweeping Section V Class C champion Nazareth, 25-18, 25-19, 25-7, in the Far West Regionals before an estimated 300 at Lockport High School.
Natalie Southard had 18 kills and five blocks, while senior Alysia Negron added 18 digs and 10 kills as the Centaurs (18-0) advanced to next Saturday's state gathering at the Civic Center in Glens Falls.
"It's a great accomplishment," Negron said. "It's taken us 10 years to get back to where we belong. ... It means a lot to us being a [Buffalo] city school."
City Honors is making its seventh state tournament appearance and has won four state titles, the last coming in 1995. The Centaurs lost in the state final in 1999.
* * *
Eden advanced to its 11th straight state tournament, cruising to a 25-10, 25-6, 25-12, win over Section V champion Wayne in the Class B regional.
Hannah Herc led the Raiders (53-1-1) with 10 kills and six digs, while Katie Eschner had eight kills and four aces.
Eden won its last state championship, its sixth, in 2007. Last year's title quest fell short in the final when a banged-up Raiders crew lost in five games to Hendrick Hudson.
* * *
It's not about quantity, it's about quality. Cattaraugus-Little Valley is the proof in the pudding.
The Timberwolves advanced to their first state tournament Saturday, beating Section V champion Lyons, 25-21, 25-16, 25-20, in the Class D Far West Regional clash before an estimated 250 at Lockport.
After rallying to win its first Section VI championship a week and a half ago, Cattaraugus/Little Valley -- which has just eight girls on its volleyball roster -- relied on solid serving and and made the hustle plays a team needs to make to earn a shot at the title in Glens Falls.
Eighth-grader Sara Crandall was a force with 19 kills and 18 digs, while her sister Erin, a sophomore, had eight kills and 16 digs. Shelby Ellis had 26 digs, while setter Casey Miller finished with 30 assists for the T-Wolves (20-2).
"It's great," said coach Joe Crandall, the father of both Sara and Erin. "It's kind of a 'pinch-me' to see if it's real situation. The kids played great. It's an unbelievable feeling."
Lyons finished 21-4.
* * *
The feel-good season for the Hamburg girls volleyball team came to an end at the hands of defending state Class A champion Victor on Saturday morning in the Far West Regionals.
The Section V champions beat the Bulldogs, 25-17, 25-18, 25-9, in a match played before an estimated 100 at Lockport.
Hamburg, which went from 1-13 last year to winning the program's first Section VI title under first-year coach John Crangle, didn't have the size or the talent possessed by Victor (20-4), which has all but one starter back from last year's team. The Blue Devils advance to the state tournament next week in Glens Falls.
Kiersten Krolikowski led Hamburg (14-10) with eight kills and five blocks, while Jessica Wood finished with 39 assists.
"We weren't on anyone's radar this year," Crangle said. "I think the girls have created a new identity for themselves and the program. ... The girls gained confidence on the court throughout the year and off the court, too. As a teacher and a coach that's the most important thing. They improved, they learned and they had fun."
Jessica Fessler led the winners with 13 kills, while Brigid Moore had 31 assists.
* * *
In Class AA, Canandaigua (19-1) ended the stunning run of North Tonawanda (16-3), sweeping the Section VI champions, 25-15, 25-15 25-12. The Braves' size and skill proved to be too much for an undersized NT crew to overcome as Canandaigua finished with 10 blocks, while 6-foot-2 Kymberly Gordon (19 kills, three blocks) and 6-footer Liz Scott (eight kills, three blocks) altered countless other shots. Adding to NT’s woes, Braves setter Marissa King (35 assists) did a wonderful job passing to keep their attack unpredictable.
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.