Two down, three to go here at Buffalo State.
March 6, 2010 - 3:42 PM
Two down, three to go here at Buffalo State.
March 3, 2010 - 11:00 AM
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.
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.
8:27 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.
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.
February 20, 2010 - 6:10 PM
The final day of the boys basketball regular season, highlighted by Middle College's Yale Cup title and Lancaster's home win over Depew, is captured in the fourth episode of PrepTalkTV:
Reporter/videographer/producer Lauren Mariacher and I will putting another episode together on Sunday as the Manhattan Cup holds its four quarterfinals at Canisius College.
Let us know what you think.
February 20, 2010 - 6:10 PM
Hello from the final day of the regular season in high school boys basketball.
Undefeated Middle College is taking on East for the Yale Cup. Unfortunately we are in a different venue, the Grabiarz School off Military Road.
It's a cool coaching matchup in that Middle College's Randy Rich was a longtime assistant under East's Starling Bryant during Traditional's championship runs.
5:42 p.m. The first timeout of the game is called by East, which trails, 19-10, with 1:31 left in the first quarter. Middle College is getting out in transition with Justin Stokes and Darale Young putting up some very nice finishes.
5:45 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Middle College leads East, 24-15. Deon Robinson of East just nailed an off-balance NBA-range three-pointer at the buzzer; that answered Young swishing a three-pointer.
5:58 p.m. Middle College's Rich calls a timeout with 2:06 left in the second quarter. Stokes just swished an open three for a 35-27 lead.
6:01 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Middle College leads East, 39-30.
East made a nice run in the second to come within 35-30 after a three-pointer by Jasen Oden, who is into this game. Great intensity.
Stokes continues to be fantastic. He dished to Davon Alexander for a basket off a scramble, then made a tough catch-and-finish on a quick transition to supply the Kats with their halftime lead.
6:11 p.m. We're back and the second half has started. I took a picture of the Yale Cup, which is sitting courtside.
February 19, 2010 - 12:05 PM
The location of today's Yale Cup finale that will decide the league title has been moved. Undefeated Middle College will play East at the Grabiarz School.
The game was scheduled to be held at East. It will still be played at 5:30 p.m.
Buffalo Public Schools athletic director Dave Thomas said that only adults will be allowed at the game -- no students. Thomas said the changes were made "in the interest of safety" because some "threats" had been made concerning the game.
This is obviously bad news. An integral part of high school sports are passionate crowds, and unfortunately it seems some students went over the line in anticipation of a huge game. This is not they way championship games should be decided -- in a gym with no students. However, the better-safe-than-sorry call to change the venue and limit spectators is a good move to avoid any possibility of an incident.
The Grabiarz School is located at 225 Lawn Avenue off Military Road.
February 18, 2010 - 2:20 AM
The third episode of PrepTalkTV is on the air after watching East and Nichols earn big wins at home:
Reporter/videographer/producer Lauren Mariacher and I will putting another episode together on Friday night as East hosts Middle College in their Yale Cup showdown.
Let us know what you think.
February 17, 2010 - 5:54 PM
We've got two big stops today -- Grover Cleveland at East in a crucial Yale Cup game and Canisius at Nichols in a major Monsignor Martin matchup.
5:30 p.m. Be careful out there driving -- we're at East after a slip-slidey trip down Fillmore Ave. and we've had a report of one high school hoops junkie getting in a weather-related fender-bender.
It's unfortunate that East is still without the suspended Domonique Jackson and Grover is now without injured Ricky Alejandro.
5:47 p.m. We are at the end of the first quarter and Grover Cleveland has a 17-11 lead over East.
5:53 p.m. Grover calls a timeout up, 19-18, after two Chris Holland free throws. East had taken its first lead of the game at 18-17 after a 7-0 run.
6:06 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and East leads Grover, 33-31. A well-played and entertaining half on the court and on the sidelines, where Earl Schunk of Grover and Starling Bryant of East are two of the most entertaining coaches to listen to during a game.
Schunk complained about a foul call repeatedly while an East player went to the line. The player ended up missing both free throws, and as the second one rimmed out, Schunk yelled to the ref, "Ahh, never mind."
6:15 p.m. We've started the second half.
6:23 p.m. Grover calls a timeout with 4:27 left in the third quarter with East holding a 38-36 lead.
6:26 p.m. East calls a timeout with 3:41 left in the third; same East lead, 38-36.
6:33 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, East leads Grover, 44-38.
6:39 p.m. Grover calls a timeout with 5:27 left and East up, 46-42.
6:42 p.m. Bryant calls a timeout for East with 4:01 left and his Panthers up, 50-42, after some nice press-beating baskets.
6:45 p.m. A delay in the action right now after an incident in the stands -- there was some woofing but nothing more. Police and school officials stepped in and ejected some fans and we're going back to action. East leads, 50-42, with about 3:45 left.
6:56 p.m. East's lead is 54-50 with 1:10 left after a Kenny Pringle driving layup.
6:58 p.m. East's lead down to 56-55 with 28.7 seconds left after a three-pointer and a layup by Pringle.
7:03 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: East 57, Grover Cleveland 55.
East's Tremmell Fisher blocked a Kenny Pringle end-to-end drive in the final seconds with the score 56-55. Fisher made up for missing two free throws with 9.1 seconds left.
A last-second, just-inside-half-court shot by Grover's Kevin Hall went off the rim. Grover had a shot to go ahead in the final minute but a layup off of a great Pringle penetration-and-pass was missed.
The scorebooks have been posted, including Pringle scoring seven of his 16 points in the fourth quarter -- they actually all came consecutively for Grover in the last two minutes.
Time for some interviews and then it's off to Nichols.
7:57 p.m. We're squeezed into a seat here behind the scorer's table at a jam-packed Nichols gym. Right now, as per Nichols tradition, the seniors are being feted with speeches by classmates. Pretty good stuff. Will Regan just paid tribute to the Nichols trainer and the team posed for a picture with her -- classy job by them.
Made myself a parking spot on the road just outside the gym -- the snowy lot is filled, the small lot before the hockey rink was filled, the lot on the other side of the school that I sneakily thought I'd get into was filled.
8:01 p.m. We have five minutes counting down on the clock for warmups after the ceremony.
This place is super-packed. How packed? There are firemen behind one of the baskets to make sure all is well with the emergency exits and the fire code.
8:16 p.m. We're in the first quarter and Nichols leads, 10-2, with 4:45 left. The updates might not be coming so quickly because we've got a lot of work to do, a late-starting game and an early deadline tonight.
8:24 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Nichols and Ron Canestro have looked very good and lead, 24-12.
8:41 p.m. At halftime, Nichols leads Canisius, 40-18. The Vikings look excellent, just beating Canisius at both ends. A 16-4 second quarter.
9:05 p.m. Nichols is having a remarkable night. They are flat-out beating Canisius. The Vikings are up, 62-33, at the end of the third quarter.
Nichols just had its subs in for the final minute of the third. The jam-packed gym is becoming unpacked as fans are leaving. This is an astounding beating.
Of note: With 5:40 left in the quarter, Nichols' Stan Wier and Canisius' Blair Helton were rightly called for double technical fouls after some arms (and words) came up after a play.
9:13 p.m. Canisius calls a timeout with 4:36 left in the game in what is now a very quiet gym. Crazy. Nichols leads, 68-42.
9:29 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Nichols 77, Canisius 54.
Time for a lot of work for me. Be back later.
* * *
10:55 p.m. I should have had this next bit of info up sooner, but I was busy getting the box score in, writing my story, interviewing Greg Plumb and filming some blabbity-blah segments for the next episode of PrepTalkTV.
Nichols won the coin flip. So did St. Joe's. St. Mary's wins at Timon. So ....
The seeds and pairings are set for the Manhattan Cup playoffs, which begin with Sunday's quarterfinals at Canisius College. After Wednesday's games and two coinflips the seedings are: 1. Nichols, 2. Canisius, 3. St. Mary's (by virtue of its win at Bishop Timon-St. Jude on Wednesday night), 4. Timon, 5. St. Joe's (by coinflip after it was tied with St. Francis), 6. St. Francis, 7. Niagara Catholic.
Cardinal O'Hara will face Archbishop Walsh in a play-in game Friday with the winner advancing to play Nichols. That game will be the final one in Sunday's quadrupleheader. The lineup starts at 1 p.m. with Timon-St. Jude vs. St. Joe's, followed by St. Mary's vs. St. Francis, Canisius vs. Niagara Catholic and then Nichols.
* * *
The scorebooks from Nichols' win are here, along with some final thoughts ...
The only thing more startling than the halftime score, and even the third quarter score, is that for most of that time this was an intensely-played, clean game by both teams. The possessions were valued. Teams seemed to be running their offenses. They seemed in sync. But Nichols just kept scoring and just kept preventing Canisius from scoring.
I'd look up at the scoreboard and shake my head -- the score didn't seem to match up with how much both teams were into the game. It's not like Canisius laid an egg. Sure, they missed some shots, but it wasn't -- in my opinion -- like they didn't show up. Games with scores like this usually point towards the loser having a bad night on its own, where coaches rue errors and turnovers and bad shots; this was a case of one team just beating the other.
Nichols had a superb night, but not an out-of-its-mind night. This was the kind of performance the Vikings were putting forth early in the year, and now they not only have Canestro back, they have contributors like Dieter Clauss (five points, strong baseline drive in second quarter, nice assist to Wier right after that) and Evan Grenda (three-pointer in the second to put Nichols up, 29-16).
Canestro only had seven points but it he had a large part in setting the tone for the Vikings early on with his defense, ball handling and court vision. He may have pushed it a little bit later on with perhaps an ill-advised shot and a reach-in foul, but I read that as a senior glad to be back playing on senior night in what turned out to be a fantastic performance for his team.
Regan was outstanding, nearly unstoppable in the paint, and that's with -- in my opinion -- him not getting many calls on the offensive end while he got called for some extremely light ticky-tack fouls on the defensive end (I rarely like to discuss officiating, but I do think it showed his ability to put forth a dominant performance despite ending up with four fouls).
Andy MacKinnon played exceptional defense, including one play in which he did an outstanding job moving his feet to stay in front of Aaron Nevins. Any hopes of Canisius trimming the lead -- which I almost thought was automatic considering the intensity and pace of the game -- were stymied by, in large part, Connor Vandegriff. He scored 10 of his 12 in the third with putbacks and court movement that put him in the right open spots for his teammates to find him.
Stan Wier lit up the scorebook, had some tremendous finishes, hit two three-pointers and played some tough defense as well. With Canestro back, it just makes everyone on the team better -- Wier is so powerful at both ends.
The scorebook tells the story of the Nichols defense -- the 40-18 first half included this rundown for Canisius: five points from Gordon Lyons, four from Nevins and C.J. Coatsworth, three from Jimmy Gaines and two from Blair Helton.
* * *
But check it out: Williamsville South's Joe Licata goes for 41(!) and 13 threes(!) on probably many of Mark Coppola's 20 assists (!) in a 108-84 victory at Iroquois.
That's right, 1-0-8. In regulation. Whoa. Iroquois has struggled, and I guess they tried to run with South, but I didn't expect to hear that tonight.
Keron Briggs hits for 43 points and seven threes for Sweet Home against Lake Shore. St. Mary's wins at Timon. Niagara Falls routs Grand Island. JFK with a big Cheektowaga victory over Cleveland Hill.
* * *
As always, let us know if you were out at a game in the comments space below.
February 9, 2010 - 5:17 PM
Greetings on the busiest night of boys basketball all year. Lots of games, lots of big matchups.
4:51 p.m. Just got a call from fellow reporter Lauren Mariacher, who headed to Burgard to shoot video of Grover Cleveland's 4:15 p.m. game there. There was no game and she was told by a student that it had been called off.
She's headed to McKinley's hosting of East (5:30), and so am I. The plan is to head to Niagara Falls at North Tonawanda and possibly Maryvale at Depew after that.
6:39 p.m. Quite the developments here at McKinley, which took a 42-26 halftime lead on East. Yes, you read that right.
Ten of East's players, including all five starters, were suspended prior to the game and the Panthers were forced to go with JV callups to fill out its lineup for today. The suspensions were due to academic reasons.
The length of the suspensions is not known -- they are at least for one week, according to coach Starling Bryant. The length of the suspensions could also differ for different players.
Said Bryant during halftime: "It could be one week, it could be two weeks or it could be permanent. They didn't do what they were supposed to do academically. They didn't hold up their end of the bargain. At East, it's academics first. It could be a week, or it could be sectionals, and I'll go with the young boys."
East entered the game 12-2 overall, co-ranked second among large schools in Western New York, and 9-0 in the Yale Cup. The Panthers were one of two unbeatens in the Yale Cup (along with Middle College, which won Monday to go to 10-0).
6:46 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, McKinley leads East, 59-41.
The five East starters who were suspended were Domonique Jackson, Tremell Fisher, Andre Jackson, Dale Gray and Deon Robinson.
The only two regulars not to get suspended are Jason Oden and Chris Boyd.
6:49 p.m. The McKinley lead is up to 63-41 with 6:44 left in the game.
This is clearly a major blow to East, which I had voted No. 1 in the large school poll the last three weeks. The Panthers were the favorite in A-2 and had the kind of team, I thought, that was capable of a run to Glens Falls. Many fans were already looking forward to a East-Williamsville South overall Class A final.
We'll have to see. If East gets enough of its players back by sectionals, they may still be able to make that kind of run. The Yale Cup is a much different story, and Middle College is now firmly in front of what was expected to be a thrilling finish. Middle, Grover and East have yet to play this season -- the first game among them over an exciting final two weeks is Middle College's game at Grover Cleveland on Thursday.
6:53 p.m. McKinley 71, East 44 with 4:30 left in the game. Stunning stuff.
Many of the suspended East players are watching the game from the front row of the bleachers. Tough lesson to learn for those guys. Hopefully it's not to late for them to perhaps turn things around -- in the classroom and then on the basketball court.
7:02 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: McKinley 84, East 53.
I'm off to NT. I'm hoping WLVL-AM is on the air for my ride up there :-)
7:37 p.m. No WLVL for the ride, but it's still the second quarter so we'll be fine.
I walked into NT with the home team having a two-point lead, but while I was getting set up Darrik Bloomfield followed a three-pointer with a sweet putback of a teammate's airball -- Bloomfield caught it from under the basket and reverse layup-ed it all in midair -- to put NT up, 30-18 over Niagara Falls with 3:50 left in the second quarter.
7:39 p.m. Falls gets a bunch back in a hurry and cut it to 30-24 with 2:44 left in the quarter.
7:45 p.m. At halftime, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 38-27.
NT coach Erik O'Bryan seems pretty loose -- he walks by me as I'm hunched over the laptop and I hear, "say hello to Prep Talk Nation."
It was 16-16 after one quarter. Aaron Davis leads NT with 12 points while Bloomfield had all 10 of his in the second quarter. Davon Marshall leads Falls with 12.
The reports regarding Jordan Street are correct. He is ineligible and not listed in the scorebook for Falls.
7:58 p.m. An early timeout on a scramble on the floor -- NT leads, 37-29, with 6:33 left in the third.
8:07 p.m. Falls calls a timeout with NT having taken a 46-35 lead with 2:14 left in the third.
UPDATE from Wilson: Host Lakemen lead Medina, 30-16, at halftime.
8:13 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 46-35.
UPDATE from Depew: Host Wildcats lead, 15-14, over Maryvale after one quarter.
8:21 p.m. NT calls a timeout with 5:11 left and holding a 51-41 lead. Marshall has hit back-to-back threes for Falls.
8:27 p.m. With 1:44 left in the game, NT calls a timeout with a 55-45 lead.
8:30 p.m. Two free throws by Maurice Respress and Falls calls a timeout with 1:21 left; NT leads, 55-47.
8:40 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: North Tonawanda 61, Niagara Falls 54.
The scorebooks from the game are to the right.
Who thought Niagara Falls was going to lose in the Niagara Frontier League this season? Who thought Niagara Falls was going to get swept this season? Wow.
NT handled the Falls pressure early, then just beat the Wolverines the rest of the way. The Jacks were an extremely confident team, moving the ball well on offense, rebounding well and playing good defense. Falls was limited largely to outside shots, and they didn't have a good shooting night.
8:50 p.m. Finished with some interviews and some video stuff and we're going to try and make it to Depew for the end of what has been a close game (Maryvale led, 24-23, at halftime).
9:36 p.m. Made it to Depew in time for interviews, but not in time to catch the game that ended with this FINAL SCORE: Maryvale 54, Depew 49. Maryvale clinches at least a tie for the ECIC III title.
Hey, we tried to get there in time, but when we arrived we were swimming upstream into the huge crowd leaving the gym. (Thanks much to Sean Bruso for texting me updates from Depew).
More details, video and scores to come so stay tuned.
10:10 p.m. Got some details sent in to the paper.
Here are a few notable finals that are in (we'll have the scoreboard up as soon as possible):
* Wilson takes control of the Niagara-Orleans race with a 52-34 victory over Medina;
* Grand Island makes some noise by thumping visiting Lockport, 79-67;
* Cleveland Hill with a very nice ECIC IV win, 53-45, at Alden -- where Lackawanna fell just last week;
* Bishop Timon-St. Jude wins at home over St. Francis, 58-54, bouncing back from Monday night's loss at Nichols;
* Some drama in ECIC I as Clarence handles visiting Frontier, 61-55, after the Falcons had wins over Jamestown and Orchard Park. Speaking of OP, they escape Lancaster with a 61-60 win.
11:12 p.m. Man, this video stuff is not easy. "Keith talking, take 47." ... "Cut!"
Among the later scores to come in came from one of the later starts -- St. Joe's wins at Maple Grove, 72-44. I'm not sure many expected that kind of margin no matter which team came away with a victory.
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Our scoreboard is up.
Our roundup has been posted as well.
The debut of PrepTalkTV has been posted.
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Of course, let us know which game you saw and what you think of this busy, news-making night in high school hoops.
February 5, 2010 - 4:45 PM
I drove past Sweet Home earlier today and their electronic sign out front reads "Sweet Home is Shell Strong."
Tonight the school is holding a Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser during a girls-boys doubleheader -- the Williamsville East girls visit at 6 p.m., the boys' game that follows at around 7:30 p.m. is Chapter Two of the Sweet Home-Williamsville South battle, the first of which was won by host South last week.
The doubleheader honors "Shell Strong," the initiative to support Jacob Shell, the 9-year-old son of Burnt Hills football coach Matt Shell (Sweet Home has beaten the Albany-area school in the last two state championship football games).
I'll be hitting the road a little later on and will stop by Lafayette at East before heading to Sweet Home. Updates to come.
6:15 p.m. Here at East High and the hosts are dominating Lafayette, 47-23.
I'm off to Sweet Home.
7:08 p.m. I'm set up very nicely at a courtside table and I'll have updates throughout the night.
They have already sold out of the Shell Strong orange T-shirts, complete with a Superman 'S' on the front. I am super-bummed I missed out on getting one of those shirts. Why orange? It's Jacob's favorite color.
It's a great scene. Fans of both teams are wearing the shirts, adults and kids, even the Williamsville South players just walked by in them. Just a great night here.
Everyone walking in gets a special edition roster sheet which has Jacob's story and some pictures of him on one side. The sheets are orange, of course.
There is also a huge banner that people are being encouraged to sign. It reads, "From our Sweet Home to yours." Great stuff.
At the end of the third quarter of the girls game, Williamsville East leads Sweet Home, 49-28. There is a good crowd here for the girls game and the parking lot is jammed already. The place should be packed for the boys game.
7:41 p.m. I just did my attempt at introducing a video that will be online later tonighthan.
7:47 p.m. We're about to start. An extremely fine National Anthem by members of the Sweet Home orchestra.
7:57 p.m. Williamsville South calls a timeout with 3:32 left in the first quarter and we're tied at 13-13. Nice job by Sweet Home to withstand an attack which included four straight three-pointers to start the game for South, which was up, 12-6, at one point.
8:09 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Sweet Home leads South, 26-20.
8:21 p.m. With 3:58 left in the second quarter, Sweet Home leads, 32-27.
8:23 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with 2:36 left in the second quarter. A Keron Briggs layup off a wild back-and-forth gave the Panthers a 34-27 lead.
Some tremendous action here, great environment, two top-notch teams going at it. A lot going on here trying to post stuff and keep track of the game. One thing worth noting -- D.J. Nettles is not in uniform.
8:30 p.m. We are at halftime and Sweet Home has a 39-38 lead. Joe Licata has 15 points (all on three-pointers) while Briggs has 13. Some great momentum bursts going back and forth -- Sweet Home had a 39-33 lead with about two minutes left in the quarter. Mark Coppola has been doing his usual outstanding orchestration.
8:48 p.m. With 4:01 left in the third quarter, Sweet Home has a 47-42 lead.
8:51 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with South having taken a 49-47 lead with 2:37 left in the third. Coppola just scored on what centercourt described as a tough-as-nails left-handed drive high off the glass. Nice hoop, nice description.
8:57 p.m. Check out the coaching going on here as the third quarter winds down.
At the end of the third, South leads Sweet Home, 52-51.
9:02 p.m. Williamsville South calls a timeout with Sweet Home up, 57-56, with 5:01 left in the game. Just a tremendous couple of minutes there which you'll see later on video.
And here they are:
9:06 p.m. A timeout awarded to South after a scramble with South up, 58-57. South had a great basket out of the previous timeout (video below). There is 4:18 left.
9:11 p.m. A great little story here about sophomore Rashaun Crule, a junior varsity call-up for Sweet Home.
Denzel Kirkland went down with an injury and had to be taken off the floor for a few plays. He was fouled on the play in which he got hurt, so he was unable to hit the free throws.
Coach Paul Shintzius turns to the scorer's table where his JV coach is keeping the Sweet Home scorebook. "Can your guy hit these free throws?!" Schintz hurriedly asks. The JV coach says yes.
In walks Crule with 3:38 left in the game and Sweet Home down by three (60-57). If fans are looking over the roster they picked up on the way in, his name and number (No. 20) aren't even on it.
Let's go to the video clip:
Sweet Home trails by one (60-59). Nice job on the varsity, Mr. Crule.
Out of the timeout, South missed its next shot, Sweet Home missed in transition and South came back with a fast-break layup by Stasiak to go up, 62-59.
9:15 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with 1:12 left in the game and South with a 65-59 lead. Erik Hansen just took the ball strong for a drive that put the Billies up by six. Hansen had a free throw for South's previous point.
9:20 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Williamsville South 65, Sweet Home 61.
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9:56 p.m. Whew. We've written a first-edition story for the paper, did a short video stand-up, got the box score in, talked to South coach Al Monaco and kept our extension cord plugged in.
Just a tremendous night here. The atmosphere was outstanding, the way it should be at all games. South made some key plays down the stretch to break away from such a close game.
I'll have more video clips while reporter Lauren Mariacher (who is editing her video on a laptop on the gym floor -- at least I have a seat :-) ) will have a video package up and running as soon as possible.
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10:59 p.m. It was great to have Jacob participate in the comments section below.
I need to pass along a handwritten note to Jacob that was left on the press table for me. It was obviously written by someone who follows the poignant diary kept by his mother, Kim.
"Please tell Jacob we are happy that he and Giraffey are reunited. Sweet Home hopes that we can bring a smile to him today. GO Jacob. be strong. Sweet Home is Shell Strong."
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Not too many surprises -- maybe some surprising margins of victory. Some authoritative victories by Nichols, East, Jamestown, Olean and Southwestern. Some closer-than-expected wins for Niagara Falls and Grand Island.
Check out more in the roundup.
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If you were at a game tonight, or if you want to send wishes Jacob's way -- I've been told his family will be checking the blog tonight -- just type away in the comments section below.
January 16, 2010 - 1:01 PM
Hello from the four-day Martin Luther King Basketball Classic at Erie Community College's Flickinger Center downtown.
12:40 p.m. We walk in the door and McKinley has won the opening game of the day, beating St. Francis, 54-48.
12:43 p.m. We're underway with St. Joe's and Grover Cleveland; my brain is saying St. Joe's is the pick but on a hunch I'm going Grover. I had St. Francis in the first game. I've got East and Middle College in the others.
12:55 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, St. Joe's leads Grover, 19-14.
1:11 p.m. We are at halftime and St. Joe's leads, 39-30. The Marauders are doing a great job beating Grover down the floor and making the right fast-break pass to get the easy layup.
1:21 p.m. The second half starts with a Connor Rehbaum basket and a 41-30 lead for St. Joe's.
1:26 p.m. So much for that hunch I had, which was one of those hunches where I think something is going to happen that's not supposed to happen. What am I talking about? St. Joe's leads Grover, 48-32, with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
1:31 p.m. Grover coach Earl Schunk calls a timeout with 2:46 left in the third quarter. St. Joe's just scored three more transition baskets for a 54-35 lead.
1:38 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, St. Joe's has run away with it and leads, 63-41. The Marauders added some great ball movement in the halfcourt on some recent possessions. They look good -- a good bounce-back from Thursday afternoon's home loss to Bishop Timon-St. Jude.
1:43 p.m. A deep three-pointer by Ricky Alejandro -- it seems like all of his are deep ones -- brings Grover to within 64-50 and St. Joe's coach Mark Simon calls a timeout with 6:14 left to play. With their three-point shooting, Grover can get a bunch of points in a hurry, but we'll see if the timeout cures a lull for St. Joe's (7-1 start to the quarter by Grover).
1:48 p.m. Grover has crawled back into it -- St. Joe's calls a timeout with 5:00 left in the game and its lead down to 64-54. Connor Rehbaum has left the game and looks to be leaving the premises with a gash on his left wrist that he suffered after a drive; I believe it came when he hit the wall.
1:54 p.m. Wow. Grover has cut the lead to 64-61 with 2:51 left in the game.
Told you I had a hunch.
1:57 p.m. Grover now down, 66-63, with 1:48 left. James Maiarana of St. Joe's is now out with a cut and apparently will be taken to get stitches. Strange second half here.
2:01 p.m. Ricky Alejandro hits a three-pointer and St. Joe's lead is now 69-68 with 1:06 left in the game. Wow.
2:04 p.m. Grover steals it, Alejandro misses, a foul sends Jake Spitler to the line with 16.1 seconds left. He hits the first and Joe's calls a timeout with a 70-68 lead.
2:09 p.m. We are going to OVERTIME! Chris Holland hits a three-pointer at the buzzer. Wow. It's tied at 71-71. St. Joe's bench wanted a push-off but it was a good no-call.
2:19 p.m. Grover has a 81-78 lead in overtime and St. Joe's has called a timeout with 1:27 left.
2:29 p.m. In a foul-throw filled overtime, Grover went up by as many as six twice. It called a timeout with an 86-82 lead and 10.6 seconds left and another free throw to come.
2:31 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE and a wow: Grover Cleveland 89, St. Joe's 82 in overtime.
2:52 p.m. The action has started in the third game, with East and Canisius tied at 7-7 in the first quarter.
I was running around doing interviews and then had to retrieve my iPhone USB cord out of my car -- we were running low on juice and I'd be dead without that. We'll try to get Holland's three-pointer highlight up here at halftime.
3:01 p.m. After the first quarter, Canisius has a 13-11 lead on East.
3:20 p.m. At halftime, East has a 25-17 lead on Canisius.
Trying to post the Holland three and it's taking a while. Sorry about that.
East is playing some nice defense, and they have executed well on offense. Tremmell Fisher, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound guard, has come up with countless loose balls. Domonique Jackson has done his usual omnipresent act, often times setting up teammates. Blair Helton and Aaron Nevins have had flashes but have not gotten to the basket and open for looks like they did at Timon on Tuesday.
3:31 p.m. The second half has started.
3:38 p.m. East calls a timeout with 4:09 left in the third quarter owning a 31-25 lead. Blair Helton had the last basket for Canisius on a fast break.
3:45 p.m. Canisius has taken a 35-33 lead over East after three quarters. Nevins hit a three-pointer to flip the lead in the final minute of the quarter.
3:51 p.m. East calls a timeout with 5:32 left in the game, having just taken a 37-36 lead on a Dale Gray basket off a Fisher pass.
4 p.m. East coach Starling Bryant calls a timeout with 1:40 left in the game and East up, 46-43.
4:04 p.m. East calls a timeout with a 48-44 lead and 26.6 seconds to go.
4:12 p.m. Holland video is up finally. Sorry for the delay.
Canisius took two timeouts in a row to talk over their possession with 2.7 seconds left. They've got the ball under their own basket and East has a 49-47 lead. East just missed a free throw and the ball went out of bounds to Canisius.
4:14 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: East 49, Canisius 47. Helton had a good look of a very deep three-pointer that rolled around the rim and missed.
Yale Cup is 3-0 on the day with three wins over the Monsignor Martin Association.
4:32 p.m. Introductions just complete for our fourth game of the day as Sweet Home takes on Middle College. Middle, an offshoot of ECC, is playing in its home gym.
4:44 p.m. Sweet Home with a timeout in a first quarter it has to be pleased with, there is 2:50 left and the Panthers are up, 9-2.
4:50 p.m. Middle College calls a timeout with 1:04 left in the first quarter -- K.J. Zinermon just nailed a three-pointer from the right side for a 14-4 Sweet Home lead.
4:53 p.m. Great finish to the first quarter for Middle College, which forces a turnover, then Justin Stokes takes in a fast-break layup to cut the Sweet Home lead to 16-8 heading to the second.
4:57 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout because Middle College has its home court pretty loud. The game is tied at 18-18 with 6:21 left in the second. Great series there for MC, which is NOT on the iPhone, and I'm not happy about it. Picked the wrong time to not do the video. Some great action from Stokes, Mulhern and Alexander.
5:11 p.m. We are at halftime and Middle College has a 39-31 lead over Sweet Home. Nice job by the Kats coming back from the early deficit. They played good defense and got out in transition -- and shot a lot of free throws. That will happen when Sweet Home plays its aggressive defense.
The Panthers played that defense from the jump, and, as always, coach Paul Schintzius and assistant Al Parker, were jumping and clapping and yelling. That helped Sweet Home take ownership of the court in that first quarter.
When Stokes finished the quarter with that layup off the steal, I think that let Middle College relax a bit. First huge game for them in a while, first huge game on their home court in a while (ever?), first event-type game in front of a big crowd, and it seemed that the entire team and its bench were a bit tentative at the start. That certainly wasn't the case as they got deeper into the second quarter.
The great series that I missed with the iPhone was at the start of the quarter and included a Stokes steal -- he missed the layup but Mulhern was there to clean it up to make it 16-11; Mulhern stood up in the lane to stop at Sweet Home defender and sent a touchdown of an outlet pass to Stokes (16-13); after a Sweet Home basket; Alexander cleaned up a Young missed three (18-15); and Alexander hits a three-pointer for an 18-18 tie and the timeout.
5:21 p.m. We're starting the second half.
5:27 p.m. Sweet Home battles back nicely to a 43-43 game with 3:39 left in the third.
5:29 p.m. Sweet Home coach Schintzius calls a timeout with 2:52 left in the third with a layup by Young having given Middle College a 47-43 lead.
5:36 p.m. We are at the end of the third quarter and Middle College leads Sweet Home, 52-50.
5:40 p.m. Middle College calls a timeout as Alexander gets a loose ball in a tough scramble under the MC hoop. MC leads, 56-51, with 6:59 left.
5:44 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with 6:12 left; Middle College leads, 56-52.
5:49 p.m. Middle College calls a timeout after Stokes reels in a loose ball near the out-of-bounds line in front of the Middle College bench. MC leads, 57-56, with 4:32 left.
6:09 p.m. Sweet Home goes on a nice finishing kick. Final score: Sweet Home 70, Middle College 63. More details and videos to come.
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7:10 p.m. At the home office after interviews, packing up and some computer issues starting up here.
Sweet Home and Middle College were tied at 57-57 with 4:29 left in the game, which is about when Mulhern fouled out, and the Panthers won the remainder of the game, 13-6.
Denzel Kirkland scored off a turnover, Jordan Johnson hit a jumper in the lane, and Briggs scored in transition to give Sweet Home a 63-57 lead with 3:02 left and prompt a Middle College timeout. Johnson added another free throw lane jumper and the Panthers were up by eight (65-57) with less than two minutes to play.
Middle College cut it to three (65-62) on two Alexander free throws with 44.2 seconds left, but the Kats would get no closer. Briggs went 5 of 6 at the line in the final minute.
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I'm writing my story for the paper now but I'll be adding more videos and interviews.
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I added some video quotes throughout the post ... here are some from Sweet Home ...
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Here are some more quotes below ...
St. Joe's coach Mark Simon: "Just speechless. We lost two to stitches, we had two on the road. Just speechless. ... They're good -- they're explosive, and Alejandro hit some big shots. Our depth just couldn't get it done."
Canisius coach Kyle Husband: "Not really our type of game this year [because it was low scoring]. We definitely didn't shoot the ball well but we didn't do anything to help ourselves either. We didn't really execute. We didn't really make the extra pass, which is something we've been doing. That's why we play these games, to get better and get challenged. I'm glad in that regard. Unfortunately, we talk about 'keep moving in the right direction, keep moving in the right direction,' and we didn't completely do that today."
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.