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Wednesday Night Live from two major matchups: East edges Grover, Nichols clobbers Canisius

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.

Grover Cleveland scorebook East scorebook 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.

Nichols scorebook Canisius scorebook 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.

* * *

The scoreboard has been posted. My story has been posted, as has a very eventful High School Extra put together by Jay Skurski. It includes details on the East game.

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.

---Keith McShea

Tuesday Night Live: East, crippled by suspensions, falls at McKinley; NT sweeps Falls; Maryvale wins at Depew (with video)

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.

North Tonawanda scorebookNiagara Falls scorebook North Tonawanda SWEEPS Niagara Falls. What a season.

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.

* * *

Our scoreboard is up.

Our roundup has been posted as well.

The debut of PrepTalkTV has been posted.

* * *

Of course, let us know which game you saw and what you think of this busy, news-making night in high school hoops.

---Keith McShea

Friday Night Live from a Shell-Strong Sweet Home: Will South tops Panthers, 65-61 (with video)

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).

Read Kim Shell's touching journal about Jacob's battle with neuroblastoma. Deshanaro "Day-Day" Morris, who has been a fan of Jacob's for a while, is among those behind the fundraising effort.

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.

Sweet Home's electronic sign has been Shell Strong all day. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) The electronic scoreboard outside is still going Shell Strong. I took a picture of it and that will be up soon.

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.

Shell Strong back Shell Strong front 7:26 p.m. We have a final score from the girls game: Williamsville East 57, Sweet Home 40.

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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."

* * *

The scoreboard has been posted.

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.

* * *

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.

---Keith McShea

Live from the MLK Classic: McKinley, Grover, East, Sweet Home win (with video highlights and interviews)

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. 

* * *

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. 

* * *

I'm writing my story for the paper now but I'll be adding more videos and interviews.

* * *

I added some video quotes throughout the post ... here are some from Sweet Home ... 

* * *

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

MLK hoop matchups set for Saturday

The matchups for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. basketball showcase organized by Buffalo Public Schools Athletic Director Dave Thomas are set for Saturday at Erie Community College's Flickinger Center downtown:

11 a.m. -- St. Francis vs. McKinley
12:30 p.m. -- St. Joe's vs. Grover Cleveland
2 p.m. -- Canisius vs. East
3:30 p.m. -- Sweet Home vs. Middle College

Admission is $5 and there are no passes, according to a Buffalo Public Schools press release.

All matchups are intriguing -- the last three should all feature battles between ranked teams; we'll have to see how tomorrow's polls stack up.

I'll have live updates all day here on the blog.

---Keith McShea

Riverside boys hoops postponed

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

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

---Keith McShea

Yale Cup's opening night has a surprise

The Yale Cup opened up Wednesday evening. On a busy night I was only able to catch a quarter (the third) of East at Seneca.

East was having their way, extending its 37-25 halftime lead to 55-35 lead after three.

Here's a highlight video as Seneca's No. 3, Nic Alexander, spins and scores with a circus layup, followed by East junior Jasen Oden draining a three (even though you can't see him shoot it) from the left corner to put East up, 42-26, and prompt a timeout from Seneca coach Scott Kirsch.

Deon Robinson had some impressive plays, as usual, with a blind reverse layup as well as a finish off of a nice steal by 6-3 senior Dale Gray. Domonique Jackson also, as usual, contributed in several ways with a block on defense and two nice passes, including a slick across-the-lane find of Gray for a layup.

* * *

The finals have rolled in, and while East's 67-45 win is no surprise, Burgard's 51-49 win over McKinley is.

McKinley lost a lot from last year but still had some good wins to its credit, including a victory over Maple Grove at the Dunkirk Boys & Girls Tournament. 

Middle College got a nice opening win at Bennett, 77-60, while Riverside came back to edge City Honors, 74-70.

Other Yale Cup finals: Grover Cleveland 73, Emerson 34; Hutch-Tech 63, Buffalo Arts 33; Lafayette 76, South Park 33

* * *

This just in from the Niagara Frontier League: Lockport 85, North Tonawanda 63. Nice win for the Lions helped by Shannon Haynes' 37-point night.

* * *

We'll have a complete scoreboard up as soon as possible. And don't forget my live chat at 9:30 p.m.

---Keith McShea

A fun tip-off to hoops season (and lots of video highlights)

As it is every year, it was great to see many familiar faces as well as some cool early-season basketball matchups at the Pastor-Cooper Tournament at Daemen College.

A private school played a city school in both boys games. How about that, football people? :-)

The final game was a fun one, with St. Mary's edging East, 62-59. Domonique Jackson of East and Vince Kazmierczak of St. Mary's both drew plenty of oohs and aahs from an entertained crowd.

St. Mary's looked fantastic at the start (18-9 first quarter and 36-26 at halftime) with Kazmierczak dropping several sweet long-distance shots. Jackson displayed his all-around talents as East caused several turnovers in a game that took on the frenetic pace of a Yale Cup contest.

Sophomore guard Rashaad Rogers was impressive for the Lancers with several strong takes to the basket; some times it appeared he was on the verge of going out of control, but often times he finished off the play.

Late in the third there was a flagrant foul on a St. Mary's player for a blatant body check in open space at midcourt. The foul was totally unnecessary, correctly called, and prompted some East fans to get very fired up and leave their seats. They were just venting, and they had reason to.

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Scribbling down scrimmages: Saturday's lineup

Saturday is the first day football teams can scrimmage each other.

Below is a list we've compiled from your responses to the Kicking off 2009 football talk post as well as some other research.

PLEASE let us know of any inaccuracies, updates or additions via the comments section below or an email to Thanks.

Also, check out a statewide scrimmage list from the NYS Sportswriters Association.

* * *

Saturday's scrimmages

Cardinal O'Hara at Cleveland Hill, 8 a.m.

St. Francis, Sweet Home and East at Lockport, 9 a.m.

Williamsville North, Burgard, Starpoint and Kenmore West at Clarence, 9 a.m.

Maple Grove and Clymer at Cassadaga Valley, 9 a.m.

V-Hornell at Olean, 9 a.m.

Alden, Wilson and Lew-Port at Medina, 9:30 a.m.

East Aurora and Gowanda at Cattaraugus/Little Valley, at 9:30 a.m.

Riverside and Grand Island at North Tonawanda, 10 a.m.

Maryvale, Grover Cleveland, Eden and three others -- yup, a seven-team scrimmage -- at Williamsville South, 10 a.m.

West Seneca East and Cheektowaga at Canisius, 10 a.m. (Stransky Complex at 2885 Clinton St., West Seneca)

St Joe's at Orchard Park, 10 a.m.

Salamanca, V-Dansville and V-Wellsville at Pioneer, 10 a.m.

Hamburg at Jamestown, 10 a.m.

Southwestern at Randolph, 10 a.m.

Frontier and Lackawanna at Iroquois, 5 p.m.

West Seneca West, Lake Shore and Kenmore East at Amherst, 6 p.m.

Depew and Niagara-Wheatfield at Williamsville East, TBA

Batavia at Albion, TBA

Lancaster at V-Webster Schroeder, 9:30 a.m.

Newfane and V-Charles Finney at V-Elba/Byron-Bergen, 10 a.m.

Niagara Falls, V-Hilton, V-Marshall, V-Spencerport at V-Greece-Olympia, 10 a.m.

---Keith McShea

A sorry Macker headline: The News goes 0 for 2

The Gus Macker was great fun. Even though we at The News were oh-for-2, two-and-done, doubly eliminated.

The squad that competed in the Friday-only corporate challenge was myself, sales intern and current University at Buffalo student Holly Pryzbysz (a name I hopefully spelled right when she was a standout at Kenmore West) and's Dave Jarka and Ben and Tom Kirst.

The first game pitted us against West Herr Honda, which apparently has very tall people selling cars or working on cars. They had a duo that was just too big for us. We hung in there early on but ended up falling by like 8-1 or something. (The one basket will be the one I'll be telling everyone about, however -- a drive from the left side finished with an up-and-under move and a layup. Booyah.)

We were headed to the loser's bracket, where our opponent would be either Coca-Cola or Athleticare. Coke was leading, and they had a dude in skinny dreads who looked very familiar. Sure enough, it was East High grad (and 2008 All-Western New York first-teamer) Jamal Webb. Luckily for me, there was no chance for Webb to posterize me -- Coke beat Athleticare.

At Athleticare, they take care of people, which apparently means they are very adept at hurting people as well. Hey, we kid because we care -- and because we lost to them. :-)

More big, physical dudes. This was the first game I received an armbar on a drive to the hole. Early on I went baseline and ended up with a contact lens dislodged (but I got some great help from -- no joke -- the trainers' trainer, who hooked me up with some solution).

I haven't gotten my Macker on in about 10 years, but at the end of the game a ref said, "They shouldn't call it the Macker, they should call it the Mauler."

Even Athleticare's female (every team must have one) was about a head-and-a-half on Holly (who gets my vote as our MVP). I think we managed a few more points in this one, but the score was similar to the first. Athleticare ran some pretty give-and-go's late to settle things, and the biggest dude among the big dudes posted me up and played Dwight Howard to my Anderson Varejao.

Despite me knowing every referee in the joint on a first-name basis, our Macker was over.

But it was a great time with some co-workers, a nice chance to see some coaches, officials and players I see in high school gyms all winter -- even if I showed why I write about the hoops instead of play the hoops. I might check out the action of what should be a great hoop festival on Saturday.

As I walked out, I got the ultimate cutdown from Dick Gallagher, the guru of Western New York high school football. He was smiling his devilish smile, the one he usually reserves for trash talking to Yankee fans about how they are living in the decade of the Boston Red Sox.

"We'll call you if we're doing a story," he said, "on how not to play basketball."

I got one thing for Mr. Gallagher and the Macker. In the words of Timmy Lupus, "Just wait til next year!"

---Keith McShea

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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

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