Grover Cleveland boys basketball coach Earl Schunk has retired.
He told me in an email that he will "most likely continue to coach if the right opportunity comes up."
I'll have more from and about coach Schunk when I'm able to catch up with him.
He is definitely one of the people that makes my job a lot of fun. He was not only one of the most entertaining coaches to watch on the sidelines and a reliable, unbiased voter on our polls, he had great teams year-in, year-out and got tremendous dedication from his players.
Here's hoping he finds another hoops home in Western New York -- but it will sure be strange walking into the Grover gym next winter and not see him breaking ankles with his wisecracks.
Championship week is here, and it starts with what could be the best semifinal day of the week at Buffalo State.
Three games, starting with CCAA I power and year-long top 10 resident Allegany-Limestone taking on ECIC IV upstart Cleveland HIll at 5:30 p.m. in a B-2 semifinal.
That's followed by the highly anticipated B-1 semifinals, a final four of top 10 small schools. At 7 p.m., three-time overall Class B champion and No. 1 small school Olean takes on a dangerous Grover Cleveland team that struggled late in the regular season but the Presidents got Ricky Alejandro back for the quarterfinals and he had eight(!) threes in a very nice win at Medina. The final game of the day is a terrific matchup as ECIC III runner-up Depew takes on ECIC IV champion Lackawanna in an 8:30 scheduled start.
I've seen 12 games in the last seven days, will see 17 in the next six. It's the best week of the year in Western New York high school sports, and it should get off to a great start.
5:22 p.m. We're courtside and ready for our first game. NOTE to ALL FANS to get here EARLY this week. Buffalo State's main large parking lot is now a construction site, so parking spots are at a premium.
5:28 p.m. Also a reminder to fans that Section VI likes starting games ahead of time. Teams have been announced and the tipoff is next.
I'm going with Allegany-Limestone big. They've been here before and have a lot of players back from last year, which is why they have have been ranked all year -- just destroying teams not named Olean, Jamestown and Bradford (Pa.). Cleveland Hill has had a great season but I'm not sure they'll be able to keep up.
5:41 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Allegany-Limestone leads Cleveland Hill, 14-10. A-L is getting some good shots while Cleve Hill is taking some bad ones.
5:50 p.m. With 2:45 left in the second quarter, Cleve Hill calls a timeout having cut the lead to 24-22. Golden Eagles have stepped up the energy on defense.
5:52 p.m. A-L calls the timeout this time with 1:25 left in the second. Omar Ramadan hit a deep three from the right side just moments ago to give Cleve Hill a 25-24 lead, its first of the game.
5:55 p.m. A-L gets a timeout on a scramble with 5.6 seconds left and the score tied at 26-26.
5:57 p.m. Nice finish of the quarter for Cleve Hill as Darryl Spencer blocks an A-L shot before the buzzer. At halftime we are tied at 26-26.
Nice job by Cleve Hill. Spencer has had a lot of energy on both ends. I thought A-L would be able to execute a little better on offense and perhaps be able to put away Cleve Hill early, but the Golden Eagles can only get more confident as the game goes on. Should be an interesting second half.
6:15 p.m. With 2:17 left in the third quarter, Allegany-Limestone calls a timeout. Cleve Hill is up, 37-34.
6:19 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Cleveland Hill has a 42-34 lead. A great tip in by Spencer and a late three by No. 10 (sorry, no rosters!) helped the Eagles to a 9-2 quarter-ending run.
6:22 p.m. Good timeout by Cleve Hill coach Jason Pryzbysz with 7:00 left and A-L having cut the lead to 42-38 on two consecutive strong drives by Marcus Aiello and Nate Keenan.
6:30 p.m. Some great action from Cleve Hill earned it a 12-point lead at 50-38, but A-L just got a three from Aiello to make it 50-42. Timeout, A-L with 3:28 left in the game.
6:33 p.m. A-L is turning up the defensive pressure and Cleve Hill calls a timeout while being trapped. Eagles lead, 50-43, with 3:08 left.
6:42 p.m. A-L with a timeout after a made basket; Cleve Hill leads, 55-50, with 57.6 seconds left.
6:47 p.m. Cleve Hill holding on in crunch time, just barely. One free throw by Aaron Sanders gives it a 57-52 lead with 22.2 seconds left -- timeout, Cleve Hill.
6:50 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE in B-2 semifinal: Cleveland Hill 59, Allegany-Limestone 54.
Huge win for the Golden Eagles, and they deserved it. Very well-played game, composed and under control in a big-time contest.
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.
* * *
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.
Another week, another shift before the snap for our weekly chat.
This week we've shifted to Thursday. We'll be chatting live from the Amherst Pepsi Center at around 10 p.m.
I'll start my day at the Middle College at Grover Cleveland Yale Cup showdown at 5:30 p.m. before heading to the always-entertaining Federation hockey Thursday doubleheader. This week, St. Joe's and Canisius battle at 7 p.m. followed by Williamsville South and Williamsville East skating at 9 p.m.
As the postseason looms for some sports -- and has started for others -- we'll certainly have a lot to talk about. Anything in the high school sports world is up for discussion, from the polls to PrepTalkTV.
If you won't be around for the chat, feel free to ask some questions in the comments section below and we'll tackle them during the session.
5:40 p.m. We're at Grover Cleveland anticipating the start of one of the most anticipated games of the season -- Middle College visits with an undefeated record. The Kats are the only unbeaten left in the Yale Cup after East's surprising loss on Tuesday.
6:02 p.m. With 2:56 left in the first quarter, Grover is getting some turnovers and transition baskets and has a 15-7 lead.
6:05 p.m. Middle College calls a timeout with 1:41 left in the first quarter with Grover up 17-7 thanks to a I-wish-I-had-the-iPhone going one-handed, from a standing-start JAM by Kadeem Hillman. WOW.
6:09 p.m. Another dunk -- this time a fast break finish by Justin Stokes for Middle College. To show that I'm an equal opportunity dunk-misser, I don't have the video of that either. Arghh. That came in the final minute. We are at the end of the first quarter and Grover Cleveland leads, 20-11.
6:17 p.m. Middle College with a great run which included a dunk by Stokes on a fast break (that one Ive got on video) and has taken a 23-22 lead with 4:04 left in the second, prompting a timeout by Grover coach Earl Schunk.
6:26 p.m. We are at halftime and Middle College leads Grover, 35-30.
6:45 p.m. Schunk calls a timeout with 2:49 left in the third and Middle College up, 47-37.
6:49 p.m. An injury timeout with 1:11 left in the third and MC up, 51-41.
6:52 p.m. We are at the end of the third quarter and Middle College leads Grover Cleveland, 51-43.
I've seen Grover look dead before and come back to win against good teams -- St. Joe's and Lackawanna -- so it could be an exciting fourth.
7:05 p.m. Some fun back-and-forth action but Middle College holds a 65-58 lead with 3:08 left in the game. Grover just took a timeout.
7:09 p.m. Chris Holland hits a three-pointer and Grover is within 73-64 with 1:37 left.
7:13 p.m. Grover calls a timeout with 57.1 seconds left trailing, 73-66. Middle College has the ball; they've missed some free throws.
7:16 p.m. No comeback today. Middle leads, 77-66, with 20.4 seconds left and is going to the line.
7:17 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE in HOOPS: Middle College 79, Grover Cleveland 66.
Some interviews and then I'm off to Amherst for hockey.
8:19 p.m. We are here, plugged in and powered up at the Amherst (Pepsi? It's on some signs but not on others) Center for Federation hockey.
After two periods, Canisius leads St. Joe's, 4-3. The teams traded goals in the late going. I'm going to get some work done here -- trying to file a report for Middle College's win -- and I'll provide updates after goals and at the end of the game.
8:48 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE in HOCKEY: Canisius 5, St. Joe's 3.
I've got video of Canisius' fifth goal, which I'll post here when I can.
Joe's was pressing to tie the game but a late penalty hindered their comeback attempt in the final minutes. Joe's pulled their goalie but there was no real close calls the rest of the way. Canisius continues a dominant year in the Federation.
And it seems that hockey moms are, as someone once said, pit bulls with lipstick. One St. Joe's mom was one of a few St. Joe's fans who were irate at the late penalty called on the Marauders (you can hear some of them as the penalties are being announced at the start of the clip) and let loose on the referee, including a forceful, "YOU SU*K!!!" Nice.
9:21 p.m. They just dropped the puck for Williamsville South against Williamsville East. Seniors for both teams were honored before the game. A good crowd on hand, but nowhere near the amount that was here for Canisius-St. Joe's.
9:46 p.m. South and East are scoreless after one period.
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 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.
Grover Cleveland and Lackawanna didn't disappoint in their top 5 small school battle as Grover won a thriller, 82-79.
A huge game for Ricky Alejandro, who scored three of his four three-pointers in the fourth quarter and was excellent in the final 2:18 after Chris Holland fouled out. Holland's fifth foul was on a three-pointer by Orlando Santiago, who hit all three to give Lackawanna a 73-72 lead.
I'll have a ton more details and video clips later tonight.
* * *
Sorry for the delay -- I came into the office and wrote up the hoops stuff for tonight.
The game was very entertaining for many reasons. Great action on the court, great momentum swings, great finish. Also, a nice little battle between Lackawanna fans -- including former Steeler LeSean Blackburn (of the 2006 state champions) directly to my right -- and Grover fans woofing back and forth. Some serious woofing, but nothing more. Like I said, very entertaining.
* * *
OK, video time. To start: I hereby apologize to any photographer who I rolled my eyes at when they complained that, "the light is terrible in here."
I now feel their pain. These highlights look like they are sitting in a medical jar or something. Or a pickle jar? A great shade of very-old-newspaper yellow. Your descriptions are welcome. Anyways, let's go to the video:
Here's where Alejandro helped Grover take control of the game -- the clip starts with the last two of three made free throws by Santiago, then the Ricky A. show starts (with some help from his teammates, of course). But it's not every day you see a go-ahead three-pointer, followed by a behind-the-back fast-break pass, and all in the final two minutes.
Lackawanna took a timeout with 1:41 left, trailing, 77-73. Alejandro added two free throws for a 79-73 lead.
The Steelers made it exciting thanks to a clutch three-pointer by Santiago -- he hits a lot of those it seems, and I've just seen this game and the Cleveland Hill squeaker. After two free throws from Gary Green, Santiago gets the ball off a steal and a scramble gets the Lackawanna fans (including Blackburn) fired up.
The teams went back and forth on the free throw line for the next few points. Grover held a 81-79 lead when Kenny Pringle went to the line. He hit the first for the 82-79 lead. The next video starts with his second free throw and ends with the end of the game.
* * *
Some reaction from Grover:
And some good old-fashioned quotes from Lackawanna coach Tim Foley:
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."
There is pretty great schedule of high school action tonight, and when it's through I'll be on a live chat at 10 p.m.
I'm going to start my high school day at the early-bird boys basketball special of Bishop Timon-St. Jude at St. Joe's at 4:30 p.m. The next stop is during the Yale Cup's 5:30 p.m. lineup -- I'll head to Riverside as they host Grover Cleveland. Then I'll probably catch some action at the St. Joe's-Canisius hockey game at the Amherst Pepsi Center -- it's a 7 p.m. start -- before getting my first look of the Jamestown basketball team as the Red Raiders visit Clarence in ECIC I play (it's a 7:30 p.m. start, but you JV guys, take as long as you like so I'm able to catch more of the action :-) ).
I'll have live updates from my travels on the blog, then I'll head back to One News Plaza for the chat. See you there (actually, see you here).
If you won't be around for the chat, feel free to ask some questions in the
comments section below and we'll tackle them during the session.
Also, if you've caught a game, feel free to let us know what you thought of the action in the comments space below.
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.