We're live at Buffalo State for one of what I think should be the best nights of the week.
Follow along below through the live chat.
DISCLAIMER: I won't be able to answer many questions because it gets pretty busy here, especially late in games, especially now that I've got the iPhone video going. THANKS for your understanding.
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There is a separate post up with VIDEO of Clarence's buzzer-beater and its fans storming the court.
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Here's my story that was in our final edition; a slightly different version was in the Niagara edition and a hindered-by-a-frozen-computer version was in the Western New York edition.
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And now the rest of the postgame show ...
Highlights and interviews from Jamestown's 57-34 defeat of NT:
Rivera hits a fallaway three late in regulation, his sixth of the game.
Coach Ben Drake starts here talking about Jamestown's defense against NT standout Aaron Davis.
NT coach Erik O'Bryan postgame:
"I don't know what it is. I'm not really sure what team that was out
"I said at halftime, 'They made switches out, they had
[Fletcher] Larson on the wing, and we had Lucas [Pichette] in the post, and we don't give him
the ball.' I said, 'Yesterday in practice we give him the ball.'
"I thought Lucas, our big fella, showed up tonight. For whatever
reason, we just didn't have the movement and the fun style of basketball
that we've been accustomed to all year long.
"And let's not take away
from how talented they [Jamestown] are. They're very talented. And the thing with
Jamestown is you can't get down early. You get down early, and you're
forced to play man, and coach Drake does -- and he always has -- they run
great sets, and they know who to pick apart. You've got to get up,
because they're a set team and they'll take advantage."
My take (and the scorebooks at right) ...
Yes, I picked NT. Swing and a miss. I discussed this during the chat, I believe, and coach O'Bryan mentioned it -- about how NT was not the team it had been late in the season. I only saw them at home, so perhaps that gave me a rosier-than-reality view of the Jacks, but they definitely didn't play like they had been playing. The ball movement wasn't there, the patience wasn't there and the turnovers were everywhere.
Jamestown, on the other hand, was the team we thought they'd be all season. A tremendous job by Rivera and the Red Raiders displayed all of its weaponry -- big guys, quick guys, good defenders, good shooters, deep bench, and, as always, being well coached and running good plays. I suppose I bought into NT having a good thing going, and I suppose I bought into Jamestown not quite being able to put everything together (as has been the case this regular season).
I think people know from my polls that I'm a I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it guy, in that I need to have a team prove its worth for me to vote for it high in a poll or pick it in a game or whatever. Well, Jamestown definitely proved it on Thursday night. They were terrific. Next stop, Saturday against Cinderella.
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Highlights and interviews from Clarence's 67-61 overtime victory over OP:
Some great fourth quarter action as Clarence takes a 46-45 lead with 1:25 left on Tyler Funk's free throws, which are answered by a Dan Nesci drive for OP (47-46 OP), which is answered by a Greg Lucsok drive for Clarence (48-47 Clarence), which is answered by a Troy Nowak jumper while being fouled (49-48 OP) with about 45 seconds left.
Nowak would miss the free throw. Clarence came upcourt and called a timeout with 23.4 seconds left and then ran an inbounds play for Mahoney but his shot was blocked by Robert Kugler, who was then fouled. Kugler made two clutch free throws for a 52-48 lead for OP.
Clarence scored quickly on a drive-and-dish from Stephen Eckert to Tyler Funk, called a timeout with 11.5 seconds left, then fouled Nowak with 10.5 seconds left.
"They made some tough shots tonight. I thought we could have done a
better job on our offensive boards, we were kind of one and done at
times; and we forced a couple of key shots when we didn't have to. So
close, you know, one free throw in the game could make a difference. I'm
really proud of these kids, they had a great season. We played a great
My take (and the scorebooks at right) ...
The first half was more than a little sloppy, but the last four minutes of regulation and the overtime were outstanding. There is a point during the best games at Buffalo State where one team hits a big shot and the crowd goes nuts, and then the other team answers with a big shot and the crowd goes nuts again. This game had that big-time. Best drama of the week.
Also mentioned this during the chat, but Clarence is just playing so comfortably, so together. No one gave them a chance to be where they are (I stuck with my poll ballot and went with OP, just for the record), but they just don't care. Funk is a load to handle down low, Hill kept OP's defense occupied all game because he is a threat -- and other players stepped up; Lucsok is a multi-tasker, Mahoney is all over the court and Eckert stood up well to OP's late pressure with some great drives and dishes.
A great story. Also, great support from the Clarence fans, who not only came out in big numbers but were into the game big-time. Every time Nowak touched the ball, they booed, hockey-fan-style -- which is nothing but a huge compliment to a great player in Nowak, who hit plenty of big shots.
I feel bad for Robert Kugler of OP, who had a great block late in regulation and then went 2-for-2 at the line in a clutch spot (I'm pretty sure I've seen him struggle at the line in some games) to put OP up by four late in regulation.
Tonight's Class AA final four is one that we've never seen before at Buffalo State.
Jamestown is used to being part of championship week, Orchard Park has made an appearance here and there, but North Tonawanda and Clarence are playing perhaps their best basketball of the decade.
It makes for quite the intriguing evening for tonight's semifinals. NT-Jamestown is at 6 with OP and Clarence to follow 7:45 p.m. I think the first semifinal will be one of the best of championship week, and the second might not be too far behind.
We'll have live updates from the games tonight. We may go with the CoverItLive format, but if you are in Western New York, you best not be by your computer -- you best be at Buffalo State.
Reminder: Leave early for that first game. With the construction at Buffalo State supplanting the main large lot near the arena, parking is pretty tough. There is a lot across Grant St. which I've actually used every year. Just don't take my spot.
Plus, start times for Section VI that say 6 p.m usually mean 5:58 p.m. Not the introductions starting early, not the National Anthem starting early. The game starting early.
I'll be courtside for the big ECIC I matchup of Jamestown at Orchard Park tonight.
In between live updates and note-taking and iPhone-video-ing, I might tune in to the internet broadcasts of two key Monsignor Martin games: St. Joe's at Bishop Timon-St. Jude or St. Francis hosting Nichols.
Also tonight: North Tonawanda can clinch a tie for the Niagara Frontier League title with a league schedule-concluding victory over Kenmore West, Lackawanna hosts Section V power Batavia and the Niagara-Orleans/Genesee Region Challenge begins with two games at Genesee Community College.
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When all the action is over, we'll have our second episode of PrepTalkTV up and running later tonight.
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7:42 p.m. We have a seat behind the scorer's table at Orchard Park, where we are about five minutes away from tipoff after senior night ceremonies have delayed the start a bit.
This is my 10th year covering high school sports in Western New York. I have been to the Orchard Park football field several times. I have been to OP lacrosse games and practices several times. This is my first trip to the OP gym, which tells you a little about how good a year the Quakers are having in hoops.
The gym is mostly white with maroon trim, with a "HOME OF THE QUAKERS" painted in huge block letters on the wall behind me. There are some banners on the wall, but certainly not as many as the school could have. There is a state championship for baseball (1988), football and volleyball (2008) and a separate volleyball banner (1986, 1991).
7:52 p.m We're about to tip off.
8:04 p.m. There is 1:59 left in the first quarter with OP leading Jamestown, 13-11.
8:08 p.m. After the first quarter, Orchard Park leads Jamestown, 16-11. A three-pointer by Joe Lombardo in the final minute for OP came off a nice pass after Troy Nowak and Dan Nesci played something of a two-man game. Nowak is getting a lot of attention from Jamestown's defense, and rightly so. He's got four points but other Quakers are getting involved.
8:13 p.m. OP takes a timeout after an outstanding play by Darin Butts, who cleanly blocked Nowak's jumper from behind, then went on a fast-break that he finished with a behind-the-back pass to Jaysean Paige for the layup and a 20-19 lead. Awesome play. Not awesome that it's not on the iPhone.
8:16 p.m. Another timeout -- with 4:36 left in the second quarter, Jamestown is up, 24-19, and is looking very good.
8:25 p.m. Jamestown looking verrrry good. The Red Raiders are up, 36-19, with 28.3 seconds left. Carlos Rivera just called a timeout before getting bumped out of bounds.
8:30 p.m. At halftime, Jamestown leads OP, 36-21.
Jamestown OWNed the second quarter, 23-5. The Raiders actually scored all of its points in a 23-0 run; OP scored the first and last baskets of the period, during which Nowak had to sit out a few minutes with a cut.
8:36 p.m. We've got a report from Sean Bruso that Amherst leads Maryvale, 29-24, at halftime.
8:42 p.m. Jamestown calls a timeout with 4:32 left in the third quarter with the Red Raiders up, 42-26.
8:52 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Jamestown leads OP, 51-33.
The St. Francis guys are talking like Nichols is going to beat the Raiders, but they don't update the score enough on the air. I like the broadcasts, but that's one thing they can work on.
8:58 p.m. Jamestown coach Ben Drake calls a timeout and is fired up over some missed defensive assignments -- even though the Raiders lead, 55-39.
CANESTRO is back for Nichols. Just verified it when I heard is name on the St. Francis broadcast after he hit a three. Again, sounds like Nichols is in control, but I don't hear a score. Granted, I'm listening in portions, but the radio rule is to say the score every once in a while.
Whoa. They just said it -- 71-45 Nichols with about three minutes left in the fourth.
A Nowak three brings OP to within 55-42 and we've got about six minutes to go.
9:01 p.m. An OP timeout with Jamestown up, 59-42, withi 4:53 left.
9:06 p.m. WOW. Quite a run for OP, which now trails, 61-55, with 2:21 left.
9:08 p.m. Another steal and a layup for OP, which calls a timeout trailing, 61-57, with 1:55 left. WOW.
9:13 p.m. Jamestown's lead is now 61-60 with 1:18 left. Unbelievable.
9:14 p.m. Still 61-60, Jamestown ball, 41.5 seconds left.
9:19 p.m. STILL 61-60, OP ball, 4.5 seconds left.
Report from Timon says St. Joe's won there. Whoa.
9:23 p.m. We have a final score: TROY NOWAK hits a BUZZER-BEATING THREE-POINTER and ORCHARD PARK beats JAMESTOWN, 63-61.
I don't go to the all-caps often. But that was ridiculous.
More to come, including video of the game-winner.
10:06 p.m. Did interviews, got the box score and a writeup into the paper and we're editing video right now for PrepTalkTV. Reporter Lauren Mariacher got here for the fourth quarter -- right on time to catch all the action. Unbelievable.
The victory gives OP the ECIC I title for the first time since 1998, when former Canisius College standout Brian Dux was a junior.
Nowak's three-pointer from the left side, shot over the outstretched arms of Jamestown 6-foot-8 center Fletcher Larson, turned a 61-60 lead for Jamestown into a stunning victory for Orchard Park, whose bleacher full of students rushed the floor in celebration.
The game-winning play relied on great passes by two reserves who had hardly seen any action in the game. The Quakers inbounded the ball from underneath their own basket with 4.5 seconds left. Junior Kyle Witkowski, with the basket to his left, inbounded the ball down the right side of the court and his overhand pass found junior guard Ryan Lindquist. Lundquist whipped a fantastic crosscourt pass to a streaking Nowak. Nowak's shot ball went through the net as the buzzer sounded.
Jamestown coach Ben Drake called the loss, "crushing."
11:04 p.m. Just got kicked out of the Orchard Park gym by a janitor. I'm not happy. Seething.
I asked someone from OP if we would be fine after the game and he said we were. Argh. I guess these are the frustrations of getting into the video business.
As soon as the video is completed, it will be posted here. Our apologies.
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Here's Friday's edition of PrepTalkTV:
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Some other big results from tonight:
As I mentioned above, Canestro is back for Nichols, which is much more newsworthy than even the Vikings' 72-54 rout at St. Francis.
So welcome back Canestro, and welcome back St. Joe's. The Marauders get a really big win at Timon, 60-53. St. Joe's gets its mojo back just in time for Sunday's trip to Canisius at 3 p.m. (I'll be there instead of the Daytona 500 for the first time in a while, and no, that's not a complaint).
In the battle of father vs. son, dad Mark Kensy and his Maryvale team beat son Chris Kensy, the coach of Amherst. Blair Estarfaa's layup in the final seconds made the difference in the 61-60 thriller.
North Tonawanda clinches a share for the Niagara Frontier League title with a 55-43 win over Kenmore West.
A nice win for West Seneca West, which beats Frontier, 45-44.
Lackawanna fell to Section V power Batavia at home, 50-43.
Hello from what should be a three-stop day of hoops.
6:28 p.m. We arrive at Erie Community College and it is a competitive first quarter -- until Darale Young hits a three and Justin Stokes puts down a one-handed slam (not on video! argh!) to give Middle College a 19-11 lead after the quarter.
6:50 p.m. So much for that competitive start -- Middle College is up, 41-16, after an obviously dominant second quarter.
Nice give-up by Davon Alexander for the Young finish.
6:52 p.m. Out the back door of ECC, across the street to the parking lot and we've got Lockport on WLVL -- it's fuzzy -- I think it might be a girls game. Yup. Just heard "Lady Lions" from Norm Palmer. We're off to NT for the Lockport boys' visit there.
7:23 p.m. We have arrived at NT with Lockport leading, 16-13, with less than six minutes left in the second quarter.
For you Lady Lions fans, Lockport leads the NT girls, 32-14, late in the second quarter. A fun listen with some great stuff from Palmer.
7:41 p.m. At halftime, NT leads Lockport, 27-24.
Darrik Bloomfield had a three-point play off a nice follow to give NT the three-point lead.
Lockport was up, 24-21, when Shannon Haynes found Andrew Bailey on a nice basket inside. NT tied it at 24 when Joe Montesanti hit a three-pointer.
Montesanti leads all scorers with 10 - he also banked in a three. Haynes has nine, Bloomfield has seven as does Lockport's Sean Smith while Aaron Davis of NT has six.
8:05 p.m. NT leads, 43-42, after three quarters.
8:16 p.m. NT is up, 49-46, with 2:31 left.
8:20 p.m. NT up, 50-49, with 1:10 left.
8:32 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lockport 54, NT 50. Senior Andrew Granchelli goes 5 of 6 at the line in the final minute. Clutch.
8:55 p.m. Nichols is up big, 69-56, with 2:52 left.
9:06 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Nichols 74, St. Francis 64.
From what I heard on the St. Francis broadcast on my way here and from talking with some fans, Frannies played Nichols tough in the first half but it was all Nichols in the second.
We'll have more details ASAP and some videos later on.
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Let's go to Mary Jo Monnin live in the newsroom ... Grover Cleveland loses to Bennett, Jamestown loses at home to Orchard Park. Wow. More to come.
There were a TON of games tonight and they'll be on the Web as soon as possible.
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For people who like typing, "scores?????" when we're obviously trying to get them together as soon as possible, some good news: tonight's scoreboard has been posted.
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If you were out at a game, let us know what you thought of the action, the teams, the players and even the concession stand.
Not a bad week for Western New York basketball --- and the iPhone.
Two days after Canisius' Aaron Nevins beat Timon-St. Jude in the final seconds, Jamestown's Carlos Rivera came up with a super-clutch three-pointer in the final seconds to enable the Red Raiders to fend off a major challenge from host Clarence, 70-67.
A two-point deficit (67-65) in the final seconds turns into a one-point lead (68-67) in the final seconds, just like that.
After another clutch move for the Red Raiders -- a two-for-two trip to the foul line by Fletcher Larson -- Clarence did have a chance to tie as David Hill got off a three.
After the near-miss, listen to the nice postscript by sophomore team manager/public address announcer Dominic Taverna.
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FYI: We've also got a separate post on more Thursday action, including video highlights from Bishop Timon-St. Jude's win at St. Joe's Thursday afternoon.
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A little rewind here, as we head back to the start of the fourth (54-54).
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.
Hello from what should be a busy -- and fun -- evening of high school sports.
Check out a separate post about our planned travels tonight -- that same post will host tonight's chat.
(Note: I added most of the videos after my travels).
5:13 p.m. It is halftime at St. Joe's and Bishop Timon-St. Jude has a 30-21 lead here in the Town of Tonawanda. The Tigers were up, 17-6, after one quarter thanks to a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Mike Scarcello.
St. Joe's had some good possessions in the second, but Timon continued to hit big shots, including three threes by Dave Scarcello.
5:15 p.m. The second half has started.
A quality back-and-forth series here with not many misses.
5:34 p.m. At the start of the fourth quarter, Timon leads, 43-37.
Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.
Lauren Nicole Mariacher joined The News in 2009 after graduating from the Columbia University School of Journalism. The Elma native and Iroquois graduate can usually be found on a sideline, capturing highlights for PrepTalkTV. She also hosts Prep Talk's weekly live show, with Keith McShea, as well as The News' live postgame Bills show — [BN]TheHuddle.