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PrepTalkTV Weekly (Jan. 30): Niagara Falls boys basketball visits, tons of wrestling, miked-up hoops coaches & more

Keith & Lauren welcome guests from Niagara Falls boys basketball and look back at the week in high school sports.

0:00 -- Opening, discussion of McShea's Prep Talk column on Oracle Charter.
3:40 -- Interview with Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino and seniors J.J. Wilkins and Jermaine Crumpton
16:25 -- Wrestling (Clarence, Wednesday's matches, Mariacher's blog on the 'Pit' at Iroquois
27:20 -- Sacred Heart girls basketball (including coach Sister Maria Pares' pregame speech & a flashback to the Sharks' PTTV visit last week)
33:25 -- Amherst boys basketball (including coach Chris Kensy's postgame speech after the Tigers first win in Maryvale in 10 years, one that came over Maryvale coach Mark Kensy, Chris' dad)
37:45 -- Look at this week's boys basketball polls
39:10 -- PrepTalkTV Rewind (St. Joe's basketball, Lockport girls basketball coach Bill Shaw's halftime speech, Tonawanda girls basketball, Mount Mercy's "Mercy's Heroes")
43:15 -- A look ahead at ton of action from Thursday to Tuesday; closing.

PrepTalkTV Weekly welcomes in Niagara Falls hoops; live chat talks seedings & polls

By Keith McShea

For this week's PrepTalkTV Weekly -- which you can see right here tonight at 9 -- we'll welcome in Western New York's No. 1 large school boys basketball team has they head into a super weekend of matchups.

Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino and seniors Jermaine Crumpton (who has signed with Canisius College) and Jaleo Wilkins will be our in-studio guests for what will be another loaded show of highlights from boys and girls hoops as well as wrestling. We'll also have more highlights in PrepTalkTV Rewind, our weekly look at the boys basketball polls and a look ahead to this weekend and beyond.

Continue reading "PrepTalkTV Weekly welcomes in Niagara Falls hoops; live chat talks seedings & polls" »

Video: Lockport 53, Grand Island 42 (girls basketball)

The Lady Lions swept the season series from their Niagara Frontier League rival.

Take a bow, Lockport and Lancaster girls

Sports Girls basketball  scull

Lockport and Lancaster played a downright entertaining game on Tuesday night bringing a close to the 37th annual Section VI Girls Basketball Tournament. This battle of LHS vs. LHS came down to the last second when the Redskins missed a three-pointer that would have tied it.

Instead, Lockport earned the berth into the Far West Regionals with a 57-54 win.This game had many in the crowd of 850 on the edge of their seats at Niagara County Community College. The game had a little bit of everything. It was tied seven times, the last time coming at 51-51 with 3:28 left.

Unsung heroes? How about Lockport's 5-foot-3 junior guard, Alexis Cheatham, who can't weigh enough to donate blood, somehow finding herself alone in the paint with 28.1 seconds left and harmlessly dropping the ball through the hoop giving her team a three-point lead.

Subplots? The coaching matchup featured Lockport's Bill Shaw coaching against his pupil Karen Catalano, who coached in his program for seven years before getting her first varsity assignment two years ago at Lancaster. Shaw's statement that it was a shame someone had to lose wasn't lip service or coach-speak - it was from the heart. It would be a bigger shame if that man is forced out of coaching at Lockport after he retires from teaching in June.

What a display by the senior the post players from both teams. Emma Sobieraski and Marisa Guyton of Lockport can flat out play displaying great instincts, the ability to shoot off balance and negotiate the lane. Lancaster's Katie Healy looked every bit the future Division I player she is. She can play away from the basket, runs the floor like she's on fire, and times her block attempts well. Lancaster's backcourt of Kim Siresi and Sam Wozniak had a way of making Healy feel like they had her back. They don't force the ball inside to Healy. Instead, they are money from three-point range and win most of the battles for those 50-50 balls.

The feeling that both teams respected each other's abilities was in the air. This game was so different from the turnover-fests, jump ball marathons and air ball conventions girls basketball has become. Take a bow Lancaster and Lockport for a game well-played.

---Mary Jo Monnin

(Photo of Lockport's Emma Sobieraski and Lancaster's Katie Healy by Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

PrepTalkTV (Jan. 20): 500th win for Pine Valley's Nobles; wins by Cheektowaga, Ken West and Tonawanda among our six stops

It was a busy night in the gyms and a busy night for PrepTalkTV: Highlights and interviews from six games, discussion of even more and a look ahead to next week:

Check out our 2012 basketball debut -- a big win for Williamsville East (Jan. 17).

Our weekly football episodes from the fall are available here, while you can watch additional videos at Prep Talk Live

More sports and seasons are documented in PrepTalkTV episodes are on our video page -- click "PrepTalkTV" there for the archive.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/highschools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Live from Scrimmage Saturday: Seven stops and 24 teams (with 34 video highlights plus an episode of PrepTalkTV)

Cheektowaga and Eden line up on their first series with the Walden Galleria looming in the background. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

If it's the last Saturday of August, it must be Scrimmage Saturday, and we must be on our way to seeing as much football action as we can.

We'll be bopping around Western New York today -- as we have the last two years -- to catch as much football as we can in a limited time.

Disclaimer/explainer: Regular visitors to the blog know how much I love it when fans cite scrimmages as evidence for one team being better than another during the regular season, especially when it comes to the discussion of our polls. Just because I'm interested in all of the scrimmages (and getting to as many as I can), and learning about teams and players, they are still scrimmages. Once the season starts, I don't want to hear about them. :-)

If you're out and about like we are today, we want your reviews and breakdowns of what you saw. Keep it in context -- try and notice which first-team units are out there and what the teams are trying to do. Be sure to comment here our on our Facebook page, tweet us at @KeithMcSheaBN or send an email.

8:34 a.m. We are on our way. I met up with photographer Mark Mulville at One News Plaza and we're headed to Cheektowaga for our kickoff.

Eden, Springville, Tonawanda and West Seneca East are visiting Cheektowaga. We're planning a quick stop before heading nearby to Cleveland Hill. 

9:22 a.m. Great start to the day for us -- and for Eden. The Raiders, known for their ground-and-pound-and win formula, threw for two touchdowns against Cheektowaga -- including one on the first play of the scrimmage! -- and added in another touchdown as we were leaving. 

We were on hand for some warmups before things got started, with Tonawanda coach Rob Gross asking his team, quite loudly, "What's this half-speed!? Why are we doing anything half speed?!"

After a fairly lenghty prepractice address by the officials, we got started as the head referee said, "Rock and roll, Scott," to Cheektowaga coach Scott Zipp.

And early misstep by Cheektowaga against Eden prompted a "Do your job!" admonition from an assistant coach to a player.

On the other half of the field, West Seneca East scored a TD against Tonawanda. 

And let's go to the video:

Above is our first play of our season as West Seneca East got things off and running against Tonawanda. 

Talk about a great start for Eden. This is their first play as their offense went against Cheektowaga. 

A nice run for Eden.

9:30 a.m. Just about to pull in to Cleveland Hill. (Reminder for any hey-buddy-keep-your-hands-on-the-wheel fans: Mulville is driving).

9:37 a.m. iPhone update from Cleve Hill, where they haven't started due to Silver Creek being late. This may screw up some of our travel plans. We'll see.

9:48 a.m. Official addresses teams: "Next week it starts for real, today's for fun."

10:24 a.m. Back in Mulville's Honda heading north to Lockport. It's a super bummer that Cleve Hill was behind because we're a half hour off the ideal schedule I had set up for the day. That's alright. Every game (and every assignment) isn't going to go as planned and you've got to make those key adjustments, right? 

On the bright side, we saw the first-stringers for all four teams at Cleve Hill. The defenses ruled the first round as a fired-up Silver Creek unit bottled up Burgard and the Cleve Hill defense kept Cardinal O'Hara out of the end zone. 

Daryl Spencer had a nice sack for a big loss for Cleve Hill on defense, then looked very good with some rollout completions on offense. Zeddie Williams, who should be the feature back after the graduation of older brother Zach, looked solid out of the backfield for Silver Creek. Burgard also had some very solid run stops. 

Here are the top videos from Cleve Hill:

10:36 a.m. It's a long trip to Lockport. We're just on to Transit from Millersport & the I-990. Six top programs in action up at Emmet Belknap Intermediate: St. Francis, Sweet Home, North Tonawanda, Williamsville South, Grand Island and the host Lions. 

Trying to plot out a backup plan -- a main stop for us is Orchard Park, which is hosting Canisius in a scrimmage that started at 10.

11:02 a.m. Got to Lockport in time to catch the tail end of Jordan Johnson of Sweet Home leading the offense against Will South. Johnson and Sweet Home looked to be moving the ball fairly effectively -- he had a touchdown pass to the far left side of the field called back on a penalty. We didn't see a ton of Sweet Home against Will South but we saw a few more plays against Lockport. 

Williamsville South and Grand Island were paired up on the other end and there were some hard hits, including a busted play for South that almost resulted in a hit on coach Kraig Kurzanski, who was in the customary coaches' spot behind the huddle. 

St. Francis finished strong on defense against Grand Island and then paired up with North Tonawanda. I caught the second half of that pairing, with NT making some nice stops on defense. 

Here's our best video from Lockport:

11:31 a.m. We're on the road again, heading south and hoping to fit in a stop at Riverside but that might not be a great decision with OP are key final stop. 

11:37 a.m. Just talked to PrepTalkTV partner Lauren Mariacher at Canisius. The first-stringers are done there -- she has video and interviews from there so I might not go down there. I think we'll head to Riverside.

11:40 a.m. Just checked in with Lauren again. Canisius and OP will be on the field for another hour, so Mark and I are going to squeeze in a visit to Riverside, which is hosting McKinley, Bishop Timon-St. Jude and Maple Grove.

Even if we stay just a few moments, we'll be able to get some video, photos and some looks at the teams. Right now we've seen 14 teams in three stops.

With Scrimmage Saturday, it's certainly about quantity, not quality.

11:54 a.m. And JUST when we think we've come up with a great plan, we pull into the Riverside parking lot and pass a kid wearing orange-and-black carrying his shoulder pads out. 

"That's not a good sign," says Mark. 

It wasn't. The Riverside field was empty.

The kid was from McKinley. Arghhhhhhh.

If I wrote what I'm feeling right now, I'd get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Maybe two.

Off to OP. Arrrrrrgh. Sigh.

1 p.m. We caught the very end of the Canisius scrimmage at Orchard Park, did some interviews and filmed an intro for PrepTalkTV. Lauren Mariacher is working on that and it'll be posted later today. 

I'm headed back to One News Plaza to get some more videos and details posted before heading out to evening scrimmages at Iroquois and Amherst. 

More updates to come ...

3:02 p.m. Here is the finished PrepTalkTV product (now starring on the buffalonews.com home page):

3:49 p.m. I've posted a bunch of video here, and I'll have more to come from the six-team Lockport scrimmage as well as some from my next two stops -- Iroquois and Amherst.

4:26 p.m. Hello from the awesome back field setting at Iroquois.

Iroquois' practice field is way behind the school. And I mean wayyyy behind.

5:40 p.m. Note to football coaches and athletic directors. If you want Prep Talk hanging out at your scrimmage for a long time, have it at night :-).

Got a good long look -- along with the Prep Talk blog's "Milt Latimer" -- at Lackawanna, Frontier, Iroquois and Niagara-Wheatfield, seeing all of their first-strings go at in in their second go-round of '1's.

Lackawanna was very impressive with Keith Taggart leading the way not only at running back but on defense. Some big hits there.

Niagara-Wheatfield sure looked the part, sporting uniforms which looked ready for gameday, right down to every player's pulled-up red calf socks with a black Falcon logo on them. Coming off a winless season and with a new coach in Tim Hagerty, the program looks like it has a little spark. The sideline was extremely into the final offensive session against Iroquois in the first go-round.

Iroquois and Frontier both had good spurts in their session against each other, some nice run stuffs and scoring drives. Frontier got a spark on its offensive series after it made a change at quarterback.

It looked like a productive scrimmage for all four teams.

Here are the video highlights, which were included the best stuff I saw all day:

With six stops and 20 teams seen, now I'm off to Amherst for the final stop of the day.

6:25 p.m. Arrived at Amherst, which is hosting West Seneca West, Kenmore East and Hutch-Tech.

7:09 p.m. Saw some nice play at Amherst's Dimp Wagner Alumni Field, where it appeared that the hosts were the top unit -- not too surprising based on last season and the Tigers' returning experienced players, but certainly impressive nonetheless. Amherst is very fast, and they showed it off on both sides of the ball against a West Seneca West unit that made a few unforced errors, including some turnovers on offense. The Tigers had one player sprint from the backside to chase down a run, and also sped to big gains off of short passes.

Hutch-Tech had some nice run stops and moved the ball better than Kenmore East did in their two series.

The highlights:

And check this out -- I call it a day and walk off the field, and as I walk out of the gate, I run into Tonawanda coach Rob Gross. He was the first coach I saw this morning, and the last coach I see as I leave. Can't make this stuff up.

I think that gives us a very strong finish to our Scrimmage Saturday -- looks like we're ready to go for next weekend.

* * *

Also check out a photo gallery by Mulville.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

buffalonews.com/highschool     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

AA North playoff picture in better focus (updated)

Since our initial playoff breakdown of AA North was disputed by some (thank you!), including during last night's live chat) we had further consultation with Section VI, blogger extraordinare Milt Latimer, a bunch of charts and stuff (and seven cans of Diet Coke).

And here is our updated take on the playoff picture in AA North: 

Kenmore West (4-1): Clinched spot, can win division title by beating Riverside.

Lockport (3-2): Clinched spot.

Williamsville North (3-2): Clinched spot.

Riverside (3-2): A win not only gets them in but earns it the division title.

A loss means they are likely out and NT is in.

How likely? The only scenario that Riverside can make the playoffs with a loss is if they lose to Kenmore West in a close game (four points or less) AND Lockport or Williamsville North beats the other by a lot (16 points or more). (See explanation below).

North Tonawanda (3-3): Makes it if Kenmore West beats Riverside by more than a field goal OR the margin of the Lockport-Will North game is less than 19 (same explanation below).

Niagara Falls (2-3): Out no matter what.

* * *

Why have Lockport and Will North clinched spots? And how can Riverside advance with a close loss?

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head. If two teams are tied, it's easy. If there are three (or more) teams tied, head-to-head only works if one team has beaten both (or all) of the others.

The next tiebreaker is point differential, as defined to me by Section VI chairman Ken Stoldt as a team's total point differential in all of its league games. There is a maximum differential of 20 points (if you win by 20 or more, you only get plus-20; if you lose by 20 or more, you only get minus-20).

The teams' point differentials entering the final week:

Williamsville North is +34. Lockport is +33. Riverside is +17. NT is finished at +6. NFalls is -26.

[Note: I had Lockport and Riverside's numbers both off by one because we at The News had Riverside's 23-16 Week Six win listed as 23-17. Sorry. Yikes.]

The loser of Will North-Lockport will be 3-3, will have beaten NT (3-3) and Niagara Falls (likely 3-3), will have lost to Riverside (3-3) and will own a strong point differential. Any scenario results in the winner of Will North-Lockport clearly making the playoffs and the loser making it on tiebreakers.

If Riverside loses, it is tied with NT, very likely Falls and the Lockport/North loser, all at 3-3. None of those teams have beaten all of the others, so point differential is used. 

Riverside's best-case point-differential after a loss (losing by one) is +16. Will North's worst-case point-differential (losing by 20 or more) is +14. Lockport's worst-case point-differential is +13.

If Riverside loses, NT is in and Riverside is out as long as Riverside loses by five or more (giving Riverside a +12, which would be less than Will North or Lockport's worst-case); OR Lockport beats Will North by 17 or fewer (giving Will North a +17 or greater); OR Will North beats Lockport by 16 ore fewer (giving Lockport a +17 or greater). Those +17 or greaters for Will North/Lockport would be better than Riverside's best-case scenario in a loss (+16).

Here's why: The Will North/Lockport loser would win the No. 3 spot based on winning the point-differential tiebreaker. Then the head-to-head tiebreaker comes back into play among the remaining tied teams, with NT taking No. 4 since it beat both Riverside and Falls.

A scenario of a close Riverside loss and a big margin of victory between Lockport and Will North would make Riverside the No. 3 team based on point differential; the Lockport/Will North loser would be No. 4 because the head-to-head tiebreaker comes back into play (the Lockport/Will North loser beat both Falls and NT).

(If there is an unthinkable tie in point differential, the Section VI handbook says the next tiebreaker is total points allowed. Since the tiebreaker would be between two teams, I sure hope it would rever to head-to-head).

Whew.

Why is Niagara Falls out? Because the only win it has over a team it might be tied with at 3-3 is over Riverside (Falls lost to North, Lockport and NT). If Falls beats Hutch-Tech, there will definitely be at least a three-way tie at 3-3. There's no possible scenario in which Falls' head-to-head victory over Riverside benefits them. Falls' maximum point differential is -6 (if it beats Hutch-Tech by 20 or more) so it loses out on any point differential tiebreakers.

* * *

If this is not correct, email me. But break it to me softly.

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/high-schools     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk

Dugan remembered for 'heart larger than life'

Teacher Samuel Drago pays tribute. (Buffalo News) Brian Dugan was remembered this afternoon for his sense of humor, boundless love and "heart larger than life."

The Ken-Ton school community paid tribute to the Kenmore West High School English teacher during a ceremony on Crosby Field following the school's thrilling come-from-behind football win over Lockport, 14-13. Dugan was struck and killed by a car Wednesday night while jogging.

"Brian was one of the funniest persons whom I have ever met," Dugan's colleague, Samuel Drago, told the crowd of students, families and faculty. "And I don't doubt there are many of you here thinking the same thing."

Listen to Drago's full remarks:

Watch Ken West pull out the win and scenes from the post-game ceremony:

2:30 p.m.: The popular Kenmore West High School teacher struck and killed by a car Wednesday night was honored at Crosby Field this afternoon during a moment of silence before kickoff of the school's game against Lockport.

"The entire football season — especially today's game — is in honor of Brian Dugan, Kenmore West's beloved English teacher and coach," said announcer Jim Rowe.

A full tribute to Dugan is scheduled to immediately follow the game. Fans have been invited to write down their memories of Dugan for his family to receive.

Meanwhile, a fund has been set up for Brian Dugan's sons. Donations may be sent to:

Brian C. Dugan Children's Education Fund
P.O. Box 2 
Buffalo, NY 14223

Watch this afternoon's moment of silence for Dugan:

--Joseph Popiolkowski

Live from Scrimmage Saturday: Six sites, 22 teams and one battle of state champs (with video)

It's Scrimmage Saturday for high school football in New York State -- the first day teams can scrimmage against others this season -- and we'll be hitting the road to catch the action.

Cleveland Hill's offense lines up against Cardinal O'Hara as Scrimmage Saturday gets started. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) News Web reporter Joseph Popiolkowski and I are going to visit a few scrimmages today.

Check here for updates of what we've seen; we'll also be putting together an episode of PrepTalkTV about our travels. I'll also post some phone videos of my own.

8:48 a.m. There are a ton of scrimmages today, but our first will be Cleveland Hill, which is hosting Burgard and Cardinal O'Hara at 9 a.m. Then it's up to Lockport for a huge six-team meeting.

9:03 a.m. We traversed our way through North Buffalo to Cleveland Hill to see Burgard warming up on a practice area and O'Hara and Cleve Hill going at it on the main field (which appears to be getting some upgrades -- newly paved asphalt and concrete is taped off in some areas).

It is sounding more and more like football season with coaches yelling and pads popping.

It doesn't take long for O'Hara coach Angelo Sciandra to find midseason form. After a play didn't go the way he wanted, he exclaimed from behind the line of scrimmage: "Are you kidding me?!!? You've GOT to be kidding me!!"

The parents were ready to go as well. A Cleveland Hill run play against O'Hara invoked cries of "Get him! Get him!" by a mom.

9:16 a.m. After a series between O'Hara's defense and Cleve Hill's offense (in which Joe Pops and his camera almost got run over on the sideline -- twice :-) ), Burgard's defense takes on O'Hara's offense. The Bulldogs looked ready to go, with No. 0 Victor Peoples calling out plays for the defense, which stuffed a few O'Hara plays in the series I watched.

Here's a nice pass breakup by O'Hara (below) -- check out the deft move by Joe Pops to pull the tripod out of the way just in time. This was our first play of the day. Some more good commentary by coach Sciandra as well.

Here (below) Burgard did a good job to bottle up O'Hara standout back Robert Davis (who had some big fans on the sideline):

9:24 a.m. We've seen enough quality stuff (and gotten it on video) to hit the road up to Lockport, which is hosting Sweet Home, North Tonawanda, Grand Island, St. Francis and Williamsville South. Kensington Ave. brings us to the I-290 and we're headed to the 990, Millersport Highway and Transit Road.

9:55 a.m. Arrive at Lockport's Emmett Belknap Middle School, home of the Lions' football field (my first visit). We see the end of the first session and are on hand for a great show between defending state champions Sweet Home and North Tonawanda, which was a blast to watch.

The first session had quarterback and Jordan Johnson moving Sweet Home's offense very well against NT's defense; the second session had NT starting slowly but finishing strong with several scoring plays.

All teams are pretty hyped up to start Scrimmage Saturday -- there were loud pregame hollers going on at Cleveland Hill -- but you got the sense from both defending state champions that this scrimmage matchup would mean more than most.

You can hear the energy in the teams' opening play, as NT players are clapping it up before a tone-setting run by Sweet Home's Ralph Neasman that the sideline loved (above).

After another run by Neasman, check out this great play (above) -- Johnson for his scramble and Coleman for a lot of reasons. 

Coleman -- in the backfield -- dispatches with a blitzer to help enable Johnson to get free on a run that he would end extremely solidly in a big collision with an NT defender. But listen and watch Coleman after the play. Sweet Home players were understandably fired up with the big hit, but then Coleman tells them to "take a knee!" as the player is down.

I believe you can hear him off camera telling the player he's going to be alright. The player did get up and walk off under his own power, and Coleman yells to the player, "You good, you good! Told you it was just a stinger!"

After a tough Coleman run up the middle, Neasman took a pitch to the far right (above) for a touchdown.

Sweet Home's next possession started with a Johnson scramble to the left side, followed by Juwan Douglas with a run to the right (above) in which he kept his legs churning.

After a pass to the left, Coleman went in easily for a touchdown run (above), taken from a scrimmages-only camera vantage point (leaning on a goal post on the back line of the end zone).

When Sweet Home headed back near midfield for a new series, coach John Faller hollered at his team, "Let's have some fun ... all those two-a-days ... this is fun. Let's have some fun." 

The Panthers' next possession was a quick one as K.J. Zinermon went in motion and caught a pass from Johnson before he dodged some tacklers to speed down the right sideline (and right by me) for a touchdown (above).

Another quick strike by Sweet Home: Johnson heaves it down the right side (above) and Brian Barnes adjusts to the ball and goes in for a touchdown. 

NT gets an interception of Johnson (above); Sweet Home obviously had a nice offensive set but NT did get some pressure up the middle and a few sacks on some other plays. We can't show 'em all, of course.

The second session during this rotation was outstanding because while NT's offense came on to battle Sweet Home on one half of the field, fans got to watch University at Buffalo-bound quarterback Joe Licata and the Williamsville South offense take on Lockport on the other. 

Licata twice hit Kevin O'Connell on the right side, once to get into scoring range and the second time for the touchdown (below).

Here's the fun second session in a nutshell (below) ...

... Licata completes a long pass on the left side of the field, then Joe Montesanti runs for North Tonawanda on the right side.

NT finds a big hole in the defense for a rushing touchdown (above) that gives Lumberjack players and fans cause for celebration.

Back to the South scrimmage ... Licata hits Phil Stasiak (I believe) for a long completion (above) but there's a fumble at the end of the play.

Here's another two-for-one clip (above) and it's defensive minded as Sweet Home and Lockport both stopped up run attempts by NT and South, respectively.

NT finds another hole in the defense (above) by running to the left for a touchdown.

Afterwards, Sweet Home coach Faller scolded some of his frustrated troops with: "Don't point fingers! Don't point fingers ... unless you're perfect."

The run-and-fun-and-gun Billies of South haven't seemed to change much, as they show here with an nice reverse run for a score.

I'm disappointed I didn't get over to watch two outstanding programs in Grand Island and St. Francis go at it on the practice field behind the bleachers (Joe Pops did with the video camera, however), but there was just too much going on on the main field. As is the case with the entire day, there's just not enough time to catch everyone.

10:57 a.m. Back in the car and ready to move shortly. This was our first chance to actually catch up on the blog, pounding away at the laptop in the car in the parking lot at Lockport. 

11:08 a.m. We're on our way to Riverside, where a good group of the Frontiers, Bishop Timon-St. Jude, McKinley and Maple Grove are in action. This will be a relatively quick stop because we need to get out to Canisius' West Seneca field for their scrimmage with Orchard Park.

11:43 a.m. Arrive at Riverside and its newly paved parking lot adjacent to its new facility, which looks great with the four teams in action and a modest group of fans checking it out.

Maple Grove's offense is going against McKinley on one half, with new quarterback Alex Grace completing several screen passes against the Macks. On the other half of the field, Riverside's defense is standing very tall against Timon's offense.

Here's a look:

12:11 p.m. We're off to zip around the I-190 to Canisius' Stransky Complex in West Seneca.

12:27 p.m. We arrive at Canisius' fine facility on Clinton Street, where in a mile or three you go from citylike to suburbanlike to countrylike surroundings.

This scrimmage might have just two teams, but if you're going to check out a two-team affair, you can't get much better than the defending Monsignor Martin champion and one of Section VI's best programs.

When we arrived, the teams were going through rudimentary special teams plays, like punt and kickoff returns without the full units on the field.

It was a good time to catch up on what happened earlier, and word on the sideline (just for the record, it was the Canisius sideline, but all from very reliable sources :-) ) was that the Crusaders had a great early session when the No. 1 offense and defense from both teams matched up.

Canisius had two touchdowns on early drives while it stifled OP's drive, which, sources said, didn't get across midfield while the Crusaders also had at least three takeaways. A standout was Canisius running back Mercer Timmis, a transfer from Canada who had plenty of people talking after some strong runs.

I was pleased to find out that the No. 1s would be going at it again, and Orchard Park fared much better than it apparently did earlier. It moved the ball quite well, including a nice completion by senior quarterback Kyle Witkowski (below).

I remember Witkowski playing in last season's semifinal loss at North Tonawanda, but the first thing I think of is how he was involved in the hoops play that ended with's Troy Nowak's game-winning buzzer-beater that beat Jamestown last season.

In the next nine-play segment, Orchard Park had a great start with a few run stops as well as an interception (above).

Canisius showed the offensive firepower it displayed last season when Eman, after hitting a pass across the middle, delivered a deep spiral down the left side and Theo Russell stretched out to reel it in.

OP came up with a good finish to the session as well. It stopped two runs inside the 10 and, on the ninth-play on what would have been a third-down, a linebacker made a nice read on an Eman pass for another interception (above).

In a final series between the top units, Eman hit Russell -- this time for a long touchdown -- just before the close of the scrimmage.

1:39 p.m. After shooting our "stand-up" (TV term) for PrepTalkTV -- which is also referred to by me as my "blabbity-blah," we're heading back to the office where I'll be updating a ton on the blog.

1:48 p.m. We're back at One News Plaza, where I'll update the blog with a lot of stuff while Joe Pops puts the episode of PrepTalkTV together. I'll have that posted here as soon as it's completed.

I'll be heading out two two evening scrimmages (hosted by Iroquois and Amherst) and will have more updates and details later. 

4:36 p.m. I'm hitting the road again, hitting Iroquois and then Amherst. 

5:19 p.m. Make that Amherst and then Iroquois. It made too much sense to swing by Amherst after driving Joe Pops back to his car.

5:28 p.m. With some good highlights in the phone, I'm off for my lengthy trip to Elma and the Chiefs' scrimmage with Lackawanna and Frontier.

There were some nice plays between Hutch-Tech's offense and West Seneca West's defense on one half and the Kenmore East defense and Amherst offense on the other.

Hutch-Tech scored a touchdown on West Seneca West as I walked into Dimp Wagner Field, then put in a two-point conversion. Amherst scored a nice passing touchdown on one of the first plays I watched; on the next play on that half, Kenmore East's sideline got fired up after its defense knocked the Tigers back for a loss.

Here's how it went down:

5:52 I arrive at Iroquois and, thanks to my trip here last year, I know where I'm going.

Another Scrimmage Saturday, another walk down the dirt road behind Iroqouis High. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) I take the dirt road behind the school to near the baseball field, then walk through some high grassy and wooded areas into a clearing and what you could call the Chiefs' practice field of dreams.

I'm told by noted Prep Talk Nation first-ballot Hall of Fame blogger Milt Latimer that there has yet to be a touchdown, and there won't be in my stay there, although there are some solid plays.

Lackawanna's Keith Taggart probably had the play of the day -- he managed to handle a pitch that bounced on its way to him, then evaded tackler after tackler has he advanced well into the secondary.

The Steelers had some effective pass plays in the time I was there, while Frontier and Iroquois both had some nice stops.

Here are the best ones the phone and I captured from the sidelines:

6:59 p.m. After a good discussion about the day's action as well as the upcoming season with Milt, I walk up the hill, drive back up the dirt road, pass Latimer Field, and head back to One News Plaza.

The two evening trips brings us to a total of 22 teams covered across six sites. Whew. That's over a quarter of the teams in Western New York (87). Booyah.

(And 35 video clips! Booyah again.)

If you were at any scrimmages, let us know which ones and what you thought of the action in the comments section below.

* * *

We appreciate your patience with the new look of the comments as well as the registration procedure. Our Web team is still working on having the comments appear at the bottom of every page, which will help the flow of the conversation.

If you are having any problems with registration or have any feedback you'd like to offer, email me at kmcshea@buffnews.com.

---Keith McShea

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Lockport Kiwanis girls tourney tips Friday

The Section VI playoffs aren't the only highly-anticipated tournament in February.

Sharing the spotlight is the Lockport Kiwanis Club Girls Basketball Tournament scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Here's some information that Lockport athletic director Pat Burke put together for the 28th annual tournament:

* * *

The event tips off Friday when Olean plays Shenendehowa at 6 p.m. followed by Lockport and Nichols. The losers play in the consolation Saturday at 6 p.m. while the winners meet for the title at 7:45 p.m.

The event features Shenendehowa, a power from the Albany area, is currently ranked No. 5 in the state in Class AA. Nichols is the No. 6 large school in Western New York. Olean is the No. 1 small school in WNY and the No. 4 Class B school in the state. Host Lockport is the No. 1 large school in WNY and ranked No. 11 in Class AA in the state.

Nichols (14-4) is tied for first place in the Monsignor Martin Association.

Lockport, the defending champions put on the court one of the tallest teams in the area. They are the five-time defending Niagara Frontier League champion, having run through a 14-0 season. The Lions are also the defending Section VI Class AA champions. They will be hunting for a 17th Section VI championship.

The Lions are led by 5-10 senior Lea Sobieraski, 5-8 junior guard Caroline Randall and 5-year starting point guard 5-8 senior Renee Schwartz.

Shenendehowa is one of the long time powers in the state, coming over from Section II. Shen's coach, Ken Strube, has over 500 wins in his career. In their last trip to the Kiwanis tournament, Shen was beaten in the finals by Nichols in one of the most entertaining games in tournament history.

Olean, the defending Section VI Class B champions, will once again be considered the favorite in the Sectionals. Coach Don Scholla's club plays an entertaining brand of up tempo basketball also having one of the best big players in the state in Rachel Bantelman. Bantelman will be headed to the University at Buffalo next season on a basketball scholarship.

Senior point guard Alicia Mikowicz also returns for her second year as a starter and will give the team excellent experience at the guard position. Seniors Grace Williamson and Brittney Lee move into starting positions after playing key reserve roles on last year's team.

Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for students.

---Mary Jo Monnin

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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.

@KeithMcSheaBN | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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