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Countdown to Friday Night Lights: B North

By Keith McShea

Who’s who: The nine-team division consists of the Albion Purple Eagles, Amherst Tigers, Barker/Roy-Hart Raiders, Bennett Tigers, Burgard Bulldogs, Cheektowaga Warrriors, Lew-Port Lancers, Maryvale Flyers and Medina/Lyndonville Mustangs.

Continue reading "Countdown to Friday Night Lights: B North" »

DiPaolo family dishes out a night to remember

The Western New York high school wrestling family got together for their annual reunion.

Ilio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell served as the site of this gathering also known as the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Award dinner. The 15th annual event, which brought together 200, honored the best from the 2009-2010 wrestling season in the form of six awards and five college scholarships totaling $9,000.

Bob Koshinski of the Executive Committee made the case for the Class of 2010 being the most elite group in the award's history. The competition was so tough, two New York State Champions did not make the final list.

The winners combined for 836 career wins, 12 Section VI individual championships, nine place finishes at states and three state championships.

The distinguished group included:
Ilio DiPaolo award: Dominic Montesanti, Medina
Gary Castanza award: Kyle Colling, Pioneer
Destroyer award: Angelo Malvestuto, Niagara-Wheatfield
Bill Hein award: Joe Kalinka, Iroquois
Cauiflower Alley Club: James Donner, Niagara-Wheatfield
St. Francis football captain's award: Adam Pasnik

• Past winner of the Ilio DiPaolo scholarship, Kane Smith, was the guest speaker. The 2005 Salamanca graduate gave a polished delivery in which he talked about how revealing 6 minutes on a wrestling mat can be, and how the sacrifice, sweat and pain it takes to be a wrestler prepares you for everyday life.

• A DVD presentation prepared by the committee gave a look into the life of man who brought everyone together. The 1950s black and white footage showed DiPaolo in the ring displaying amazing athleticism for a man his size and he disposed of each opponent.

• Dennis DiPaolo, always a gracious host, did his best to recognize some of his guests: former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, former Buffalo Bills trainer Eddie Abramoski, retired Niagara-Wheatfield wrestling coach Ace Cacciatore, retired Roy-Hart/Newfane coach Dick Lange, Empire State Games local chairman Ralph Galanti, Preston Teague of the Buffalo Bills Community Relations department, Linda Knuutila of WNY Wrestling Review and his charming mother.

---Mary Jo Monnin

Wrapping up the Section VI wrestling championships

Here are the Division I and Division II stories from the Section VI wrestling championship. And here are plenty of extras from the Division II meet Saturday night at Niagara County Community College. But first, a couple observations.

1. This was the second straight year NCCC served as host for the event, and it's a great venue. There's plenty of parking, and NCCC coach Eric Knuutilla (one of the nicest men you could ever meet) does a great job having the gym ready. The support staff, including announcers and officials, also do a good job of keeping everything moving as close to on time as possible.

2. Another thank you to Ross Conti, an assistant coach at Fredonia and committee member of the Wrestling Review of Western New York, the group that does such a great job seeding and ranking area wrestlers. Conti is a walking encyclopedia of wrestling knowledge.

112-pound champion Tom Page, Eden: Page moved ahead with a takedown in the second period to defeat teammate eighth-grade teammate Alex Smythe. Here's Page's father, also Tom Page, on what it's like for two teammates to wrestle each other: "It's extremely difficult because they're so familiar with each other's style. It's unfair to both, but some coaches say it's a privilege. I'm proud of both of the athletes, because they've done a fantastic job."

The elder Page said he wrestled both at 112 because they were the best at that weight class and deserved a chance to showcase what they could do at the sectional level. Nothing wrong with that logic.

119-pound champion Kevin Strong, Frewsburg: It's the second trip to states for Strong, who improved to 43-2 on the season. Here he is on his game plan from Saturday: "I was working on holding him down and taking it slow. Once I got my points I was very careful." Strong beat Newfane's David Ciaramella, 9-0.

125-pound champion Emory Rowe, Ripley: The smallest wrestling school in Western New York had two finalists, including one champion in Rowe. He scored a late takedown to earn a 5-3 decision over Jake Baer of Olean, a raw talent in just his third year of wrestling. Here's Rowe on the end of the match: "I was just looking for an opening and I saw him loosen up, so I dove for it and got it."

140-pound champion Devin Kramer, Depew: The Most Outstanding Wrestler of the meet scored three late points to break a 2-2 tie with Ben Haas of Salamanca and win his second sectional title (he won at 130 last year). The 130- and 140-pound divisions are packed with talented wrestlers. Kramer, a senior who is a member of the Cobra Wrestling Academy, is 36-4 on the season.

145-pound champion: Dominic Montesanti, Medina: Montesanti put forth a dominant performance despite being hampered by a knee injury. He's wrestling on a torn meniscus in his right knee. Here he is on competing hurt: "It's been a real bother, but it's my senior so I couldn't get surgery. It would put me out for the rest of the year. I have one last chance to be a state champion, so I have to tough it out."

Montesanti took sixth at the state tournament last year after dislocating his elbow and having to injury forfeit two matches at 140.

171-pound champion John Mistretta, Southwestern: Mistretta beat Greg Burroughs of Fredonia for the third time this season, never the easiest thing to do. Mistretta has a unique style that could make him a tough out at the state tournament.

189-pound champion Colin Palmer, East Aurora: Palmer is unbeaten on the season (24-0) after missing time early due to injury.

215-pound champion Pat Langworthy, Southwestern: Langworthy (33-6), a junior, won a wild weight class. Consider: the seventh seed, Panama's Cody DiDomenico, beat No. 2 Bashar Srouji of Lew-Port in the quarterfinals. Langworthy, the third seed, then beat DiDomenico. On the other side of the bracket, top seed Justin Taylor of Portville was upset by fourth seed Jake Eddington of Gowanda in the semifinals.

285-pound champion Theo King, Roy-Hart: King and 96-pounder Zach Bickle won titles for the Rams. Here's King on what he hopes it means for the Niagara-Orleans League school: "I hope it can inspire more people to come out for the team next year and continue to build the tradition of the program."

That's it for now, although we may have some video later of a few matches (if I can figure out the technology).

---Jay Skurski






Which game should I go to?

When it comes to the biggest and possibly even best day of the boys basketball season, Tuesday just might be it.

There are 47 games on the schedule, which I believe is a season-high. And there are several big ones.

Which leads me to one question:

First of all, the Yale Cup games are eariler, so I should be able to catch at least part of one (maybe two if my pickup hoops game goes short and the first Yale Cup game goes long) before moving on to one of the above prime-time contests.

Grover Cleveland is at Burgard at 4:15 p.m. and East is at McKinley at 5:30. (Note: the Hutch-Tech vs. Middle College game has been moved to 5:30 p.m. today at Hutch-Tech.)

Among the games listed above, there are four major rematches from this year and an intriguing nonleague rematch from last year.

The biggest upset of the season, and one of the biggest of the decade (whether it is last decade or this one :-) ) was North Tonawanda's 64-62 overtime win at Niagara Falls, the first-ever Niagara Frontier League loss for the Wolverines. Falls' first-ever attempt to avenge an NFL loss gets started at 7 p.m.

St. Francis started making noise in the Monsignor Martin Association when it beat Bishop Timon-St. Jude at home, 56-54, on Jan. 20 to start a four-game win streak. The Tigers are coming off a top-notch victory at Canisius while Frannies has stumbled a bit with a loss at Nichols and a home loss to Canisius; tip-off in South Buffalo is 7:30 p.m.

The ECIC III battles between Maryvale and Depew have been outstanding for the last several years -- the Wildcats avenged their only loss of the season by winning at Amherst on Thursday. Back on Jan. 5, Depew won at Maryvale, 42-35. Tonight's battle is at 7:30.

The Niagara-Orleans League race likely rests on the 7 p.m. tipoff of Medina at Wilson. Medina won at home in the teams' first meeting, 62-53, on Jan. 15.

St. Joe's makes its first trip to Maple Grove for a 7:30 tip. Last year the Red Dragons lost at St. Joe's, 79-64. The Marauders are struggling while the Red Dragons and Chris Secky appear to be primed for that Class D playoff run that everyone has been talking about since last year. A very intriguing matchup here.

Other games on the fast-breaking Tuesday include Lockport at Grand Island in the NFL, Orchard Park at Lancaster in ECIC I, Cleveland Hill at Alden in ECIC IV and St. Mary's at Niagara Catholic in a Monsignor Martin small school battle. 

* * *

Part of me wanted to let the voters literally decide where I end up, but due to logistics and some Web work I'll be taking care of with reporter/videographer Lauren Mariacher (stay tuned), I can not completely put my traveling fate in your hands. Not that I don't trust Prep Talk Nation, of course. For instance, the trip to Maple Grove would be great, but the travel time involved would wipe out any possibility of seeing some games beforehand and would also throw a wrench into some significant postgame Web plans we have.

I'd have to say I'm leading to Falls at NT considering the historical impact of the teams' first meeting this year. I thought after NT's home loss to Lockport last week that perhaps the game had lost all of its luster, but then Falls struggled to beat Kenmore West so we're kind of back where we started -- trying to make sense out of the NFL.

But vote early and often (:-) ), and, of course, let me know why in the comments section below. I certainly am looking forward to seeing what the people's choice is.

---Keith McShea

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

Lineup set for N-O/Genesee Region hoops showcase

The lineup is set for the Niagara-Orleans League vs. Genesee Regional League Showcase, a great late-season event in its second year. Some nice matchups that make for great tuneups for the teams heading into the postseason.

Here's the schedule: 

NIAGARA-ORLEANS VS. GENESEE REGION SHOWCASE
at Genesee Community College
Friday, Feb. 12
Akron vs V-Elba, 6:30 p.m.
Medina vs V-Alexander, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 13
CSAT vs. V-Kendall, noon
Roy-Hart vs. V-Pembroke, 1:30 p.m.
Barker vs. V-Byron-Bergen, 3 p.m.
Newfane vs. V-Lyndonville, 4:30 p.m.
Albion vs. V-Wheatland-Chili, 6 p.m.
Wilson vs. V-Oakfield-Alabama, 7:30 p.m.

Somewhat of a bummer is that private school Notre Dame of Batavia is not participating -- I'm not sure why; perhaps it was a scheduling issue. Batavia Notre Dame is the only Genesee Region school in the state rankings -- it is fifth in Class D, one spot behind Maple Grove..

Don't get me started on private schools being permitted to participate in Class D of the state's public school athletic association.

---Keith McShea

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

Getting with the programs

It's always fun to get programs at different high school events. Foremost for reporters (and photographers) — we need those rosters to make sure we get the names and players correct in our reporting.

But a tremendous amount of work goes into those programs, compiling not just names and uniform numbers, but statistics, photos, records and the history of teams. It's also neat to see how the community supports the team through the different advertisements.

For those of you out there that are proud of your work, there is a contest for you. Entries for the third annual National High School Sports Publication Awards competition are due Sunday. The competition recognizes excellence in the preparation of high school athletic media guides and souvenir programs distributed in 2009. Go to www.PublicationAwards.com for information.

Recently I picked up a basketball program for Middle College boys basketball that had bios and color photos of players while Medina's came with a convenient scoring sheet that included not just both teams but both junior varsity squads as well. During football season, the programs for schools like North Tonawanda and Lancaster can get pretty bulky.

If you have a favorite program, let us know about it below (and let the school know they should enter the contest).

---Keith McShea

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

Friday Night Live from Medina's win over Wilson (with videos)

My first trip to Medina is for a major Niagara-Orleans and small-school matchup as Wilson takes its undefeated league record to the Mustangs' gym. 

7:20ish p.m.: I walk in the gym after the long trip up here hoping I haven't missed too much action, and I see Levi Pace of Medina score the first basket of the game. I like that.

I drove up and down Mustang Drive (gotta love the street name) outside the school looking for a spot -- the parking lot is jammed. The gym is probably a little more than three-quarters full.

Quality shirt on one of the young, knowledgable Wilson fans in front of me. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News) 7:31 p.m.: Medina has a 17-8 lead after the first quarter.

7:49 p.m. Medina has a 40-20 lead at halftime and Travis Bloom has hit SIX three-pointers. He just nailed his sixth from the right side and had a big smile as he trotted back up the court.

Adam Hellwig has three more threes for a total of nine for Medina in the first half. Wilson was in a zone the entire half and the Mustangs just kept shooting relatively open shots.

I'm a little bummed that it is a 20-point game at halftime and hoping that Wilson makes it a game. I tucked away the iPhone for the first half to save it for the end, and I missed Bloom going nuts from downtown. After Medina jumped to its big lead, Wilson was making a game of it, closing to withing 22-16, 25-18 and 28-20 with about two minutes left in the first half.

Then it was all Medina, led by Bloom, who hit three of his six threes in the 12-0 half-closing run in the final 1:44.

Just as an FYI, Wilson has three home games coming up after tonight. How do I know that? It's on the shirt on one of the young, knowledgeable fans ("That's four [fouls] on Pace! Yes!") sitting in front of me.

8:13 p.m. After three quarters, Wilson has shown some life and have gone man-to-man.

Medina's Pace with a couple of his 11 blocks.

Continue reading "Friday Night Live from Medina's win over Wilson (with videos)" »

Video highlights from Pastor-Cooper championship night

Check out the story, the live blog and photo gallery and here are some video highlights from championship night at the Pastor-Cooper Memorial Tournament:

Corrin Genovese puts the Williamsville North girls up for good with a slick drive down the left side of the lane.

Grand Island's final shot.

Continue reading "Video highlights from Pastor-Cooper championship night" »

Scribbling down scrimmages: Saturday's lineup

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

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

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

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

* * *

Saturday's scrimmages

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

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

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

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

V-Hornell at Olean, 9 a.m.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hamburg at Jamestown, 10 a.m.

Southwestern at Randolph, 10 a.m.

Frontier and Lackawanna at Iroquois, 5 p.m.

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

Depew and Niagara-Wheatfield at Williamsville East, TBA

Batavia at Albion, TBA

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

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

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

---Keith McShea

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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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