Hello from One News Plaza. I'll be heading to the Middle College at Riverside 5:30 p.m. game, followed by a trip to South Buffalo for Nichols at Bishop Timon-St. Jude, which tips at 7:30 p.m.
I thought I might be able to catch the 4:15 p.m. game of Burgard at Seneca, but there was some work to do, including the news that Nichols will play Jamesville-Dewitt next week.
5:32 p.m. We're off to Riverside.
5:54 p.m. Get a good parking spot (not easy at Riverside), walk into the Riverside gym and Middle College has a 9-5 lead a few minutes in. The Riverside gym has been refurbished since last year and the changes are subtle but very nice -- there is now seating on the side of the court opposite the scorer's table in additon to the cool balcony seating seen at several city gyms. The bleachers -- and the new wall padding -- is all Riverside purple.
6:03 p.m. Middle College calls a timeout after taking a 19-9 lead on a fast break. There is 1:32 left in the first quarter.
6:07 p.m. Davon Alexander hits a three-pointer (that we have on video) just before the buzzer and Middle College takes a 23-11 lead after the first quarter.
6:30 p.m. We are at halftime and Middle College leads Riverside, 43-24. Not the greatest game, a little sloppy with MC taking advantage of turnovers and having too much firepower for the Frontiers.
6:42 p.m. Justin Stokes threw down a dunk for Middle College early in the third, but we were uploading video instead of shooting it. Arghh. In a related story, the Alexander three has been posted above.
Riverside's lead is now 47-24 after a Stokes fast-break basket with just over five minutes left in the third. We have a strong feeling we'll be leaving this game early to get a good spot at Timon.
6:53 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, things haven't changed -- Middle College leads Riverside, 56-30.
We're packing up and heading to Timon.
7:23 p.m. Arrive at Timon with the JV game still going on; updating here from the iPhone. I'm in the same seat -- first seat, second row, across from visiting bench -- that I watched the Canisius OT win here. Trying to figure out if i should move to the balcony where there is a table to work at. Love the view here, though.
7:58 p.m. The view on the balcony is pretty good, too, and I definitely need the work space. We've got the laptop out, some great Timon folks helped get our extension cord plugged in, and we're set. That was only after I got up to the balcony only to realize I left my wireless card in my car. There were three minutes on the clock counting down when I sprinted to the car, retrieved it and made it back in time for the tipoff. Workout for the day done.
On the court, Timon has a 17-9 lead with 2:19 left in the first quarter. Kyle Kobis has hit three three-pointers.
Bad news for Timon just now as Dut Dour went down to the floor, then hopped off the court with some sort of leg problem.
8:05 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Timon leads, 19-11.
In the last two minutes, Will Regan just stole the ball at midcourt, had a high dribble that Timon fans wanted called for a travel -- and they really wanted it after Regan threw down a dunk with one hand. Fun stuff. And I got it with the iPhone. Whew.
8:14 p.m. With 2:48 left in the second quarter, Nichols calls a timeout as it is trailing, 31-24.
8:17 p.m. Timon calls a timeout with 58.7 seconds left and a 35-26 lead.
8:22 p.m. We are at halftime and Timon leads Nichols, 35-26.
8:26 p.m. Quality halftime entertainment going on here; the Timon PA guy has a wireless mike and is running a raffle and shooting contest.
When he's announcing, he's one of Timon's biggest fans and telling the officials that they may have missed something (I'm thinking he'll be heard on some of the highlights -- not that there's anything wrong with that). When he does that, the mike is switched off -- but one of these days the hollering will get caught on the big mike, right? That will be a fun game to be at.
8:39 p.m. Nichols calls a timeout with 2:58 left in the third quarter. Timon with some nice energy recently and it has a 44-30 lead.
8:42 p.m. Another Nichols timeout with Timon now up, 48-30, with 1:37 left. Combination of good shooting, hustle and steals getting the Tigers up big.
8:47 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, Timon has a 50-36 lead.
8:50 p.m. Timon calls a timeout after a dose of Regan to start the fourth: Jumper, block, dunk and Timon's lead is down to 50-40 with 7:17 left.
8:55 p.m. With 4:21 left in the game, Regan scores in the lane and Nichols calls a timeout trailing, 54-46. Regan has been terrific in the fourth. Had an assist on a basket since my last update.
A little experiment -- we're seeing how a post from the iPhone goes ...
(Blogger's note: we updated the post later with photos and videos and cleaned it up, but the experiment was successful -- we can blog right from the iPhone.)
6:42 p.m. I'm at Lafayette, where the host Mighty Violets lead No. 2 small school Middle College, 36-34, at halftime.
Lafayette's skinny gym is a serious home court advantage -- I'll have photos and videos showing how much.
Opposing teams hate the gym, and it's really not basketball that's being played, but I can't help but like the charm and quirks of the place. In addition to the wacko dimensions of the gym, the walls have been painted by coach Karl Maggiore with tributes to Lafayette greats and with sayings to help motivate the Mighty Violets. I did a story on the gym a few years ago when Lafayette had one of its best teams (which lost to Depew in double-overtime in one of the greatest sectional games I've ever seen). The Lafayette gym story is one of the most enjoyable stories I've ever done at The News.
Back to the game -- it's close, and I expected that. Since Middle College is a young program, this was their first trip to Lafayette. And the Mighty Violets are a good team which owns a victory over St. Mary's -- it's only loss was at Lew-Port very early on, and Lew-Port is doing just fine in the Niagara Frontier League.
At halftime, a witnessed a nice little scene -- Middle College coach Randy Rich and Davon Alexander talked with official Dave Hoch at midcourt. Alexander had just been hit with a technical foul by Hoch and coach and player were apologetic and were talking it over with Hoch, who fully explained why Alexander got T-ed up.
While I'm at it, Hoch has been in this gym before, and he's doing a great job here -- two good teams in a claustrophobic gym can lead to emotions getting out of control, but he and his partner have the game well in control.
I'm going to probably stay here before heading to Timon for its game with Canisius.
7 p.m. Middle College has a 49-45 lead after the third quarter. I might not have updates for a while because I'll be doing video.
Here's some of that video:
Alexander finds Darale Young for a nice short jumper and a 53-47 Middle College lead.
Justin Stokes with a steal and a layup as Middle College takes control of the fourth quarter, leading, 56-50.
Stokes scores while being fouled to put Middle College up, 57-53, with 3:06 left.
Young goes two-for-two to give Middle College the three-point advantage it would win the game by.
7:29 p.m. Middle College played good defense with Lafayette needing a three-pointer -- the Violets don't get up a good shot and the Kats hold on for a 61-58 victory.
Young (23 points), Alexander (20) and Stokes (18) accounted for all of the scoring.
Middle College was super-impressive to me in the fourth quarter with the discipline they played with and with their defense. Like I mentioned earlier, this gym has a tendency to lead to out-of-control games -- turnovers are almost automatic when you consider how slender the gym is how little room there is to manuever. The Kats did something I'm not sure I've seen much in the big games at Lafayette -- they maintained a deliberate pace (with Young doing a great job controlling it), and played tough defense that slowed Lafayette's ability to get the ball in positions to score. Just a very impressive win for the Kats.
After all, when the Kats walked into the place, Young turned to coach Rich and said, "Where's the real gym?" Rich, to his credit, did what many Yale Cup coaches have done in the past and held practices leading up to the Lafayette game on a court with rows of chairs set up where the Lafayette sidelines are.
On to Timon.
8:01 p.m. Arrive at Timon and see Canisius has 19-12 lead after one quarter. Canisius is looking very good and now has a 34-18 lead with three minutes left in the second.
A couple members of Prep Talk Nation are here and they're impressed with Canisius, while they say Timon has missed a bunch of free throws.
8:10 p.m. At halftime Canisius has a very impressive 43-23 lead. Blair Helton has 20 points, it was just announced. He had a ton in the second quarter. Crusaders putting forth a complete effort.
I'm surprised at the margin for sure; I think Timon might be feeling the bright lights for the first time - it's the Tigers' first big league game in a while, and there is a little pressure playing here at home before a near-full auditorium, featuring its rowdy fans -- nice job standing up the entire time. Hopefully the Tigers will find their form and make it more of a game.
8:35 p.m. Timon had better energy and hit some threes but Canisius still leads, 59-44, after the third.
8:49 p.m. Timon has it down to 66-56 with 3:18 left.
9:03 p.m. We are shockingly going to OT at 69-69!
9:18 p.m. Canisius wins by one at the OT buzzer on a driving layup by junior Aaron Nevins! Wow!
Canisius wins, 78-77. What a game.
Yes, I've got the winning basket on the iPhone and I'll post it ASAP.
The matchups for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. basketball showcase organized by Buffalo Public Schools Athletic Director Dave Thomas are set for Saturday at Erie Community College's Flickinger Center downtown:
11 a.m. -- St. Francis vs. McKinley 12:30 p.m. -- St. Joe's vs. Grover Cleveland 2 p.m. -- Canisius vs. East 3:30 p.m. -- Sweet Home vs. Middle College
Admission is $5 and there are no passes, according to a Buffalo Public Schools press release.
All matchups are intriguing -- the last three should all feature battles between ranked teams; we'll have to see how tomorrow's polls stack up.
It's a Friday, and there are a ton of games tonight, so I'm reprising my Friday Night Live blog entry as I slush-slide my way around Western New York trying to catch as much action as I can.
My goal is to end up at the Amherst at Maryvale game in which son Chris Kensy of the Tigers will be coaching against his father, Mark. There are a lot of potential stops in between now and then, but we'll see how much we can squeeze in.
4:58 p.m. After a stop at the office, our first stop is an easy one - the earliest game of the night is a 4:15 p.m. Yale Cup contest between Burgard and Middle College at the Kats' home court -- ECC-City's Flickinger Center.
Upon my entry, I was handed a Middle College program -- a great-looking, 12-page full color edition with photos, bios and ads. It's even got an excerpt of the Prep Talk blog on the back page. We like that.
Middle College is up more than I expected -- 40-15 at halftime. Burgard is coming off a nice win over McKinley to start Yale Cup play on Wednesday.
Darale Young was honored for being the school's first 1,000-point scorer at halftime. That was a better highlight than much of the action on the floor -- Middle was running Burgard off the floor.
5:22 p.m. Middle's lead is now 62-23 after three quarters. Overwhelming defense by the Kats. Burgard had a two-point second quarter, according to a report from Centercourt.
With my stories posted and the next round of Yale Cup games set to start at 5:30, I'm outta here.
5:49 p.m. It turns out I was outta there a few minutes later after getting some more computer stuff straight, fending off an aggressive parking lot attendant who thought I wasn't going to pay, slip-and-slide driving over to Hutch-Tech, and getting the Darale Young video posted in the parking lot.
5:50 p.m. Then I walk into Hutch-Tech, right on time ... for the end of the JV game between the Engineers and McKinley! Arghhhhhh!
I've got no time to waste, so I'm heading to Grover.
6:07 p.m. We arrive at Grover to an expectedly frenetic pace between the Presidents and Seneca.
6:10 p.m. No. 15 for Grover just SLAMMED a one-handed dunk down off of a standing start at the left side of the hoop. Wow. I gotta find out who that guy is. Too bad I didn't have the iPhone going. Centercourt (he got here before me) was calling for the iPhone on that one. Bummer.
6:14 p.m. At the end of the first quarter at Grover, the Presidents lead Seneca, 25-18. Ricky Alejandro hit three three-pointers in the quarter, including one in the final minute, for Grover. He only missed one shot in the quarter, reports Prep Talk Nation member Hollywood. Looks like I'm going to the right games, running into these guys.
6:16 p.m. I've got a little bit of a cushion, time-wise, since Canisius hosts St. Francis in a 6:30 p.m. scheduled start. I'm planning on stopping by there and then heading north to the Kenmore schools (7 p.m. starts). The targets are then Will North at Clarence and finally Amherst at Maryvale. We'll see how it goes.
6:21 p.m. Seneca's Aaron Frazier just scored on a slick drive while being fouled but couldn't hit the free throw. It's a 31-26 Grover lead with about four minutes left in the second. There is a very -- spirited, shall we say -- discussion going on between an adult female Grover fan and an adult male Seneca fan. People getting fired up but nothing out of hand. Good stuff. One of the best things at this game is Grover's big dog of a mascot -- you should be able to spot the spotted fella behind the baseline on a video highlight I post later.
6:28 p.m. We're off to Canisius soon, where hopefully the JV game is finished by the time I get there. Grover leads Seneca, 36-27, with two minutes left in the second quarter.
6:29 p.m. One very important quick correction before we split -- the Grover dog mascot is a female.
Some great videos featuring said dog ...
Was it a three? Just keep your eye on the dog, dog.
The action doesn't stop, the dancing doesn't stop. Outstanding.
6:43 p.m. I inexplicably take a much longer way to Canisius than I should have and arrive to catch the last seconds of the first quarter, which has Canisius leading, 15-9.
6:45 p.m. Back in the car to get some writing done, and my computer is on the fritz. Ugh.
7:07 p.m. Just pull into a primo parking spot at Kenmore West, where the Niagara Falls visit has a pretty full lot here.
Adding a few pictures then will get a very quick look at the game.
7:18 p.m. Walk into Ken West just in time for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Not soon after, Niagara Falls has an 8-0 lead.
C.J. Cox gets things started with a steal-and-basket.
Maurice Respress gets up for a rebound and a follow.
As Davon Marshall hits a long two-pointer, I'm out the door at 7:23 p.m.
7:32 p.m. Pull into Kenmore East, where Lockport is visiting.
7:44 p.m. Back in the car -- Lockport had a 15-3 lead after one quarter and is now up, 16-7, with 6:02 left in the first half. Shannon Haynes had two twos and a three for seven points in the first quarter.
Nice basket by East's Peter Crawford, followed by a near-miss by Lockport's Haynes.
Another near-miss by Lockport.
The play was a bit choppy and I wasn't able to get a quick highlight like I was at West. Off to Clarence.
8:11 p.m. Arrive at Clarence, and who is working the door to the gym but Buffalo News Hall of Fame Sports SuperClerk Alex Chambers, now a teacher and coach at Clarence. Gotta love it.
This was my first trip to the Clarence gym -- I've been here plenty of times for outdoor sports when the parking lot isn't all snowy.
8:20 p.m. Clarence and Williamsville North are tied at 27-27 in the final minute of the first half. I saw about two minutes of more choppy game action, but it was enough to see what people have been talking about with regards to talented eighth-grade starter Sterling Taplin of North.
Taplin sets up a teammate for a North basket.
With halftime approaching, I'm outta here and off to Maryvale.
8:37 p.m. Pull into Maryvale parking lot, hoping for at least a good chunk of the second half still to go.
8:59 p.m. After three failed tries at doors to the Maryvale gym (score one for security!), I find the right one and sneak under the bleachers to center court (two words) and there's a lot of basketball to play.
I catch some end-of-third-quarter action and Maryvale has a 54-40 lead over Amherst heading to the fourth.
9:09 p.m. With 2:58 left to play, Maryvale is up, 58-49.
Twice in the fourth, Amherst comes within seven points ...
... but both times Blair Estarfaa comes up big with a basket. Above is one of those times.
9:17 p.m. Maryvale is going to win this one, up, 63-52, with 25.7 seconds left.
9:24 p.m. Maryvale beats Amherst, 66-56. An embrace between the coaches at the end of the handshake line, then Chris Kensy with a little hug for all of the Maryvale players, who he coached as the Flyers' JV coach the last three years.
I had a great talk with both Kensys after the game -- I'll write more about their meeting in Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight.
* * *
In total, seven games at eight sites in less than 4-1/2 hours. Not bad. I'm still irked that I got to Hutch-Tech while the JV game was still going on. Could have been eight!
To review: I went from Middle College to Hutch-Tech to Grover Cleveland to Canisius to Kenmore West to Kenmore East to Clarence to Maryvale.
I planned the route based on geography and time -- and it pretty much worked out. I went a long way to not spend much time at Clarence, but I think it was worth seeing Taplin in what was a good ECIC I game. I saw Lockport and Shannon Haynes and got an idea of where their recent good play has come from. I wish I could have stuck around for more of what looked to be a very entertaining Grover-Seneca contest.
And the end worked out great -- it was a blast seeing the Kensy-vs.-Kensy coaching battle at Maryvale. An outstanding atmosphere at that game. Amherst brought a lot of fired-up fans -- it seems the entire program has gotten a boost behind coach Chris Kensy.
I'm not sure the total mileage -- don't worry, I'll have it ready for the expense report -- but the route unfolded pretty well. My main tough call driving-wise was whether to take Sheridan all the way out between Ken East and Clarence -- I opted for the 290 to the Thruway to Transit to Wehrle to Harris Hill to Main. That was probably was best move considering the stop-and-go-ing on Maple and likely Sheridan, especially since you had to be careful with the slick roads.
Looks like I missed a big second half for Clarence, which went on to beat North; I was right about Grover's win over Seneca being a fun one (76-70). Middle College, Canisius, Lockport and Falls all rolled, which was expected even before I stuck my head in their games.
The one other game I wanted to check out but thought it was a little too far out of the way was Lew-Port at North Tonawanda -- and waddya know, NT wins in three overtimes. Whoa.
Centercourt was heading up to Newfane and he saw a great one it seems as the Panthers knock off Medina, 54-53. Another whoa.
Nice showing again from Cleveland Hill, which falls to Holland in overtime. A bit curious about Lackawanna only beating Tonawanda by eight; good job by the Warriors to keep it to single digits.
We'll leave this on a pretty cool note, a video of coaches Kensy:
Just in from a trip up north to the Cataract Classic, where I was very impressed with Middle College in a 52-43 win over Grand Island.
The performance wasn't the Kats best, but I like the way they smartly and consistently worked the ball inside to Sean Mulhern (who was named MVP) and kept a patient -- even is-this-really-a-Yale-Cup-team? slow at times -- tempo. Darale Young displayed the unselfishness I'd heard about from fellow hoop fans, Mulhern was literally huge down low with post moves, rebounds and putbacks, Justin Stokes and Davon Alexander were solid as usual.
Middle College had some active contributors on both ends as well, including 6-2 sophomore Cordell Torres.
Sweet Home was up huge on North Tonawanda thanks to a 12-1 run to end the second quarter and a 17-5 third -- that's when I left.
I'll pass along the final when we get it, as well as some notes on what was an interesting clash between state championship football schools -- with plenty of the players involved. I'll also have some videos to post at some point. There's a lot of Web work to be done on All-Western New York football so I'm not sure when I'll get them up.
From Middle College's win over GI, which got some great play from senior guard Bobby Ross that kept the Vikings in the game ...
An early three by Young.
Nice quick outlet feed by Alexander sends Stokes in for a layup.
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.