I had a summer break that started as soon as the 2010-11 season concluded, and now I'm back -- and here to throw some notes out regarding some summer news and notes ...
* Late in the spring season we told you about the BCANY Hoops Festival set for Johnson City from Aug. 5-7. The event seems like a great one, and it's one that came about due to the unfortunate absence of the Empire State Games this summer.
The roster has been selected by the coaching staff of head coach Larry Jones (Depew) and assistants Mike Haskell (retired Pioneer) and Mike Berkun (Medaille):
Reggie Agbeko (St. Joe's), Stan Wier (who has transferred back home to East Aurora), Sterling Taplin (Williamsville North), Ryan Whelpley (Walsh), Matt Hart (Canisius), Aaron Frasier (Seneca), Aaron White (Canisius), Jamaal Carter (City Honors), Adam Weir (Canisius), Jordan Williams (Bishop Timon-St. Jude).
The team will play Long Island on Friday, Aug 5 at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 6, the Buffalo team plays New York City at 9 a.m. and Hudson Valley at noon. Saturday's evening session includes a dunk contest and three-point contest at 4:30 p.m.; a parent clinic on recruiting at 5:30 and a player clinic with college coaches at 6:30.
The event concludes on Sunday, Aug. 7 with the seventh-place game (9 a.m.), fifth-place game (10:30 a.m.), consolation (noon) and championship (1:30 p.m.).
While the event is being run by BCANY, there are some expenses that will need to be covered for teams and players (food, lodging, transportation -- costs mostly taken care of by the ESG during the Games). The squad is seeking sponsorships -- if you are interested in helping the team defray some costs, call Jones at (585) 746-8327.
This team deserves some serious commenting -- that squad is a really good one, a much better collection than I expected for what is a startup event this year. Great talent, great depth, great mixture of schools. Excellent job by the basketball community in getting the word out and credit the coaching staff for what must have been some difficult choices after the tryouts.
* Speaking of some good hoops competition, this weekend might be the Taste of Buffalo but fans can get a taste of hoops up in Niagara Falls. Some top programs are in action at the Niagara PAL Team Camp at Niagara Falls. Here's the lineup:
Friday: 5 p.m. -- Main gym, Niagara Falls vs. Canisius; Aux. gym, St. Joe's vs. Niagara-Wheatfield; 6 p.m. -- Batavia vs. Grand Island; Aux. gym, Wilson vs. Holland; 7 p.m. -- Main gym, Jamestown vs. Sweet Home.
Saturday: 9 a.m. -- Main gym, St. Joe's vs. Niagara Falls; Aux. gym, Canisius vs. Jamestown; 10 a.m. -- Main gym, Sweet Home vs. Wilson; Aux. gym, Batavia vs. Niagara-Wheatfield; 11 a.m., Main gym, Grand Island vs. Holland.
Single elimination tournament begins at noon, with championship at 5 p.m.
There is a $2 admission for fans 13 and older.
* I will hopefully hit some summer events of all sorts -- I'll be soon selling raffle tickets to benefit the Tom Borrelli Award and Scholarship Fund. We have some great prizes and it's a great cause as we continue to honor our fallen coworker.
The third Borrelli Award for boys and the inaugural Borrelli Award for girls will be announced later this month and the winners will receive their trophies at the July 27 Tom Borrelli Golf Tournament at Holland Hills. For those interested in golfing ($100 per person) or donating, please email me at email@example.com.
* By the way, the spring All-WNY teams and all-league teams (for baseball, softball and boys and girls lacrosse), which have been published over the last month, have all been collected at the high school home page.
The Niagara Falls boys basketball team is again ready for prime time.
The Wolverines will return to the Prime Time Shootout, an elite annual showcase which includes many of the nation's top teams and players, in February 2012.
Falls will play two games at Kean University. On Saturday, Feb. 11 the Wolverines are scheduled to play New Jersey power St. Benedict's at noon; Falls is also scheduled to play at noon on Sunday, Feb. 12 when it takes on Colts Neck of New Jersey.
Other teams playing that weekend include national powers St. Anthony's and St. Patrick's of New Jersey, Lincoln and Boys & Girls of New York City and Oak Hill Academy of Virginia.
"It's all about challenges and we certainly got one," said Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino, who was an assistant for Falls when the program made several trips to the Shootout in the mid-2000s. "We've built good relationship with the Primetime, and [Primetime director Jeff Hewitson] was good enough to bring us on board. I'm really excited and the kids are, too. I've been telling the kids that I've been trying to get us a game, and we got two. And we hit the jackpot [with the opponents]."
Constantino said the trip will benefit the team in several ways.
"Obviously we'll have very tough, competitive games to end the regular season and it can only help our playoff run. From an individual standpoint, our players are going to be seen by college coaches who would never have seen them otherwise.
"And it's the experience of a lifetime. I still tell people about seeing Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard. With Oak Hill and St. Pat's there you would think there are going to be future NBA guys."
Constantino said he has let the district know that he won't be requesting additional funds for the trips and that his team will fund-raise to cover the costs.
"It's not fair to ask for money to go play basketball especailly with budgets the way they are now," he said. "We'll fund-raise the bus, hotel and meals -- between now and then we can do it. And our boosters have been really great helping us with what we're trying to do."
The Primetime games will constitute Falls' final two games of the season. With Falls limited to four nonleague games -- its Niagara Frontier League schedule takes up 14 of its 18 games -- these games lock up their schedule. Falls will tip off in two games during its Cataract Classic in early December against Bishop Timon-St. Jude (Dec. 9) and Rochester's Bishop Kearney (Dec. 10).
"We've got to start working in the gym," said a laughing Constantino, "that's all I've got to say."
Niagara Falls made three trips to the Primetime Shootout in the mid-2000s, including during the Wolverines' 2005 state Federation championship season. That year, Falls' only loss came at the Shootout to Vashon of St. Louis. In 2004, Falls lost to St. Anthony's of New Jersey.
In 2006, the Wolverines and then-junior Jonny Flynn were to take on Vashon in a rematch at the Shootout, but the trip was canceled by a snowstorm. In 2007, Falls and Flynn lost to Linden (N.J).
Nichols is the only other team from Western New York to have played in the Shootout, in 2009 and 2010. Like Falls, a Primetime stop was included during its state Federation championship season (2010).
I think it's an excellent thing for Falls, for the same reasons Constantino cited: great on-court experience for the team heading into sectionals; great chance for players to impress; great off-court experience for the team to take a trip like that.
Now, let's be clear -- just because I mentioned "Federation championship" twice higher up in this post certainly doesn't mean the Wolverines will even be the best team in Western New York next year (they might not be second or third with Jamestown, Canisius and several other teams poised for good seasons -- we'll just have to wait and see).
With that said, a program that has been one of Western New York's best since the school was formed in 2000 is certainly worthy of competing in this event. Not every year yielded even a local championship for WNY teams which went to the Primetime, notably Falls in its final trip (loss to Sweet Home in Section VI final) and Nichols in its first (loss to Canisius in Manhattan Cup final).
It's a great move for Falls to pursue and attend an event like this. Their participation sets the bar for themselves at a very high level -- not just for that game, and not just for the season, but for the entire program.
To have super-high goals like that is good for everyone connected with Niagara Falls basketball. That includes from the community to its players -- all the way down through its youth leagues -- not to mention all of Western New York.
Hello from Buffalo State for tonight's highly anticipated Class AA semifinal doubleheader.
In the first game, No. 1 large school Niagara Falls takes on No. 7 McKinley at 6 p.m. That's followed by the scheduled 7:45 p.m. matchup of No. 2 Jamestown and No. 9 Lancaster.
We'll have separate "live" blogs on each game.
And the postgame show:
The second semifinal:
[NOTE: I believe I owe an apology for my opining about a three-second call on Lancaster; I thought only one foot needed to be out of the lane to avoid the call but an emailer has whistled me on it and says both feet have to be out. My bad (chest tap).]
A highlight (I didn't have the iPhone rolling during Paige's great first quarter:
The postgame show:
* * *
The winners will play at 8:15 p.m. Saturday here at Buffalo State in the AA final.
The box scores for both games will be up at our scoreboard page as soon as possible.
After the games, let us know what you thought of the action -- and the finals matchup -- in the comments section.
The first game was obviously a downer in that the showdown fizzled and the second half saw some less-than-pretty basketball. Falls played great defense early, which I think set a tone -- it was going to be tough for McKinley to score, and it seemed like things just got worse when the Macks missed several easy ones.
Only until late in the game did the lid seem to come off the basket for the Macks. Marcus Feagin, Jeff Street and Jermaine Crumpton did a very nice job on McKinley leaders John Black (six points) and Antonio Avery (seven).
Jaysean Paige had a great start with those four first-quarter three pointers, then he kept scoring consistently to end up with 42. Jamestown coach Ben Drake had a great quote about how he wouldn't have thought Paige had that many -- he just does it consistently, sometimes quietly, sometimes spectacularly.
Lancaster again played Jamestown tough, but the Red Raiders just have too much, they are just a better team.
I'm trying to think back to the last time someone had a 40-point game at Buffalo State. Randolph's Ashton Brown had 47 in the Class C final two years ago, but that was at Jamestown Community College. I recall Finney (the one that shouldn't be in Class D) getting a major individual performance in winning a D regional here -- but I just looked it up and that was Andy Marchand's 24 points on seven threes against Clymer. Looks like I'll be hitting the history books. If you remember outstanding individual performances at Buffalo State, let me know of them in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: Prep Talk Nation has helped jog my memory -- Micole Parker of City Honors had 40 in the C-1 final in their 2003 state championship season, while I believe Dewan Stroud went for 40 for Seneca in a classic overtime game against Lackawanna in 2002 or 2003. More to come ...
Game time for tonight's showdown of No. 1 large school Niagara Falls at No. 4 St. Joe's is 7 p.m., but I would advised that fans get here early -- at least a half-hour before. The gym is cozy and Niagara Falls tends to travel well. You're likely to have to find off-street parking on either side of Kenmore Ave.
Video reporter/producer Lauren Mariacher will have highlights posted at halftime and we'll have our postgame wrapup as well.
Here's our video take on the night:
6:20 p.m. Still some quality room available in the gym as we've started the second half of the JV game -- parking is definitely a sidestreet deal, however. Gotta thank St. Joe's for setting up a great press row here -- we've got a table elevated on a riser. Top notch.
We'll be doing this game in our live-chat format below:
Hello from Highland Parkway and Delaware Road as Kenmore West hosts Niagara Falls in a very highly anticipated matchup -- very highly anticipated since West played host Falls to a two-point game in mid-December.
Packed parking lot here -- which is probably the most contorted parking lot in Western New York high school sports. It's a rectangle, then it's a trapezoid, then you're in a corner looking for a spot like a mouse looking for cheese. Very exciting.
7:12 p.m. Game time here was scheduled for 7:15, but things will start later after a very exciting finish to the JV game. Falls got a buzzer-beating bank-shot three-pointer from Zack Walker (might be the first time we've mentioned a JV player on the blog, but hey, it was a big shot) to tie the game at 48-48 and force overtime. Falls JV is up, 58-52, with 9.4 seconds left. Also notable is that Falls JV coach Carlos Bradberry was ejected just before the end of regulation and Falls head coach Sal Constantino took over the coaching duties. Falls had trailed by at least five in the final minute before getting in position to tie it at the buzzer.
7:19 p.m. Falls JV wins, 60-52. Fifteen minutes counting down on the scoreboard clock.
Just a reminder to check out our scoreboard page, which includes short previews of some of tonight's (and every night's) top games, including this one.
7:38 p.m. We're underway.
7:39 p.m. Three-pointer by Ryan Grandits answered by great three-point play by Marcus Feagin. Martin Bailey drive for KW and 5-3 lead. Jordan Street with a great drive while being fouled. 5-5. Martin Bailey off to the races an a FAST fast break for a 7-5 lead.
Jaleo Wilkins gets a loose ball and swishes a short jumper. 7-7. Great pace to open this game.
7:42 p.m. Missed three by West tuns into a break, a miss and a follow by Street. Falls, 9-7.
Feagin stelas an inbounds and scores on a layup; Falls, 11-7. Marcus Lobdell elevates on a strong drive to the basket and drops it in. Falls, 11-9, with 4:12 left in the first quarter. Lobdell is hurt and walks off on his own power with a limp.
Mike Wilcox drains a three after a kickout from Grandits; Wilkins with a short jumper. Falls, 13-12. Nice pass and Andrew Cosme shields off a defender to give West a 14-13 lead with less than three minutes left in first.
7:46 p.m. Marcus Feagin grabs a rebound and scores but he's called for an offensive foul that Falls fans don't like and I can see why. Falls causes a turnover and Ramir Burton, No. 11, scores for a 15-14 Falls lead.
7:48 p.m. Grandits goes to the hoop and is fouled, Falls fans don't like that one either and I can see why. I didn't see the contact. Less than two minutes to go. One for two at the line; 15-15.
7:49 p.m. Wilkins is fouled on a fast break after a very nice pass by Burton; 1:18 left.
7:50 p.m. Street fouled after grabbing two rebounds in a row -- he is a force inside; 1:08 left in first. First free throw good; second good; Falls, 17-15.
7:51 p.m. Kenny Johnston scores on a floater for KW, Falls break ends with a nice basket by Crumpton. Falls thought they had a steal and were off and running but a whistle stops it.
Bailey scores on a drive through the lane after the teams exchange turnovers. 19-19. Falls' Taijay Williams misses a three at the buzzer.
7:52 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Niagara Falls and Kenmore West are tied at 19-19.
7:54 p.m. Wilkins fouled and hits one of two; Falls, 20-19, with 7:24 left in second. Bailey scores on a strong drive in which he lands on Wilkins and gets the block call. Free throw is good; Ken West, 22-20, with 7:12 left in second.
7:56 p.m. Feagin with a putback off a missed drive. Tied at 22-22. Burton gets bumped on a rebound but no foul is called; tieup goes to Falls.
7:58 p.m. Grandits with a smooth, strong drive. Ken West, 24-22. Burton travels on other end. Ken West nearly turns it over, recovers, Bailey misses a three but 6-4 Quinton Campbell is fouled with 5:32 left. He hits two; West, 26-22.
8 p.m. Feagin with a tough turnaround; 26-24. Street with a block; Falls with a miss. Lobdell grabs a rebound and scores on an easy layup for a 28-24 lead with about 4:30 left.
8:01 p.m. Lobdell drive is partially blocked by Crumpton; Crumpton hits a nice baseline soft shot; 28-26 Ken West. Grandits misses a pullup that was well challenged by Crumpton. Quick missed shots by Falls followed by a nice fast-break layup by Bailey.
8:02 p.m. Niagara Falls coach Sal Constantino calls a timeout with 3:01 left in the second quarter and Kenmore West leading, 30-26.
8:03 p.m. Wilkins called for a travel that press row didn't see. Ken West miss, Falls fast-break miss. Andrew Cosme from Nick Hersey on a nice bounce entry pass for West, which takes a 32-26 lead under two minutes.
Feagin gets a nice entry pass in the lane from Street and is fouled on the floor with 1:48 left.
Wilkins gets a nice pass from Pascucci on the baseline and gets some contact but misses the shot.
8:05 p.m. Street scores off a nice Pascucci pass; 32-28. Wild miss by Ken West. Feagin makes a great cut in the lane and Pascucci hits him for a layup; 32-30 Kenmore West and KW coach Mike Meetze calls a timeout with 1:04 left in the second.
8:07 p.m. Grandits misses a deep three with the shot clock running down; Cosme draws a charge on Pascucci.
8:08 p.m. At HALFTIME, Kenmore West leads Niagara Falls, 32-30.
Just had a visit from Prep Talk Hall of Famer TML1000, who noted that West could be up even more if it were not for Falls' offensive rebounding, and that's true. I think a large part of the battle in taking on Falls is being able to play fearless against them, and West is certainly doing that. They are running with them, moving the ball well on offense, taking it to Falls repeatedly. Falls has shown flashes of why it is the No. 1 team by causing turnovers, finishing, and being a big presence inside on both ends -- but they have looked out of sync on offense at times. Some possessions are good, some possessions look out of sorts.
8:19 p.m. Second half has started; West ball.
Street blocks Grandits' shot in the lane and it turns into a Wilkins layup; tied, 32-32.
Campbell rebounds a miss that was altered by Street and is fouled by Street, his second, with 7:18 left in third. Campbell hits first, misses second; 33-32 West.
8:21 p.m. Misses on both ends. Williams with a floater in the lane for Falls, which takes a 34-33 lead.
Grandits missed three is rebounded by Street; Wilkins travels.
Bailey with a missed drive, Feagin with a fast-break DUNK for a 36-33 lead for Falls.
8:23 p.m. Meetze calls a timeout for Kenmore West with 5:29 left in the third.
8:24 p.m. Grandits gets his hands into Williams to steal the ball and he's fouled by Williams with 4:54 left in the third.
Turnover by West taken by Pascucci, who runs the break well and gives to Street, who scores while being fouled for a 38-33 lead with 4:35 left. Free throw is good; Falls leads, 39-33.
8:25 p.m. West turns it over in inbounds; Falls' lob to Feagin doesn't fall but he is fouled. KW timeout with 4:31 left in the third and Falls with the ball and a 39-33 lead.
8:27 p.m. Feagin hits first; misses second. Falls, 40-33. David Pascucci tries to draw a charge at midcourt and is rightly called for the block.
8:28 p.m. Grandits with a nice jumper after Falls plyed very good defense in West's halfcourt set; Falls, 40-35. West gives Feagin the three and he nails it. Big one. Falls, 43-35.
8:30 p.m. Williams scores on a burst down the left side; Falls, 45-35. Grandits draws a foul by getting his defender in the air and hits but misses the free throw. Falls, 45-37. Under three minutes left in third.
8:31 p.m. Crumpton called for three seconds. Wilcox splits two defenders abut misses. Grandtis leads a break but Burton ends the possession with a strip
Feagin misses in close, gets rebounds, dribbles out, hits three under two minute; 48-37 Falls. Wilcox miss by West; Quinton scores inside; Falls, 48-39.
8:35 p.m. Bailey misses at the buzzer.
At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Niagara Falls leads Kenmore West, 48-39.
Great third quarter for Falls, who played much better defense. Feagin's threes were very big. Might go to the iPhone to try for some highlights in fourth.
8:37 p.m. Crumpton on a drive and is called for a charge and Falls doesn't like it.
Street rebound, outlet, Williams layup: 50-39 Falls. Turnover Ken West.
8:38 p.m. Another travel on Falls.
8:39 p.m. Grandits scores for West, 50-41 Falls; another travel on Falls as the player is bumped by a defender.
8:40 p.m. Feagin makes a steal and is going in for a layup and he is wrapped up by Grandits, who is rightly called for an intentional foul. Feagin misses first, makes second, Falls gets ball back with 6:14 left in third, leading, 51-41.
8:41 p.m. Falls with another travel.
Campbell gets inside for a rebound and he draws a foul on Street with 5:48 left in the game. Misses first, makes second; Falls, 51-42.
8:42 p.m. Campbell fouls Feagin on a rebound on other end; Feagin misses first, misses second.
Feagin draws charge foul on Bailey with 5:30 left.
8:44 p.m. Feagin with a follow, Lobdell with a nice fast-break finish; Falls, 53-44, under five minutes.
Williams with a steal and a layup; Falls, 55-44. Ken West miss, Falls ball with 4:24 left in game and we have a timeout by Kenmore West.
8:47 p.m. Williams with a three off an offensive rebound for Falls, 58-44; Grandits inside for Ken West, 58-46. Feagin called for an offensive foul that Falls didn't like.
Ken West miss, Feagin fouled and he's to the line for a one-and-one with 3:34 left. Miss.
8:49 p.m. Feagin in the open court nearly put down a 360-degree jam but was fouled; 3:02 left. Feagin misses first. Misses second.
8:50 p.m. Street inside for a 60-46 lead for Falls.
8:51 p.m. Pascucci to the line with 2:24 left after a foul on Ken West, I believe a technical foul was called on a player. Pascucci misses first, makes second; Falls, 61-46.
8:52 p.m. Another three by Feagin. Falls, 64-46.
Under two minutes and West has cleared its bench.
Three-pointer by Marquis Siner, steal and layup by Wilkins, Falls, 69-46.
Three-pointer by Johnston for West.
8:55 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Niagara Falls 69, Kenmore West 49.
* * *
There might be some people who don't like what coach Constantino said, but it's true and I love it. Falls should be playing an independent schedule. It's one of the state's top programs. It should do what it needs to do to become the best it can be. That means playing an independent schedule, something I've been in favor of when Falls did it in the mid-2000s, including when it won the state Federation title in 2005 -- and something I think they should have been doing every season since.
Some stuff that caught my eye on our scoreboard page: Tough one-point loss for West Seneca West, which nearly came up with a second straight big win in ECIC I against Frontier. ... As noted in the comments section on this post, Lackawanna seems to have Dondre Alexander and Christian Cheatom back as both went big in a win at Holland. ... Speaking of that interesting ECIC IV race, strong showing from Tonawanda tonight. ... Nice to see struggling Nichols hanging in there with St. Mary's. ... St. Joe's rolls along at St. Francis as it gets ready for Canisius on Saturday.
We're back at it tomorrow with a trip up to Wilson for the Niagara-Orleans showdown between the Lakemen and rival Newfane. On Saturday it's St. Joe's at Canisius at 5 p.m.
Hello from what locals call the "Wolv-arena," the Niagara Falls High School gym, for Day One of the Cataract Classic. We've got quite a season opener for Niagara Falls and Jamestown scheduled for 8 p.m., but there are two games before that: Lancaster vs. Niagara-Wheatfield at 5 p.m. and St. Joe's-Depew at 6:30.
5:42 p.m. We arrive at halftime of the first time, get situated, and can't help but chuckle at the score. Lancaster leads, 14-8. Yes, that's halftime. Hey, it's early.
Then I found out the first quarter score. It was 3-3. OK, it's reallllly early. Actually, Lancaster has played three games, winning its own tournament and getting a great ECIC I-opening win over Clarence last night in overtime. So we'll chalk it up to back-to-back games for one team early in the season, and the season opener for the other team, which has a new coach in Erik O'Bryan, formerly of North Tonawanda.
6:02 p.m. After a much better third quarter (we appreciate not being here for the first half :-) ), Lancaster leads Niagara-Wheatfield, 27-16.
The Redskins did well running its offense to get some good shots, while it forced several turnovers by N-W.
6:16 p.m. N-W keeps scratching and clawing and O'Bryan keeps on his Falcons, but Lancaster has maintained a 10-point lead (38-28) as we head under two minutes.
6:29 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lancaster 43, Niagara-Wheatfield 34.
JJ Harrington earned MVP honors for Lancaster.
6:48 p.m. Check out the high school home page for the box score of the game -- that's a cool new feature of our new Web program, which will have futher improvements over the next few weeks.
We're about to tip off with St. Joe's and Depew.
St. Joe's starters: 5-11 senior A. Keith Louie, 5-10 senior Steven Moser, 6-3 junior Chad Kelly, 6-3 senior Connor Rehbaum and 6-5 senior Jake Spitler.
Depew starters: 5-8 senior Rick Anna, 6-5 junior Jaden Cotton, 5-11 junior Aaron Ertel, 6-3 senior Sam Sallaj and 6-1 freshman Derrick Sekuterski.
6:57 p.m. Not in the starting lineup is St. Joe's transfer Reggie Agbeko, a 6-7 junior who is likely a draw for UB assistant coach Jim Kwitchoff, who is on hand and spoke with both coaches before the tip.
6:58 p.m. Agbeko checks in with 3:22 left in the first quarter with Depew up, 3-2.
7:04 p.m. Not a great night for first quarters here at the Wolvearena. St. Joe's leads Depew, 6-3.
7:07 p.m. Depew coach Larry Jones hollers for a timeout with St. Joe's up, 10-5, with 6:44 left in the second quarter. Rehbaum just put in a very nice floater of a drive down the right side a moment ago.
7:22 p.m. We are at halftime and St. Joe's leads Depew, 16-11. The Marauders had a great final possession of the half after a timeout with less than three seconds left, and senior guard Edward Zimheld knocked down a three-pointer from the right side. Depew had played very well in the later stages of the second quarter with good defense and good passing. Joe's had gone up, 13-7, on a three by Rehbaum.
Agbeko picked up a second foul on a charge with 4:19 left in the second and sat the rest of the quarter.
7:40 p.m. Depew's Jones needs a timeout with 4:54 left in the third as St. Joe's has used some good defense to go up, 24-11. Moser had two straight steal-and-layups and Louie later added a clean rip of a ballhandler to give him a layup.
7:42 p.m. Agbeko has shown some serious flashes in the last minute or so, going up to grab a man-among-boys rebound and then going up where few players can get to finish a putback up by the rim. Just now he grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw, skying high enough that I let out a wow, high enough that the Depew player waiting to go in the game said, "that boy gets UP."
7:44 p.m. The lead for St. Joe's is 26-13 with 2:23 left in the third.
7:46 p.m. Rehbaum picked up his third foul after Moser's two steals and just reentered the game with about 1:30 left in the third.
7:48 p.m. Agbeko just picked up his fourth on a reach-in with 45.3 seconds left in the third.
7:51 p.m. After three quarters, St. Joe's leads Depew, 28-15.
7:59 p.m. St. Joe's keeps scoring in transition and now leads, 32-17. Nice crowd filing in here -- should be a great atmosphere for the Falls-Jamestown game.
8:09 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: St. Joe's 45, Depew 27. Some interviewing to do for me.
8:20 p.m. The always-fun Falls pep band is ready to go. They just changed over to new Falls coach Sal Constantino: "Hey Sal! Oooooh, nice tie!"
8:33 p.m. We're underway.
8:39 p.m. Jamestown coach Ben Drake calls a timeout with 4:04 left in the first quarter and Falls up, 11-6, on a jumper by Taijay Williams, a 5-10 junior. Other starters for Falls: 6-3 senior Marcus Feagin, 5-8 junior Jamere Ollison, 5-8 sophomore Ja'leo Wilkins and 6-5 senior Jordan Street.
Jamestown starts 5-8 sophomore Tommy Campion, 6-1 junior Jaysean Paige, 5-8 senior Joey Campion, 6-4 senior Chris Carlson and 6-3 senior Darin Butts.
8:45 p.m. A lot of action here, and Drake calls another timeout with 1:41 left in the first and Falls up, 17-11. Jordan Street has looked very, very good -- he has scored the last six points and has been more aggressive than I remember at any time last season.
8:47 p.m. Street made an unwise move to try and take a charge with two fouls. Now he's got three and heads to the bench with 50.9 seconds left in the first quarter. Rookie coach error there maybe, having him in the game with two, but, like I just wrote, he was doing some great things.
8:49 p.m. After one quarter, Falls has a 19-12 lead on Jamestown in what has been an exciting, fun-to-watch game. Constantino is hopping up and down the sidelines, has already lost his voice, and you can tell that energy has translated to his team. They're playing tough defense, have forced several turnovers, and they have gotten to the basket very well, batting balls around and basically making the game a frenetic one. Which is the way many people have wanted Falls to play for a long time.
8:54 p.m. Jaysean Paige gets up very impressively, but he's up too far, hangs on the rim and is rightly called for an technical foul.
9 p.m. Constantino calls the first timeout of his career with 3:05 left in the second quarter and Falls up, 31-16.
9:06 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Niagara Falls has a 38-19 lead on Jamestown. The Wolverines are playing some fun, hustling, frenetic basketball. There may be an urge to say, "Falls is back," but it's only halftime -- and actually, it's a different team, different playing style. I would just suggest you get out here Saturday night for Game Two.
That said, Jamestown is on the road in a super-tough place to play for its season opener, and they are a good program with a good coach. This game isn't over.
9:26 p.m. Jamestown came out in the third quarter playing very cool, ready to get back in the game and they started with a few baskets, but Falls put together another nice run to push back (45-26). Jamestown still keeps coming and Constantino takes a timeout with a little over three minutes left in the third with Falls leading, 47-33.
9:37 p.m. Things are tightening up here. At the end of the third quarter, Falls leads Jamestown, 51-38.
9:43 p.m. We've got ourselves a ball game. Falls calls a timeout with 4:11 left to play and Jamestown having cut the lead to 52-48.
9:49 p.m. Some fantastic back-and-forth action here. Wilkins has come up with steals on the last two Jamestown possessions and Williams has hit two three-pointers to help Falls hold off the Red Raiders to this point. Falls leads, 58-50, with 1:00 left in the game; timeout Jamestown as Williams heads to the line.
9:56 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Niagara Falls 62, Jamestown 54.
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.
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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).
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.
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If this is not correct, email me. But break it to me softly.
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.