Hello from one of my favorite days on the high school sports calendar, the Section VI championship tripleheader at All High Stadium.
I'll have updates throughout the day in the live blog below, while I'll also have end-of-quarter #PrepTalkLive updates on Twitter. We start with the Class A showdown of Orchard Park and Clarence at 3:30, followed by the Class B final between Hamburg and Niagara-Wheatfield at 5 and the Class C final wrapping things up with Salamanca and Akron playing at 8.
As always, we're looking forward to your #PrepTalkLive updates on what is a very busy, very important day in Western New York high school sports. The Section VI quarterfinals in both baseball and softball are today, as are the Monsignor Martin Association semifinals in boys lacrosse.
Contribute updates and keep track of others as well in the blog -- the easiest way to do that is to tweet updates with the #PrepTalkLive hashtag. Those tweets will automatically appear below.
We want tweets from all varsity sports every day of the week. The #preptalklive blog (and hashtag) -- as it was during football season and the winter -- is the place to check out scores from all over Western New York.
The spring season's Championship Week begins today with several major events, including the Section VI boys lacrosse finals tripleheader at All High Stadium.
That's where I'll be, providing play-by-play updates in the live blog below for the Class B (Hamburg vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 3:30 p.m.), C (Silver Creek vs. Akron, 5:30) and A games (Orchard Park vs. Clarence, 8 p.m.).
Hello on one of the most meaningful days on this school year's Western New York high school sports calendar.
We'll be reporting live from Rochester's Blue Cross Arena, site of the Far West Regional round that determines berths in next week's state public school final four. Meanwhile, Canisius and St. Mary's will play for Catholic state titles at Fordham University. Here's a preview of today's boys hoop action.
Also today: Girls basketball regionals at Buffalo State and state semifinal boys hockey with Niagara-Wheatfield in action in Utica.
I'll provide play-by-play updates from the boys regionals in the live blog below and I'll have periodic #preptalkscores updates via Twitter which will also appear in the blog.
Your tweets with the hashtag #preptalkscores are welcome -- as they will appear in the live blog as well. You can comment on these games or others. Every night, scoring update tweets (in any sport) are welcome to those on Twitter -- just use the #preptalkscores hashtag.
Check our scoreboard page for a complete schedule of tonight's games; the scoreboard will be updated as we receive game reports throughout the evening.
Clarence meets defending Federation (Section VI) Large School hockey champion Niagara-Wheatfield in the first of three games here today at First Niagara Center.
The Federation Small School Final is supposed to start at 6 p.m. and feature West Seneca West against Williamsville East. The Niagara Cup Final, formerly known as Federation Catholic Playoff final, starts at 8 p.m. or so featuring Bishop Timon against St. Joe's.
CLARENCE vs. NIAGARA-WHEATFIELD
N-W needs just 51 seconds to take 1-0 lead. Frank Vecchio II knocks in own rebound following a transition rush off Red Devils' neutral zone turnover.
On power play, Clarence ties it at 1 with 8:11 left on goal by Matt Colicchia.
Just 31 seconds later, N-W strikes again. Justin Durkee's change up from slot slips past Clarence goalie Devin Paluh. N-W leads, 2-1.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hello from state championship softball at the Adirondack Sports Complex in Queensbury.
Niagara-Wheatfield is here in Class AA, Falconer in B and Frewsburg in C.
I'll have updates throughout the day, but a light drizzle is limiting me to the iPhone right now.
9:48 a.m. Niagara-Wheatfield leads Cicero-North Syracuse, 2-1, after one in the AA semifinals.
Falcons leadoff dynamo Caitlin Attfield led off with a bunt single and came home on this fielder's choice:
The N-W rally ends with C-NS centerfielder Jenna Tartaro tracking down a nice shot off the bat of Alyssa Depetris.
10:15 a.m. Not a good bottom of the second for N-W: C-NS scores seven to take an 8-2 lead after two. The rain has picked up to a harder drizzle now.
10:30 a.m. We are suspended due to rain in the bottom of the third. C-NS leads, 8-2, and has the bases loaded with no out.
10:55 a.m. Down the road at the Morse Athletic Complex, Frewsburg has a 4-2 lead on Haldane in a C semifinal heading to the bottom of the second. Raining here but there hasn't been a delay. Frewsburg had a four-run first in which they sent 10 batters to the plate.
11:14 a.m. Haldane scores three in the bottom of the second to take a 5-4 lead. At the end of the inning, the umpire calls a delay to address puddles at home and near third.
11:44 a.m. Play restarted fairly quickly, with Haldane adding four runs in the bottom of the third to take a 9-4 lead. Haldane with a pair of well-hit gappers to drive in their runs.
11:50 a.m. Frewsburg hasn't sent more than three batters to the plate in an inning since the first. 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth.
12:13 p.m. Ouch for Frewsburg. Seven more runs for Haldane, which now leads, 16-4, after four innings.
12:23 p.m. We are back down the road at Adirondack, where C-NS scored a run to take a 9-3 lead after three. This going back and forth & trying to time it right is going to be tough :-).
12:49 p.m. Back at Morse and Frewsburg got two back but trails, 18-6, in the bottom of the sixth. And Haldane just stole a base. Why???
12:51 p.m. Single makes it 19-6.
12:54 p.m. Two-run single made it 22-6 before the inning ended. Heading to the top of the seventh.
1:26 p.m. Section VI is 0-2. Frewsburg lost, 22-6. Niagara-Wheatfield lost, 9-2.
At the end of the Haldane game, their coach added insult to a blowout with some unsportsmanlike conduct I'll elaborate on later when I'm on a laptop and not an iPhone.
1:53 p.m. B semifinal has started.
2:02 p.m. Windsor gets one in the first after two errors and no hits. With one out, Emma Benson hit a fly to left that would have been a good running catch but the ball went in and out of the glove for a two-base error. Cara Martin followed with a hard-hit ball that went under the second baseman to score Benson.
Update from Binghamton: Dunkirk baseball has lost, 6-2. Check this link from The Journal News of Westchester County for some details (sorry for old school link but we're still updating via iPhone):
3:15 p.m. Been conserving energy with the iPhone. Windsor has a 4-0 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth. Windsor added three runs in the second.
3:22 p.m. Falconer gets one back with an RBI single by No 9 hitter Allyson Roach. She drove in Shelby Overturf, who walked then moved to third on two fielder's choices. Heading to the sixth.
3:47 p.m. It's a final: Windsor 4, Falconer 1.
Ballgame over. Section VI softball season over. Western New York high school season over.
* * *
My apologies about not updating this sooner (I'm writing it Monday). Saturday was a longgggg day (my story is here), Sunday was spent traveling (and recovering :-) ).
The unfortunate incident I witnessed at the end of the Class C semifinal was this:
Haldane is leading Frewsburg, 22-6, and as I noted in the blog, they were stealing bases very late in the game with a huge lead. Unnecessary and could be called classless, but it is a separate issue from what I'm about to describe.
Frewsburg, on the wrong side of the worst kind of score, seemed to be handling it as well as they could. An infielder committed an error by booting the ball late in the game, and the Frewsburg assistant joked with her that she might have tried to kick it directly to a teammate for a great play.
They were losing a big-time game, but Frewsburg seemed to have everything in perspective.
Not so on the other side.
In the top of the seventh, the last ups for Frewsburg in the game -- which was, as a reminder, 22-6 -- the leadoff batter hit a hard comebacker to the mound and was thrown out by the pitcher, who had been hit with the ball and was in some degree of pain. As the batter returned to the dugout, she passed home plate, where she received some encouraging words and a high-five from the on-deck batter.
Then I noticed that the on-deck batter had a very surprised look on her face and appeared to be talking to the catcher. The on-deck batter said something to the effect of, "No, I wasn't talking about that ... I was talking about a different thing."
The pitcher stayed in the game and the blowout ended promptly two outs later. Then I saw the same on-deck batter, with Frewsburg coach, at the end of postgame handshake line talking with the Haldane coach. It was a brief conversation in which the Frewsburg player looked to be attempting to explain some kind of misunderstanding.
According to Frewsburg people, the Haldane coach had yelled at the on-deck batter because he thought the Frewsburg players were celebrating the fact that the pitcher had been hurt. That's why the batter was in shock that she was being yelled at for something she didn't do. At the end of the game, the player wanted to explain this misunderstanding to the Haldane coach, who apparently wasn't buying the explanation. I saw the Frewsburg coaching staff make a NYSPHSAA representative aware of the Haldane coach's actions.
The player is a sophomore -- actually almost all of Frewsburg's players are sophomores (one senior, two juniors on roster) -- and after the game the incident left her upset to the point of tears.
It's an incident that didn't need to happen. A coach should speak to -- much less yell -- at an opposing player only in the rarest of cases, and this certainly didn't qualify. There was also an opportunity to smooth out what could have been a bad misunderstanding during the handshake, one that was initiated by the Frewsburg player, but that was, according to Frewsburg, rebuffed by the Haldane coach.
It's an utter lack of perspective, which in my opinion is the worst thing about high school sports. Coaches and parents (and sometimes players) that go overboard in the way they handle themselves and in the way they deal with the action on the field hijack what is a wonderful athletic and educational experience and take it places it shouldn't go. They take things too seriously to the point where they embarrass themselves.
Coach, you won a state semifinal game -- and left a girl on the other team in tears. Congratulations.
Haldane lost the state championship game later Saturday afternoon.
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.