Every week during the basketball season a panel of voters participates in The News' large and small school boys basketball polls.
And every week we let you know, like the title says ... how The News voted.
This is just one ballot -- there are nine other voters in each poll. This week's News poll is available via the high school home page.
It's a Super Week, and we're not talking about Sunday's football game. As you'll see throughout the blog, there are several big-time games this week -- there's even one on Super Bowl Sunday that is worth a bit of hype.
1. Niagara Falls (10-1) [last week: 1] -- The 100-18 win over Kenmore East revived calls for the Niagara Frontier League to allow Falls to play as an independent. I've said they should have remained that way since the 2005 Federation championship team.
Basketball standout Stan Wier has verbally committed to the University at Buffalo.
The East Aurora senior-to-be emailed me and said he picked UB's offer over those from The Citadel, Princeton, Cornell, Rhode Island and Colgate. Wier said more offers have come in since he turned heads playing for the Albany City Rocks at the AAU National Tournament in Orlando a few weeks ago.
"It feels absolutely unbelievable -- to grow up in Western New York, play here, win a Federation title and then be blessed with the opportunity to play for your hometown college on such a great team," said Wier, who said he also worked out with St. Bonaventure. "After a few visits with the coaches and players everything felt perfect.
"Several calls and offers had come in since the Nationals and I had made a lot of visits in July ... but nothing felt as good as everything UB has to offer. UB has a great squad and I believe the City of Buffalo is in for a big surprise and treat over the next few years."
Wier has had a well-traveled and impressive high school career that has come full circle. He was an All-Western New York honorable mention with East Aurora as a freshman; he was a second-team All-WNY pick in helping Nichols to the state Federation championship as a sophomore; last year he played with and against top talent at Indiana private school La Lumiere; this fall he makes his return to East Aurora.
Next year, he'll be at UB -- where he'll meet up with former Nichols teammate Will Regan, who is sitting out the upcoming season at UB following his transfer from Virginia after playing there as a freshman.
"I’m excited to reunite with my former teammate," said Wier. "Virginia must have been a great learning/growing experience for him and I can only wait to see how much he has improved."
Wier was listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds on La Lumiere's maxpreps.com page. He is an obviously well-built shooting guard who has outstanding range. His outside shooting was a devastating factor in Nichols' run to the Federation title and I think it's very worthy of a Division I program (I thought that after his sophomore year). He also displayed some fine one-on-one defense and great competitiveness for Nichols during that championship season.
"It feels good to have this process complete," Wier said. "Over the years, I have made decisions that I hoped would make me a better basketball player. It wasn’t always easy leaving the new friends I made each year but playing for UB makes all the hard work and sacrifice worth it.
"I get the privilege to play for Coach Witherspoon and before that I am excited to play my senior year with my brother Cam and my friends at East Aurora. Coach [Chris] Koselny is demanding that all the players commit to being successful and EA is on the rise. All of us are working hard to get better. I went to the Buff State [Section VI championship week] games last year and remembered how exciting it was to play there with my older brother Thad [when Stan was a freshman]. I really hope Cam and I can share the same memories."
Wier elaborated (in a well-written email) about his reasons for selecting UB:
"Academics: UB is really a great academic institution. I think a lot of people take it for granted because it’s practically in their backyard and don’t realize how it measures up with the best in many ways.
Coaches/team chemistry: Coach [Reggie] Witherspoon and [assistant Jim] Kwitchoff are great guys. Their passion and intensity seemed a notch above. I have known [former standout and current assistant] Turner Battle for years: he is a great guy and was an amazing player. I am so excited to learn from him. As for chemistry: The UB team is a unit. They like each other, get along well and I just knew that I wanted to be part of them.
Win -- get to the NCAA Tourney. Coach Witherspoon has put together a great roster that has at least three other players of high major playing ability that could play for most any school in the country. Guys like Javon McCrea, Xavier Ford, Will Regan (everyone knows how good a player Will is), Dave Barnett [walk-on from EA] and other great players.
With this roster and the new guys coming in, I believe Buffalo will win the Mid-American Conference and could very well become the next Butler. Really, really excited for this opportunity.
Play: I have a strong passion for basketball and wanted to go to a school where I have a good opportunity to play as a freshman and have impact. I will be working hard as ever this next year and am really looking forward to getting involved with the team as early as I possibly can.
Coach: I am sure that after my playing days are over I want to be an NCAA coach. Coach Witherspoon has offered to take me under his wing, arrange some camps at other schools that I can work and involve me in the coaching process while I am at UB. I can’t thank him enough."
Wier's return to EA certainly makes for an intriguing storyline in the ECIC and Section VI, while being the latest local player to commit to UB provides another layer of excitement for Western New York basketball fans. It should be a fun hoops year -- and to think we've got a whole football season to go before that (starting Monday).
And now, since I'm writing this from the Watkins Glen International media center, back to auto racing. :-)
Nichols athletic director Robert Stewart e-mailed me with the news that Jim MacKinnon has been hired to succeed Greg Plumb as the Vikings' boys basketball coach.
"Coach MacKinnon has been involved with Nichols basketball for the last two years and we are very excited to have him take over the head position," stated Stewart.
MacKinnon was the head coach at Tonawanda from 1993 to 2002; from 1990 to 1993 he was the JV coach at Canisius High School. MacKinnon's son, Andrew, was the point guard on the Vikings' 2010 state Federation Class A champion team.
Williamsville South's Joe Licata has been a PrepTalkTV subject for his record-breaking football career, and Friday we saw him do his three-point shooting thing in basketball. It is part of a three-pronged episode featuring a big win for Maryvale and fine performance by Sacred Heart in our first visit to a girls hoops game.
Review the action -- thanks to video reporter/producer Lauren Mariacher -- and get our breakdown of the top games of the upcoming week:
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My bad (chest-tap): Please excuse my stuffy voice due to my stuffed-up head and the cold I'm fighting.
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You can find all of our videos easily by going to the video player and clicking "PrepTalkTV."
As always, if you were at a game tonight, let us know how it went here in our comments section.
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5:56 p.m. The cozy Nichols gym is getting cozier as fans file in for the big game. The girls are on the court for their pregame shootarounds. There are 13 minutes counting down on the scoreboard. The preceding game here was a St. Francis-Nichols JV boys game won by the visitors.
6:04 p.m. Both coaches -- Ron Torgalski of Nichols and Sister Maria Pares of Sacred Heart -- are standing under their baskets as their teams go through the final minutes of warmups.
6:14 p.m. We're tipping off.
6:17 p.m. Katie Healy reverse layup is answered by a Njideka Boble basket. An open Christina Healy off a nice pass. Katie Healy with a nice drive from the left side for a 6-2 Sacred Heart lead. Standout freshman Taylor Rooks is fouled with 5:49 left in the first; she misses both.
6:19 p.m. Taylor Rooks with a nice steal and drive; Sarah Pawlak answers inside off a nice bounce pass. Sacred Heart, 8-4. A runner by Sloan Walton for Nichols; travel on Sacred Heart with 4:22 left in first.
6:22 p.m. Rooks with a great hustle play to swipe a loose ball Sloan Walton hits a three for a 9-8 Nichols lead. Crowd loved it.
6:23 p.m. Katie Healy off a rebound; Sacred Heart, 10-9. Under three minutes. Nice baseline floater by Walton; Nichols, 11-10.
6:24 p.m. Katie Healy with a fast-break layup; Noble from Meghan Heldwein off nice ball movement from Nichols; Katie Healy with a nice reverse layup in traffic, nice awareness of where she was.
6:26 p.m. Sophomore LaTrice Hall of Sacred Heart drops a baseline jumper from the right side (right in front of me as I'm sitting on the court, photographer-style) just before the buzzer to give Sacred Heart a three-point lead.
At the end of the first quarter, Sacred Heart leads Nichols, 16-13.
6:29 p.m. Krissy Russo starts the second quarter the way Sacred Heart ended it -- hitting another three on a bank-shot.
6:30 p.m. Following a Nichols turnover, Bridget Andrews swishes a three from the left side for Sacred Heart for a 22-13 lead. That prompts a timeout by Nichols coach Torgalski with 6:47 left in the second quarter.
6:31 p.m. Rooks with a fast break; 22-15 Sacred Heart; Sharks travel; Nichols turnover; Sacred Heart miss; Nichols miss; Sarah Pawlak hits another three for Sacred Heart and the lead is 25-15 with under five minutes to play in the second.
6:34 p.m. Pawlak is fouled and hits one of two with 4:33 left in second; 26-15.
6:35 p.m.Another three by Sacred Heart as Pawlak drills one from the left baseline. Wow. Great shooting by the Sharks. Nichols calls another three-induced timeout with 3:36 left in the second quarter and Sacred Heart up, 29-15.
6:45 p.m. WOW what a finish to the quarter by Sacred Heart, which scored the quarter's last 17 points. Whoa.
At HALFTIME, Sacred Heart leads Nichols, 39-15.
A recap of the fantastic finish to a 23-2 quarter for Sacred Heart:
A Pawlak block of Rooks -- I believe her second in two possessions -- leads to a three-pointer by Russo for a 32-15 lead with 2:05 left. A turnover by Nichols was followed by a layup by Katie Healy with 1:40 left (34-15). A Pawlak steal translated to an un-boxed out Hall putting in an offensive rebound for a 36-15 lead. One free throw by Katie Healy and two by Russo in the final minute pushed the lead to 24.
6:51 p.m. I'm going to take off to Williamsville South to make sure I get a good seat for the Billies game with Bishop Timon-St. Jude. More updates to come.
7:36 p.m. Hello from Williamsville South, where we are plugged in courtside and we're about to tip off.
Once again we'll have updates throughout the night here from our PrepTalkTV team, so check in throughout the night and get familiar with that refresh button.
3:38 p.m. We're off to Nichols, which hosts Niagara Catholic in a 4:30 p.m. start, a good location for us to get our night kicked off. The interesting thing about the game is that it is Niagara Catholic's opener, which postponed its Week One game with St. Mary's to the end of the season due to some problems fielding a full team, then had two bye weeks.
Video reporter Lauren Mariacher and I will be on hand and we'll have our video intro of the night up by around kickoff.
4:28 p.m. It's just about kickoff time here. The Nichols public address announcer -- some may be familiar with him from basketball season -- is entertaining all by himself. He delivers arena-caliber introductions even though there is a friends-and-family crowd of tens here. Throw in a muscular sound system and we have some North Buffalo-mansion window rattling stuff here. His roaring announcement of the game featuring "YOURRRRR NICHOLLLLLLS VIKINGSSSSS!!!!!" is greeted with claps and cheers -- but it's only like 10 to 12 claps and cheers.
4:37 p.m. Here's our intro for the evening:
4:46 p.m. Nichols stops Niagara Catholic on its first drive, then quickly moves downfield -- with plays all on the ground -- and scores on a 6-yard run by senior standout Matt Benedict. Benedict adds the two-point conversion run and Nichols takes a quick, 8-0 lead.
Niagara Catholic started its next possession with 7:38 left in the first quarter and continued to look like it is their opener -- a bad snap leads to a fumble and a 20-yard loss deep in their territory; on the next play another fumble goes into its end zone and Nichols gets a safety for a 10-0 lead with 6:12 left in the first.
While we saw Nichols overwhelmed here last week by Cardinal O'Hara, the Big Green plays good football under coach Colin Brinson. It beat JFK in its opener and hung with Grover Cleveland in a Week Two game that went down to the wire.
Niagara Catholic may have had a late start, but it looks ready to go for its opener -- its cheerleaders are here and it has at least as many fans here as Nichols does.
4:52 p.m. Nichols rolls downfield again and Benedict runs in from 3 yards out for another score, followed by an Adam Noonan two-point conversion run, for an 18-0 lead with 4:11 left in the first.
4:52 p.m. Nichols is having a fine day here on its fine turf fields. The boys soccer team has a 5-0 lead on St. Francis and there's still more than 12 minutes left in the first half. That's a surprising score there since League AA soccer in the Monsignor Martin Association usually consists of tough matchups no matter who is playing.
5:05 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Nichols leads, 18-0, and again has the ball deep in Niagara Catholic territory.
5:06 p.m. Another Benedict touchdown (2 yards) -- no points after this time -- and Nichols leads, 24-0, with 11:54 left in the second quarter.
5:18 p.m. Another Benedict touchdown, but this one is much longer -- 85 yards. Benedict got a great block for about the last 50 yards from freshman Mike Geiger, who shielded off the only tackler that had a shot for a TD-saving tackle. A two-point conversion pass failed and Nichols leads, 30-0, with 6:26 left in the second quarter.
5:35 p.m. It's halftime here with Nichols leading Niagara Catholic, 30-0. With a little rain coming down, Lauren and her laptop have hit her in-car editing booth and so have I and my laptop. Lauren is headed next to Riverside to catch a little early action of McKinley against Niagara-Wheatfield before joining me at All High Stadium for NT-Riverside. I'll be heading over there early to make sure I'm settled in for the big game.
Here are Lauren Mariacher's first-half highlights along with Niagara Catholic coach Don Marinucci talking about having his team start the season in Week Four:
6:30 p.m. After a pit stop, we've pulled into All High Stadium where there is already a decent crowd filing in for NT-Riverside.
7:02 p.m. We're about to kick off -- Riverside is kicking off to NT. In a not unexpected development, senior standout and starting quarterback for NT, Joe Montesanti, is said to not be playing tonight. He took a big hit late in the first half of last week's win over Niagara Falls.
WGR (550 AM) has the Hamburg at Williamsville South game.
Here's Buffalo Public Schools superintendent James A. Williams chatting before the game with photographer John Hickey:
7:07 p.m. North Tonawanda didn't take long to strike, and their fans are being heard loudly here at All High. On second-and-4 at the NT 35, junior quarterback Pat Angelhow kept the ball on the Lumberjacks' option and Riverside just couldn't find him. He ran 65 yards for the TOUCHDOWN, Justin Bacon adds the extra point and NT leads Riverside, 7-0, just 1:40 into the game.
7:14 p.m. This one is going to be fun. Riverside comes back with a big-play drive that ends with a TOUCHDOWN by Harold Millender, who took and end-around to the right side for a 15-yard score. Sophomore Roland Wapalo -- who wasn't with Riverside last week it appears -- boots a low liner up and good for the extra point and we are tied at 7-7 with 6:57 left in the first quarter.
Earlier in the drive, junior quarterback Jeremiah Cormack hit senior Charles Pawlak down the left sideline for a big, 43-yard gain -- it was third-and-18 play from the Riverside 36 to move the Frontiers to the NT 21.
7:24 p.m. UPDATE from Lauren at Riverside: McKinley and Niagara-Wheatfield are scoreless after the first quarter.
7:29 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, NT and Riverside are tied at 7-7. Riverside has a first down at its 47.
7:32 p.m. Big play for NT as senior Ryan Daigler steps in front of a Cormack pass for an interception and he's tackled with a face mask. With the penalty, NT starts at the Riverside 28 with 11:05 left in the second.
UPDATE from Riverside: Niagara-Wheatfield takes a 7-0 lead on McKinley in the second quarter.
7:45 p.m. We have a timeout by NT with 3:15 left in the second quarter with NT facing a third-and-9 at the Riverside 35.
7:49 p.m. A lot to recap since that timeout. On the next play, Riverside senior Aweis Aweis (that's the name. I like it) knocked down a pass attempt on a halfback option by NT, which used that play to score a touchdown last week against Niagara Falls. On the next play, NT converted on fourth-and-9 when Angelow hit a swing pass to the left to a wide-open Justin Bacon, who nearly went for the score but was bounced out of bounds at the Riverside 4.
Two plays later, senior Rob Wikierski ran to the left behind a nice push from the line for a 1-yard TOUCHDOWN. The extra point by Bacon was wide right and NT leads Riverside, 13-7, with 2:14 left in the second quarter.
7:56 p.m. Again -- this will certainly be a fun one. Because again -- Riverside comes right back with a TOUCHDOWN after a big play. On third-and-5 at the NT 40, Cormack rolled right and let go of a pass while jumping, and Justice Faggens made a play of his own while jumping, leaping for a great hands-catch over a defender and getting Riverside to the NT 7.
One play later, junior D'Yontae Parker ran up the middle for a 7-yard score. Wapalo's kick went wide left and the score is tied at 13-13.
8:04 p.m. At HALFTIME, Riverside and NT are tied at 13-13.
UPDATES: Photographer Mark Mulville reports that Orchard Park leads at Frontier, 6-0, after the first quarter.
McKinley scores on a 58-yard pass play to cut Niagara-Wheatfield's lead to 12-8 with 1:35 left in the second quarter, thanks to a report from Lauren at Riverside.
Here's Lauren Mariacher's report from that game, including some pregame words from McKinley coach Ed Wilson regarding the Macks' big win over Grand Island last week:
Williamsville South had a 13-7 first-quarter lead over Hamburg, according to Roger Weiss' report on WJJL.
8:10 p.m. Great game and a great atmosphere here -- tough for me to judge the crowd, but it's the most people I've seen at All High for a game. I'd probably guess 1,500 or so -- the central sections here are pretty packed. Rich Kozak says this is probably the largest regular season crowd here in five years.
8:23 p.m. We're under way with the second half; Riverside set to receive. After another look around I'm bumping my estimate up over 2,000. Great crowd here.
8:25 p.m. UPDATE from Mulville at Frontier: OP's lead over the Falcons is 6-0 at halftime. The score was a 10-yard run by Okoya Anderson in the first quarter. ... Thanks to WJJL: Iroquois up, 19-14, at West Seneca East and McKinley has taken a 16-12 lead on Niagara-Wheatfield at Riverside thanks to a touchdown run and extra-point run by Rutledge. ... Lackawanna, 14-7, over Dunkirk in the first half.
8:49 p.m. My apologies about the delay, some blog problems here. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Riverside and NT are still tied at 13-13. NT had two good drives end in field goal attempts by Justin Bacon, but the first went wide left and the second was short.
8:51 p.m. UPDATES from Sean Bruso: Lew-Port leads Maryvale, 20-14, in third quarter -- game will be on Time Warner SportsNet Sunday evening at 7. ... Williamsville South up on Hamburg, 28-7, after three quarters.
Big one here -- report of Cheektowaga and East tied at 8-8.
8:58 p.m. Since Bacon's second missed field goal late in the third, Riverside punted, then NT punted after Riverside sophomore Tyler Biedron came up with a big sack on third down.
9:06 p.m. NT has gone ahead with a TOUCHDOWN on a 32-yard play by Wikierski -- tough to tell because it was on the far side, I believe it was an option pitch to the speedy back on the outside, because he scooted down the left sideline for the score. The extra point by Bacon was good and NT leads Riverside, 20-13, with 4:13 left.
There are radio reports that there were Riverside complaints that the play was either an illegal forward pass -- later radio report says it was a forward pass, but a legal one because Angelhow was not over the line of scrimmage. So it's a touchdown pass.
9:12 p.m. BIG interception for NT as Ryan Drass comes down with a pass that was off the hands of Charles Pawlak over the middle.
9:14 p.m. NT runs for a first down and that should be it -- Riverside calls a timeout with 1:10 left.
9:16 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: North Tonawanda 20, Riverside 13.
Time for interviews and some serious running around. What a game.
UPDATE from Mulville at Frontier: OP's lead is 27-0 over the Falcons in the fourth quarter. ... McKinley's lead is 24-19 over Niagara-Wheatfield with 3:18 left in a back-and-forth game.
9:39 p.m. UPDATES: BIG RESULT from Cheektowaga, where East has beaten defending Class B champion Cheektowaga. ... OP leads Frontier, 30-6, with four minutes left. ... Lew-Port beats Maryvale, 33-14. ... McKinley wins, 24-19.
10:21 p.m. Whew. Story is done for first edition. Video report is coming soon.
Here it is:
The final from Frontier was OP with a huge, 30-6 victory over a fellow top 10 large school. Frontier was ranked fifth ahead of No. 6 OP in the poll (but I have to say not on my ballot). Okoya Anderson had three TDs.
11:10 p.m. Whew again. Story done for second edition. I called Riverside coach Tony Truilizio to get his take on the winning score, and he said it was "definitely forward ... there were lineman downfield."
I've watched our video a bunch of times and it sure is hard to tell from that angle. NT coach Eric Jantzi, Angelhow and Wikierski all said it was a lateral.
A little trivia: NT players wear their helmets during interviews because the Jacks have a rule that if they are on the field, they are wearing their helmet. I was wondering what was up with that, because the Jacks would do interviews that way last year as well. I like it.
In other finals: Lancaster 45, West Seneca West 0 ... Williamsvile South 42, Hamburg 7. ... Iroquois 38, West Seneca East 17 ... Here's the WOW score of the night: East 14, Cheektowaga 8 ... East Aurora 30, Springville 0 ... Lackawanna 28, Dunkirk 7 ... Albion 38, Tonawanda 15 ... Alden 31, Newfane 14 ... Wilson 14, Roy-Hart 0 ... Southwestern 38, Allegany-Limestone 0. ... Fredonia 45, Falconer 0 ... Portville 22, Cattaraugus/LV 7 ... Maple Grove 39, Clymer 0 ... Chautauqua Lake 36, Westfield 0 ... Randolph 55, Franklinville 0 ... Pine Valley 32, Ellicottville 0 ... Frewsburg 41, Forestville 0 ... The final from the game we started at tonight is not a surprise: Nichols 40, Niagara Catholic 0. ... Eden 48, Gowanda 6 ... Medina 18, Akron 6.
My apologies regarding our scoreboard not being update or being incomplete tonight. We had some massive malfunctions.
Due to those malfunctions, no audio wrap from me. I will go over the results here, if you miss the audio version, spoken word editions can be arranged for a fee. Baddump-bump. >
The East win at Cheektowaga is tremendous, perhaps surpassing McKinley's win over Grand Island as the top city win of the season. Again, the city teams come through with another impressive weekend (and it's only Friday). Riverside and NT went right down to the wire as well, of course. McKinley got a sterner test than I expected from Niagara-Wheatfield, but the Macks came through in the end to keep some Class A North drama building -- next Saturday they're at Sweet Home.
The OP score is certainly impressive -- in the chat this week I mentioned how those teams have been known to play some close games in the past. I thought OP would win, with the chance of a Frontier upset, in a close game. Quality showing by OP but this was Frontier's first real test against a high-quality opponent this year -- maybe Frontier's 3-0 mark wasn't as worth as much as we thought.
Lancaster took out its frustrations big-time in getting its first win. ... Will South's score was close for a while but that's what we expected -- Joe Licata is two TDs away from setting the all-time WNY record. ... Nice win for Lew-Port by a surprising margin at Maryvale. ... Another huge victory margin for Fredonia. Whoa.
See you tomorrow morning from the "Cleveland Bowl" -- a top 10 small school between Cleveland Hill and Grover Cleveland at Riverside at 10 a.m. After that I'm headed to Canisius' Stransky Complex in West Seneca at 2 to see how the undefeated Crusaders fare against Cathedral Prep's powerful program, and I'll probably check out All-High's 4 p.m. show between Lafayette and Amherst.
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As always, we want to hear from you about what you've seen tonight.
Let us know what you thought of the teams, players -- even the hot dogs
-- in the comments section below.
Hello and welcome to what should be another interesting night of high school football here with PrepTalkTV and the Prep Talk blog.
Settle in with your refresh button and get updates here all evening -- I'll provide updates from the games I check out, I'll pass on any score updates I learn of, and we have our team of reporters and photographers at several spots in Western New York tonight so we'll have photos and videos from them as well.
4:15 p.m. We love the early kickoffs here at PrepTalkTV -- we're starting at Nichols, which hosts Cardinal O'Hara in the teams' Monsignor Martin League A opener at 4:30 p.m. at the Big Green's Strauss Truscott Field.
Nichols is 1-1 after beating JFK and battling Grover Cleveland to the end last week; O'Hara started with a big loss at Canisius but last week had an impressive victory over Xavier of New York City.
4:30 p.m. They are about to kick off here at Nichols, and here's our kickoff:
4:41 p.m. Cardinal O'Hara has a quick lead after a 41-yard TOUCHOWN run by senior Robert Davis on the Hawks' first play from scrimmage. Soo Young Park adds the extra point and O'Hara has a 7-0 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
On Nichols' first possession, they quickly had a fourth down come up but got a first down on a fake in which senior Matt Benedict ran to the right side and down the right sideline -- he was whistled for being out of bounds but the Nichols sideline and fans were adamant that he kept himself in.
4:46 p.m. Nichols calls a timeout facing another fourth down, I believe (the scoreboard here just has the score and time and I'm sitting on the back of an elevated scorer's table, facing away from the field.). There is 4:12 remaining in the first. It appears Nichols could be in for a long day.
4:56 p.m. Definitely a long day. Nichols had turned the ball over on downs on that last drive (my bad), Davis broke off another nice run, and then Kyree Carter had plenty of blocking and little trouble getting into the end zone on a 12-yard TOUCHDOWN. The point-after pass failed and O'Hara's lead is 13-0 with 3:07 left in the first.
4:58 p.m. Here we go again. Nichols turns the ball over on downs -- I'm guessing they don't have a punter -- and O'Hara scores on its first play from scrimmage. Sophomore quarterback Anthony DiFrancesco lofts a nice ball down the left sideline for senior Maurice Betton, who makes a very nice airborne catch for a 39-yard TOUCHDOWN. Another Park extra point is good and O'Hara leads, 20-0, with 10:57 left in the second quarter.
5:08 p.m. Yikes. A Nichols fumble is turned into what I believe was a 30-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Davis. Park adds another kick and O'Hara leads, 27-0, with 8:59 left in the second quarter.
5:15 p.m. Nichols turned the ball over on downs again -- the lack of a punter is killing the Green -- and Davis soon after runs in for a 23-yard TOUCHDOWN. He made some nice moves and slipped out of a few tackles on that one. Another Park PAT and O'Hara's lead is 34-0 with 5:11 left in the second quarter.
And no, I'm pretty sure there is not a mercy rule in football. Just looking at the sidelines, Nichols is outmanned big time, and O'Hara is one of the best small schools in Western New York. That would be enough for a mismatch, but again, the no-punter thing is extremely hazardous to the health of a football team. We've had Nichols drives go four plays and out, handing the Hawks a short field.
The Nichols soccer team is practicing on the adjacent field here -- maybe one of those guys can punt? Sorry, couldn't resist. :-)
5:21 p.m. While we've been typing, Nichols fumbled again, Davis recovered it again, and the Hawks have another short field. The Hawks take over inside the 20 with 3:04 to play in the first half.
5:23 p.m. The football gods just checked in -- an O'Hara fumble is recovered by Benedict.
5:24 p.m. Maybe not. Senior Brandon Lyles with an interception and O'Hara takes over just outside the Nichols 10.
5:28 p.m. Senior Koran McCoy runs in from 2 yards out for a TOUCHDOWN, Park with another extra point, O'Hara with a 41-0 lead with 47 seconds left in the first half.
5:32 p.m. It is HALFTIME and Cardinal O'Hara leads Nichols, 41-0.
Here's what it looked like -- here's Lauren Mariacher's video highlight package:
6:15 p.m. Typing from the car for a quick update ... O'Hara leads Nichols, 48-6, in the fourth quarter. Betton scored for O'Hara on a 35-yard TOUCHDOWN run. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Benedict caught a pass from Liam Ryan for a TOUCHDOWN. It was for about 19 yards; not sure because I was in the parking lot.
I'm off to North Tonawanda for the 0-2 Lumberjacks' home game against 2-0- Niagara Falls.
6:58 p.m. Hello from NT, where we are about to kick off.
7:11 p.m. NT taking over at the Falls 47 after a Falls punt goes bad and the punter does well to pass it forward for an incomplete pass rather than a big loss. It will be NT's second possession; Falls has one first down over two drives which haven't gone far.
7:18 p.m. We are at the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER and it is scoreless between Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda.
7:23 p.m. North Tonawanda scores the game's first TOUCHDOWN as Rob Wikierski takes a handoff to the left side on fourth-and-2 and runs in pretty cleanly for a 5-yard score. Dan Montesanti adds the extra point and North Tonawanda leads Falls, 7-0, with 11:17 left in the second quarter.
7:25 p.m. Niagara Falls comes right back, and it shouldn't be a surprise who came up with a big play. Dale Stewart took the kickoff return back 99 yards on an absolute highlight reel play that I'll post as soon as I can. He appeared to be stopped on the right side, but slipped out of a tackle, reversed field, then made some nice moves and used his speed for quite a play and a TOUCHDOWN. Falls' extra point was blocked by Joe Montesanti; NT leads Falls, 7-6, with 10:58 left in the second quarter.
Here's my iPhone video, picking up just as Stewart picked the ball up:
7:25 p.m. UPDATE from Joe Popiolkowski at East Aurora: Southwestern leads, 7-0, after a John Mistretta run to complete the Trojans' first drive.
UPDATE from Lauren Mariacher at All High: Iroquois leads Lafayette, 8-0, with 11:41 left in the second quarter.
7:43 p.m. NT with another TOUCHDOWN as Joe Montesanti passes to brother Dan for an 18-yard score with 6:08 left in the second quarter. A nice drive which included a very strong run by Joe Montesanti on a keeper. NT leads, 13-6.
7:47 p.m. Falls and Stewart again respond quickly with another TOUCHDOWN on the second play of their next drive. Stewart had some good time, bought some more time by rolling right and he directed Marcus Feagin to get to the end zone. That's where Stewart threw it and the connection to Feagin was a 36-yard score.
Here's the video of that one:
Falls' two-point conversion was stopped -- and NT's lead was preserved -- when Joe Montesanti made a great open-field tackle on Stewart on the left side. NT leads Falls, 13-12, with 5:40 left in the second quarter.
7:56 p.m. It's another TOUCHDOWN connection from brother-to-brother as Dan Montesanti catches a quick pass from Joe over the middle, then does a tremendous job to rumble through several potential tacklers before breaking the plane of the end zone. Dan Montesanti's extra point is wide left and with 1:52 left in the first half, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 19-12.
Check it out:
8:05 p.m. We are at HALFTIME here with North Tonawanda leading Niagara Falls, 19-12.
UPDATE from Joe Pops at East Aurora: Southwestern goes up, 13-0, on another Mistretta touchdown. There's 4:46 left in the second quarter.
UPDATE from Lauren Mariacher at All High: Iroquois has taken its 8-0 lead on Lafayette to halftime.
UPDATE from noted blogger BullsFan at Lancaster, where the host Redskins lead Clarence, 7-0 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. "Two long but point-free drives for Clarence," his text reads.
8:08 p.m. More from BullsFan: Lancaster goes up 10-0 on a field goal with eight minutes left in the second, thanks to a long 60-yard-plus run to set it up.
8:11 p.m. Lengthy halftime here for a nice ceremony honoring this year's NT Hall of Fame class. I'm going to try and get another clip or two up.
8:13 p.m. UPDATE from Lauren Mariacher, who turned on her car radio to learn that Southwestern's lead at EA is now 21-0 with 50 seconds left in the second quarter after a 26-yard touchdown catch by Nick Austin.
8:13 p.m. UPDATE from Lauren Mariacher and Joe Pops -- Southwestern is up, 28-0, at halftime at EA after Jake Swan's 50-yard interception return.
8:30 p.m. Big-time bad news for NT: Joe Montesanti, who on the second-to-last play of the first half took a big hit and was holding his head, is not back on the field. He does not appear to be on the sideline either. Junior Pat Angelhow is in at quarterback on the Jacks' first drive of the second half.
UPDATE: Lancaster leads, 13-7, at the half.
8:41 p.m. So much for that bad news. Angelhow had a few classic NT pitches (reminded me of Mike Tuzzo the last two years) on nice runs to lead the Jacks on a scoring drive. The TOUCHDOWN was a halfback option pass from junior Justin Bacon to senior Brandon Camarre on the right side of the field. NT gets an extra point from junior Derek Wasielewski and the Lumberjacks take a 26-12 lead with 6:28 left in the third quarter. Quite a drive for NT -- not just for tonight, but for its season.
Here's the halfback option highlight:
8:51 p.m. Falls, as it as often done this season, comes back with a score. Stewart runs in for a 3-yard TOUCHDOWN with 4:00 left in the third quarter. The drive included two big pass plays, one a deflected pass that senior Flavian Sanders came down with; the other was another excellent scramble by Stewart to the right side, where he put up a long pass for a 31-yard completion to Quandray Gray to the 3.
The point-after attempt has had three penalties in a row; the first two pushed Falls back; the third was a pass interference call on NT; NT then took a timeout.
8:55 p.m. Falls scores on the two-point conversion as Stewart puts up a pass for a wide-open Feagin on the left side of the end zone. NT leads Falls, 26-20, with 4:00 left in the third.
UPDATE: Clarence has scored a touchdown to open the second half; Lancaster leads, 13-12.
9:11 p.m. We are at the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER and NT leads Niagara Falls, 26-20. Falls has a first down at the NT 21.
9:16 p.m. Falls' drive ends on a fourth-and-8 at the NT 19 when junior Justin Bacon picks off a Stewart pass to the right side. NT takes over at its 21 with 10:30 left in the game.
9:22 p.m. Falls' Stewart is a must-see player. The senior just went on a keeper run that was a serious highlight play -- he sped right, cut back to the middle, and somehow escaped numerous close calls by potential tacklers before breaking back to the right sideline and sprinting for a tremendous, 50-yard TOUCHDOWN for Falls. The extra point by Carleton Gayle of Falls is blocked by Rob Wikierski and we are tied at 26-26 with 7:35 left to play.
9:27 p.m. There have been fumbles on THREE straight plays, with teams alternating possessions each time. Falls has the ball at the NT 38 with 7:02 left.
UPDATE: Clarence leads Lancaster, 28-13, with 11:53 left.
9:42 p.m. This game is ridiculous. Justin Bacon takes an inside handoff and runs for a 9-yard TOUCHDOWN to give NT a 32-26 lead on Niagara Falls with 1:15 left in the game. NT calls a timeout before the conversion attempt.
9:44 p.m. Bacon takes a pitch to the wide right side and cuts back through a great open lane and the conversion is GOOD. NT leads, 34-26.
Updates will be limited because I have to file a story for our first edition.
9:49 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: NT 34, Niagara Falls 26.
10:48 p.m. Wow, can an hour fly by when you're running around like a maniac.
Wrote story for first edition, got kicked out of the NT press box at 10:10 p.m., got the stats from NT coach Eric Jantzi, got quotes thanks to Lauren Mariacher's postgame on-field work after she and I were able (thanks, NT) to set up shop in the NT trainers' room, revised the story for the Niagara edition for our two Niagara County schools, and here we are.
Here's our wrapup video from NT:
UPDATES and finals include two WOW scores: McKinley beats Grand Island at Lafayette, 36-19. Pioneer gets a huge win over Eden, 20-0.
A final from games I was updating you on: Clarence surges to a 35-13 win at Lancaster. Had that a little bit ago but it has been crazy.
MUCH more to come on here, video-wise and results-wise, so stay tuned.
10:57 p.m. Speak of the devil (or EA Blue Devil?) -- here's Joe Pops' report from what was a 42-14 victory for Southwestern at East Aurora.
11:06 p.m. Another final from a game we were monitoring -- Iroquois survives Lafayette, 8-6.
Here's some great video of hard-hitting plays during the first half of Iroquois' win at All High Stadium:
One of the big scores put up tonight was one that's not really a surprise as Canisius rolled to a 54-7 win against Bishop Timon-St. Jude at Timon's Fitzpatrick Field in South Buffalo.
Here are Canisius coach Brandon Harris and quarterback Travis Eman talking about the big Monsignor Martin League AA-opening victory. Some great stuff about the game and the Crusaders' next contest against Cathedral Prep of Erie, Pa.:
Some more scoring updates:
The Cardinal O'Hara rout of Nichols we were at for the beginning of the night ended in a 51-12 win for the Hawks.
Here's a rundown of the other scores: Jamestown 41, Bennett 0. ... Orchard Park 43, West Seneca West 8. ... Lake Shore 28, West Seneca East 21. ... Alden 56, Lew-Port 7. ... Medina 36, Tonawanda 0. ... Depew 34, Akron 6. ... Dunkirk 32, Springville 7. ... Lackawanna 37, Olean 8. ... Cattaraugus/Little Valley 34, Ellicottville 24. ... Frewsburg 46, Franklinville 6. ... Randolph 57, Forestville 0. ... Chautauqua Lake 34, Panama 12. ... Cheektowaga 32, Albion 7. ... Cassadaga Valley 32, Wilson 27. ... Frontier 28, Hamburg 0. ... Fredonia 33, Gowanda 0. ... Grover Cleveland 34, All.-Limestone 0. ... Salamanca 30, Roy-Hart 20.
No huge surprises there -- I thought Frontier would come up with another solid win and they did so. ... Nice win for a Lake Shore program that hasn't had many in recent years. ... Impressive home opener for Jamestown romping over Bennett.
Here's my audio wrapup of the night:
See you back here tomorrow ...
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As always, we want to hear from you about what you've seen tonight. Let us know what you thought of the teams, players -- even the hot dogs -- in the comments section below.
Stan Wier, who helped Nichols win a state Federation boys basketball championship last season as a sophomore, will transfer to La Lumiere, a private school located in LaPorte, Indiana.
Wier had already decided that he would not be returning to Nichols in June. The East Aurora native was considering returning to his home district, where he played his freshman season, and also received attention from New England prep schools.
Wier told me via email that he accepted a full scholarship to the boarding school because its "combination of academics and athletics made it a clear decision."
"The school itself is very challenging academically with two-to-three hours of homework per night. The basketball program is a perfect fit for me. The team consists of a solid frontcourt with a 7-foot center and two 6-10 forwards -- all have Division I offers. I round out the frontcourt due to their need of a physical shooter/scorer, and the team is being built for the future seeing as how there are four players on the team in my 2012 graduation class that are top 100 players.
"Not to mention they have a new coach who was formerly at Culver Academy and is known as one of the best player development coaches in the country. This program will simply challenge me to my limits daily to assure that I maximize potential. Also, the school is giving me a full-scholarship so for economic reasons it was a great fit as well."
Wier was a second-team All-Western New York selection in helping Nichols to one of the best seasons in recent Western New York basketball history. The 6-2 guard is an excellent shooter who also provides physical, intense play on the boards and on defense.
After a little google-ing, one of the players Wier was apparently referring to is Hanner Perea, a 6-8 forward who is reported to be deciding between Indiana and Baylor.
One would think that Wier's outside shooting would come in just as handy for La Lumiere as it did for a Nichols team led from the inside by now-University at Virginia 6-8 freshman Will Regan.
This will be Wier's third school in three years. That certainly isn't the most traditional route for a high school athlete in Western New York (although recent WNY examples of three schools in three years do come to mind), but it's hard to argue with any of the steps Wier and his family have made, whether it was to go from EA to a great team at a great school in Nichols, or to now go from Nichols to a program that seems to be at another level -- in a state renowned for basketball.
Wier told me in June that he had scholarship offers from Rhode Island and Colgate; one would think that playing alongside major D-I recruits would only help him gain more experience and exposure.
Stan Wier, a standout sophomore for the Nichols boys basketball team as the Vikings won the state Class A Federation tournament this past season, won't be returning to the Buffalo private school.
Stan's father, Todd Wier, stated in an e-mail to me that Stan, as well as younger brother Cam, would not be returning to Nichols. Most likely they will be transferring back to their home district of East Aurora; however, Stan also has offers from prep schools.
In an e-mail from Stan, the junior-to-be stated he is "leaning" towards returning to EA. He stated that Lollier of Indiana, Oak Hill Academy and "a couple of NEPSAC [New England Preparatory School Athletic Council] schools" were the prep schools interested in him.
"I've gotten full-ride scholarship offers from Colgate and Rhode Island," Stan Wier wrote, "but
I gotta keep grinding to be the best I can be."
Wier played for East Aurora as a freshman in the 2008-09 season while older brother Thad was a senior.
He transferred to Nichols and was a key component on one of the best teams of the last decade as the Vikings won just the second large-school state Federation title in Western New York history. Wier provided excellent outside shooting and grit to a starting lineup that included seniors Will Regan, Ron Canestro, Andrew MacKinnon and Connor Vandegriff.
The Class A final is set -- and it's not Iroquois-Grand Island.
Albion knocked off No. 1 large school and second-seeded Iroquois, 8-5, while Williamsville South toppled No. 1 seed and defending champion Grand Island, 11-5.
The undefeated Purple Eagles (21-0) take on the Billies (10-5) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Niagara Falls' Sal Maglie Stadium.
In the Monsignor Martin Association, we have three of the final four teams and one killer semifinal matchup.
St. Joe's beat Cardinal O'Hara, 9-0, while Canisius edged Nichols, 3-2 -- the rivals will meet in the semifinals at 3 p.m. Thursday at St. Joe's. The semifinal doubleheader at Joe's concludes with St. Mary's -- which knocked off Bishop Timon-St. Jude, 2-1 -- meeting the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal of Niagara Cathoic at St.Francis.
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.