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Thursday Night Showdowns: Vote for the winners

Tonight's Class AA final four is one that we've never seen before at Buffalo State.

Jamestown is used to being part of championship week, Orchard Park has made an appearance here and there, but North Tonawanda and Clarence are playing perhaps their best basketball of the decade.

It makes for quite the intriguing evening for tonight's semifinals. NT-Jamestown is at 6 with OP and Clarence to follow 7:45 p.m. I think the first semifinal will be one of the best of championship week, and the second might not be too far behind.

We'll have live updates from the games tonight. We may go with the CoverItLive format, but if you are in Western New York, you best not be by your computer -- you best be at Buffalo State. 

Reminder: Leave early for that first game. With the construction at Buffalo State supplanting the main large lot near the arena, parking is pretty tough. There is a lot across Grant St. which I've actually used every year. Just don't take my spot.

Plus, start times for Section VI that say 6 p.m usually mean 5:58 p.m. Not the introductions starting early, not the National Anthem starting early. The game starting early.

---Keith McShea

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

Video: PrepTalkTV heads to the final four

The seventh episode of PrepTalkTV wrapped up the Section VI quarterfinals, including big wins by Clarence and North Tonawanda, and looked ahead to Championship Week at Buffalo State and Jamestown Community College.

The video is accessible at the buffalonews.com home page or via our video player page

Reporter/videographer/producer Lauren Mariacher and I will be right back at it Sunday for the Manhattan Cup championship at 6 p.m. at Canisius College and we'll be catching some of the Section VI championship action next week.

Let us know what you think.

* * *

Here's your own PrepTalkTV DVR loaded with our previous episodes:

* Manhattan Cup semifinals (Feb. 23): Nichols-Canisius showdown set after both win big.

Continue reading "Video: PrepTalkTV heads to the final four" »

Live from AA quarterfinals: NT beats Sweet Home, 62-52; Clarence knocks off Niagara Falls

In a few hours, the Section VI final fours in boys basketball will be set for Buffalo State and Jamestown Community College. Here we go.

I'm here at North Tonawanda for the marquee game of the quarterfinals, the Class AA matchup of perennial power Sweet Home and the Lumberjacks, who have had an outstanding year as co-champs of the Niagara Frontier League. This was one of nine games postponed from yesterday by snow.

I'll have updates throughout the game. So sit tight and get familiar with your refresh button.

1:53 p.m. Sweet Home has gotten my toes tapping with its pregame clap-and-chant deal. Trademark stuff for the Panthers. I like it, especially in a game like this in which they are in an opposing team's gym. Of course, the sound and fury has to signify something, so they have to bring it in the game, and they usually do.

With that being said, my pick is right in line with my poll. I think NT will be able to come through and get to Buffalo State.

2:09 p.m. Great pace, as expected. Two Darrik Bloomfield free throws give NT a 15-9 lead with 3:25 to go in the first quarter.

2:11 p.m. First timeout of the game is by Sweet Home coach Paul Schintzius. NT still leads, 15-9; 2:59 left in the first.

UPDATES: We have a report that Wilson has a 14-7 lead with 3:17 left in the first. ... Niagara Falls and Clarence tied at 9-9 five minutes in.

2:17 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, North Tonawanda has a 19-17 lead on Sweet Home.

Sweet Home caused some turnovers late in the quarter to close the gap while Keron Briggs has been fantastic scoring for the Panthers.

Continue reading "Live from AA quarterfinals: NT beats Sweet Home, 62-52; Clarence knocks off Niagara Falls" »

Tuesday Night Live: East, crippled by suspensions, falls at McKinley; NT sweeps Falls; Maryvale wins at Depew (with video)

Greetings on the busiest night of boys basketball all year. Lots of games, lots of big matchups.

4:51 p.m. Just got a call from fellow reporter Lauren Mariacher, who headed to Burgard to shoot video of Grover Cleveland's 4:15 p.m. game there. There was no game and she was told by a student that it had been called off.

She's headed to McKinley's hosting of East (5:30), and so am I. The plan is to head to Niagara Falls at North Tonawanda and possibly Maryvale at Depew after that.

6:39 p.m. Quite the developments here at McKinley, which took a 42-26 halftime lead on East. Yes, you read that right.

Ten of East's players, including all five starters, were suspended prior to the game and the Panthers were forced to go with JV callups to fill out its lineup for today. The suspensions were due to academic reasons.

The length of the suspensions is not known -- they are at least for one week, according to coach Starling Bryant. The length of the suspensions could also differ for different players.

Said Bryant during halftime: "It could be one week, it could be two weeks or it could be permanent. They didn't do what they were supposed to do academically. They didn't hold up their end of the bargain. At East, it's academics first. It could be a week, or it could be sectionals, and I'll go with the young boys."

East entered the game 12-2 overall, co-ranked second among large schools in Western New York, and 9-0 in the Yale Cup. The Panthers were one of two unbeatens in the Yale Cup (along with Middle College, which won Monday to go to 10-0). 

6:46 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, McKinley leads East, 59-41.

The five East starters who were suspended were Domonique Jackson, Tremell Fisher, Andre Jackson, Dale Gray and Deon Robinson.

The only two regulars not to get suspended are Jason Oden and Chris Boyd.

6:49 p.m. The McKinley lead is up to 63-41 with 6:44 left in the game.

This is clearly a major blow to East, which I had voted No. 1 in the large school poll the last three weeks. The Panthers were the favorite in A-2 and had the kind of team, I thought, that was capable of a run to Glens Falls. Many fans were already looking forward to a East-Williamsville South overall Class A final.

We'll have to see. If East gets enough of its players back by sectionals, they may still be able to make that kind of run. The Yale Cup is a much different story, and Middle College is now firmly in front of what was expected to be a thrilling finish. Middle, Grover and East have yet to play this season -- the first game among them over an exciting final two weeks is Middle College's game at Grover Cleveland on Thursday.

6:53 p.m. McKinley 71, East 44 with 4:30 left in the game. Stunning stuff.

Many of the suspended East players are watching the game from the front row of the bleachers. Tough lesson to learn for those guys. Hopefully it's not to late for them to perhaps turn things around -- in the classroom and then on the basketball court.

7:02 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: McKinley 84, East 53.

I'm off to NT. I'm hoping WLVL-AM is on the air for my ride up there :-)

7:37 p.m. No WLVL for the ride, but it's still the second quarter so we'll be fine.

I walked into NT with the home team having a two-point lead, but while I was getting set up Darrik Bloomfield followed a three-pointer with a sweet putback of a teammate's airball -- Bloomfield caught it from under the basket and reverse layup-ed it all in midair -- to put NT up, 30-18 over Niagara Falls with 3:50 left in the second quarter.  

7:39 p.m. Falls gets a bunch back in a hurry and cut it to 30-24 with 2:44 left in the quarter.

7:45 p.m. At halftime, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 38-27.

NT coach Erik O'Bryan seems pretty loose -- he walks by me as I'm hunched over the laptop and I hear, "say hello to Prep Talk Nation." 

It was 16-16 after one quarter. Aaron Davis leads NT with 12 points while Bloomfield had all 10 of his in the second quarter. Davon Marshall leads Falls with 12.

The reports regarding Jordan Street are correct. He is ineligible and not listed in the scorebook for Falls.

7:58 p.m. An early timeout on a scramble on the floor -- NT leads, 37-29, with 6:33 left in the third. 

8:07 p.m. Falls calls a timeout with NT having taken a 46-35 lead with 2:14 left in the third.

UPDATE from Wilson: Host Lakemen lead Medina, 30-16, at halftime. 

8:13 p.m. At the end of the third quarter, North Tonawanda leads Niagara Falls, 46-35. 

UPDATE from Depew: Host Wildcats lead, 15-14, over Maryvale after one quarter. 

8:21 p.m. NT calls a timeout with 5:11 left and holding a 51-41 lead. Marshall has hit back-to-back threes for Falls. 

8:27 p.m. With 1:44 left in the game, NT calls a timeout with a 55-45 lead.

8:30 p.m. Two free throws by Maurice Respress and Falls calls a timeout with 1:21 left; NT leads, 55-47.

8:40 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: North Tonawanda 61, Niagara Falls 54.

North Tonawanda scorebookNiagara Falls scorebook North Tonawanda SWEEPS Niagara Falls. What a season.

The scorebooks from the game are to the right.

Who thought Niagara Falls was going to lose in the Niagara Frontier League this season? Who thought Niagara Falls was going to get swept this season? Wow. 

NT handled the Falls pressure early, then just beat the Wolverines the rest of the way. The Jacks were an extremely confident team, moving the ball well on offense, rebounding well and playing good defense. Falls was limited largely to outside shots, and they didn't have a good shooting night.

8:50 p.m. Finished with some interviews and some video stuff and we're going to try and make it to Depew for the end of what has been a close game (Maryvale led, 24-23, at halftime). 

9:36 p.m. Made it to Depew in time for interviews, but not in time to catch the game that ended with this FINAL SCORE: Maryvale 54, Depew 49. Maryvale clinches at least a tie for the ECIC III title.

Hey, we tried to get there in time, but when we arrived we were swimming upstream into the huge crowd leaving the gym. (Thanks much to Sean Bruso for texting me updates from Depew).

More details, video and scores to come so stay tuned.

10:10 p.m. Got some details sent in to the paper.

Here are a few notable finals that are in (we'll have the scoreboard up as soon as possible):

* Wilson takes control of the Niagara-Orleans race with a 52-34 victory over Medina;

* Grand Island makes some noise by thumping visiting Lockport, 79-67;

* Cleveland Hill with a very nice ECIC IV win, 53-45, at Alden -- where Lackawanna fell just last week;

* Bishop Timon-St. Jude wins at home over St. Francis, 58-54, bouncing back from Monday night's loss at Nichols;

* Some drama in ECIC I as Clarence handles visiting Frontier, 61-55, after the Falcons had wins over Jamestown and Orchard Park. Speaking of OP, they escape Lancaster with a 61-60 win.

11:12 p.m. Man, this video stuff is not easy. "Keith talking, take 47." ... "Cut!"

Among the later scores to come in came from one of the later starts -- St. Joe's wins at Maple Grove, 72-44. I'm not sure many expected that kind of margin no matter which team came away with a victory.

* * *

Our scoreboard is up.

Our roundup has been posted as well.

The debut of PrepTalkTV has been posted.

* * *

Of course, let us know which game you saw and what you think of this busy, news-making night in high school hoops.

---Keith McShea

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

Which game should I go to?

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

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

Which leads me to one question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

---Keith McShea

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

Tuesday Night Live: Lockport wins at NT, Nichols beats St. Francis (with video); also: OP wins, Grover loses

Hello from what should be a three-stop day of hoops.

6:28 p.m. We arrive at Erie Community College and it is a competitive first quarter -- until Darale Young hits a three and Justin Stokes puts down a one-handed slam (not on video! argh!) to give Middle College a 19-11 lead after the quarter.

6:50 p.m. So much for that competitive start -- Middle College is up, 41-16, after an obviously dominant second quarter.

Nice give-up by Davon Alexander for the Young finish.

6:52 p.m. Out the back door of ECC, across the street to the parking lot and we've got Lockport on WLVL -- it's fuzzy -- I think it might be a girls game. Yup. Just heard "Lady Lions" from Norm Palmer. We're off to NT for the Lockport boys' visit there.

7:23 p.m. We have arrived at NT with Lockport leading, 16-13, with less than six minutes left in the second quarter.

For you Lady Lions fans, Lockport leads the NT girls, 32-14, late in the second quarter. A fun listen with some great stuff from Palmer.

7:41 p.m. At halftime, NT leads Lockport, 27-24. Darrik Bloomfield had a three-point play off a nice follow to give NT the three-point lead.

Lockport was up, 24-21, when Shannon Haynes found Andrew Bailey on a nice basket inside. NT tied it at 24 when Joe Montesanti hit a three-pointer. Montesanti leads all scorers with 10 - he also banked in a three. Haynes has nine, Bloomfield has seven as does Lockport's Sean Smith while Aaron Davis of NT has six.

8:05 p.m. NT leads, 43-42, after three quarters.

8:16 p.m. NT is up, 49-46, with 2:31 left.

8:20 p.m. NT up, 50-49, with 1:10 left.

8:32 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Lockport 54, NT 50. Senior Andrew Granchelli goes 5 of 6 at the line in the final minute. Clutch.

8:55 p.m. Nichols is up big, 69-56, with 2:52 left. 9:06 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Nichols 74, St. Francis 64.

From what I heard on the St. Francis broadcast on my way here and from talking with some fans, Frannies played Nichols tough in the first half but it was all Nichols in the second.

We'll have more details ASAP and some videos later on.

* * *

Let's go to Mary Jo Monnin live in the newsroom ... Grover Cleveland loses to Bennett, Jamestown loses at home to Orchard Park. Wow. More to come.

There were a TON of games tonight and they'll be on the Web as soon as possible.

* * *

For people who like typing, "scores?????" when we're obviously trying to get them together as soon as possible, some good news: tonight's scoreboard has been posted.

* * *

If you were out at a game, let us know what you thought of the action, the teams, the players and even the concession stand.

---Keith McShea

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

Getting with the programs

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

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

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

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

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

---Keith McShea

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

Down goes Falls: NT hands Wolverines first NFL loss

This one is definitely worth a separate post as well: North Tonawanda 64, Niagara Falls 62 in overtime.

Whoa. 

I know Falls isn't what it was from past years, but this is still a shocker. I also know Falls had some bumps against Lew-Port, but I thought their game at Ken West on Friday -- of which I saw the beginning of -- showed it was clearly ahead of the pack in their league. I saw NT early on -- albeit without Aaron Davis, and yes, it was early -- and I just didn't think NT had the firepower to beat the Falls.

Honestly, I never considered going to the game tonight -- a game that becomes Falls' first loss in the Niagara Frontier League since the school was formed in 2000.

The loss also marks the fifth for Falls against a Western New York team -- they had lost only to Bennett (2002) and Sweet Home (2007) in Section VI championship games and to St. Joe's during the 2005-06 season before losing to Nichols, 68-53, earlier this season. It's also their first loss a home to a Western New York team, and it's been a few years since they lost at home to anyone -- I believe the Wolverines lost in the Cataract Classic to Henninger a couple of years ago.

We'll have more details posted at buffalonews.com/highschool later tonight.

---Keith McShea

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

North Tonawanda football state championship page

Wrapping up the championship poster page lineup: North Tonawanda football.

After six teams survived sectional, regional and state championship playoffs to win state titles, we at The News are honoring each champion with a poster page. They are similar to the pages we produced last year for the four football state champions.

The commemorative posters include photos, rosters, complete schedules and results and a summary of each team's road to the finals.

The pages started Saturday. There has been a team championship poster page in each day since, except for Wednesday (Bills poster day).

Also definitely check out the online end of things, where we have produced some awesome audio slideshows detailing the teams' run to the championships.

Here's the schedule (check them all out at buffalonews.com/champions):

Saturday: City Honors girls volleyball.
Sunday: Eden girls volleyball.
Monday: Randolph football.
Tuesday: Southwestern football.
Thursday: Sweet Home football.
Friday: North Tonawanda football.

If you missed any of the pages, don't worry -- all are also available for purchase (on super-nice paper) at our buffalonews.mycapture.com site. That link can also be accessed via the link to the audio slideshows above. There are also past high school pages available at the site, including last year's posters and recent All-Western New York teams for football and basketball.

For a special 25 percent discount online, enter the code: preptalk. (cool code huh?)

This championship week also included Tuesday's boys basketball preview and the All-Western New York football issue on Saturday. The All-WNY football issue will include not only the team, but the final polls, coach of the year award and all of the all-league teams.

---Keith McShea

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

State championship poster pages open serve with City Honors volleyball

High school fans, make sure you check out The Buffalo News over the next week.

After six teams survived sectional, regional and state championship playoffs to win state titles, we at The News are honoring each champion with a poster page. They are similar to the pages we produced last year for the four football state champions.

The commemorative posters include photos, rosters, complete schedules and results and a summary of each team's road to the finals.

The pages start Saturday. There will be a team championship poster page in each day following, except for Wednesday (Bills poster day).

Also definitely check out the online end of things, where we have produced some awesome audio slideshows detailing the teams' run to the championships.

Here's the schedule:

Saturday: City Honors girls volleyball.
Sunday: Eden girls volleyball.
Monday: Randolph football.
Tuesday: Southwestern football.
Thursday: Sweet Home football.
Friday: North Tonawanda football.

All of the pages will also available for purchase at our buffalonews.mycapture.com site (which can also be accessed via the link to the audio slideshows above).

For a special 25 percent discount online, enter the code: preptalk. (cool code huh?)

This championship week also includes the boys basketball preview on Tuesday and the All-Western New York football issue on Saturday, Dec. 12. The All-WNY football issue will include not only the team, but the final polls, coach of the year award and all of the all-league teams.

---Keith McShea

buffalonews.com/highschool     facebook.com/preptalkblog     twitter.com/bufnewspreptalk
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About Prep Talk

Keith McShea

Keith McShea

Keith McShea has covered high school sports at The News since his hiring in 1999. The 1995 University at Buffalo graduate and Long Island native (North Babylon Bulldogs) covers — and live blogs — everything from scrimmages to state championships & helps head The News' All-Western New York selections.

@KeithMcSheaBN | [email protected]

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