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Live from Section VI boys lacrosse finals: Hamburg, Silver Creek repeat; OP-Clarence postponed (with video interviews)

By Keith McShea

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.). 

The Monsignor Martin lacrosse final is also today. The Georgetown Cup opener has been postponed, as have some Section VI softball games.

If you are at one of today's big games, be sure to tweet updates with the hashtag #preptalkscores. Those tweets will automatically appear in the live blog below.

Continue reading "Live from Section VI boys lacrosse finals: Hamburg, Silver Creek repeat; OP-Clarence postponed (with video interviews)" »

Timon lacrosse's Fields breaks state single-season goal record

By Keith McShea

In a year of some big numbers put up in Western New York high school lacrosse, here is another one: 112 (and counting).

Bishop Timon-St. Jude junior Connor Fields broke the state record for goals in a season today with his six-goal effort in the Tigers' 20-1 home victory over Nichols in the Monsignor Martin Association semifinals. 

Fields surpassed the mark of 108, which was set by Billy Kurisko of Nanuet in 1986.

See the New York State list at laxpower.com.

Fields, who committed to the University at Albany last fall, also had five assists while Lewis Vaccaro had four goals in today's game.

Timon has one more game locally with the possibility of another. The Tigers will meet St. Joe's -- which beat St. Francis, 14-11, today -- on Tuesday for the Monsignor Martin title (time and location to be announced). The Monsignor Martin champion will advance to the state Catholic championships downstate, against representative from Long Island or Westchester. 

Continue reading "Timon lacrosse's Fields breaks state single-season goal record" »

Live from the Far West Regionals & your #preptalkscores (with VIDEO of buzzer-beater that beat Olean)

By Keith McShea

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.

Continue reading "Live from the Far West Regionals & your #preptalkscores (with VIDEO of buzzer-beater that beat Olean)" »

How The News voted: Let the playoffs begin

By Keith McShea

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 week starts the postseason -- today there will be play-in rounds in both the Monsignor Martin Association's Manhattan Cup playoffs and the Section VI tournament.

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. The direct link is here.

Here's last week's ballot (Week Eight, Feb. 12 -- Valentine's edition). Previous polls: Week Seven, Feb. 5 (Canisius No. 1), Week Six, Jan. 29 (Super week); Week Five, Jan. 22 (inauguration), Week Four, Jan. 15 (MLK), Week Three (Jan. 8, back from two-week holiday break); Week Two (special Christmas edition, Dec. 18); Week One (Dec. 11). Also, here's last year's final 2011-12 post

With not much movement in the poll and not many games left, here's a look at this week's ballot along with each team's remaining schedule:

LARGE SCHOOLS

1. Canisius (17-4) [last week: 1] -- Crusaders playing at a very high level right now, right according to plan.

Continue reading "How The News voted: Let the playoffs begin" »

Video: Silver Creek 66, Randolph 40

Friday Night Live from Silver Creek's big win over Randolph, plus your #preptalkscores

By Keith McShea

As the storm has passed, I'm headed down to Silver Creek to see the No. 2 small school Black Knights host Randolph at 7:30 p.m. Silver Creek is also the second-ranked team in the state. 

It is not as a full a night of #preptalkscores as originally scheduled thanks to today's snowstorm. Here's our blog post from earlier regarding games that we know had been postponed. There are still some meaningful matchups, notably Bishop Timon-St. Jude at St. Joe's in a Monsignor Martin battle of top 10 teams, and Williamsville South at ECIC II rival and leader Sweet Home, which ranked 10th among large schools.

I'll have play-by-play updates from Silver Creek in the live blog below and I'll also be providing #preptalkscores updates on Twitter (those will also appear in the blog). 

Your tweets with the hashtag #preptalkscores are welcome -- they will appear in the live blog as well. 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.

Continue reading "Friday Night Live from Silver Creek's big win over Randolph, plus your #preptalkscores" »

How The News voted: Happy February to Canisius

By Keith McShea

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.

Thanks to the Jesuit Tournament in D.C. for having this picture on their web site.

This week marks a change at the top as Canisius takes over the No. 1 large school spot for Niagara Falls. Canisius had a great start to what should be a fun month, winning at Timon Friday, beating Section V Class AA power Fairport (then ranked second in the state) on Saturday, becoming the top-ranked team in the Class A state poll on Monday and ascending to The News No. 1 spot today. 

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. Here's the direct link.

Here's last week's ballot (Week Six, Jan. 29 - Super week). Previous polls: Week Five, Jan. 22 (inauguration), Week Four, Jan. 15 (MLK), Week Three (Jan. 8, which followed a two-week holiday break); Week Two (our special Christmas edition, Dec. 18); Week One (Dec. 11). Also, here's last year's final 2011-12 post

LARGE SCHOOLS

1. Canisius (15-3) [last week: 2] -- I said I was waiting to see Niagara Falls and Canisius this past weekend to see if there was a move to be made for this spot, and the results made it a clear one. Canisius was all over Fairport from the start and then made the plays to hold on. Fairport, Bishop Kearney (which Falls lost to Sunday) and Webster Schroeder (which Falls lost to Saturday) are considered to be tightly grouped together when it comes to who is the best Class AA team in Section V. 

Continue reading "How The News voted: Happy February to Canisius" »

How The News voted: Super Week (& we're not talking football)

By Keith McShea

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. 

Here's last week's ballot (Week Five, Jan. 22). Previous polls: Week Four, Jan. 15Week Three (Jan. 8, which followed a two-week holiday break); Week Two (our special Christmas edition, Dec. 18); Week One (Dec. 11). Also, here's last year's final 2011-12 post

LARGE SCHOOLS

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. 

Continue reading "How The News voted: Super Week (& we're not talking football)" »

Live from Section V's sweep of the boys lacrosse regionals (plus video highlights & interviews), and all of Saturday's #preptalkscores

I'll be spending the afternoon and evening at the Far West Regional boys lacrosse games championships at Hamburg High School.

While I'll have updates from those games, tweets to the hashtag #preptalkscores will also automatically show up in the live blog below. So if you are a game tonight and you're updating via Twitter, be sure to include that hashtag. I'll have periodic tweets updating these games at @KeithMcSheaBN, but most of my play-by-play updating will come in the live blog.

Check out today's full schedule on our scoreboard page, where you can check back throughout the evening for updated scores and highlights.

See you out at the games, in the blog and on the tweeter. :-)

* * *

My story is here.

Here are some video highlights from the Class C game -- pretty cool ones at that, particularly the exciting endgame. It's either really cool, or really distracting -- but there are two play-by-plays going on with the Penn Yan radio coverage along with the Time Warner Cable broadcast. And yes, I'm kicking myself for missing Zed's game-tying record-breaker. Talk about a turnover/failed clear by me. Ugh. Chest-tap (my bad):

Some of the postgame show:

More quotes from postgame interviews:

Silver Creek junior Zed Williams:

"I'm disappointed -- I wanted to win it for the seniors.
"I saw time ticking down, and I had to take a shot, in case we missed we'd get another chance -- but he made a good save."

Orchard Park coach Gene Tundo:

"We just didn't have a whole lot of scoring opportunities. They slid fast and took away our [offense]. They're just good. Big defenders, a big goalie, we just never really got in a flow.

"We didn't clear the ball well. We had the ball 8 or 9 times where we just didn't get it in the offensive zone. They' played defense the whole length of the field -- they're a good team.

On OP's defense: "They did a great job , awesome. They played great. Our goalie [Taylor Ferrino} made some great saves. They got tired. You play that much defense, you get tired."

"We threw the ball away a couple of times clearing it, and on offense, and those extra possessions hurt you.

"We needed a little spark, and we just didn't get it. Their defense shut down any hope we had. They don't really have any weaknesses. Their attack is good, middies are good, there's not really a weakness. And they play a tougher schedule, too.

"I don't think we've ever been shut out. Never. I don't think we have."

Irondequoit senior Nick Doktor:

On difference of first & second halves: "I think we were a little antsy at first. We had a lot of bad turnovers, not taking care of the ball, and that allowed them to get off to a good start. They were capitalizing on our turnovers and our mistakes. That was a catalyst for them.  Another big problem in the first half was they were killing us on time of possession.

"We wanted to settle the ball down once we got it, and work our offense, and once we knew we could do that, we know we have a lot of offense, a lot of guys that can put the ball in the back of the net.  

On winning on Hamburg's home field: "They had a great crowd, it was a great atmosphere, and obviously they're very comfortable here playing on their home field. We battled and they battled and it was a great game.

On Hamburg pulling its goalie in a one-goal game with three minutes to play: "We were just trying to be patient. They have a lot of guys on offense -- they could have come back as easily as we did. We were just trying to keep it from them as long as we could."

Irondequoit coach Craig Whipple:

On playing on Hamburg's home field: "It was a difficult situation -- we couldn't do anything about it. We just knew that we would have to take care of our business to come out with a win. Was it a difficult scenario? It definitely was. But I'm proud that they were able to come out and captailize and adjust to being in this environment.

On the great second half: "I think they settled down. It was a hostlie environment, and once they settled down and knew they could play their style of lacrosse they came out and did that. That represented in goals, and then it represented in everything else on the field. As soon as everyone settled down and put a few in the back of the net, they understand all right, we're comfortable. The defense settles down, the next guy hustles a bit harder and finds those ground balls and we're able to capitalize.

On Section V's sweep: "Definitely [pleased to complete the sweep]. You battle teams thoughout the year, but when you leave [the section], you want the guys around you to do well as well. So I'm excited about that.

On faceoffs: "It defintely changed the flow of the game. It enabled us to get back in there because we were seeing more poss on offense, and I thought if we were to see more possessions on offense, that we would establish goals, and once we get comfortable scoring , you thrive off of that and you build off of that.

On if Hamburg pulled its goalie too early -- with three minutes left in one-goal game: "Not necessarily.

"I think they respected the fact that our six guys on offense are really good ballhandlers. I think they respected the fact that we were going to be able to capitalize and maybe even put one more by them. I appreciate the fact that they went out swinging. They wanted the ball back. If they created a turnover , who knows, they could have went down there, got a goal and got the momeneum. I don't think it was necessarily too early for them. I think they knew we've been in a lot of tight games before this year [and were able to close them out]."

Hamburg coach Jerry Severino:

"We were supposed to end this game in a different way. We played a great first half, I was so happy with the way they were playing. We were really attempting not to have what happened in the second half. But Irondequoit was a great challenge. They took advantage of our mistakes. Honestly, we played our worst half at the most important time of the year. We played a pretty poor second half.

"When we get on a run like that [like Irondequoit did], we say it's like sharks when they sense blood in the water, and that's what happened. They had a sense that they could do what they did; and we weren't able to stop them. The ball bounced one way a couple of times. They were much better on the ground ball; they were better on the faceoff in the second half. we made some decisions that we we'd like to have back.

On pulling the goalie late in the game: "it's risky when you do that, but we were in a desperate situation and that's the way it goes.

On faceoffs: "We had an awful lot of trouble getting the ball at the faceoff 'X'. I rotated three or four guys in, but they gained probably three or four faceoffs for every two we got. Those kind of possessions are huge."

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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

Live from Scrimmage Saturday: Seven stops and 24 teams (with 34 video highlights plus an episode of PrepTalkTV)

Cheektowaga and Eden line up on their first series with the Walden Galleria looming in the background. (Keith McShea/Buffalo News)

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.

Iroquois' practice field is way behind the school. And I mean wayyyy behind.

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.

The highlights:

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.

* * *

Also check out a photo gallery by Mulville.

---Keith McShea

(@KeithMcSheaBN on Twitter)

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 | kmcshea@buffnews.com

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