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Video interviews with Amherst's Murphy, Belton; Iroquois' Marshall

A couple post-game interviews from Amherst's 13-0 Class A South season-opening win over Iroquois.


---Jay Skurski

Review the live chat with McShea and Sully

News Senior Sports Columnist Jerry Sullivan hosts his weekly live chat at 1 p.m. today. At 2 p.m., he shifts in front of the camera along with News Sports Reporter Keith McShea. Continue to submit your questions in the same fashion and watch for a response.

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Beutel lands Grand Island boys hoops job

The Grand Island boys basketball team will have a new leader next season, one who should have no trouble getting comfortable in the Niagara Frontier League. Nate Beutel's appointment became official this week. He'll replace the departed Greg Ross.

Beutel, 22, recently left his job as a high school sports reporter at the Niagara Gazette, a position he held for nearly five years. He's pursuing his master's degree in elementary education from Medaille College. If the name looks familiar, perhaps it should. Beutel has recently served as a correspondent here at The News, covering high school sports.

He has previous head-coaching experience with the Medaille men's junior varsity basketball team, and has also served as an assistant football coach at Wilson High School.

On a personal note, I'm happy to call Nate a good friend. He and I worked together for most of his time at the Gazette before I came to The News, and you won't find many harder-working 22-year-olds. Nate's got a great passion for high school sports, as anyone who knows him can attest.

Best of all, I know who to harass next winter when we don't have a Grand Island basketball score.

---Jay Skurski


More from the Far West Regional softball games

With limited print space, plenty of interesting quotes (and a few notes) didn't make today's story. Here they are:

- Big thanks to Olean Times Herald sports editor Chuck Pollock for the juiciest stat of the night: Mynderse pitcher Courtney Johnson throwing 66 of her 78 pitches for strikes. Of course, the Blue Devils lost, 4-0, but still.

- Pitt-Mendon coach Maureen Kempski celebrated her birthday Tuesday in grand style. Her team looks poised to take a shot at the state title. Winning pitcher Brittany Grage improved to 15-0 on the season with a 0.24 earned-run average. She's allowed just five earned runs in more than 120 innings pitched this season.

- Great job by Kempski and her team for having a printed roster with the team's record, phone numbers and all the other pertinent facts and figures about the team. Section VI coaches: take note.

- As you'll read in the quotes below, Amherst got aggressive on the basepaths late in their game, but it cost them. The Tigers had a player tagged out at home after a passed ball and at third base. Looking back on those outs now may not prevent an entirely accurate picture, however. The Tigers were desperate to score runs and we're trying to make something happen. Hard to fault them for that.

- Remember, state semifinals and final are Saturday down the Thruway in Waterloo. Not a bad drive.

And here's some quotes from Tuesday's action:

Pittsford-Mendon coach Maureen Kempski

On if her team was ready for the next step: “Yes, but they’ve worked really hard and this was their goal at the beginning of the season. Most of these kids have been on my team at least three years. The girls have believed this is their time and they’re working hard. They believe in each other.”

On Amherst’s aggressive baserunning: “I was surprised with the score that they did that. I have a very strong infield. … I think because we had a few mental lapses maybe in the inning before, they thought maybe we’ll jump on them and see if we can rattle them, but with this group, they’re always ready. They believed they could get it and made the plays.”

Amherst coach Mike Chatelle

On going for extra bases:“We always talked about being aggressive, whether it was at the plate or in the field or on the basepaths. They made some decisions and went with them. They ran the bases hard and were looking to take the extra base."

On nerves: “I think we were a little tight, tighter than we’re normally used to. That’s understandable, it’s a different level.”

Olean coach Dan Brooks

On getting a lead: “One of our goals this year is to score first. If we can score first, we feel pretty comfortable. Chelsea has been throwing outstanding during sectionals. If we can score first we settle in a little better.”

On Calabro: “She was working hard, you could see it. She got a little frustrated at times, you could see it in her body language. It was her fastball that got her out of jams tonight."

On the team’s schedule:“Our league prepares us for this. One of the things I decided to do this year was upgrade our nonleague schedule. We played North Tonawanda, we played Kenmore West, we played some outstanding teams. And on top of that our division one [schedule]. The Fredonias, Falconers, Dunkirks, Allegany-Limestones, they’re outstanding. We played the perfect schedule for where we’re at right now. We’ve faced teams like this before. Our league is outstanding and it proves it year in and year out.”

Clarence coach Todd Banaszak

On taking an early lead: “It just gives the pitcher a little bit more confidence. Yeah, I guess you could say it put the team at ease.”

On missed opportunities: “I thought we should have scored more runs. We threatened quite a bit, but we just couldn’t get that big hit.”

On finishing the deal: “The first thing I said when we went to right field [after the game] was we’ve been there three times already, now we’ve got to win it. They’re a good group. They’re focused, they’re intense … hopefully we have all the ingredients to get it.”

Clarence pitcher Jen Sansano

On her defense: “They’re always there. I know the girls are behind me. They’re always stellar in the field.”

On taking an early lead: “It shows that the girls are in the game and they’re just ready to pounce on every team.”

---Jay Skurski

More from the Far West Regionals

Five games in a day can really fill a notebook.

Here’s some additional notes and quotes that didn’t make the game stories from the action at Buffalo State.

Grab a cup of coffee, you’ll need it.

Class D: Maple Grove-Houghton

Some notes:

- Amazingly enough, this was my first time seein Chris Secky play live, and he didn’t disappoint. Despite being shackled to the bench for most of the first half, Secky put on a show in the third quarter. He dazzled the crowd with a Tim Hardaway-style crossover late in the quarter, freeing himself for a floater in the lane to make it 36-31.

- Maple Grove big man Kevin McElrath picked up his fourth foul with 1:44 left in the third quarter on a charge, sending him to the bench, but the Red Dragons were able to withstand his loss.

- Houghton hung tough for most of the game, including when Tyler Mastin hit a layup and made the ensuing free throw with 1:34 left in the third off a nice assist from David Roorbach. The shot made it 31-28 and Mastin celebrated by letting out a scream in front of the shirtless, painted Maple Grove fans.

- As you’ll read below in Maple Grove coach Curt Fischer’s quotes, going to an independent schedule this season was beneficial for the Red Dragons. Houghton started off strong in its first-ever trip to the Far West Regionals, but the Red Dragons never wavered, even with Secky on the bench. That can be attributed to their big-game experience.

And some quotes:

Continue reading "More from the Far West Regionals" »

More from McKinley's A-1 win (with video)

Since we weren't able to do much live blogging Wednesday night from the Section VI Class A-1 semifinals, we've got plenty left over to post here on the blog. Here's some notes, observations and plenty of quotes that didn't make the print edition:

* Markus Mathews scored the first five points of the game, including a three-pointer, to help Bennett to a 5-2 lead against McKinley. Dwain Laws also had five points, including a three-pointer, for Bennett in the first quarter. The Tigers used an opportunistic defense to create steals. As you'll read later in this post, McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey called his offense tentative in the first eight minutes.

* Bennett's Dion Artis has a ton of athleticism, but often met with McKinley's Shaquille Holman at the basket. Holman was a huge presence in the game, blocking five shots and altering several others. In a two-point game (47-45 McKinley), that made all the difference.

* Bennett's free-throw shooting was a huge reason for the Tigers loss. Coach Randy Rakowski estimated after the game his team had shot between 50 and 60 percent (he hadn't looked at the stats yet), a number that sounded right.

* Here's my first shot at stealing a page from Keith McShea's playbook and posting a video. Sorry it's only one relatively standard play, Antonio Averyscoring on a backdoor cut and nice pass from Tamar Redden. I'm still learning the video game (and trying to figure out how Keith handles 15 things at once). 

Here's some additional quotes from the game:

Bennett coach Randy Rakowski

On going to a press in the fourth quarter: "It was almost do or die at that point. You have to give them pressure. It seemed to be working. It got us back in the game and almost ahead, but we just fell a few baskets short there at the end."

On the end-to-end play: "That’s how it is when you pay in sectionals against another Yale Cup team. You can go back and forth like that. Sometimes we’ve been down and we’ve had to come back. You never count any team out and you never count yourself out, You just keep plugging away and making adjustments and go from there."

McKinley coach Zaire Dorsey

His breakdown of the game: "I thought the first quarter we played really slow and kind of tentative. Second quarter we got going, third quarter was pretty good. Fourth quarter we kind of relaxed and were careless with the ball. We didn’t rebound as well."

On Shaquille Holman:  "His presence was big tonight. It’s been big all year. He’s averaging about four or five blocks per game. All of the city kids know each other, they play recreation ball, they play AAU ball together. They know what he can do around the basket. He was a big force."

On other contributors and the team's outlook: "Erik Simmons was big for us tonight. He grew up a lot. We've got one more game to win. Our goal coming in was Glens Falls. We’ve got six losses, but we learned from every one of them.

Shaquille Holman

On protecting the rim: "I rely on my teammates to force [other teams' players] into me to block their shots. Without them [his teammates], I wouldn’t get that many blocks."

---Jay Skurski

Wednesday Night Live from Buffalo State: McKinley, Will South move on

Hello from the Buffalo State Sports Arena, where we're live for the Section VI Class A-1 semifinals. Sorry for the delay in getting this posted: Buff State doesn't have a wireless Internet connection, so I was bailed out by Keith McShea, who graciously let me borrow his wireless card.

Since we're short on time, here's the update: McKinley beat Yale Cup rival Bennett, 47-45, in the first game to advance to the A-1 championship game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Shaquille Holman led the Macks with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Macks will play the winners of tonight's second game, which is at halftime with Williamsville South leading Hutch-Tech, 34-25. We'll have sporadic updates here on the blog, and then much more from both games later tonight.

Third quarter

4:13 remaining: Hutch-Tech is hanging tough, but free throws are killing them. Maurice Miles just missed a pair, leaving the score, 43-32, Will South.

3:11: Michael Daniels hits one of two from the ine for H-T after the teams traded three-pointers. It's 46-36 South.

2:08: Mark Coppola of South, like always, has been fun to watch. He's got the last five points on a trey and a steal and layup to extend the lead to 53-38.

00.0: End of three, 58-45 Will South. Maurice Miles of Hutch-Tech ended the third quarter with a layup.

Fourth quarter

6:00: Some sloppy play comes to an end with a timeout. South is still holding a 10-point lead, 60-50, but Hutch-Tech won't go away.

4:17: Timeout, Hutch-Tech as the Billies begin to pull away. South is up, 67-50, after a nice layup by Kevin O'Connell underneath.

00.0: It's a final, 73-61, Williamsville South. Be sure to check back later for much more on both games. Off now for interviews.

---Jay Skurski

Live from the Monsignor Martin girls semifinals: Nichols, Sacred Heart set up rematch

We're live at Canisius College for the first of two Monsignor Martin girls semifinals games. The first matchup features Nardin and Sacred Heart, with Nichols and Mount St. Mary to play at 7:30.

As the Black Eyed Peas say, let's get it started ...

First quarter

6:06 p.m.: A slow start and some good defense have added up to few points. Sacred Heart leads, 2-1, on a pair of free throws with less than six minutes to go in the first quarter. Nardin's Brianna Smith has been a force so far down low, recording a pair of blocked shots.

6:08: A free throw and the first field goal of the game, by Smith, give Nardin a 3-2 lead with less than four to play in the opening quarter.

6:10: First field goal for Sacred Heart comes from Sarah Pawlak. Her jumper from the right side puts the Sharks up, 4-3.

6:17: Sacred Heart leads, 8-5, after the first quarter. Victoria Krantz hit a 12-footer with about 20 seconds to play to extend the lead.

NOTE: We've made an executive decision on the blog from here on out: We'll go with the time left remaining in the quarter at the start of the update instead of the actual time.

Second quarter

6:07 remaining: First timeout sees the Sharks lead, 10-7. Nice jumper by Nardin's Hannah Gardner cut the Shaks' lead to three.

Continue reading "Live from the Monsignor Martin girls semifinals: Nichols, Sacred Heart set up rematch" »

Wrapping up the Section VI wrestling championships

Here are the Division I and Division II stories from the Section VI wrestling championship. And here are plenty of extras from the Division II meet Saturday night at Niagara County Community College. But first, a couple observations.

1. This was the second straight year NCCC served as host for the event, and it's a great venue. There's plenty of parking, and NCCC coach Eric Knuutilla (one of the nicest men you could ever meet) does a great job having the gym ready. The support staff, including announcers and officials, also do a good job of keeping everything moving as close to on time as possible.

2. Another thank you to Ross Conti, an assistant coach at Fredonia and committee member of the Wrestling Review of Western New York, the group that does such a great job seeding and ranking area wrestlers. Conti is a walking encyclopedia of wrestling knowledge.

112-pound champion Tom Page, Eden: Page moved ahead with a takedown in the second period to defeat teammate eighth-grade teammate Alex Smythe. Here's Page's father, also Tom Page, on what it's like for two teammates to wrestle each other: "It's extremely difficult because they're so familiar with each other's style. It's unfair to both, but some coaches say it's a privilege. I'm proud of both of the athletes, because they've done a fantastic job."

The elder Page said he wrestled both at 112 because they were the best at that weight class and deserved a chance to showcase what they could do at the sectional level. Nothing wrong with that logic.

119-pound champion Kevin Strong, Frewsburg: It's the second trip to states for Strong, who improved to 43-2 on the season. Here he is on his game plan from Saturday: "I was working on holding him down and taking it slow. Once I got my points I was very careful." Strong beat Newfane's David Ciaramella, 9-0.

125-pound champion Emory Rowe, Ripley: The smallest wrestling school in Western New York had two finalists, including one champion in Rowe. He scored a late takedown to earn a 5-3 decision over Jake Baer of Olean, a raw talent in just his third year of wrestling. Here's Rowe on the end of the match: "I was just looking for an opening and I saw him loosen up, so I dove for it and got it."

140-pound champion Devin Kramer, Depew: The Most Outstanding Wrestler of the meet scored three late points to break a 2-2 tie with Ben Haas of Salamanca and win his second sectional title (he won at 130 last year). The 130- and 140-pound divisions are packed with talented wrestlers. Kramer, a senior who is a member of the Cobra Wrestling Academy, is 36-4 on the season.

145-pound champion: Dominic Montesanti, Medina: Montesanti put forth a dominant performance despite being hampered by a knee injury. He's wrestling on a torn meniscus in his right knee. Here he is on competing hurt: "It's been a real bother, but it's my senior so I couldn't get surgery. It would put me out for the rest of the year. I have one last chance to be a state champion, so I have to tough it out."

Montesanti took sixth at the state tournament last year after dislocating his elbow and having to injury forfeit two matches at 140.

171-pound champion John Mistretta, Southwestern: Mistretta beat Greg Burroughs of Fredonia for the third time this season, never the easiest thing to do. Mistretta has a unique style that could make him a tough out at the state tournament.

189-pound champion Colin Palmer, East Aurora: Palmer is unbeaten on the season (24-0) after missing time early due to injury.

215-pound champion Pat Langworthy, Southwestern: Langworthy (33-6), a junior, won a wild weight class. Consider: the seventh seed, Panama's Cody DiDomenico, beat No. 2 Bashar Srouji of Lew-Port in the quarterfinals. Langworthy, the third seed, then beat DiDomenico. On the other side of the bracket, top seed Justin Taylor of Portville was upset by fourth seed Jake Eddington of Gowanda in the semifinals.

285-pound champion Theo King, Roy-Hart: King and 96-pounder Zach Bickle won titles for the Rams. Here's King on what he hopes it means for the Niagara-Orleans League school: "I hope it can inspire more people to come out for the team next year and continue to build the tradition of the program."

That's it for now, although we may have some video later of a few matches (if I can figure out the technology).

---Jay Skurski

More from the Section VI Division I wrestling championships

The champs. Section VI provided the photo (but not the who's who :-).

SANBORN -- Greetings from Niagara County Community College, site of the Section VI wrestling championships this weekend. Division I (large schools), finished a couple hours ago, while Division II (small schools will wrestle all day Saturday, with finals set to start at 4:30 p.m.

We're finished with our print responsibilities for the night and have plenty of notes left over to share. First, an observation: The simple finalist information sheet each coach fills out for his wrestlers is a valuable tool for the announcer and media in attendance. One of the toughest aspects of covering high schools sports is the availability of (reliable) statistical information, so when coaches have stuff like that prepared, it helps journalists write a better, more complete story on their student-athletes.

On to the winners and some information about them, as well as additional quotes that didn't make the paper.

96-pound champion: Steve Michel, Lancaster: Michel beat teammate Eric Lewandowski, 4-3, in a match I'm not sure either wanted to wrestle. Lewandowski was emotional after the loss, while Michel didn't seem to take much happiness out of his second straight 96-pound title. Here he is on the move that gave him the deciding points: "I shot a sweep single, then I hooked his leg and I stepped over."

103: Ronald Rodriguez-Spencer, Cheektowaga: The Class AAA winner improved his record to 32-5 and was the youngest competitor (eighth grade) to win a sectional title.

112: Tim Schaefer, Lancaster: Schaefer is 3-for-3 in sectional tournaments. He won at 96 in seventh grade, 103 last year and now 112 as a freshman.

119: Dylan Caruana, Kenmore West: One of the best matches of the night, Caruana held off Daiquann Burney of Sweet Home with a late reversal for a 6-3 decision. Here's Caruana on the fantastic finish: "The end was really exciting. I just didn’t want to give up that take down. He was about to get behind me and I couldn’t let him do it. I was only up by a point, so it was real close." Caruana has won two most outstanding wrestler awards this season, at the Orchard Park Tournament and last week at the AAAA tourney.

125: Joey Malvestuto, Niagara-Wheatfield: Plenty on this match in the print product, but a quick note: Malvestuto has overcome a broken hand and knee injury this season. He's rounding into form and improved to 31-3. Opponent Ben Mikac lost his first match of the season, falling to 34-1.

130: Joe Kalinka, Iroquois: The first of three Iroquois champions on the night, Kalinka (46-2) will make his second straight tip to states. He won the AAA tourney last week, while his opponent, Mike Feeney of Lockport, won the AAAA tourney.

135: Pat Mix, Lake Shore: Both Mix and opponent Zack Fummerelle had just one loss entering the mach. Mix took control with an early takedown, then held on for the win. Nice celebration by the Lake Shore coaches and Mix after the match, too. A school not known for its wrestling program made nice strides this season.

140: Jimmy Kloc, Iroquois: Kloc, who is a pitbull on the mat, looked like he was going to cruise, but Gage Bateman of Sweet Home gave him all he could handle. A fitting final for a weight class my wrestling go-to guy, Fredonia assistant coach Ross Conti, called the deepest of the tournament.

145: Jacob Beichner, Williamsville East: Beichner was the only wrestler not seeded first or second (he was third) to win. His reaction after winning showed all that's right with high school sports: a tearful hug with his parents. Here's Beichner on what the win meant to him: "He was beating me up pretty good in the beginning, but I’ve been training my whole life for this moment. I just wasn’t going to let that stop me. I knew he was getting tired and he was breaking. It’s my senior year, I just went full force." The loss was the first of the season for Irvin Buck of Niagara Falls.

152: Kris Duge, Clarence: It was the 38th win of the season for Duge, a senior.

160: Raleigh Defields, Iroquois: Defields was struck with pneuomia during the season and didn't start to get healthy until the end of January. He had dropped an earlier decision by one point to his opponent Friday, Lancaster's Sean Woods. Defields was a fun interview after his match. Here's some of what he had to say: "I set a goal as a freshman that I always wanted to at least win [a] class [tournament] and going to states is just an awesome bonus." On his recovery: "I've been busting my hump in practice getting my conditioning levels back and it paid off because I could have gone another minute if need be." On the end of the match, which went to overtime: "I looked up at the clock with five seconds left, held on for dear life and smiled."

171: Tony Lock, Pioneer: A sophomore who has progressively improved this season, Lock picked up his 40th win.

189: Angelo Malvestuto, Niagara-Wheatfield: Falcons coach Rick Sweney called him the best wrestler ever to come through Niagara-Wheatfield, which sums up Malvestuto's career well. He was the only one to record a pin Friday night.

215: Kyle Colling, Pioneer: A 2009 national champion, the only surprise in Colling's title is that it didn't come by pinfall. According to Conti, it's believed Colling could become the first wrestler in state history to win class titles in Division I and II, due to Pioneer moving up to Division I this season (he won Division II last year).

285: Jim Donner, Niagara-Wheatfield: Donner gets a chance to build on his fifth-place finish at last year's state tournament.

Talk to you tomorrow from the Division II tournament.

---Jay Skurski



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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.

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