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.
Dan Gill, who has been the athletic director at St. Mary's for the last five years and basketball coach for the last four, is leaving the private school located in his hometown of Lancaster for an administrative position with the University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Gill will be an associate athletic director at the school, which is an extension of Nova Southeastern University (thus the "University" name of the high school).
Gill said he has discussed coaching with the University School and that it is a possibility for the upcoming basketball season; however, he said right now he be only joining the University School on the administrative side as he gets familiar with the program.
Regardless of when is able to coach, the move is a great one for Gill, 29, who has aspirations of coaching in NCAA Division I basketball. While a student at Ohio State, he was a student assistant for Jim O'Brien's coaching staff.
The Fort Lauderdale area is one of the most fertile for high school sports, and the University School is -- like many in the Sunshine State -- loaded with top-notch facilities and its programs are built around year-round training.
Leading St. Mary's boys basketball program, Gill helped the Lancers to great success. He had a record of 72-39 over four years while playing some of the best programs in Western New York as part of the Monsignor Martin Association, while he also put together one of the area's tougher nonleague schedules.
St. Mary's notched wins over St. Joe's, Canisius and Bishop Timon-St. Jude throughout his tenure. The Lancers were the Monsignor Martin Association's Class B state Catholic playoff representative all four of Gill's years, which included a trip to the state Federation championship game in Gill's first season, 2008-09.
In that first season, Gill's team went 17-11 -- one year after the Lancers were 3-20 -- and finished fifth in The News small school poll. In 2009-10, the Lancers went 18-10 and were No. 4; in 2010-11, St. Mary's went 17-10 and were No. 5.
This past year, St. Mary's beat St. Joe's in the Monsignor Martin's Manhattan Cup semifinals to advance to the school's first-ever Manhattan Cup championship. The Lancers went 20-8 and finished third in the small school poll (they were second on my ballot).
I'll have more on Gill's move and how it will affect St. Mary's in a Prep Talk column in Friday's paper.
Note: The interviews in this video are, in order, with St. Mary's coach Dan Gill, St. Mary's senior Erik Simmons (not Canisius), St. Mary's senior Devin Redden (not Jake Cercone), Canisius coach Kyle Husband, Canisius senior Aaron White (not Erik Simmons), Canisius senior Matt Hart, and Bishop Timon-St. Jude coach Jim Palano. Our apologies regarding some technical errors on-screen.
Here's more, starting with video interviews with the victorious Lancers (classy job by St. Mary's coach Dan Gill starting his postgame comments by lauding longtime Timon coach/athletic director Jim Palano, who will be retiring at year's end):
I walked in at halftime and immediately saw that St. Mary's was ready to play in South Buffalo. Timon senior sharpshooter Kyle Kobis drained a jumper in the final seconds, but it left just enough time for Erik Simmons to speed to the other end and beat the buzzer for a tie at 33-33.
St. Mary's shot the lights out in the second half, but it's not like they just had a good shooting night, like one of those everything-they-were-throwing-up-went-in deals. They certainly shot the ball well, but most of the baskets came off good shots created by good passing and good decisions during good possessions. Some of it came off of alert, fundamental defense and/or rebounding.
The Lancers played with a confidence, an intelligence and a togetherness on both ends of the floor that was more than impressive. That play was rewarded with a big lead, and when Timon had Kobis and Jordan Williams hit big shots to give the Tigers a chance, St. Mary's responded.
Here's a recounting of the second half from my notebook & going over the game film (that means my iPhone video :-) ):
Redden hit a three-pointer (36-33). ... Ryan Winnicki hit a three off an Erik Simmons drive-and-kickout (39-37). ... Jake Denz got fouled on a three-pointer and sunk all three FTs (42-39). ... Simmons with a spectacular drive finished with an up-and-under scoop-to-the-hoop (44-39). ... Simmons again with a drive (46-39). ... Denz with a nice follow of a missed Redden drive (48-42). ... An offensive rebound by Paul Rath turned into a three by Nate Meyers (53-45). ... A Redden open three (56-47) was followed by pressure on the inbound that forced a Timon timeout with 1:25 left in the third. ... Denz with a nifty scoop vs. DeMilo Gibbs (58-49). ... Nicc Johnson with a nice-looking pop-up baseline jumper from the right side (60-51) -- that shot was the only one, to me, that was like, wow, they're hitting everything. There was some good defense and I believe the shot clock was running down, and he popped up and hit a tough jumper.
St. Mary's finished the third with a 60-53 lead after Kobis got the benefit of a goaltending call although -- from the way I saw it -- the shot never got above the rim. Kobis, Jordan Williams and Gibbs -- who played very well down low -- were effective on offense to keep Timon in the game.
St. Mary's did a great job defending Gibbs in the post, and they did it right from the start. There was some great help defense on Timon's first possession to earn the ball back for St. Mary's.
That was followed by two free throws by Redden after a good, aggressive drive to the basket (62-53). ... Johnson put on a fantastic drive with an off-the-glass finish (64-55). ... Denz made a great play to poke the ball free from a Timon dribbler, leading to a fast break in which Johnson's shot didn't fall but Denz was right there for the follow (66-55), prompting a Timon timeout with 5:48 to go.
Timon made it 66-60 with a little over five minutes to go by doing what they do: Kobis hit a three; Williams drove and scored. At this point, crunch time seemed to get both sides a little tight -- no field goals for about two minutes.
Denz made a nice play to pick off an entry pass for Gibbs, St. Mary's called a timeout with 3:15 left, and then ran a play which resulted in a Denz kickout to Simmons for a three (69-60).
This started a nice-back-and-forth (video below) that saw a Jordan Williams crossover-and-fadeaway (69-62), then a Redden jumper off a Meyers kickout (71-62), then a Zach Hayes follow of a missed Kobis drive (71-64) that prompted a Timon timoeut with 2:03 left.
Redden took advantage of some loose Timon defense to score on a drive (73-64); Kobis hit a three (73-67) to make it a two-possession game with about 1:20 to go. St. Mary's had some great ball movement against some aggressive defense that resulted in Denz finding Redden on the baseline but that was one shot that rimmed out for the Lancers. It was still a two-possession game with 1:00 left.
Big play here. Jordan Williams got the ball on the left wing, faked out his man and drove to the basket, and Denz came off his man (Gibbs) and drew a charging foul on Williams with 37.6 to go.
Now, I am the biggest anti-flopping basketball fan in the world. I think the beautiful game of basketball is soiled by "take a charge," which I like to call flopping, because that's what it is most of the time. That being said, and this is a testament to how difficult this call is to make for officials (maybe the most difficult in sports?), at first glance I thought this was a good call.
But when I went to the iPhone video, it was a block. Williams is leaving the floor as Denz slides over. Denz makes sure he gets a shoulder in Williams' way and falls to the floor. That's defense? That's not defense, but that's what passes for defense in basketball for many people these days. The offensive player blows by his defender, has a clear lane, and he's made his move to the basket truly before the help defender has established position.
The shot didn't fall, and it would have been two free throws, so Timon would certainly have had a better shot to win. I don't think they got robbed of the game whatsoever. St. Mary's went 0 for 2 down the stretch so Timon still had a shot to win. I definitely think St. Mary's deserved this one, big-time. And to be clear: This is not a knock on Denz by any means. He was fantastic on both ends, he did a great job fronting DeMillo in the fourth quarter, and the charge play was one of several smart ones he made during the game -- including not inbounding the ball on this final play.
Overall, a fantastic performance by St. Mary's. Timon may have underperformed a bit, but they were mostly outplayed by St. Mary's.
I'll be headed to another top 10 large school-small school matchup of the Monsignor Martin Association this evening when Canisius hosts Archbishop Walsh at 6:30 p.m.
I'll talk about that game, the St. Mary's game, Friday's Canisius at St. Joe's game, today's Prep Talk column, the basketball polls, the Power 10 and whatever else comes up during our video chat starting at 9 p.m.
PrepTalkTV met up with a few coaches before the Kensington Lions All-Star Classic at Depew High School to ask them about the upcoming season. Here's what they had to say about their teams and divisions:
St. Francis head coach Jerry Smith:
Burgard head coach Jason Kolb:
Sweet Home head coach John Faller:
Wilson head coach Bill Atlas:
South Park head coach Tim Delaney:
Hamburg head coach Mike McFadden:
St. Mary's head coach Dave Hersey:
Be sure to check back to the PrepTalk blog as we gear up for the first day of practices all around Western New York on Aug. 15.
I had a summer break that started as soon as the 2010-11 season concluded, and now I'm back -- and here to throw some notes out regarding some summer news and notes ...
* Late in the spring season we told you about the BCANY Hoops Festival set for Johnson City from Aug. 5-7. The event seems like a great one, and it's one that came about due to the unfortunate absence of the Empire State Games this summer.
The roster has been selected by the coaching staff of head coach Larry Jones (Depew) and assistants Mike Haskell (retired Pioneer) and Mike Berkun (Medaille):
Reggie Agbeko (St. Joe's), Stan Wier (who has transferred back home to East Aurora), Sterling Taplin (Williamsville North), Ryan Whelpley (Walsh), Matt Hart (Canisius), Aaron Frasier (Seneca), Aaron White (Canisius), Jamaal Carter (City Honors), Adam Weir (Canisius), Jordan Williams (Bishop Timon-St. Jude).
The team will play Long Island on Friday, Aug 5 at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, Aug. 6, the Buffalo team plays New York City at 9 a.m. and Hudson Valley at noon. Saturday's evening session includes a dunk contest and three-point contest at 4:30 p.m.; a parent clinic on recruiting at 5:30 and a player clinic with college coaches at 6:30.
The event concludes on Sunday, Aug. 7 with the seventh-place game (9 a.m.), fifth-place game (10:30 a.m.), consolation (noon) and championship (1:30 p.m.).
While the event is being run by BCANY, there are some expenses that will need to be covered for teams and players (food, lodging, transportation -- costs mostly taken care of by the ESG during the Games). The squad is seeking sponsorships -- if you are interested in helping the team defray some costs, call Jones at (585) 746-8327.
This team deserves some serious commenting -- that squad is a really good one, a much better collection than I expected for what is a startup event this year. Great talent, great depth, great mixture of schools. Excellent job by the basketball community in getting the word out and credit the coaching staff for what must have been some difficult choices after the tryouts.
* Speaking of some good hoops competition, this weekend might be the Taste of Buffalo but fans can get a taste of hoops up in Niagara Falls. Some top programs are in action at the Niagara PAL Team Camp at Niagara Falls. Here's the lineup:
Friday: 5 p.m. -- Main gym, Niagara Falls vs. Canisius; Aux. gym, St. Joe's vs. Niagara-Wheatfield; 6 p.m. -- Batavia vs. Grand Island; Aux. gym, Wilson vs. Holland; 7 p.m. -- Main gym, Jamestown vs. Sweet Home.
Saturday: 9 a.m. -- Main gym, St. Joe's vs. Niagara Falls; Aux. gym, Canisius vs. Jamestown; 10 a.m. -- Main gym, Sweet Home vs. Wilson; Aux. gym, Batavia vs. Niagara-Wheatfield; 11 a.m., Main gym, Grand Island vs. Holland.
Single elimination tournament begins at noon, with championship at 5 p.m.
There is a $2 admission for fans 13 and older.
* I will hopefully hit some summer events of all sorts -- I'll be soon selling raffle tickets to benefit the Tom Borrelli Award and Scholarship Fund. We have some great prizes and it's a great cause as we continue to honor our fallen coworker.
The third Borrelli Award for boys and the inaugural Borrelli Award for girls will be announced later this month and the winners will receive their trophies at the July 27 Tom Borrelli Golf Tournament at Holland Hills. For those interested in golfing ($100 per person) or donating, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* By the way, the spring All-WNY teams and all-league teams (for baseball, softball and boys and girls lacrosse), which have been published over the last month, have all been collected at the high school home page.
Hello from Canisius College for the Manhattan Cup semifinals. We'll do separate live blogs for each game below.
You can check our scoreboard with box scores of today's Section VI quarterfinals and we'll have the Manhattan Cup box scores there as soon as we can. Tonight's winners meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Canisius College.
Here's the postgame show from both games as Canisius and St. Joe's talk about their victories and their upcoming third meeting of the season.
Canisius talked about how defense keyed its win:
St. Joe's talked about how the Marauders rallied despite Reggie Agbeko going down in the opening seconds:
Hello from the first of what are going to be many playoff basketball games for this reporter. It's the most wonderful time of the year :-).
Big game tonight as Archbishop Walsh meets St. Mary's in the Manhattan Cup quarterfinals, a game that will likely determine the league's representative in the Catholic state championship game.
Keep track above and chime in at our comments section -- and let us know what game you saw tonight, if any.
Check our scoreboard for the box score from this game as well as all of the night's action.
Barring what would be a massive upset by Niagara Catholic over St. Joe's on Wednesday night, St. Mary's will be the Monsignor Martin's representative in the state Catholic Class B playoffs. The Lancers, as they were last year when they won it, are one win away from a Catholic state championship and a trip to the state Federation championships in Albany on March 25-27.
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.