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.
* Tonight's Archbishop Walsh at St. Mary's game has been postponed to Saturday, Feb. 12 at 4 p.m. due to weather forecasts and travel concerns.
Also, the Cardinal O'Hara at St. Mary's game originally scheduled for Friday has been rescheduled to Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
* An email send out by Jamestown's athletic department states that the rescheduled game of Jamestown at Williamsville North (which was postponed two Fridays ago) is now set for Monday, Feb. 7. Originally word was that the game had been scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 8.
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Coaches and/or athletic directors should notify The News ASAP if you have postponements. Call 849-4461 or email email@example.com AND firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our basketball scoreboard through the evening -- and every evening -- for updates on all the action.
Hello from Laverack Road in Lancaster where St. Mary's hosts Bishop Timon-St. Jude in a nice Monsignor Martin meeting of a ranked small school in the No. 2 Lancers and the No. 7 large school Tigers.
Check out our basketball scoreboard through the evening -- and every evening -- for updates on all the action.
7:51 p.m. Our computer is finally warmed up after we arrived at for the tip of the game, and the Tigers are warmed up as well.
After the first quater, Timon leads St. Mary's, 17-5. The Tigers did what they do -- hitting three straight three-pointers early on. Two straight by Jordan Williams followed by one from Kyle Kobis to give Timon an 11-2 lead just 3:13 into the game, prompting a timeout from an irate Dan Gill. The St. Mary's coach to his players: "What did we say?!?!!?!?" He was referring to Timon's ability to hit threes, but the Lancers were not defending Timon like they are a team that hits threes.
8:07 p.m. Timon's scoring slowed down in the second quarter for just a bit, but St. Mary's remained out of sync on offense. At halftime, Timon leads St. Mary's, 29-13.
Here's a Kyle Kobis drive from the second quarter:
That great start by Timon has allowed them to cruise -- St. Mary's just never snapped out of it after the slow start. The opportunity is there to get a few baskets to make it a game. St. Mary's big man Peter Notaro has been good on the boards and he's hustled on defense, but the Lancers haven't been able to get him the ball. He's a key because Timon is on the smaller size, thus the three-pointer is their main weapon. Kobis and Williams have also had some nice drives to the basket, while the Tigers have moved the ball around very well -- no surprise there.
8:25 p.m. Things have not slowed down. Timon with some nice plays in the opening minutes, including a three by Williams and two nice finishes by Ryan Dougherty. Timon leads, 44-17, with just under three minutes left in the second quarter.
Unfortunately an official requested security pay a visit to one fan who apparently was all over the refs. A police officer did come on the court and do that.
8:33 p.m. After three quarters, Bishop Timon-St. Jude leads St. Mary's, 44-22. A lot of slamming of the bench, slamming of water bottles, and yelling in general from the extremely frustrated St. Mary's bench.
8:40 p.m. After a timeout by Timon, both teams score and St. Mary's calls a timeout with 4:05 left and Timon up, 48-30.
8:49 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Bishop Timon-St. Jude 54, St. Mary's 34.
A very nice win for Timon, particularly coming off a stretch in which it had lost three of its last four -- albeit all three to extremely good teams in St. Joe's (at home in OT) and road losses to Section V powers Batavia and Bishop Kearney.
Pollster and first-ballot Hall of Fame Prep Talk blogger Centercourt told me he wasn't going to this game tonight. His reasons turned out to be dead-on: He said that the disparity between the best large schools and the best small schools was so large, he didn't think it was going to be a game. He had also seen both teams before.
(Sidenote: Holey moley -- I think he said he was going to check out Niagara-Wheatfield at Maryvale, and if he did, he saw Blair Estarfaa score 42 for the Flyers. Check our scoreboard. Whoaaaaa).
I wanted to see St. Mary's tonight because their schedule heads toward League A teams the rest of the way, and I wanted to see Timon again after just seeing one full game. They were definitely impressive in the win, but I'm not sure I learned anything more to help figure out poll status and such. St. Mary's has certainly shown it can beat many top small schools. But I'll stick with my large school top 10 after tonight -- I think most of those teams are capable of the kind of win that Timon had here tonight (Canisius did just that, while St. Joe's won by five in early January).
And now the post-game show:
Coach Jim Palano must have left through the other door to the locker room, because he evaded me like Timon players evaded the defense tonight. Baddump-bump.
He did call in his game and you can find out more details in a recap on the game at our basketball scoreboard.
I'm back Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. for our weekly live chat during what continues to be a fun week: Niagara Falls at Kenmore West on Thursday, Newfane at Wilson on Friday, St. Joe's at Canisius on Saturday.
Timon and St. Mary's were scheduled to play on Dec. 23, so the schools are working on finding a new date for that game.
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Coaches and athletic directors are asked to send rescheduled games, times and dates to email@example.com as soon as they are set. It is especially important for us to have rescheduled games as soon as possible so we can adjust our new Web scoreboard/schedule feature.
A tradition unlike any other continued tonight as I and plenty of other high school hoopheads checked out opening night of the week-long Pastor-Cooper Memorial Tournament at Daemen College.
I wasn't there for a quality start of the season for the St. Mary's girls team, which beat Williamsville North, 37-34.
I caught the last four minutes of McKinley beating the St. Mary's boys, 66-51. The Macks looked good as they finished off the Lancers, very active on defense and some nice fast-break finishes, including one by a high-rising Antonio Avery, a returning senior starter. It appeared that the Macks are back to their throw-a-lot-of-bodies-at-you, up-tempo attack as they had 12 people scoring. I saw some nice decisions down the stretch as well.
The final game had Grover Cleveland taking on Orchard Park, with many (including me) expecting the Presidents to win since it has some key returning players (very key in Chris Holland). However, OP played smart and Kyle Witkowski kept hitting three-pointers (five for all 15 of his points) in a 57-52 victory.
First eyebrow-raiser was that Grover is now wearing uniforms to reflect the school's name change to International Prep at Grover. As the picture shows, it's now I-Prep at Grover on the uniforms, and the colors are a deep navy blue and white. Throw in how former assistant Shawn Ryan has taken over for longtime head coach/sideline comedian Earl Shunk (who retired and is now coaching Tapestry Charter), and it really was like watching a new entity.
Chris Holland was back, along with fellow seniors guard Kenny Pringle and big man Kadeem Hillman. Holland showed why he is a returning All-Western New Yorker with his usual well-rounded game that showed off scoring, rebounding (especially rebounding), passing and defense (steals and blocks). Junior Maurice Cheatom showed some great energy for the Presidents but overall the team could have used some more; could be the football season hangover as many players were on the Class C North champions' roster.
Grover did trim the lead to 49-48 with 4:37 left, but OP responded with an up-and-under move off a baseline drive by senior Zach Schenk (watch below) and a jumper by senior Ryan Lindquist. Schenk and junior Matt McCormick delivered some clutch two-for-two trips to the foul line in the final 1:30 to push a 53-51 lead to 57-51 with 43.7 seconds left.
Let's go to the iPhone video:
Great starts for McKinley and OP, great to have hoop season back. I'll be at Friday's championship triple-header, which I will start looking forward to as soon as I get through a ton of work this week.
In related stories, my weekly chat will be Wednesday at 9 p.m., the All-Western New York football team will be published Saturday, the Connolly Cup will be awarded Saturday, the boys basketball preview will be published next Tuesday, and we are working on a new feature for our Web site that we're hoping will be really, really cool (and it will include a master season schedule). Stay tuned.
Go to the Prep Talk Live page for blogging, video and photos from both of tonight's Monsignor Martin championships at Ralph Wilson Stadium (as well as this weekend's Far West Regionals from All High Stadium).
Let us know what you thought of the game in the comments section.
I'll be live at the Section VI boys lacrosse championships this afternoon and evening at Orchard Park. I'll be getting updates from the baseball and softball action as well.
The Class A game starts the tripleheader at 3:30 p.m. as defending champion Orchard Park meets Clarence. Up in Niagara Falls, Clarence is also in action in the highly anticipated AA softball final against Williamsville North.
The rest of the boys lax action includes defending champion Hamburg meeting Amherst at 5:30 in the B final and top-seeded Eden facing defending champion Silver Creek in Class C at 8.
The Class A softball final has Williamsville South playing Amherst at 6 p.m. at Niagara Falls while the Class D baseball final at Jamestown has Pine Valley meeting North Collins at 4:30 p.m. The Georgetown Cup championship series will be set today when St. Francis faces St. Mary's in a game at St. Joe's that was postponed from Thursday.
We'll update as soon as it is possible -- just hit refresh once every couple of minutes.
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3:52 p.m.After the FIRST QUARTER of the AA game, Orchard Park has a 4-1 lead. A few technical difficulties at the start here; my apologies. The OP field is new, but not the press box, but we have a seat and somewhere to type, and I can see all the action -- if I move my head back and forth around the .
A report from correspondent Nate Beutel at softball in Niagara Falls - Clarence took a 2-0 lead over Will North after two innings.
4:06 p.m. OP is having a nice run to take a 7-1 lead with 4:14 left in the second quarter, prompting a timeout by Clarence.
A good timeout after a very pretty goal by OP, which came just 13 seconds after senior Kevin Kelly scored off an assist by senior Sean Purtill. On the ensuing faceoff, junior Trevor Vargo won it, fed sophomore longstick middie Kole Robinson, who handed ahead to Purtill, who fed Vargo in front of the cage for the goal with 4:14 left.
4:09 p.m. OP now up, 8-1, after a great solo underhanded effort by Matt Wilson -- his third of the game -- after he charged from behind the cage.
4:13 p.m. We are at HALFTIME of the Class A game and OP leads Clarence, 8-1.
4:17 p.m. Update from Niagara Falls: CLARENCE BEATS WILL NORTH IN THE CLASS A SOFTBALL FINAL, 2-0, on a one-hitter by senior standout pitcher Jen Sansano. I set up a separate post for the game for comments.
4:29 p.m. OP's lead is now 9-1 after another pretty passing play that started with a ground ball by junior defenseman Cullen Mangino -- who scooped it up and cleared it across midfield himself. He moved deep into the offensive end and then started a tic-tac-toe play with a pass to the right side of the cage to Purtill, who fed cross-cage to wide-open sophomore Ben Johnson for an easy score with 8:54 left in the third quarter.
4:35 p.m. OP now up, 10-2, answering a Clarence goal by junior David DeCirce with yet another pretty passing play in transition. A great stick-check by Mangino on the defensive end became a clear that went from Mangino to Gary Davies to senior middie Dan Nesci, who fed Purtill on the right side, who fed back into the high slot (hockey term) to Sean Rimmer for a liner he put past Clarence junior goalie Zach Johnson.
4:40 p.m. Timeout with 2:06 left and OP owning its 10-2 lead.
5:01 p.m. After some frustrating browser/connection problems, we're back. Our apologies. OP's lead is 14-4 after a goal by junior middie Peter Biondi with 3:01 left in the game.
5:05 p.m. OP now up 15-4 with 2:03 left after a goal by junior Brian Kaspzyk.
5:09 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE and we have a CLASS A CHAMPION. Orchard Park beats Clarence, 15-5, for its 16th straight sectional title and 19th in the last 20 years.
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5:46 p.m. We're about to start the Class B game. At the start of warmups, while I was doing interviews at the sideline, the Hamburg and Amherst teams did some serious woofing across the midfield line -- very reminiscient of college football pregame woof-fests. Everyone stayed on their side of the line, so just some good, clean (loud) fun.
5:48 p.m. First possession for Hamburg but two shots go wide and Amherst hears the ball back on the backup.
5:52 p.m. Adam Dings makes it a 1-0 Hamburg lead on a nice leaping bounce shot with 6:48 left in the first quarter.
5:55 p.m. Hamburg goes up, 2-0, on a similar move as Andy Velazquez comes from the right side across the middle and fights off a defender as he gets his scoring shot off.
6:01 p.m. Timeout Hamburg with the ball with 19 seconds left in the first quarter.
6:03 p.m. We are at the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER and Hamburg leads Amherst, 2-0.
6:21 p.m. We're still at 2-0 Hamburg; the teams have exchanged extra-man opportunities, turnovers and hits but no goals.
6:22 p.m. As soon as I type that, Hamburg's Josh Kerr scores off a feed from Ryan Feuerstein -- which came off what the press box says was the 13th turnover by Amherst. The goal was at 4:14 left in the quarter.
6:23 p.m. Thirty seconds later, at 3:47, Max Maxwell comes from behind the goal, beats a defender and scores on a low shot for a 4-0 Hamburg lead and prompts a timeout by Amherst coach Stefan Henn.
6:26 p.m. Timeout Hamburg with 2:37 left in the second quarter.
6:29 p.m. Hamburg adds another. After a save by Amherst goalie Scott Theilman, Josh Kerr picks up a ground ball on the left side and fires it in the top right corner for a 5-0 lead with 1:48 left in the second.
6:32 p.m. Hamburg's late surge in the second was pretty good, but Ryan Feuerstein made it outstanding. With the clock ticking down, he came from behind the right side of the goal and whipped around a shot that went in the goal with just one second left in the half. Hamburg leads, 6-0, with :01 left, which means ...
We are at HALFTIME and Hamburg leads Amherst, 6-0.
6:37 p.m. Update from Niagara Falls in SOFTBALL: Amherst leads Williamsville South, 2-0, after three innings of the Class A final.
6:44 p.m. We have an update from BASEBALL: Pine Valley beats North Collins, 6-0, to win the SECTION VI CLASS D CHAMPIONSHIP.
6:46 p.m. We have started the third quarter. Hamburg senior goalie James Maxwell just made a nice one-on-one stop at the left doorstep on Amherst senior Bryan Lawson.
6:53 p.m. Hamburg scores on a pretty goal by Josh Kerry from Ryan Feuerstein with six minutes left; Amherst scores on its next possession thanks to senior Jack Huck; Hamburg, 7-1, with 5:35 left in the third.
6:55 p.m. Hamburg goes up, 8-1, with four minutes left on a nice rush from behind the right side of the goal by freshman Max Maxwell.
7:01 p.m. At the END OF THE THIRD QUARTER, Hamburg leads Amherst, 8-1.
7:08 p.m. Hamburg goes up, 9-1, with 7:00 left on a goal by Chris Feuerstein, who dodged past a double-team and scored from the right side.
The Hamburg fans were cheering on their defense, which has been outstanding all game. Amherst has had long possessions, but excellent checks have limited the Tigers to a few fairly easy shots saved by James Maxwell.
7:14 p.m. Timeout with 4:50 left and Hamburg up, 9-1.
7:20 p.m. Timeout Hamburg with 1:13 left; still a 9-1 game.
7:23 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE and we have a CLASS B CHAMPION. Hamburg beats Amherst, 9-1, for its fourth straight sectional title.
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7:54 p.m. We have a SOFTBALL update. AMHERST WINS THE CLASS A CHAMPIONSHIP. Tigers beat Will South, 3-1.
7:55 p.m. A couple minutes away from the start of the C game between defending champion Silver Creek and top-seeded Eden. Skies are greying but hopefully we don't get in any rain trouble.
8:07 p.m. Silver Creek takes a 2-1 lead on a Levi Jones goal off a nice John Jimerson pass with 8:59 left in the second quarter -- the Black Knights also scored on the opening faceoff as Zack Williams won it and charged right in for the goal.
The teams split their two meetings this season, with Eden winning on the road,16-12, on April 7 and the Black Knights winning in Eden, 20-9, on May 3.
8:15 p.m. Some big-time back-and-forth going on. Silver Creek is up, 4-3, with 4:21 left on a sweet, low swooping shot by Zed Williams.
8:17 p.m. Like I said, back and forth. Derek Wilder scores off a nice through-the-defense pass by Mike Janker and we're tied at 4-4 with 2:39 left in the first. Looks like we have our best game of the day.
8:23 p.m. At the END OF THE FIRST QUARTER, Eden has a 6-5 lead over Silver Creek. Neither team has had more than a one-goal lead.
8:30 p.m. The wild back-and-forth swings continue with a Silver Creek spurt -- it leads 7-6 with 10:15 left in the second after a hard shot by Ryan Mitchell.
8:33 p.m. Timeout Eden after Zack Williams sheds two shoves in the defensive end, clears it himself and goes in alone to score on a low overhand shot for an 8-6 Silver Creek lead with 8:37 left in the second.
8:35 p.m. The highlight show continues in a major way. Sophmore John Jimerson took a pass on his own side of midfield, sped towards the Eden goal, and as one defender chased him and anothe rdefender approached, he put on the brakes and did a super spin-o-rama move before charging in a few steps and burying a shot in the top left corner. Awesome. Check it out on Time Warner Cable SportsNet this week. SC leads, 9-6, with 8:09 left in the second.
8:50 p.m. We are at HALFTIME and Silver Creek has an 11-7 lead over Eden. What a fun half -- crazy scoring.
Time for me to get some writing done for Saturday's paper.
9:10 p.m. We're back to action, and the teams have kept up their pace with four goals in the opening five minutes. Silver Creek leads, 13-8, with 7:03 left in the third.
9:16 p.m. A slight drizzle started a few minutes ago, and then the officials called for the game to be suspended because lightning was seen in the distance. That's an automatic 30-minute delay. Ordinarily, I'd be a furious reporter right now, but the delay gives me a chance to write my story. I'll let you know of any more details, but we'll be back at 9:46 p.m. at the latest.
It's 13-9 Silver Creek with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
9:44 p.m. A steady downpour has subsided but apparently there has been more lightning during the delay, which has extended the delay. I'm typing a press box atop an empty bleacher.
10:05 p.m. Story is done for the paper and we just saw lightning again -- we've got to be looking at a suspended game that gets finished tomorrow.
10:19 p.m. A blast of thunder and another flash of lightning and ...
Section VI chairman John Faller has notified us that the game will be picked up Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. here at Orchard Park. That's Silver Creek leading, 13-9, with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
10:48 p.m. We've updated our story for tomorrow's paper and we're outta here. After the game was called, there was some serious lightning and thunder accompanied by a serious downpour. All is much calmer now.
Next lacrosse stop is Tuesday night at the regionals.
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Some postgame interview videos:
If you were at any of the games, let us know how it went and what you thought of the action.
The Class A final is set -- and it's not Iroquois-Grand Island.
Albion knocked off No. 1 large school and second-seeded Iroquois, 8-5, while Williamsville South toppled No. 1 seed and defending champion Grand Island, 11-5.
The undefeated Purple Eagles (21-0) take on the Billies (10-5) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Niagara Falls' Sal Maglie Stadium.
In the Monsignor Martin Association, we have three of the final four teams and one killer semifinal matchup.
St. Joe's beat Cardinal O'Hara, 9-0, while Canisius edged Nichols, 3-2 -- the rivals will meet in the semifinals at 3 p.m. Thursday at St. Joe's. The semifinal doubleheader at Joe's concludes with St. Mary's -- which knocked off Bishop Timon-St. Jude, 2-1 -- meeting the winner of Sunday's quarterfinal of Niagara Cathoic at St.Francis.
And yes, this is a post about the 2010-11 schedule.
One of the top early-season showcases is already set: the Cataract Classic at Niagara Falls. Event organizer Sal Constantino emailed the schedule to us today.
As always, a great mix of teams and some great matchups. Here it is:
Friday, Dec. 10
North Tonawanda vs. Lancaster, 5 p.m.
St. Joe's vs. Depew, 6:30 p.m.
Niagara Falls vs. Jamestown, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 11
Wilson vs. St. Mary's/Lanc., noon
V-Charles Finney vs. Amherst, 1:30 p.m.
V-Batavia vs. Williamsville North, 3 p.m.
Williamsville South vs. Canisius, 5 p.m.
Niagara Catholic vs. East Aurora, 6:30 p.m.
V-Aquinas vs. Niagara Falls, 8 p.m.
I sure hope the Pastor-Cooper Tournament is the week before (Nov. 29-Dec. 3) -- that's the way things have gone down the last two years. I've covered a state championship football game on the last Sunday in November and then seen some hoops at Daemen the next day.
We won't have a building-the-schedule post up for a little while yet, but if anyone out there has some confirmed dates, please feel free to add them here or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.