Another week, another shift before the snap for our weekly chat.
This week we've shifted to Thursday. We'll be chatting live from the Amherst Pepsi Center at around 10 p.m.
I'll start my day at the Middle College at Grover Cleveland Yale Cup showdown at 5:30 p.m. before heading to the always-entertaining Federation hockey Thursday doubleheader. This week, St. Joe's and Canisius battle at 7 p.m. followed by Williamsville South and Williamsville East skating at 9 p.m.
As the postseason looms for some sports -- and has started for others -- we'll certainly have a lot to talk about. Anything in the high school sports world is up for discussion, from the polls to PrepTalkTV.
If you won't be around for the chat, feel free to ask some questions in the comments section below and we'll tackle them during the session.
I drove past Sweet Home earlier today and their electronic sign out front reads "Sweet Home is Shell Strong."
Tonight the school is holding a Coaches vs. Cancer
fundraiser during a girls-boys doubleheader -- the Williamsville East girls visit at 6 p.m., the boys' game that follows at around 7:30 p.m. is Chapter Two of the Sweet Home-Williamsville South battle, the first of which was won by host South last week.
The doubleheader honors "Shell Strong," the
initiative to support Jacob Shell, the 9-year-old son of Burnt Hills
football coach Matt Shell (Sweet Home has beaten the Albany-area school in the
last two state championship football games).
Read Kim Shell's touching journal about Jacob's battle with neuroblastoma. Deshanaro "Day-Day" Morris, who has been a fan of Jacob's for a while, is among those behind the fundraising effort.
I'll be hitting the road a little later on and will stop by Lafayette at East before heading to Sweet Home. Updates to come.
6:15 p.m. Here at East High and the hosts are dominating Lafayette, 47-23.
I'm off to Sweet Home.
7:08 p.m. I'm set up very nicely at a courtside table and I'll have updates throughout the night.
The electronic scoreboard outside is still going Shell Strong. I took a picture of it and that will be up soon.
They have already sold out of the Shell Strong orange T-shirts, complete with a Superman 'S' on the front. I am super-bummed I missed out on getting one of those shirts. Why orange? It's Jacob's favorite color.
It's a great scene. Fans of both teams are wearing the shirts, adults and kids, even the Williamsville South players just walked by in them. Just a great night here.
Everyone walking in gets a special edition roster sheet which has Jacob's story and some pictures of him on one side. The sheets are orange, of course.
There is also a huge banner that people are being encouraged to sign. It reads, "From our Sweet Home to yours." Great stuff.
At the end of the third quarter of the girls game, Williamsville East leads Sweet Home, 49-28. There is a good crowd here for the girls game and the parking lot is jammed already. The place should be packed for the boys game.
7:26 p.m. We have a final score from the girls game: Williamsville East 57, Sweet Home 40.
7:41 p.m. I just did my attempt at introducing a video that will be online later tonighthan.
7:47 p.m. We're about to start. An extremely fine National Anthem by members of the Sweet Home orchestra.
7:57 p.m. Williamsville South calls a timeout with 3:32 left in the first quarter and we're tied at 13-13. Nice job by Sweet Home to withstand an attack which included four straight three-pointers to start the game for South, which was up, 12-6, at one point.
8:09 p.m. At the end of the first quarter, Sweet Home leads South, 26-20.
8:21 p.m. With 3:58 left in the second quarter, Sweet Home leads, 32-27.
8:23 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with 2:36 left in the second quarter. A Keron Briggs layup off a wild back-and-forth gave the Panthers a 34-27 lead.
Some tremendous action here, great environment, two top-notch teams going at it. A lot going on here trying to post stuff and keep track of the game. One thing worth noting -- D.J. Nettles is not in uniform.
8:30 p.m. We are at halftime and Sweet Home has a 39-38 lead. Joe Licata has 15 points (all on three-pointers) while Briggs has 13. Some great momentum bursts going back and forth -- Sweet Home had a 39-33 lead with about two minutes left in the quarter. Mark Coppola has been doing his usual outstanding orchestration.
8:48 p.m. With 4:01 left in the third quarter, Sweet Home has a 47-42 lead.
8:51 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with South having taken a 49-47 lead with 2:37 left in the third. Coppola just scored on what centercourt described as a tough-as-nails left-handed drive high off the glass. Nice hoop, nice description.
8:57 p.m. Check out the coaching going on here as the third quarter winds down.
At the end of the third, South leads Sweet Home, 52-51.
9:02 p.m. Williamsville South calls a timeout with Sweet Home up, 57-56, with 5:01 left in the game. Just a tremendous couple of minutes there which you'll see later on video.
And here they are:
9:06 p.m. A timeout awarded to South after a scramble with South up, 58-57. South had a great basket out of the previous timeout (video below). There is 4:18 left.
9:11 p.m. A great little story here about sophomore Rashaun Crule, a junior varsity call-up for Sweet Home.
Denzel Kirkland went down with an injury and had to be taken off the floor for a few plays. He was fouled on the play in which he got hurt, so he was unable to hit the free throws.
Coach Paul Shintzius turns to the scorer's table where his JV coach is keeping the Sweet Home scorebook. "Can your guy hit these free throws?!" Schintz hurriedly asks. The JV coach says yes.
In walks Crule with 3:38 left in the game and Sweet Home down by three (60-57). If fans are looking over the roster they picked up on the way in, his name and number (No. 20) aren't even on it.
Let's go to the video clip:
Sweet Home trails by one (60-59). Nice job on the varsity, Mr. Crule.
Out of the timeout, South missed its next shot, Sweet Home missed in transition and South came back with a fast-break layup by Stasiak to go up, 62-59.
9:15 p.m. Sweet Home calls a timeout with 1:12 left in the game and South with a 65-59 lead. Erik Hansen just took the ball strong for a drive that put the Billies up by six. Hansen had a free throw for South's previous point.
9:20 p.m. We have a FINAL SCORE: Williamsville South 65, Sweet Home 61.
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9:56 p.m. Whew. We've written a first-edition story for the paper, did a short video stand-up, got the box score in, talked to South coach Al Monaco and kept our extension cord plugged in.
Just a tremendous night here. The atmosphere was outstanding, the way it should be at all games. South made some key plays down the stretch to break away from such a close game.
I'll have more video clips while reporter Lauren Mariacher (who is editing her video on a laptop on the gym floor -- at least I have a seat :-) ) will have a video package up and running as soon as possible.
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10:59 p.m. It was great to have Jacob participate in the comments section below.
I need to pass along a handwritten note to Jacob that was left on the press table for me. It was obviously written by someone who follows the poignant diary kept by his mother, Kim.
"Please tell Jacob we are happy that he and Giraffey are reunited. Sweet Home hopes that we can bring a smile to him today. GO Jacob. be strong. Sweet Home is Shell Strong."
Not too many surprises -- maybe some surprising margins of victory. Some authoritative victories by Nichols, East, Jamestown, Olean and Southwestern. Some closer-than-expected wins for Niagara Falls and Grand Island.
Correspondent Dan McCarthy reports that the Williamsville East girls fell in the Class A Far West Regionals when Greece Arcadia scored with six seconds left in the second overtime.
The boys Class AA game went to Clarence when Scott Berardi scored with 1:36 left in overtime -- that comes courtesy of the reports from AA Brkt Mstr in the comments section of our soccer playoff post. Greatly appreciate those updates. Clarence returns to the state final four in Oneonta, where it fell in last year's championship game.
Orchard Park hosts Lockport, just one of several intriguing matchups on a busy (25 games) Friday night of football. Here's what you thought in a poll on what's the best game of the night.
Stay here through the night as we'll have updates as soon as we get them.
Also, tune your twitter to "bufnewspreptalk" to get instant updates of the scores as soon as they are reported to us.
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And away we go:
Note to those attending Bishop Timon-St. Jude games this season. They are offsides on their kickoff times.
I rushed to Tifft Farms and Fitzpatrick Field eager to see the first kickoff in the City of Buffalo this year.
I walked through the gate at 6:55 p.m. as I heard whistles and saw action on the field.
"What time did they start?" I asked the ticket taker.
"7 p.m." he answered.
I looked back at my phone. Still 6:55 p.m. Hmm.
On the field, Timon went three and out and Cardinal O'Hara scored on its first drive of the season as junior Robert Davis' touchdown run. He had another run that set up the score.
O'Hara had a nice pass play -- which featured some nice hitting by Timon -- early in the drive.
7:18 p.m. We're back in the car and heading to Hamburg for its opening night of refurbished Howe Field.
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7:37 p.m. I talk myself into a side parking lot, which is key because this place is mobbed. There are purple-clad people walking everywhere. I see WNY football guru Dick Gallagher on the sidelines as well as Hamburg lacrosse coach Jerry Severino.
Williamsville East has a 6-0 lead on the host Bulldogs, but Hamburg gets a big sack just before I head to the car. The camera angle isn't great, but hey, it's a phone.
While I'm typing in my car, I hear Iroquois turn its game into a blowout against East Aurora, while Hamburg scored a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead on Will East.
7:58 p.m. I do some typing, and it's off to Orchard Park -- an update on WGR said the game is tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter. Looks like I should get moving.
8:02 p.m. Still posting stuff from my car when Hamburg scores a touchdown on an interception return and adds a two-point conversion for a 15-6 lead on Will East. Iroquois' lead on East Aurora is 25-0 late in the first half.
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8:23 p.m. After a slowwwww drive to OP, I walk in and my timing is not great -- 42 seconds left in the second quarter with OP up, 14-7. I'm kicking myself for posting stuff at Hamburg instead of driving right here.
I see two plays -- one is below, the final play of the half -- and I've gotta get going. I can afford to sit at the field for 15 minutes. Gotta get back to the office. Our first deadline is 10:15, so it is going to be super-tight getting games in the paper.
8:49 p.m. After some posting, tweeting and Facebook-ing (see The Buffalo News' Prep Talk blog fan page), I'm heading back to the office. EA has scored a touchdown and is down, 25-7, at Iroquois.
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I'm back in the office for what should be a crazy night.
OK. It's well after midnight, but all of the games that were reported to us are in the main story -- for many games, there are details and statistics that we didn't have room for (or time for) in the paper.
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Did you see a game tonight? Listen to one on the radio?
Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.
Football is obviously the big sport in the fall, but this opening weekend is even bigger when you consider the big events that are getting other seasons started.
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In today's paper we mentioned two boys soccer events, the Clarence Tournament and the Coaches V. Cancer ECIC-NFL Challenge at Sweet Home. The Clarence event speaks for itself with top teams East Aurora, Nichols and Kenmore East visiting.
The Sweet Home event has organizers wondering aloud if it is the largest boys soccer event to be held in Western New York. With five games on Friday and five on Saturday, I can't think of anything of that scope.
It's a great format and a great cause. Officials will wear a commemorative shirt to honor former longtime Western New York official Tom Mingle, who passed away on Sept. 5, 2008. The officials -- who are donating all of their game fees to cancer research -- will make a presentation to Tom's family during halftime of the Sweet Home/North Tonawanda game at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.
The format of the event is two points for a win and one point for a tie; if the two leagues are tied the tiebreaker is fewest goals allowed.
Here's the lineup:
Friday's games Sweet Home vs. Kenmore West, 2 p.m. Wmsv. East vs. North Tonawanda, 4 p.m. Wmsv. North vs. Niagara Falls, 4 p.m. Wmsv. South vs. Lew-Port, 6 p.m. Hamburg vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 6 p.m. Saturday's games Wmsv. North vs. Lew-Port, 10 a.m. Wmsv. East vs. Niagara-Wheatfield, 10 a.m. Sweet Home vs. North Tonawanda, noon Hamburg vs. Kenmore West, noon Wmsv. South vs. Niagara Falls, 2 p.m.
Also, this afternoon is the first round for the Eden Kickoff Classic, which features the hosts meeting Springville and Pioneer taking on Roy-Hart; the winners meet Friday.
Friday just isn't opening night for football at Orchard Park, Rochester boys soccer power Aquinas will visit OP at 5 p.m.
Speaking of Aquinas, on Saturday the Little Irish host Canisius while the girls team hosts East Aurora.
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Clarence also has a nice collection for its girls soccer tournament, held in conjunction with the boys. Friday's first-rounders are Nardin at Clarence and Nichols vs. Kenmore East.
Some nonleague girls soccer action Friday includes a great program showdown of Williamsville North at Grand Island as well as Williamsville South at North Tonawanda.
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Clarence just leads the league in big opening events -- the 23rd annual Clarence Invitational in boys volleyball includes a who's who of top teams in its 16-team field. Orchard Park,
Canisius, Eden and St. Francis will be there. The tournament starts at 8 a.m.
Speaking of volleyball, the boys get some serious bump-set-spiking in tonight as OP -- which went undefeated last year -- opens against St. Francis at home at 7 p.m.
On Friday, Catholic girls state champion St. Mary's opens up at Victor of Section V (Rochester area) while Williamsville North is at Starpoint.
Consider where some of these players are continuing their careers ...
Everyone knows Jeff Tundo is headed to Ohio State, he committed as a junior, but what about Pierce Abrams of Niagara-Wheatfield ticketed for defending national champion Syracuse? Besides honing his skills in Wheatfield, he was also selected to the under-19 Iroquois National team and has been participating with a select group of players on a Six Nation junior A box lacrosse team in Canada. He accepted the prestigious Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarship to SU.
Clay DelPrince of Frontier is going to Brown where he will receive an Ivy League education.
"I chose Brown because they have a really good mix of academic and athletic programs at a very high caliber," said DelPrince, who plans to study biochemistry. "Obviously in the Ivy League they're one of the best academic institutions and lately they're under a new coach and the lacrosse program has been really good, making the NCAA Tournament this year."
Those players wouldn't be going anywhere without good grades. Ten schools received the state's scholar/athlete award for having a combined 90-plus average: Lockport, Hamburg, Lancaster, Iroquois, Clarence, Frontier, Williamsville North, Sweet Home, Niagara-Wheatfield and Williamsville East.
Ashley Fields stole the show on the girls’ side of the state track and field championships on Saturday.
The Amherst sophomore captured four golds -- two each in Division I and Federation. She broke her own Section VI record in the 200 meters with a time of 23.66. In that race, Fields made an improbable comeback on Columbus’ Whitney Fountain, who was a good five strides ahead of Fields with 50 meters to go.
With two years of high school still to go, Fields is the fastest girl in the state.
“I was expecting this in maybe my junior or senior year,” Fields said. “Before this season, I was hoping to set PR’s and break school records -- not even the section record. I never would have thought I’d be a state champion in the 100 and the 200.”
Be sure to check out tomorrow’s paper for more on Fields’ miraculous day.
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As Fields caught her breath and soaked in a refreshing breeze from the mist fan near the finish line after winning the 100, she saw Nichols’ Adele Jackson-Gibson in the corner of her eye. Fields walked over and fist-bumped her fellow Section VI sprinter.
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.