The highly anticipated Class AA championship between Clarence and Williamsville North has been won by Clarence, 2-0, thanks to a report from correspondent Nate Beutel in Niagara Falls.
The Red Devils, who beat North for the title in 2008 and lost to North in last year's final, advanced thanks to a
one-hitter by senior standout pitcher Jen Sansano and two runs it had by the second inning.
It is a happy start of a fun day for Clarence seniors as their prom is tonight -- the game was moved up from 4 p.m. to 3 p.m. because of it.
If you were at the game, let us know what you thought of the
This just in from Section VI: The Class AA
final for softball between Williamsville North and Clarence will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Niagara Falls. That game was moved up an hour (original starting time was 4) to accommodate Clarence's prom Friday night.
That's a bummer for fans who won't be able to see what is clearly the Game of the Year in softball, but it's an understandable move.
A update from my travels before tonight's chat ...
I started with a traffic-stalled trip down clogged Route 5 to Hamburg, where Clarence had a 5-0 lead on the Bulldogs after two innings. Zach Lauricella looked quite sharp on the mound (see videos below). The Red Devils ended up with a 16-0 victory.
Then I headed up to Williamsville North for a top five softball matchup that lived up to it's billing.
No. 3 North beat No. 1 Clarence, 1-0, in 11 innings.
Junior Robin Kennery clobbered a pitch well over the left fielder to score junior Ashley Fillmore from third. Fillmore started the inning at second on the international tiebreaker, which is used starting with the 10th inning.
Here's our first softball video of the year -- the 11th inning was three pitches: a ball, a stolen base and Kennery's blast.
Clarence's Jen Sansano had 12 strikeouts and allowed five hits and one walk. North's Nikki Attea struck out five, allowed three hits, had one walk and one hit batter. Kennery had three hits for North while Val Nappo had two for Clarence.
The victory splits the season series between the ECIC I rivals -- Clarence had won, 2-1, on April 27.
North had some nice defensive plays in the top of the 11th, including throwing out a runner at home after an overthrow to first. Here's the highlight in which right fielder senior Sarah Rodems backed up an overthrow to first and threw to junior catcher Ashley Fillmore for the out. Nice play on both ends.
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We're going to rewind it a little bit now. Here's action from previous innings.
Kennery had a sharp single in the bottom of the ninth -- she got hung up at first when she missed the bag. After the game she mentioned that she was glad to get the winning hit because she had felt bad about missing first.
Sansano ended the ninth by getting a flyout from Rodems after a long at-bat.
The rest is pretty self-explanatory -- after each standout pitcher ended their 10th inning with a strikeout we have video of the entire top of the 11th. It includes Rodems' play, a nice catch of a deep ball in left and very solid shortstop play from Corrin Genovese.
Here's the postgame wrap-up with Kennery and North coach Rick Bubar (if you tilt your head slightly, it's as if I held the phone straight!):
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Back to the start of the trip down in Hamburg -- here are two of Lauricella's nine K's.
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 email@example.com.
7:11 p.m. We're at St. Mary's School For The Deaf for the first time and watching a very spirited game between Tapestry and Maritime, two charter schools squaring off in Class C.
7:20 p.m. It's 16-16 after one quarter after Maritime got a steal and layup at the buzzer. Tapestry had started strong.
We're off to Sweet Home, which is hosting Kenmore West.
We have a report than Williamsville North is up at Lancaster, 18-9, after the first. That's another game I'm considering trying to get to.
7:44 p.m. Got to Sweet Home just in time for a special moment as Deshanaro Morris had his No. 4 retired by Sweet Home at halftime. I'll have pictures and a video of Day-Day's speech up as soon as I can.
I might not stick around too much longer, however. It's halftime and Sweet Home is up, 36-18.
Then again, maybe I'll stay. North is up, 39-24 at halftime at Lancaster.
8:01 p.m. Sweet Home keeps rolling. North's lead is under 10. I'm outta here.
8:31 p.m. I made it here for the last few minutes of a big victory for Williamsville North, which wins it, 68-57.
The scorebooks are at right.
Here's Will North coach Chuck Swierski on the win and the Spartans making a trip to top-seeded Orchard Park for Friday's quarterfinals:
I'm headed to the office to write some stuff up for the paper and add some details and clips here.
I'll be able to type faster -- a keyboard instead of a phone will help :-).
It's the Western New York Varsity Hockey Federation Large School playoff semifinals.
So long as the wireless keeps working, we will provide updates of the showdowns between
Williamsville North and Clarence and later on Niagara-Wheatfield versus Lancaster.
Both games are rematches of last year's semifinals. North beat Clarence in double overtime
last year, while Niagara-Wheatfield stunned Lancaster en route to the title.
Williamsville North vs. Clarence
Williamsville North leads 1-0 through 15 minutes.
North had the better of the play but didn't cash in until the 11:10 mark of the period when
Matt Bauman slipped a loose puck in the crease into the net during a goal-mouth scramble.
Chris Marsack and Ian Moskal earned the assists on the goal.
The Spartans outshot Clarence, 12-4, and didn't allow the Red Devils a quality chance until
the final seconds of the period. Off a faceoff to the right of North goalie Parker Gahagen
with 26.5 seconds left after an icing call, Mark Armstrong fired a low, hard shot through
traffic that almost slipped between the arm and body of Gahagen.
North carries a 2-1 lead into the locker room. The Spartans have carried the play against
the spunky Red Devils but have failed to cash in on transition chances as well as quality
scoring opportunities from the slot when they've been buzzing around the Clarence zone. Shots
off those chances have either sailed wide or over the net.
It's a Friday, and there are a ton of games tonight, so I'm reprising my Friday Night Live blog entry as I slush-slide my way around Western New York trying to catch as much action as I can.
My goal is to end up at the Amherst at Maryvale game in which son Chris Kensy of the Tigers will be coaching against his father, Mark. There are a lot of potential stops in between now and then, but we'll see how much we can squeeze in.
4:58 p.m. After a stop at the office, our first stop is an easy one - the earliest game of the night is a 4:15 p.m. Yale Cup contest between Burgard and Middle College at the Kats' home court -- ECC-City's Flickinger Center.
Upon my entry, I was handed a Middle College program -- a great-looking, 12-page full color edition with photos, bios and ads. It's even got an excerpt of the Prep Talk blog on the back page. We like that.
Middle College is up more than I expected -- 40-15 at halftime. Burgard is coming off a nice win over McKinley to start Yale Cup play on Wednesday.
Darale Young was honored for being the school's first 1,000-point scorer at halftime. That was a better highlight than much of the action on the floor -- Middle was running Burgard off the floor.
5:22 p.m. Middle's lead is now 62-23 after three quarters. Overwhelming defense by the Kats. Burgard had a two-point second quarter, according to a report from Centercourt.
With my stories posted and the next round of Yale Cup games set to start at 5:30, I'm outta here.
5:49 p.m. It turns out I was outta there a few minutes later after getting some more computer stuff straight, fending off an aggressive parking lot attendant who thought I wasn't going to pay, slip-and-slide driving over to Hutch-Tech, and getting the Darale Young video posted in the parking lot.
5:50 p.m. Then I walk into Hutch-Tech, right on time ... for the end of the JV game between the Engineers and McKinley! Arghhhhhh!
I've got no time to waste, so I'm heading to Grover.
6:07 p.m. We arrive at Grover to an expectedly frenetic pace between the Presidents and Seneca.
6:10 p.m. No. 15 for Grover just SLAMMED a one-handed dunk down off of a standing start at the left side of the hoop. Wow. I gotta find out who that guy is. Too bad I didn't have the iPhone going. Centercourt (he got here before me) was calling for the iPhone on that one. Bummer.
6:14 p.m. At the end of the first quarter at Grover, the Presidents lead Seneca, 25-18. Ricky Alejandro hit three three-pointers in the quarter, including one in the final minute, for Grover. He only missed one shot in the quarter, reports Prep Talk Nation member Hollywood. Looks like I'm going to the right games, running into these guys.
6:16 p.m. I've got a little bit of a cushion, time-wise, since Canisius hosts St. Francis in a 6:30 p.m. scheduled start. I'm planning on stopping by there and then heading north to the Kenmore schools (7 p.m. starts). The targets are then Will North at Clarence and finally Amherst at Maryvale. We'll see how it goes.
6:21 p.m. Seneca's Aaron Frazier just scored on a slick drive while being fouled but couldn't hit the free throw. It's a 31-26 Grover lead with about four minutes left in the second. There is a very -- spirited, shall we say -- discussion going on between an adult female Grover fan and an adult male Seneca fan. People getting fired up but nothing out of hand. Good stuff. One of the best things at this game is Grover's big dog of a mascot -- you should be able to spot the spotted fella behind the baseline on a video highlight I post later.
6:28 p.m. We're off to Canisius soon, where hopefully the JV game is finished by the time I get there. Grover leads Seneca, 36-27, with two minutes left in the second quarter.
6:29 p.m. One very important quick correction before we split -- the Grover dog mascot is a female.
Some great videos featuring said dog ...
Was it a three? Just keep your eye on the dog, dog.
The action doesn't stop, the dancing doesn't stop. Outstanding.
6:43 p.m. I inexplicably take a much longer way to Canisius than I should have and arrive to catch the last seconds of the first quarter, which has Canisius leading, 15-9.
6:45 p.m. Back in the car to get some writing done, and my computer is on the fritz. Ugh.
7:07 p.m. Just pull into a primo parking spot at Kenmore West, where the Niagara Falls visit has a pretty full lot here.
Adding a few pictures then will get a very quick look at the game.
7:18 p.m. Walk into Ken West just in time for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Not soon after, Niagara Falls has an 8-0 lead.
C.J. Cox gets things started with a steal-and-basket.
Maurice Respress gets up for a rebound and a follow.
As Davon Marshall hits a long two-pointer, I'm out the door at 7:23 p.m.
7:32 p.m. Pull into Kenmore East, where Lockport is visiting.
7:44 p.m. Back in the car -- Lockport had a 15-3 lead after one quarter and is now up, 16-7, with 6:02 left in the first half. Shannon Haynes had two twos and a three for seven points in the first quarter.
Nice basket by East's Peter Crawford, followed by a near-miss by Lockport's Haynes.
Another near-miss by Lockport.
The play was a bit choppy and I wasn't able to get a quick highlight like I was at West. Off to Clarence.
8:11 p.m. Arrive at Clarence, and who is working the door to the gym but Buffalo News Hall of Fame Sports SuperClerk Alex Chambers, now a teacher and coach at Clarence. Gotta love it.
This was my first trip to the Clarence gym -- I've been here plenty of times for outdoor sports when the parking lot isn't all snowy.
8:20 p.m. Clarence and Williamsville North are tied at 27-27 in the final minute of the first half. I saw about two minutes of more choppy game action, but it was enough to see what people have been talking about with regards to talented eighth-grade starter Sterling Taplin of North.
Taplin sets up a teammate for a North basket.
With halftime approaching, I'm outta here and off to Maryvale.
8:37 p.m. Pull into Maryvale parking lot, hoping for at least a good chunk of the second half still to go.
8:59 p.m. After three failed tries at doors to the Maryvale gym (score one for security!), I find the right one and sneak under the bleachers to center court (two words) and there's a lot of basketball to play.
I catch some end-of-third-quarter action and Maryvale has a 54-40 lead over Amherst heading to the fourth.
9:09 p.m. With 2:58 left to play, Maryvale is up, 58-49.
Twice in the fourth, Amherst comes within seven points ...
... but both times Blair Estarfaa comes up big with a basket. Above is one of those times.
9:17 p.m. Maryvale is going to win this one, up, 63-52, with 25.7 seconds left.
9:24 p.m. Maryvale beats Amherst, 66-56. An embrace between the coaches at the end of the handshake line, then Chris Kensy with a little hug for all of the Maryvale players, who he coached as the Flyers' JV coach the last three years.
I had a great talk with both Kensys after the game -- I'll write more about their meeting in Tuesday's Scholastic Spotlight.
* * *
In total, seven games at eight sites in less than 4-1/2 hours. Not bad. I'm still irked that I got to Hutch-Tech while the JV game was still going on. Could have been eight!
To review: I went from Middle College to Hutch-Tech to Grover Cleveland to Canisius to Kenmore West to Kenmore East to Clarence to Maryvale.
I planned the route based on geography and time -- and it pretty much worked out. I went a long way to not spend much time at Clarence, but I think it was worth seeing Taplin in what was a good ECIC I game. I saw Lockport and Shannon Haynes and got an idea of where their recent good play has come from. I wish I could have stuck around for more of what looked to be a very entertaining Grover-Seneca contest.
And the end worked out great -- it was a blast seeing the Kensy-vs.-Kensy coaching battle at Maryvale. An outstanding atmosphere at that game. Amherst brought a lot of fired-up fans -- it seems the entire program has gotten a boost behind coach Chris Kensy.
I'm not sure the total mileage -- don't worry, I'll have it ready for the expense report -- but the route unfolded pretty well. My main tough call driving-wise was whether to take Sheridan all the way out between Ken East and Clarence -- I opted for the 290 to the Thruway to Transit to Wehrle to Harris Hill to Main. That was probably was best move considering the stop-and-go-ing on Maple and likely Sheridan, especially since you had to be careful with the slick roads.
Looks like I missed a big second half for Clarence, which went on to beat North; I was right about Grover's win over Seneca being a fun one (76-70). Middle College, Canisius, Lockport and Falls all rolled, which was expected even before I stuck my head in their games.
The one other game I wanted to check out but thought it was a little too far out of the way was Lew-Port at North Tonawanda -- and waddya know, NT wins in three overtimes. Whoa.
Centercourt was heading up to Newfane and he saw a great one it seems as the Panthers knock off Medina, 54-53. Another whoa.
Nice showing again from Cleveland Hill, which falls to Holland in overtime. A bit curious about Lackawanna only beating Tonawanda by eight; good job by the Warriors to keep it to single digits.
We'll leave this on a pretty cool note, a video of coaches Kensy:
Class AA has the defending state champion in Orchard Park, last year's runner up and many people's pick for this year in North Tonawanda, not to mention No. 1 large school Lancaster, plus a group of super-competitive teams.
Will OP repeat? Will NT break through? Will Lancaster hold on to the top spot? Will Frontier, Jamestown or Lockport prove as stingy as they've been in the regular season?
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.
Lauren Nicole Mariacher joined The News in 2009 after graduating from the Columbia University School of Journalism. The Elma native and Iroquois graduate can usually be found on a sideline, capturing highlights for PrepTalkTV. She also hosts Prep Talk's weekly live show, with Keith McShea, as well as The News' live postgame Bills show — [BN]TheHuddle.