Below are links to each bracket, along with some other postseason-related content:
Below are links to each bracket, along with some other postseason-related content:
Posted at 01:28 PM in Albion, Allegany-Limestone, Amherst, Archbishop Walsh, Bennett, Canisius, Chautauqua Lake, Cheektowaga, Clarence, Cleveland Hill, CSAT, Depew, Dunkirk, Ellicottville, Emerson, Forestville, Franklinville, Fredonia, Frontier, Gowanda, Holland, I-Prep , Iroquois, Jamestown, Kenmore West, Lancaster, Lockport, Maple Grove, McKinley, Medina, Middle College, MST Seneca, Niagara Catholic, North Tonawanda, Olean, Panama, Pine Valley, Portville, Randolph, Silver Creek, St. Joe's, St. Mary's, Starpoint, Sweet Home, Tonawanda, West Seneca East, Westfield, Williamsville North, Williamsville South, Wilson | Permalink | Comments (0)
The Manhattan Cup Finals are set:
Wednesday, March 4th - 7 & 8:45 pm
Class B Final: (1) Park vs. (2) St. Mary's
Class A Final: (1) Canisius vs. (2) Nichols
Below are recaps of each semifinal game:
Nichols 66, Timon 61
In a rematch of last year's championship game, the Vikings got a game-high 25 points from Chris Miner, who was a force inside the paint all game, to advance to the Manhattan Cup Final for the sixth time in nine seasons.
Timon led the entire first quarter, taking a 20-15 advantage after one. The second quarter saw seven lead changes, before Nichols took a 33-30 lead into halftime. After staying in front the entire way in the third frame, Nichols slipped behind Timon on the scoreboard once again with 4:40 remaining, following seven straight Tiger points. A minute later, Timon increased its lead to two points, before Nichols closed the game by scoring the final eight points to advance to the final.
Cam Lewis added 16 points for Nichols in the win.
Joe Harrison led Timon with 16 points, while Claudious Modi and Quinton Lamar each scored 12 points.
Canisius 69, St. Joe's 43
For the sixth time in seven seasons, Canisius will play in the Manhattan Cup final. The Crusaders jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never trailed in the game, on their way to a third victory this season over their rivals.
Stafford Trueheart scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half as Canisius took a 14-point lead to the break. The junior big man had a pair of dunks in the game, one flushed off a lob from LaTerrance Reed, and the other being a two-handed slam coming in traffic.
The Marauders were able to get within eight points of Canisius twice in the third quarter, but that would be the closest the game was at any point in the second half.
Justin Jones scored 14 points for Canisius and LaTerrance Reed added 12 points.
Nick Motley and Grant Beyer each scored 11 points for the Marauders, while Jack Scaglione finished his playing days at St. Joe's with eight points.
St. Mary's 59, Walsh 49
Takal Molson scored 10 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter, to keep an upset-minded Walsh team from taking any leads when they were threatening in the final stanza. The opening quarter was back-and-forth, but Molson scored the final basket to give his team a lead they would never relinquish.
The Eagles struck from downtown nine times over the first three quarters, but cooled off at the end, as they missed all 3-point attempts in the final stanza.
After Tavian Kemp converted a three-point play with 1:29 left in the game to get Walsh within one, 50-49, the Lancers closed out the contest on a 9-0 run.
Kemp finished with a team-high 21 points, while Christian Churakos added 11 points in the loss.
Park 57, Niagara Catholic 49
Jordan Nwora scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in the opening quarter to get the Pioneers off to a 20-11 lead on Niagara Catholic. The Patriots managed to play Park even for the rest of the game, but were never able to make up the early deficit from the opening stanza. The closest Niagara Catholic got the rest of the way was within five points in the second quarter, but also never trailed by more than 15 points at any time.
Jake Socha scored all 12 of Niagara Catholic's 2nd quarter points, en route to a team-high 23-point game. The senior big man was instrumental in keeping his team around all game with solid rebounding, defending, and interior passing. Jaceary Menes scored eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a couple deep treys.
Kyle Harris scored 13 points and Derek Cheatom added 11 points for Park in the win.
Monday, March 2nd
Class A1 Semifinals at 6 pm & 7:45 pm
#1 North Tonawanda (15-4) vs. #4 Sweet Home (10-9)
- The Jacks finished as co-champs of the NFL with Niagara Falls, the Panthers tied for 3rd in ECIC II
- NT is led by Chris Woodard & Ryan Gilbert.
- Sweet Home is led by Jordan Heine and Brandon Smiley.
- The Jacks lost in the semifinals to Will South at Buff State last season
- The Panthers last appearance at Buff State was in 2013, when they lost to Hutch-Tech, 67-47, in the Class A1 semifinals.
- Last season, NT ended Sweet Home's season in the Class A1 quarterfinals.
- Best win for NT was at Niagara Falls.
- Best win for Sweet Home was against Williamsville East.
- I did not for for either team in this week's large school poll
#2 Williamsville South (17-2) vs. #3 McKinley (17-2)
- McKinley went unbeaten in the city to win the Yale Cup, South won league in ECIC II.
- South is led by Sam Castronova (returning All-Centercourt Honorable Mention selection) and freshman Greg Dolan.
- McKinley is led by Devin Morris (returning 5th Team All-Centercourt selection) and Shaquan Jones.
- These two met in the Class A1 final last season. McKinley won, 71-66.
- Best win for Williamsville South was at Williamsville North
- Best win for McKinley was at Williamsville North
- I voted McKinley #3 and South #5 in this week's large school poll.
Tuesday, March 3rd
Class B2 Semifinals at 5:15 pm & 6:45 pm
#1 Cleveland Hill (16-3) vs. #5 East (11-8)
- The Golden Eagles were unbeaten ECIC IV champs, East finished 4th in Yale Cup I.
- Cleveland Hill is led by Jermaine Hairston & Anthony Sullivan.
- East is led by Percy Bryant (returning 4th Team All-Centercourt selection and 1,000 point scorer) and Damone Brown
- These two met in the Class B2 final last season. East won, 58-49.
- Best win for Cleveland Hill was against Salamanca.
- Best win for East was against Middle College.
- I voted East #6 and did not vote for Cleveland Hill in this week's small school poll.
#2 Fredonia (17-2) vs. #3 Wilson (16-3)
- The Hillbillies were co-champs with Olean in CCAA I West. Wilson won the N-O.
- Fredonia is led by John Piper (1,000 point scorer) and Patrick Moore.
- Wilson is led by Kyle Bradley and Evan Shank.
- The Hillbillies lost to Olean in the Class B1 final last season.
- Wilson's last appearance at Buff State was in 2012 when lost lost to CSAT in the Class B2 final.
- Best win for Fredonia was at St. Mary's.
- Best win for Wilson was against Niagara Catholic.
- I voted Fredonia #2 in this week's small school poll. I did not vote for the Lakemen.
Class AA Semifinal at 8:15 pm
#1 Jamestown (16-3) vs. #4 Lancaster (11-8)
- The Red Raiders were unbeaten champs of ECIC I, Lancaster finished 3rd.
- Jamestown is led by Zack Panebianco & Stephen Carlson.
- The Redskins are led by Alex Damiani and Collin Murray.
- Jamestown won Class AA last season and advanced to the NYSPHAA Class AA state championship.
- Lancaster's last trip to Buff State was in 2011, where they lost to Jamestown in the Class AA semifinals.
- Best win for Jamestown was against Amherst.
- Best win for Lancaster was against Cleveland Hill.
- I voted Jamestown #2 in this week's large school poll. I did not vote for the Redskins.
Wednesday, March 4th
Class B1 Semifinals at 5:15 pm & 6:45 pm
#1 Burgard (13-6) vs. #5 Alboin (8-11)
- The Bulldogs finished 3rd in Yale Cup I, the Purple Eagles tied for 3rd in the N-O.
- Burgard is led by Jaelyn Hall and Isaiah Jamison.
- Albion is led by Austin Lloyd and Dez Blackmon.
- Burgard's last trip to Buff State was in 2006, when they lost to eventual state champion, Lackawanna, by two points in the Class B1 final.
- The Purple Eagles will make their first trip to Buff State. It's on Grant Street in Buffalo.
- Best win for Burgard was against East.
- Best win for Albion was against St. Francis.
- I voted Burgard #10 and did not vote for Albion in the small school poll.
#3 Medina (10-9) vs. #10 Maryvale (9-10)
- The Mustangs finished 2nd in the N-O, the Flyers finished 5th in ECIC III.
- Medina is led by Jason Hellwig and Justin Morgan.
- Maryvale is led by Mike Kelleher and Ray Blackwell.
- The Mustangs last trip to Buff State was in 2009, where they lost to Olean in the Class B1 semifinals.
- The Flyers lost to Cheektowaga, 72-53, in the Class A2 semifinals last season.
- Best win for Medina was against Wilson.
- Best win for Maryvale was at Depew.
- I did not vote for either team in the small school poll.
Class AA Semifinal at 8:15 pm
#2 Williamsville North (15-4) vs. #3 Niagara Falls (13-6)
- The Spartans finished 2nd in ECIC I, the Wolverines were co-champs with NT in the NFL.
- North is led by Dylan Lambert and Maceo Jack.
- Niagara Falls is led by Mikey Bermudez and Qeyion Williams.
- The Spartans lost in the Class AA semifinals last season to Clarence, 49-39.
- Niagara Falls' last trip to Buff State was in 2013, when they lost in the Class AA final to Jamestown, 46-39.
- Best win for Will North was against Timon.
- Best win for Niagara Falls was at North Tonawanda.
- I voted North #6 in this week's large school poll. I did not vote for Niagara Falls.
Thursday, March 5th
Class A2 Semifinals
#1 Amherst (17-2) vs. #4 Cheektowaga (15-4)
- The Tigers were undefeated in ECIC III, the Warriors finished 2nd in ECIC III.
- Amherst is led by TC Brown and Dorian Billups.
- Cheektowaga is led by Dominick Welch and Zak Ciezki.
- They played in the Class A2 final last season, with Cheektowaga winning in OT, 69-68.
- Best win for Amherst was at Cheektowaga.
- Best win for Cheektowaga was against East.
- I voted Amherst #4 and did not vote for Cheektowaga in the large school poll.
#2 Starpoint (16-3) vs. #3 Olean (15-4)
- The Spartans finished 2nd in ECIC II, the Huskies were co-champs of CCAA I West with Fredonia.
- Starpoint is led by Brock Kroening and Christian Nodine.
- Olean is led by Chucky Martin and Connor Prizel.
- Starpoint's last trip to Buff State was in 2003.
- Olean won the overall Section VI Class B title last year and advanced to the NYSPHAA Class B state championship.
- Best win for Starpoint was at Williamsville South.
- Best win for Olean was against Fredonia.
- I voted Starpoint #10 in this week's large school poll. I did not vote for Olean.
Midway through the opening stanza of the Class A2 quarterfinal between Lew-Port and Cheektowaga, the Warriors had raced out to a 13-point lead. It would ultimately be the margin of victory that would send the defending sectional champs back to where they claimed last year's prize, Buff State. But before the Warriors could celebrate, they needed a gut check, because the Lancers were far from finished after falling behind early.
Cheektowaga started strong and finished strong, punching its ticket back to Buffalo State for the Class A2 semifinals with a 64-51 victory over visiting Lew-Port on Friday. The victory sets up a sixth meeting in two seasons with ECIC III rival Amherst, the team the Warriors knocked off to hoist the hardware last season. They will tip at 7:45 pm on Thursday night.
In the game's opening minute, Zak Ciezki and Dominick Welch each scored, a sign of things to come early. Cheektowaga's dynamic duo combined for 15 of the Warriors 25 first quarter points, as they raced out to the early 25-7 lead after one quarter. The first eight minutes saw a pair of dunks from Welch within 30 seconds and treys from three different Warriors.
"We obviously wanted to jump on them and play that fast pace as much as we can and we did that", Cheektowaga coach Pat Cullinan said.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Cheektowaga extended to its largest advantage of the contest, 29-7, on a bucket from Stephan Parker. Lew-Port coach Matt Bradshaw then made a switch to man defense, which also seemed to be a license for the Lancers to play more inspired, which they immediately did. Jenard Jackson scored to kick off nine straight points for Lew-Port, that included a 3-pointer from Jordan Willard, and baskets from Craig Paige and Donald Allender, to make it 29-16.
"They made that switch to man and we reverted back to some old habits", Cullinan said.
The Warriors seemed to adjust to the new scheme, as Ciezki and Welch each found the basket again around the middle of the second quarter, and with just two minutes left before halftime, Cheektowaga led 35-18. But just as it seemed they might run away with the game, Lew-Port changed the entire complexion of the contest in a two-minute spurt. Allender and Paige each filled the rim, followed by another Willard '3'. Paige then scored again off a Cheektowaga turnover, before Jackson closed the half with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Suddenly, a 12-0 scoring surge had the Lancers knocking on the door, down just 35-30, as the teams ran off to the locker rooms.
"They stepped it up intensity wise and played better in man, no question", said Cullinan. "That 12-0 run killed us at the end of the half".
The third quarter saw the pace of the game slow and quickly became a more even, back-and-forth affair. Welch got things started with a swish from downtown to get his team back up by eight points. Midway through the third, Lew-Port got a pair of baskets from Jackson and another from Allender to get within two points. Welch and Allender traded scores in the final minute of the quarter, and the team's headed into the crucial final frame, separated by just two points, 42-40.
"It took a little bit for us to get a gut check and answer the bell", said Cullinan. "We said to them in the huddle, guys, we've lost two in a row (quarters). We won the first and now we've got to win the fourth , and we've got to win it convincingly".
That was exactly what they did. Cheektowaga won the final quarter, 22-11. They were able to extend the lead back to double figures midway through the fourth, capitalizing on Lancer misses by attacking the basket. Cheektowaga got to the line repeatedly in the fourth and hit 10 of 12 attempts in the first portion of the quarter to go back up 56-44. The Lancers never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Welch finished with a game-high 23 points, while Ciezki scored 18 points for the Warriors.
Paige finished with a team-high 15 points. Jackson and Willard each scored 11 points, while Allender added 10 points and the type of effort that stands out to everyone in attendance with the way he worked inside all evening.
Last night at City Honors, I was asked prior to tip if that was City Honors or Maryvale in the white shirts? I pointed to City Honors and said they're wearing white. Then the person pointed to the crowd and said he was referring to them. I looked up and saw a large contingent of Flyer fans clad in white shirts that read "Why not us". In a year where Class B1 is riddled with parity and appears to be there for the taking, the Flyers chances of winning a sectional title are much more than the wishful thinking of a #10 seed.
Maryvale won all four quarters at City Honors in the Class B1 pre-quarterfinal on Wednesday night, en route to posting a 71-47 win over the Centaurs. The victory advances them to the quarterfinal round on Friday night, where the #2 seed and league rival, Depew, awaits.
"We've got to go to their place, it's going to be a battle - no doubt about it", Maryvale coach Mark Kensy said. "We've been playing each other for a long, long time. We know each other very well and I think we match up pretty evenly".
The two regular season meetings between the Wildcats & Flyers certainly back up that sentiment. Depew took both games in the series, winning by two points in both games. The second time the two played was the first outing for the team's point guard, Ray Blackwell, a freshman call up from the JV team who has given the team a floor general to orchestrate the offense, break the press, and provide energy & enthusiasm.
The Flyers had to knock off a pair of teams from Yale Cup II to set up the rubber match with Depew. In the first round on Tuesday night, they made quick work of Lafayette, beating the Violets, 69-44. Just 24 hours later, another 20-plus-point victory over the Centaurs was in the books. Depew coach Larry Jones was looking on for both, as his Wildcats secured the #2 seed in Class B1 and had a bye until the quarterfinal round.
The two wins that got the Flyers to Friday night went similarly. In both games, Maryvale took control early, enjoyed a comfortable lead at halftime, shot the ball well, and got contributions for many. And in both games, Mike Kelleher, the team's senior leader, was the best player on the floor for his team. Kelleher finished with team-highs in scoring on both nights - 17 points against Lafayette and 18 points against City Honors, on a combination of 3-pointers and polished post moves. Whether on the court or on the bench, Kelleher is a big part of the game, always talking to his teammates.
"Mike's given us leadership all year, it hasn't just been the last two games", Kensy said. "He's tremendous - he works hard and is very vocal".
Junior Andrew Crombie scored a combined 28 points over the two games and showed off a nice touch from the perimeter. Marcus Ford is a good defender for the Flyers and showed the ability to play away from the basket, along with using his size and strength inside. Matt Mason gives Maryvale a big and capable post presence, and Jeremiah Pace, along with sophomore Theodore York-Brown, are solid off the bench for the Flyers.
"We're improving and getting contributions from a lot of different people", Kensy said.
Have they improved enough to overcome Depew when they meet for a third time on Friday is the burning question that we will soon have the answer to. The winner will move on to Buff State and be just two victories from a Section VI championship. Despite coming in as the 10 seed, Flyer fans ask "Why not us?".
The eleventh state rankings of the season have been released by the NYSSWA. Below are the WNY teams that made the cut:
Williamsville South #16
Cleveland Hill #24
Middle College #5
Silver Creek #6
** According to the rankings...
- Webster Schroeder is #18 in Class AA. Jamestown is #22 and Rush-Henrietta is #23. Jamestown is better than Webster Schroeder and Jamestown lost to Rush-Henrietta by 14 points. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.
- Scotia & Greece Athena will give us a NYSPHAA Class A state championship game featuring a pair of undefeated teams.
- Canisius will win the state championship in the CHSAA Class A.
- Amherst (#12 in Class A) is almost back to where they were ranked (#11) prior to the loss in Jamestown. My point, not much has happened to justify the recent climb, and the Jamestown loss didn't warrant such a drop. They've been #11/#12 all along.
- Williamsville South dropped six spots, from #10 to #16 in Class A for falling at home to Starpoint.
- For the first time all season, Cleveland Hill has made the cut in Class B.
- Park fell four spots, from #5 to #9 for losing at Canisius. Alright, let's put some thought into this. Is a Class B team losing at Canisius (ranked #5 in the state in Class A) really a punishable offense in the rankings? The answer is obviously no. I swear they'd drop Sherman to #10 in the Class D rankings for losing at Kentucky.
- Last week I wrote "Fredonia is up three spots in Class B, from #14 to #11 for winning at St. Mary's. After the recent wins over Olean & East, they should continue to ascend". This week, I'm saying "Hello? Did anyone notice the double-digit win for the Hillbillies over Olean? Or that the next night, with some clowns calling for a let down, they routed East"? Fredonia remains ranked #11.
- Tapestry fell three spots, from #8 to #11 in Class C for the loss to Health Sciences. The only thing winning in Salamanca later in the week did for Tapestry was get the Warriors dropped from the rankings.
- I-Prep dropped only one spot, from #10 to #11 for a 15-point loss to DaVinci. I guess the state view's those first eight wins in program history for DaVinci quite favorably.
For the complete NYSSWA rankings, click here.
(It's that time of year again - High School basketball sectionals / Photo by Dave DeLuca)
The Section VI postseason begins tonight with first round games, and the winners move on to participate in the pre-quarterfinal games played on Wednesday. Friday night is when the action really kicks up, as 32 quarterfinal games will decide which teams move on to Buffalo State and JCC for the semifinals.
Below I take a look at some of the best matchups we could potentially see in the pre-quarterfinals, quarterfinals, semifinals, and even the championship games, along with sleepers, some winning streaks, and predictions.
** Please note that many of the games below are based on my predictions of who will win in prior rounds
Teams who opted out of sectionals:
- Cattaraugus Little Valley
Most exciting bracket
Sleepers for each bracket:
Class AA - Kenmore West
Class A1 - Williamsville East
Class A2 - Lew-Port
Class B1 - East Aurora
Class B2 - Emerson
Class C1 - Chautauqua Lake
Class C2 - Global Concepts
Class D - Maple Grove
Top 10 Pre-Quarterfinal Games (Wednesday, 2/25)
10. Niagara Wheatfield @ Clarence
9. Orchard Park @ Kenmore West
8. Akron vs. CSAT
7. Buffalo Science @ Olmsted
6. Southwestern vs. East
5. Bennett @ Buffalo Arts
4. JFK @ Lackawanna
3. Maryvale @ City Honors
2. DaVinci vs. Emerson
1. Riverside @ West Seneca East
Top 10 Quarterfinal Games (Friday, 2/27)
10. Williamsville East @ Sweet Home
9. Lockport @ Lancaster
8. Frontier @ Niagara Falls
7. Maryvale @ Depew
6. East Aurora @ Albion
5. Maple Grove @ Sherman
4. Kenmore West @ Williamsville North
3. Emerson @ Wilson
2. East vs. Health Sciences *at Nichols
1. Lew-Port @ Cheektowaga
Most Exciting Potential Semifinals
6. Tapestry vs. Salamanca
5. East/Health Sciences vs. Cleveland Hill
4. Niagara Falls vs. Williamsville North
3. Starpoint vs. Olean
2. Lew-Port/Cheektowaga vs. Amherst
1. McKinley vs. Williamsville South
Most Exciting Potential Championship Games
5. Class AA Final
4. Class B2 Final
3. Class C1 Final
2. Class D Final
1. Class A2 Final
Win Streaks heading into sectionals
Health Sciences 12
Silver Creek 10
Cleveland Hill 8
Class AA - Jamestown
Class A1 - McKinley
Class A2 - Amherst
Class B1 - Depew
Class B2 - Fredonia
Class C1 - Silver Creek
Class C2 - Middle College
Class D - Sherman
Posted at 11:24 AM in Albion, Alden, Allegany-Limestone, Amherst, Cassadaga Valley, Chautauqua Lake, Cheektowaga, City Honors, Cleveland Hill, Depew, Emerson, Forestville, Franklinville, Fredonia, Frontier, Holland, I-Prep , Iroquois, Jamestown, JFK, Kenmore West, Lancaster, Lockport, Maple Grove, McKinley, Medina, Middle College, MST Seneca, Niagara Wheatfield, North Tonawanda, Olean, Orchard Park, Panama, Pine Valley, Pioneer, Portville, Randolph, Riverside, Roy-Hart, Silver Creek, Southwestern, Starpoint, Sweet Home, Tonawanda, West Seneca East, West Seneca West, Westfield, Williamsville North, Williamsville South, Wilson | Permalink | Comments (5)
As a pollster for the Buffalo News, I'm asked to send in my weekly ballots ranking the top ten large and small schools. The polls are based on games played through Saturday of each week. Here's a look at how I see them and some of the rationale used to get there.
1. Canisius (MMA) - Another year of the Crusaders cruising through the regular season without a single loss to another team from WNY, although they received several more challenges this season than last. Maybe that will serve them well in the Manhattan Cup playoffs.
2. Jamestown (AA) - The only team the Red Raiders lost to from WNY is the above mentioned Crusaders. They are once again the top seed in Class AA after completing an unbeaten season in ECIC I.
3. McKinley (A1) - The undefeated Yale Cup champions will have had eight days off when they host Hamburg on Friday night.
4. Amherst (A2) - The Tigers get the winner of Pioneer/Iroquois on Friday night after running the table in ECIC II and grabbing the top seed in Class A2.
5. Williamsvillle South (A1) - The Billies hit a serious speed bump on their way to an undefeated season in ECIC II and the top seed in Class A1 - Starpoint. The Spartans went into South last week and played spoiler, setting up a potential semifinal game between the Billies and McKinley at Buff State.
6. Williamsville North (AA) - The Spartans played outstanding defense on Thursday against Jamestown, but the Red Raiders defended just as well in a low scoring dogfight. The result sets up the annual quarterfinal matchup between North & Ken West, if the Blue Devils can knock off Orchard Park.
7. Nichols (MMA) - After all their ups & downs this season, the Vikings end up as the number two seed in the Manhattan Cup playoffs, needing a wins over Timon & the Canisius/St. Joe's winner to repeat as the champs. A little de javu?
8. Timon (MMA) - The Tigers home loss to Walsh was a surprise, but maybe the attention-grabber the Tigers needed prior to playoffs. They have the talent to win the Cup, but their lack of consistency prevents them from getting over the hump.
9. St. Joe's (MMA) - Another team that dropped its regular season finale to a small school - the Marauders loss at St. Mary's seemed to be an afterthought as they blew the roof off the fieldhouse during the second quarter of their play-in win over St. Francis.
10. Starpoint (A2) - The Spartans return to my ballot for going into Williamsville South and winning last week, the type of signature win that no other team vying for this spot can lay claim to.
1. Park (MMA) - The Pioneers showed they belonged on the same court as Canisius, something we all suspected. Their fate is in their hands at this point. they won't see another opponent of Canisius' caliber until the Class B Federation if they can get there. If they don't get there, it's nothing short of a disappointment.
2. Fredonia (B2) - I went to the Hillbillies' game against East last week and just watched. No tweeting updates and no notebook, I just took it all in. I left that night saying not only did I expect Fredonia to win the overall Class B title, but I now like its chances in regionals. They remind me of the Class B teams from Section 10 I see at Glens Falls each year (Potsdam, OFA, etc). These guys are legit and have no holes. Last three wins: at St. Mary's, Olean (snapping a 40-game losing streak), and East.
3. St. Mary's (MMA) - Ended their year on a high note, beating St. Joe's. Now they'll need to avenge a recent loss to Walsh to force a third meeting with Park for the Class B Manhattan Cup.
4. Middle College (C2) - They had McKinley on the ropes last week, leading by 10 points in the third quarter, before the Macks came storming back. They rebounded with a two-point win over Bennett heading into sectionals. The Kats are heavy favorites to win the prize in Class C2, beginning on Friday against either Olmsted or Buffalo Science.
5. Silver Creek (C1) - The Black Knights took the CCAA I East title and secured the top seed in Class C1, where they'll host the Gowanda/Cassadaga Valley winner on Friday looking to get back to JCC for a fifth straight season.
6. East (B2) - The Panthers got a first hand look at how difficult it will be to win Class B2 this year when they traveled to Fredonia last week. They were without Jovell Littlejohn and didn't look like the team that beat Middle College or nearly beat McKinley twice, but they've got a lot to figure out in order to repeat as sectional champs. If they can win against Southwestern or Oracle on Wednesday, they'll have to get through Health Sciences in the quarterfinals.
7. Sherman (D) - After ripping through the season with an undefeated record, the prize for the Wildcats is a potential quarterfinal against Maple Grove, a team I'd never want to face in the postseason.
8. Health Sciences (B2) - The Falcons took the rematch with Tapestry and then proceeded to get past Global Concepts in a closer-than-expected result to finish the regular season. Friday night, they'll look to get back to Buff State when they play East at Nichols in the B2 quarterfinals.
9. Tapestry (C1) - After dropping a heart-breaker to Health Sciences, the Thunderhawks traveled to Salamanca and knocked the Warriors off, a team they'll likely play again next week at JCC in the Class C1 semifinals.
10. Cleveland Hill (B2) - The undefeated champs of ECIC IV are the top seed in Class B2 after losing just once in their last 16 games, at St. Mary's.
Posted at 04:02 PM in Amherst, Canisius, Cleveland Hill, East, Fredonia, Health Sciences, Jamestown, McKinley, Middle College, Nichols, Park, Sherman, Silver Creek, St. Joe's, St. Mary's, Starpoint, Tapestry Charter, Timon/St. Jude, Williamsville North, Williamsville South | Permalink | Comments (11)
After years of a Manhattan Cup playoff format that saw all the varsity basketball teams competing in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association play in one big, winner-take-all postseason tournament, a change was made prior to the start of this season. Gone is the quarterfinal round, that used to pit the top school from the regular season against the one that finished last in the catholic league, and also gone is the chance for a Class B school to win it all and go on to the CHSAA state semifinal as the Class A representative.
Instead, it's in with the new. Two tournaments, one for the Class A teams and one for the Class B teams, with separate Manhattan Cups for each, now decide who moves on in the state playoffs. That new format tipped off on Sunday afternoon at St. Mary's in Lancaster. With both classes having five teams apiece, the Manhattan Cup playoffs began with play-in games between the #4 & #5 seeds for each respective class. By the end of the day, it was Niagara Catholic moving on to face Park, St. Joe's creating a trilogy with an old friend, and Marauder head coach Mark Simon making a little history on a special day.
St. Joe's 74, St. Francis 48
Two minutes into the game, sophomore guard Naseer Jackson connected from long range to put St. Joe's up on the Red Raiders, 3-2. It turned out to be the game-winner. The Marauders jumped out to an early 10-2 lead against St. Francis, before taking a 15-8 lead into the second quarter. they were just getting warmed up.
A 29-8 outburst from St. Joe's in the second quarter, gave them a comfortable 44-16 lead at the break, and made the second half seem like a formality. While St. Francis never really threatened to comeback in the second half, they did come out a much more competitive squad for the final 16 minutes, and along the way, saw its leading scorer attain an impressive milestone.
Kordell Holness-Lightbody, who scored a game-high 25 points, reached the 1,000 career point total on a three-point play in the final stanza, an achievement he accomplished in just two varsity seasons. A strong contingent of Red Raider fans were on hand to salute Holness-Lightbody, standing and chanting "MVP-MVP-MVP"! They weren't the only ones to stand and pay tribute. The entire St. Joe's bench gave a standing ovation as well. It was the type of classy gesture they may well have learned from being around their coach, Mark Simon, who reached his own special milestone with the Marauder victory.
The St. Joe's win gave Simon 279 victories for his career at the school, which surpassed the all-time mark that was previously held by Frank Schavione. Making it all the more special, the circumstance and implications. Simon achieved the milestone on his birthday (I'm told his 44th - they may have stopped counting several years ago) and with the victory, he earned the right to face the Marauders' rivals, Canisius one more time this season.
As soon as the Marauders made it through the handshake line, they surrounded their coach and were excited to pay tribute to him. Simon obliged and joined his players in a quick moment of rejoicing, before posing with his squad for a couple photos. His staff was delighted for him. St. Joe's AD Peter Schneider and MMA Executive Director Brian Kiszewski were also on hand to pay tribute to Simon. It was brief, it was cool, and it was fitting. I can't imagine another coach meaning more to the basketball program and beyond at St. Joe's than Simon does. Following the game, he was typically humble about reaching the milestone win, but it was obvious how much it meant to him - no surprise if you know how much St. Joe's, his players, and his staff mean to Simon. Congratulations coach, you earned it & you deserve it.
St. Joe's was led by Marcell Davis' 17 points. Grant Beyer added 15 points, while Jack Scaglione score 12 points for the Marauders.
Niagara Catholic 65, Cardinal O'Hara 59
Giulio Colangelo (Niagara Catholic) and Tony Pulvirenti (O'Hara) each took over at the helm for their respective teams at the start of the season. And after both made strides with their programs, putting their own stamps on the team, the two had to battle it out for a third time to determine who moved on in the Manhattan Cup Class B dance. It was the Patriots who got to lace up their boogie shoes.
In an entertaining affair that saw the lead change 13 times, along with nine ties through the first three quarters, it was the Patriots who took the advantage into the final stanza and never looked back.
Trailing 47-45 late in the third quarter, The Patriots finished the third on an 8-2 run. Zack Socha scored to get the surge started, followed by a pair if buckets from Jaceary Menes, the second being a three-point play. When freshman Imean Davis connected from beyond the arc to end the quarter for Niagara Catholic, it gave his team the lead for good. The Hawks could only get within two points in the fourth quarter, which they did twice over the final eight minutes, but they never regained the lead.
Menes finished with a game-high 24 points, while Jake Socha scored 19 points and had a nice breakaway dunk.
Donel Cathcart finished his career at Cardinal O'Hara with a 19-point effort, giving him 566 on the season. Nasir Benton and Charles Debose each scored 13 points for the Hawks in the loss.
Play-in Games - Sunday, February 22nd
AT St. Mary's HS - 1 pm & 2:45 pm
Class B - Niagara Catholic 65, Cardinal O'Hara 59
Class A - St. Joe's 74, St. Francis 48
Semifinals - Sunday, March 1st
AT CANISIUS COLLEGE KOESSLER CENTER
(1) Park 57, (4) Niagara Catholic 49
(2) St. Mary's 59, (3) Walsh 49
(1) Canisius 69, (4) St. Joe's 43
(2) Nichols 66, (3) Timon 61
Manhattan Cup Finals - Wednesday, March 4th
AT CANISIUS COLLEGE KOESSLER CENTER
Class B Final - 7 pm
(1) Park vs. (2) St. Mary's
Class A Final - 8:45 pm
(1) Canisius vs. (2) Nichols
Pre-Quarterfinals - Wednesday, February 25th
(8) Clarence 65, (9) Niagara Wheatfield 52
(7) Kenmore West 68, (10) Orchard Park 54
(6) Frontier 75, (11) West Seneca West 72
Quarterfinals - Friday, February 27th
(1) Jamestown 76, (8) Clarence 49
(4) Lancaster 64, (5) Lockport 58
(2) Williamsville North 64, (7) Kenmore West 50
(3) Niagara Falls 58, (6) Frontier 51
Semifinals - Tuesday & Wednesday, March 3rd & 4th
AT BUFFALO STATE - Both Nights 8:15 pm
(1) Jamestown vs. (4) Lancaster
(2) Williamsville North vs. (3) Niagara Falls
Final - Saturday, March 7th
AT BUFFALO STATE - 8:15 pm