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Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018: Park School wins early showdown vs. Niagara Falls

   Leading off today: I mentioned in passing in Friday's blog that I'm not quite in winter sports mode yet. Give me a few more early-season marquee matchups like the one in Niagara Falls last night and it'll be a different story.

   Park School, in reload/rebuild mode after winning the Federation Class A championship last March, defeated Niagara Falls 69-55 as the two teams generally believed to be the best in Western New York this season clashed on opening night of the Cataract City Classic.

   Senior post player Quentin Nnagbo led the way with 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. Sophomore Keonjay Carter also scored 17 for the Pioneers, and Noah Hutchins finished with 11 points and 10 assists against the defending Section VI Class AA champions.

   Park went on a 17-8 run to end the first half with a 36-23 lead and twice stretched the advantage to 21 points in the second half.

   More boys basketball: West Seneca West, undefeated against Western New York competition a year ago, suffered a 67-64 loss to Canisius in the first round of the Tom Keenan Memorial Tournament.

   Sophomore guard Joe Ciocca led Canisius with 25 points in his varsity debut.    "I had a few games like that on JV, but nothing like doing it in that atmosphere," Ciocca said. "It's a whole different ballgame."

   Adrian Baugh paced West Seneca West with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. Maurice Robertson, a transfer from Sweet Home, added 19 points, 11 rebounds and two steals despite foul trouble.

   Why? Why? Why? How and why do these games get scheduled?

   Buffalo Arts crushed Davinci High 94-11 behind a balanced attack that saw Jalen Carter-Keith and Dreyzel Mack score 17 apiece and Cencear Benefield chip in with 16.

   Buffalo Arts' next game is against Holland, which took a 90-30 loss to Orchard Park on Friday.

   In an equally gruesome girls basketball bludgeoning, Brooklyn Community Arts & Media defeated Harry Van Arsdale Educational Campus 103-17 in their PSAL opener. Hevynne Bristow had 40 points, 21 rebounds and six assists. Shanaia Ward added 29 points and seven assists.

   There has to be a way for the various leagues and governing bodies to schedule more appropriate opponents for teams at both the top and bottom of the heap. I doubt any of the players in either of the above blowouts benefited in any fashion.

   Gatorade honors L.I. back: Garden City running back Trevor Yeboah-Kodie was named the state player of the year by Gatorade on Thursday.

   The senior ran for 1,532 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 129 carries to lead Garden City to a 12-0 season and its third straight Long Island Class II championship. He also caught 10 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown and returned two punts for scores.

   Yeboah-Kodie will attend Brown University next fall and play lacrosse for the Ivy League school.

   Milestone: Iroquois senior Cory Day recorded career wrestling victory No. 200 on Wednesday without even having to step onto the mat. He was awarded a forfeit in a non-league dual vs. West Seneca West.

   Day, who is in his sixth varsity season, is the defending Section 6 Division II champ at 145 pounds and placed fourth at last season's state meet.


   Reminder: Work on the 2018 New York State Sportswriters Association all-state football teams in under way.

   This is a reminder to reporters to send in their selections (we will not publish your picks, just use them in the selection of our teams) by Dec. 15. Since the all-area teams picked by various publications tend to be dominated by players (usually from the skill positions) from large-school teams, getting lists of top players from each of the five classes as well as eight-man football will help speed up our process.

   Similarly, it would be helpful if reporters or the respective league or sectional chairmen could send copies of all-league teams. Material should be emailed to

  • 2018 NYSPHSAA football brackets
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  • Printed information can be mailed to: Steve Grandin, 28 Orenda Spring Drive, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

       We ask that you rank the players against other players in their specific class. If you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to let us know by email.

       The all-state teams will be announced early next month.

        • We will announce the all-state team in girls cross country on Tuesday.

       A coin flip? Seriously? Granted, there were extenuating circum- stances. Still, allowing a coin flip to knock an unbeaten football team out of the playoffs in California reinforces my opinion of said state.

       Cardinal Newman, unbeaten and seeded first in the North Coast Section Division 3 tournament, recently beat No. 4 seed El Cerrito 38-0 in the semifinal game that turned out to be the end of the season.

       They were derailed by the deadly Camp fire, which affected air quality across the North Bay so severely in the late season that games were postponed to the point that there was not enough time to play out the postseason.

       In a conference call Nov. 14, the North Coast Section executive committee determined that two criteria would be used to decide which of the finalists in each of four divisions would advance to the NorCal regional game in the event that the local playoffs could not be completed. If the teams had played earlier in the season, the team that won would move on. And if that didn't decide it, a coin would be flipped.

       The plan was met with skepticism, but the hope at the time was that the fires would be put out quickly and the air quality would improve. That didn't happen, and teams had to make decisions. In three divisions, the finalists decided to complete the local tournament at the expense of participating in the NorCal regionals.

       In Division 3, seniors on top-seeded Cardinal Newman voted against a season-ending local final vs. Eureka (which was also undefeated) in favor of trying for a spot in the state tournament, putting their fate in the hands of a coin flip.

       The Cardinals picked tails. It landed on heads.

       Making matters worse for Newman, the above-mentioned conference call nearly didn't take place because the NCS executive committee had to wait 42 minutes for a seventh member to log in and form a quorum. Had they adjourned due to the lack of a quorum, the section staff's preferred option -- allowing the higher seed to advance -- would likely have been employed.

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