Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online


February 18, 2012

Parity reigns in hoops playoffs

While there’s been plenty of talk regarding the lack of depth in the Niagara Frontier League this season, Kenmore West coach Mike Meetze is sure the NFL will be represented well when the Section VI boys and girls basketball playoffs begin this week throughout Western New York.

“People want to knock (the NFL), but I’ll take our teams in our league,” Meetze said. “I think every team in our league has a stud player. You run the gauntlet. ... Skill-wise, I think we’re right up there with the ECICs.”

Meetze’s Blue Devils drew a third-seed in the Class AA bracket Saturday, while Niagara Falls, which won the coin flip with its co-NFL champion counterpart, is seeded second only to top-ranked Jamestown. The Wolverines (14-4) will host the winner of 7-Lockport and 10-Lancaster at 7 p.m. Friday. The Lions host the Redskins in the prequarterfinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the NFL, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of NFL teams pull off a couple upsets in the AA bracket,” Falls coach Sal Constantino said.

The No. 2 Blue Devils will host the winner of Wednesday’s 7 p.m. matchup between 6-Williamsville North and 11-Niagara-Wheatfield at 7 p.m. Friday as well. Fifth-seeded North Tonawanda, meanwhile, will host 12-West Seneca West at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

A matchup between West and Will North could pit two of the best point guards in the area in Sterling Taplin and Blue Devils senior Martin Bailey. Also, of course, the Blue Devils and Wolverines could meet again in the semifinals at Buffalo State College if both can get past the quarterfinal round.

“It would be great to get there, but we haven’t been there since the 90s,” Meetze said. “We’re on a 20-year dry spell, so we need to take care of business on Friday.”

Constantino said Ken West “handed it” to his Wolverines in their previous meeting, a 60-53 loss on Jan. 27 which ultimately resulted in the two teams taking a share of the NFL title at the end of the season.

“I guess you want to say parity. Once you get to the Final Four, it wouldn’t surprise me whoever comes out on top,” he said. “But I really think when I watch my guys, if we play to the best of our ability, teams are going to have a tough time beating us.”

Meetze added: “Our goal was to get through the long league schedule and start peaking at the end of the year. I think we’re playing our best basketball of the season. I think (last) Friday night was phenomenal.”

In Class A-1, 9-Kenmore East visits 8-Lake Shore at 7 p.m. Wednesday, while 12-Starpoint visits 5-Hutch Tech and 11-Grand Island travels to 6-Hamburg that night as well in prequarterfinal action. In Class A-2, sixth-seeded Lew-Port visits 3-East Aurora at 7 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinal round.

Second-seeded Tonawanda will host the winner of 7-Alden and 10-Buffalo Arts in the Class B-1 quarterfinal at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Grand Island girls basketball team drew the top seed in the Class A-1 bracket. The Vikings (14-1) will host the winner of Tuesday’s prequarterfinal between 9-Starpoint and 8-Williamsville East at 2 p.m. Saturday. Tenth-seeded Kenmore East will visit 7-Sweet Home on Tuesday in A-1 prequarterfinal action as well.

The Lockport Lady Lions drew the third seed in the Class AA bracket and will host the winner of 6-Frontier and 11-West Seneca West at 7 p.m. on Feb. 28. Eighth-seeded Niagara Falls will host 9-Orchard Park at 7 p.m. Thursday, while No. 12 North Tonawanda visits No. 5 Clarence on the same night. Niagara-Wheatfield, the seventh seed in Class AA, will host 10-Will North at 7 p.m. Thursday as well. In Class B-1, ECIC IV champion Tonawanda will host the winner of Lackawanna and Medina on Saturday.


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