By Jim Stout
It seems only fitting.
At the same time former Niagara Falls star Jonny Flynn was capping another outstanding week at Syracuse University, his former high school team was adding another chapter to its long history of outstanding basketball accomplishments in western New York.
Some things don't change. As Flynn rolls on at Syracuse, so too, roll the Niagara Falls Wolverines in Section V1.
Showing no signs of slowing down despite Flynn's absence this season, the Wolverines won their 18th consecutive game Tuesday night and completed their Niagara Frontier League regular season with an unblemished record as they routed Kenmore East, 77-42.
Niagara Falls, ranked eighth in New York State in Class AA – third among AA schools outside New York City – finishes its NFL season at 13-0.
Three days earlier, Niagara Falls had clinched its second consecutive league title since rejoining the Frontier League in 2006-07 with a 78-57 wins against Kenmore West.
At roughly the same time, Flynn, the 2007 Falls' graduate, was being named Big East rookie of the week after putting up 20 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals in Syracuse's 63-61 loss to UConn. Flynn played the game's entire 40 minutes for the fifth straight outing. He is the first Syracuse player to play every minute in five straight games since Allen Griffin accomplished the feat in 2000-01.
Flynn is averaging 15.4 points and 5.0 assists for his rookie season at SU. He had led Niagara Falls to a 21-3 record a year ago, averaging 29.5 points per game. As a junior in 2005-06, Flynn took the Falls to the Class AA state championship game at the Glens Falls Civic Center, where they lost by four in the final to Mount Vernon.
Now it's players such as senior Rahshon Tabb who are carrying forth the tradition at Niagara Falls. Tabb was held to four points in the first half against Kenmore East on Tuesday before exploding for 14 in the second half leading all scorers for the game with 18 points.
Junior Kelvin Agee notched seven straight points for the Wolverines in the third quarter as Niagara overcame a slow start. Agee finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Falls' center Eric Spanbauer helped keep his team afloat early in the game with three offensive rebounds that he converted for six points.
“I told the guys we’ve got to start treating these games like playoff games,” Niagara Falls coach Giulio Colangelo told the Niagara Gazette. “We’ve got to come out ready for the full 32 minutes with intensity, and the guys came out in the third quarter with a much better effort. That’s what we should do the whole game.”
East dropped to 12-7 overall, 7-6 in the league with the loss.
Niagara Falls had clinched the league title last Saturday with a 78-57 over Kenmore West, despite West star Edvin Ramulic recording 28 points and 14 rebounds, and becoming the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,099 points.
The Section VI playoffs begin next week.
Looking Back is a Laughing Matter for Albany Academy
What you see today from Albany Academy (17-3, 16-0) isn't necessarily what you got earlier in the season.
Yes, the Cadets are flying today, having won 10 of their last 11 games. Their only loss during this stretch was by four points on Jan. 29 to Peekskill, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A. Albany is ranked eighth in Class A.
But to consider how far the Cadets have come since the beginning of the season, is, well, funny.
"We watched tape of one of our earlier games and the kids were laughing," Academy coach Brian Fruscio told the Albany Times-Union. "They couldn't believe how far away they were. They watch tapes now and they really understand what they are doing well and what they need to work on. They are learning the game of basketball."
"We have gotten a lot better; we have worked hard and Coach Fruscio has us going in the right direction," added 6-foot-9 junior center Chris Pelcher. "We are still working to get better. You can always get better."
Pelcher scored 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead Albany to a 71-57 victory over second-place Lansingburgh on Tuesday in the regular-season finale for both clubs. The win allowed the Cadets to complete their Colonial League schedule undefeated.
"That (regular season) is only one chapter of our book; we have other chapters still to go so we can't dwell on this one here," said Academy sophomore Jamel Fields (19 points vs. Lansingburgh).
Tyler Foster scored 12 points, Jimmer Bennett added seven and Phil Cushing scored six points as the Academy played without 6-8 sophomore Shaver Fields.
"They (Albany Academy) are big, deep and experienced. They are very difficult to defend," Lansingburgh coach Guy DiBacco said.
Albany will be the favorite to win the Section II Class A tournament, though Bishop Gibbons (13-6) and Averill Park (12-8) hope to have a say. Lansingburgh, Burnt Hills, Mohonasen should also be competitive.
Albany Academy, however, isn’t even the most highly-touted team in the state capital. That honor would go to fourth-ranked Bishop Maginn (18-1), which is the favorite to win the Section II Class AA title.
Oneonta Atop the Southern Tier for Sectionals
Oneonta High will be the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Section IV Class A playoffs.
The Southern Tier Athletic Conference Central Division champs will host No. 8 Maine-Endwell in a sectional quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Feb. 19. Should the Yellow Jackets win, they'll face No. 4 Norwich (13-5) or No. 5 Corning East (6-11) at a site to be determined semifinal game. The Section IV championship game is set for 7:45 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Broome County Arena in Binghamton, which will also host the STAC semifinals and finals this week.
Oneonta will meet Horseheads in a STAC semifinal game at 7 p.m. on Thursday after Tuesday's game was postponed by snow.
"In an ideal world, we'd see teams we haven't seen all year (in the sectionals)," Oneonta coach Jerry Mackey told the Oneonta Daily Star. "The nice part is a home game, but the bad part is you get a tough Maine-Endwell team. They are a dangerous No. 8 seed."
Oneonta swept M-E this winter, winning by 18 points at home and by 10 on the road.
"We have to take advantage of our size inside and we have to remember why we beat them twice," Mackey said. "They've been playing well, but we get the home game. And if the seedings hold, we'll get another home game."
Senior guard Dan O'Brien leads Oneonta this season with 14 points per game. Alex VanDeusen, the only junior in an otherwise all-senior starting lineup, averages 10.8 points and Brendan Harder scores 9.2 points per game.
The Binghamton boys, meanwhile, will continue their defense of their STAC title against a resurgent Seton Catholic Central team in the conference semifinals.
The Metro Division-champion Patriots (13-5) were 22 points better than Seton CC in last year's conference finale; the championship was Binghamton's first since 2000. But Seton Catholic Central comes into the playoffs having won nine in a row since a 5-5 start.
"Our emphasis this year has been to rebound, run and defend," Pats coach David Springer told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "Obviously, we're not going to change that. We've got to understand how important it is to defend on every possession."
Binghamton sports a three-guard lineup of Chris Cartwright, Brendan Doherty and Jimmy Gray that combines to average 44 points per game.
Batavia, Greece Athena to Meet in Monroe County Final
Led by the 27 points of Mike Hoy, No. 2 Batavia scored a 67-58 victory over No. 3 Rush-Henrietta in Bracket A of the Monroe County Tournament first round at Greece Athena Tuesday.
Batavia (17-2) avenged an overtime loss to the R-H in last year's first round.
Hoy, who hit six 3-pointer field goals, added five rebounds and three steals. Bryan Anderson grabbed 10 rebounds for Batavia, which trailed by as many as five.
Dane Miller, who recently gave a verbal commitment to Rutgers, had 16 points for R-H (15-4).
Batavia advances to face top seed Greece Athena at 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday.
Syracuse Area Has Three Nominees for McDonald's Game
Three boys basketball standouts in Section III have been nominated to play in the 2008 McDonald's All-American basketball games in Milwaukee. The players are among 2,500 male and female nominees nationwide.
Nominated from the Syracuse area are Ben Cronin, a 7-foot-1 center Henninger; Nick Pascale, a 6-10 center for Jamesville-DeWitt; and Tyler Ash, a 6-2 point guard from Liverpool.
Final cuts for the team will be announced later in February. The boys and girls games will be played March 26 at the Bradley Center.
Cronin will attend Michigan next season, while Pascale will play for Colgate; Ash is headed for Syracuse University.
Perennial Section I Favorites Mount Vernon, Peekskill Look to Repeat
Mount Vernon (Class AA), Peekskill (Class A), Briarcliff (Class B) and Blind Brook (Class C) stand as the favorites in the four divisions of the Sectional I boys' tournament, which begins later this week.
Mount Vernon has won back-to-back state Class AA titles and has captured seven of the last eight sectional crowns. The Knights are undefeated against Section I competition this season. Kevin Jones (21.4 ppg) and Sherrod Wright (18.9) lead Mount Vernon.
Poughkeepsie, with just three losses, is having a great season in Class AA. It has lost to only Newburgh Free Academy and Peekskill (twice). North Rockland has won eight in a row.
In Class A, Port Chester comes in with an eight-game winning streak but Peekskill, winners of three consecutive state Class A titles, is 20-0 and has won 32 in a row dating back to Feb. 1, 2007, when it fell at Poughkeepsie. Syracuse recruit Mookie Jones is averaging 17.4 points per game and stands to win a fourth consecutive state title as a Red Devil regular.
Queensbury Improves Position in Foothill Council
Queensbury took control early on Tuesday night and cruised to a 77-57 win over Glens Falls, improving to 10-4 in the Foothills Council (13-7 overall), a half-game ahead of Scotia.
Queensbury played without guard Josh Hooper, who had to sit out following an ejection in the last game. Glens Falls played without its leading scorer, Jared Woodell, who was not available due to disciplinary reasons.
Sean Fortier stepped up for Queensbury and scored 16 of his game-high 18 points in the first half, while adding nine rebounds and four assists.
Brendan Agans, Kellen Henderson and Mike McAllister each added 15 points, while Henderson also dished out five assists.
"Kellen played a magnificent game at the point," Queensbury coach Bob Hummel told the Glens Falls Post-Star. "If he made three turnovers all night, I'd be surprised."
Whitesboro Rolls in Section III Tournament Opener
Seventh-seeded Whitesboro routed Phoenix, 63-48, in the opening round of the Section III Class A playoffs Tuesday night.
Senior guard Drake Woodard was one of four double-figure scorers for a Whitesboro team that pressed and ran its way to a 41-22 halftime lead.
“We knew we had to come out playing hard and fast," Woodard told the Utica Observer-Dispatch. "We just tried to create some turnovers and push the ball up court. That’s the way we play best, with T.J. (Abounader) controlling the boards and us pushing it up the floor. We love to play that way.”
Abounader, a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder, was indeed a factor on the inside, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Whitesboro senior forward Joe Bushey scored 14 points. Woodard added 11 points, four assists and five steals; his younger brother, Junior Woodard, also scored 11 points and had four assists and three steals for the Tri Valley League East co-champions (15-6).
Whitesboro advances to Friday's Class A quarterfinals and a third game this season against TVL West champ Vernon-Verona-Sherrill (18-3). The TVL rivals split their home-and-home regular-season series, each winning on the road.
Jim Stout is the MaxPreps.com Northeast Media Manager, as well as a columnist and photographer. He may be reached at (203) 563-2297 or at firstname.lastname@example.org