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January 30, 2016 - 11:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, basketball, sports, batavia.

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In her basketball career at Notre Dame High School, Christina Volpe was a prolific scorer and a leader who helped her team to a state championship, but it was more than just her athletic success that left a lasting impact on the school, said Athletic Director Mike Rapone during a ceremony Friday to retire her number.

"She always had a quick smile, was always kind and found a great pleasure in helping others," Rapone said. "As special a basketball player as Christy was, she may have been a more special person. She will always be remembered fondly here at Notre Dame."

Volpe died of an apparent heart attack at age 34 in her home in South Carolina in October.

During her playing career at Notre Dame, Volpe scored 2,392 points, grabbed 1,365 rebounds and amassed an 83-consecutive game streak of double-doubles.  She was named to the Section V Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. With Volpe on the court, Notre Dame won three consecutive Class DD Section V championships, and in 1999, the team won both the state championship and the federation championship and Volpe was named MVP of both tournaments.

Bill Wade, who coached Volpe's team, said the Notre Dame team is the only girls basketball team in Section V history to win a federation championship.

Rapone said Volpe inaugurated a tradition of excellence in girls basketball at Notre Dame that continues to this day. She inspired the next generation of girls to take up the game and play hard and work hard, leading to a second state championship under Head Coach Dave Pero in 2013.

"Along with the talent, she had an amazing work ethic," Rapone said. "She had a burning desire to realize her potential. As talented as she was, she constantly worked to get better. She spent countless hours in the Notre Dame and St. Joe's gyms fine-tuning her game."

Volpe taught her teammates that hard work wasn't just something you brought to the game, you brought it to the gym for every practice, Wade said. She came early, stayed late and made every drill count.

"That's how she became our leader," Wade said. "She led our team to greatness."

Through her example, she not only made her team better, she made her teammates better, both in the game of basketball and in life.

"You compete to beat your own numbers," Wade said. "That's what made us better and that's what made us cherish Christina Volpe. She taught her teammates so much and made her teammates lives better. She made her coach and her coaches better because of the person she was. Christina Volpe is not just a legendary player, she was a treasure because she made all of our lives richer."

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Bill Wade.

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Joining Rapone and Wade next to the lectern were members of Volpe's family and her former Notre Dame teammates.

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Prior to Notre Dame's game with Elba, the players wore T-shirts with Volpe's number and name.

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This tribute to Volpe will be hung in the entry hall of Notre Dame.

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Volpe's jersey will hang, framed, next to the scoreboard the rest of this season and next season.

January 20, 2016 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, batavia, Batavia HS.

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After the injury to point guard Maddy McCully that put her out for the season, Batavia's Head Coach Marty Hein said the Lady Blue Devils would be a team in search of a new identity.

That thought was back on Hein's mind last night after Batavia narrowly escaped with its 13th win, 58-55, over Irondequoit.

Batavia surrendered a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, allowing Irondequoit to put 25 points on the scoreboard and with less than a minute left, pulling within a point of the lead.

"(McCulley was) the floor general at any given point in time," Hein said. Ryann (Stefaniak) and Tiara (Filbert) are doing a super job, but when the chips seem to be falling a bit, there was always, 'OK, Maddy, you run the point now.' That was freeing up Tiara to do whatever. She doesn't have to bring the ball up. Now, it's kind of that little identity crisis of, OK, when things start going south, who is going to be that step-up person to take that role. We played a good 24 minutes of basketball, and then the last eight..."

Filbert scored 18. Taylor Stefaniak added 16, including dropping three buckets from behind the arc. Ryann scored 14 and Sam Cecere had seven.

For Irondequoit, Megan Dano scored 16, Kylee Kanealey, 12, and Quinn Melidona, 13.

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January 16, 2016 - 2:29pm
posted by James Burns in Batavia Blue Devils, basketball, sports.

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The Batavia boys varsity Blue Devils defeated Honeoye Falls-Lima in a very hard fought, double overtime, 61 to 59 victory. 

Batavia started off with an early lead that diminished quickly and had them behind at the half. HF-L's lead at the half was due to a tremendous defensive effort by forcing turnovers. On many of the turnovers HF-L was able to convert, a few times with three-pointers.

In the second half, Batavia battled back from a deficit to be back in contention for the lead by the start of the fourth quarter. Both teams look tired at the start of the fourth. Batavia took it to HF-L in the paint by playing physical and getting offensive rebounds. The Batavia defense did a good job keeping HF-L away from the basket, often making HF-L take forced shots as the shot clock ran out.

Batavia trailed most of the fourth quarter as the teams traded baskets. Hogan scored a three-pointer with 30 seconds left in the fourth that tied the game. Regulation ended in a 43-43 tie.

Malachi Chenault finished the night with a double double, 15 points 10 rebounds. Hogan had a big 18 points with some great clutch plays and Trevor Sherwood had 13 points on the long night.  

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More pictures below or to purchase go to www.jimburns.org

January 15, 2016 - 2:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, elba, oakfield-alabama.

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In the second half of Elba's 56-40 victory over Oakfield-Alabama on Thursday night, #55 John Hochmuth demonstrated what a dominant big man can do to lift a team.

Displaying solid and practiced post-play skills, the 6' 4" senior scored 19 points and blocked five shots in the game, with the third and fourth quarters being his most productive.

I've never seen a high school kid who works harder than John," said Head Coach Ciaci Zambito. "He makes my job easy. It's so much fun to coach him. He is our best practice player every single day, and finally, I think, all of his hard work that he has done throughout his career is really starting to pay off."

Zambito wouldn't go out on a limb and say Hochmuth is the most dominant player in the Genesee Region, but he still gives him very high grades.

"John is the most dominant post player I've seen at Elba, ever," Zambito said. "I played with a couple of good post players. But especially in terms of the defensive end of things, he doesn't just block shots, he changes shots, and obviously you know what he can do underneath the basket on offense."

The test of where Hochmuth stands in GR could come when Elba faces Attica, whenever that might be, since a recent game was canceled and needs to be rescheduled.  Attica has 6' 5" junior Owen Thompson, who scored 20 last night in the Blue Devils' 77-44 victory over Wheatland-Chili.

The Lancers are off to a 12-0 start on the year and Hochmuth said it's fun to be part of a team that has really grown into a bonded unit.

"We're all brothers on the team," Hochmuth said. "We all like each other outside of school, in school. We're family and that's why we play great together."

Basketball is a team game and one reason Hochmuth is able to thrive in the post is his teammates offer their own scoring threats, and when the defense opens a little space to guard them, they know how to feed Hochmuth the ball.

"Opposing teams focus on John," Zambito said. "They game plan for John, as I would. But when you've got down a guy who knocks down 11 threes in a game (as Henry Pflaumer did in a game earlier this season), and you've got a guy who comes in tonight and knocks down back-to-back threes, you've got to start honoring that a little bit more. You've got to pick your poison. Do you want to guard the perimeter and leave John one-on-one? Or do you want to double John? You can't double everybody."

Thursday, Pflaumer scored 13 for the Lancers, with Tucker Bezon adding 11 and Dakota Dillon six.

It was Bezon's best game of the season, Zambito said.

Oakfield-Alabama scored 18 points in the first quarter, but was held to 22 the rest of the way.

Zambito said he told the team after the first quarter that they weren't playing the Lancer brand of basketball.

"Oakfield likes to get up in you," Zambito said. "They like to press you, but we're more of a half-court team. I think we kind of fell into the trap the first eight minutes of the game where we were trying to play up to their tempo. But we can't do that. We get ourselves into some big trouble when we start doing things like that."

Jon Harris scored seven for the Hornets and Jake Mandez had six. Trey Nadolinski scored five to go with seven rebounds and four assists.

It's been a long time since Elba's boys team has experienced this level of success, and the current Lancers' roster hasn't forgotten the bad times, which is what keeps them from getting too comfortable with their 12-0 start, Zambito said.

"All I have to do is show them the records from the past two years," Zambito said. "Less than 12 months ago, these kids weren't experiencing any success. It's a different feel. We really have a good thing going, great chemistry. There's a nice bond going on. They trust each other. They're hungry and they'll stay hungry. I've told them from day one, I don't care how many games we win, we're looking to win a title."

The Lancers are currently #1 in the GR, #1 in Section V Class D2 and ranked #5 in the state.

"We've always had potential," Hochmuth said. "Now we're showing it."

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January 9, 2016 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Batavia HS, batavia, Notre Dame.

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You can always count on a Dave Pero-coached Notre Dame team to provide opponents with a test, and that's what the Batavia Lady Blue Devils got Friday night in the finale of the Batavia Rotary Club Tournament at Genesee Community College, just when, perhaps, they needed it the most.

The contest was their first without Maddy McCulley, who had her high school career cut short with a knee injury Wednesday one game removed from scoring her 1,000th career point.

The team will carry on without McCulley, but the question that needed to be answered is would her teammates would pick up the slack?

They did.

Four players finished in double figures in scoring and Batavia beat Notre Dame 60-44.

The score may look lopsided, but the game wasn't. Notre Dame fought every minute, battling through Batavia's relentless press, finding ways to the basket at times, but also surrendering a few too many possessions.

The Irish finished the first half only five down and pulled within a point of the lead early in the third quarter. 

"When something like happens, what happened with Maddy, again my condolences, I feel terrible about it," Pero said. "I feel terrible about what happened to her, but they stepped up. The injury set her down, but the team, you could see it, they stepped up. Good teams do that and they're a good team."

Freshman Ryann Stefaniak scored 16, Tiara Filbert and Sam Cecere each had 13, and Taylor Stefaniak hit for 12.

It's the first time the Stefaniak sisters were both in double figures for the game, and that bodes well for the rest of the Lady Devils' season.

"We talked about in practice yesterday," Hein said. "I said 'Look, we're still a good basketball team; obviously, we're not the same team. We have to find a new identity as far as who is going to be doing some of those other things. Bottom line is, Maddy takes about 20 shots in a game. We can't all just look at Tiera and now expect her to shoot 40 of them.' "

Newly minted starter Elyse Snow will take up some of the slack, and Cecere will get a few more looks, but Taylor and Ryann need to add from 10 to 12 shots per game between them, Hein said.

"I turned to the two Stefaniak girls and said, 'Listen, it's really on you two,' " Hein said.

Taylor said she and Ryann are ready and she's proud of how they pulled through Friday.

"I feel like we both stepped up really well tonight," Taylor said. "(Ryann) stepped up her game a lot tonight, which we've needed her to do the whole season, but it helped a lot tonight. I think she did great."

Ryann was all over the court, tipping passes on defense, joining in double teams on ballhandlers, finding open lanes on offense and crashing the glass on rebounds, getting a couple of key putback baskets.

"Ryann is skinny as a rail," Hein said. "In most cases, I  think she's got a turtle shell on her back; she seems so slow at certain points and times. But on the offensive end, she's always kind of in the right spot. She's slashing, rebound here, rebound there. It was exciting to watch."

Filbert, the tournament's MVP, is still the leader of the team, and the shooter defenses will work hardest to stop, as Notre Dame did Friday, but Filbert is unruffled by the change in circumstances.

"I'm going to keep playing my game," Filbert said. "We all came in level-headed. We knew we had a goal we wanted to accomplish and we were able to do that. Losing Maddy is going to be a big adjustment because she helped us out tremendously on and off the court. But I know she's going to be there on the sideline and we know we have the players who are going to step up and help us out."

For Notre Dame, Becca Krenzer scored 15, Margaret Sutherland, 10, and Calli McCulley, eight.

Before the game, during introductions, Calli presented her cousin Maddy with a bouquet of flowers.

Pero said he was very proud of how his girls played, especially Sutherland, who is starting to come into her own as a scorer and floor leader, and considered the game a great learning lesson for the team, which won't see any opponents with Batavia's talent or depth in the rest of the GR or Class D.

"It was a good experience," Pero said. "We're not going to see teams this good where we're going."

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January 7, 2016 - 1:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Batavia HS, batavia, Notre Dame.

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Norte Dame beat Attica 45-30 and Batavia topped Cal-Mum 50-31 to set the stage for a rematch of last year's exciting final in the annual Batavia Rotary Club Tournament at Genesee Community College.

Perhaps the big news of the night was an injury to Batavia's Madison McCulley (#42), a key part of the Lady Devils' talented starting five. McCulley was honored before the game for just achieving her 1,000th career point. Shortly before the end of the third period, she fell to the floor coming off a layup crying in pain. She was carried to the locker room and came out later with her knee wrapped in an ice pack. She had a medical exam today, but those exam results are not yet available.

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January 6, 2016 - 10:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, Shoot for a Cure, basketball, sports.

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Press release:

In 2012, The Pembroke Girls Basketball Team decided to use their passion for playing basketball as a platform from which to host a fundraiser for breast cancer research at Roswell Park in support of a community member. As a result, the girls and their coaches organized an annual event, naming it "Shooting For A Cure!" through which they raised over $30,000 in contributions for Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in past four seasons.

On Tuesday, the team played to the buzzer in their fifth annual Shooting For A Cure! game and raised $10,287.16, making their total RPCI donation over $40,000 since the event’s inception. During an emotional halftime ceremony, the team honored 18 cancer survivors, personifying their dedication to this cause.

Coach Ron Funke and his Pembroke Girls Basketball Team will present the full proceeds of their latest fundraiser to RPCI officials in the hospital lobby this Friday at 2:30 p.m. It’s a post-game tradition that Funke acknowledges has great meaning to the program.

“These girls are the driving force behind this fundraiser," Funke said. "What started many years ago in support of my wife’s diagnosis has continued to grow each season. The girls on this team are incredibly compassionate individuals.

"A few weeks ago they volunteered at the Carly’s Club Christmas party and rang bells for the Salvation Army. This group is truly special. Yet I have to say that the most meaningful part of Shooting For A Cure! is always visiting Roswell to donate what’s been raised.

"The girls once again put on their pink jerseys and travel to Roswell to present a check to hospital officials. Being there at the hospital, surrounded by people who are actually fighting their own battle against cancer never fails to inspire the girls. It’s a tangible reminder of how their efforts off the court are saving lives.”

More than a dozen alumni players from the previous Shooting For A Cure! events were in attendance last night, helping to run raffles and contests as well as cheering on the current team. Alumni Cora Erb (Class of 2013) hasn’t missed a game since its commencement.

“Playing in the first two Shooting For A Cure! games meant so much to me, not only because it’s for a great cause, but also because I lost someone very close to my heart from cancer," Cora said. "When I stepped on that court I played my heart out knowing in some way that I made my father proud.

"I come back every year to show my continued support for these girls and this cause. I know what it’s like to lose someone from cancer and I know I would want their support, just as they have mine.”

Dannielle DellaPenta (Class of 2014), a three-time game alumna, was also in attendance last night.

“The annual Shooting For A Cure! game means a lot to me," Dannielle said. "It brings our community together in support of others, focusing on the bigger picture in life. There is a sense of togetherness in our community.

"It’s about honoring those who have won their fight, supporting those who are still battling and memorializing those who we’ve lost. This event is simply beautiful and I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to still be a part of something so amazing.

"You never know if, when or who may be affected by cancer. Seeing so many people come together brings teams, families and communities together. When people come together like this they accomplish great things.”

The hallways surrounding the gymnasium were lined with balloons, decorations, photos and raffle tables. The basket raffle had more than 80 basket items to choose from, including donated items from various merchants and community members. There were three different raffles to choose from, highlighted by an Autographed Jack Eichel jersey, PlayStation 4 gaming system and diamond ring.

In addition to the raffles, the cafeteria was serving up slices of pizza from local area pizzerias, Original Pizza Logs, Perry’s Ice Cream and a variety of beverages donated by Coca-Cola Bottling Company. The cafeteria was uniquely set up and renamed “Mr. Brown’s Snack Shack” for the evening paying homage to its perennial coordinator, Arron Brown.

The list of WNY companies, vendors and individuals who donated to Shooting For A Cure! numbers more than 90, including 26 Shirts, Batavia’s Original, Big Pauly’s Pizza, Buffalo Bandits, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Sasbres, Carly’s Club, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Darien Lake Theme Park, Insty-Prints, Kendall’s Impressive Marks, LaPaloma Pizzeria, Mac Tools, Manitoba Corporation, Minute Print, NFL Films, Original Pizza Logs, Party City, Perry’s Ice Cream, Petals to Please, Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More, Target, Tim Horton’s, Tony’s Pizza, Yancey’s Fancy, and YMCA of Batavia.

Additionally, online donations are still being accepted at the team’s online fundraising page: (https://www.crowdrise.com/shooting4acure).

RPCI officially sanctioned the fifth annual Shooting For A Cure! game as an official Team Cure fundraiser and as a valuable example of the way that young people today can make a difference.

“It’s inspirational to have a group of teens who are so passionate about raising critically-needed funds for cancer research at Roswell Park," said Julia Harvey, Team Cure coordinator. "These girls continue to demonstrate an incredible amount of compassion.

"To think in one evening that this group of young women, with the support of Coach Ron Funke, Mike and Jen Wilson as well as their entire community, were able to raise over $10,000 is remarkable!

"This small community has a big heart! They continue to amaze us every year with this event. To think that this small school district has raised over $40,000 in five seasons is extraordinary!”

Submitted photos.

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January 5, 2016 - 4:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Rotary Club, rotary tournament, basketball, sports.

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Batavia High School will face some tough challengers for its Rotary Tournament crown when the annual event tips off tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Genesee Community College.

Always tough Notre Dame, defending Class C champs Cal-Mum and a rapidly improving Attica team will all vie for the crown.

Both Cal-Mum and Attica haven't participated in more than a decade.

Notre Dame's Dave Pero said he anticipates a fun and competitive tournament.

"This tournament brings together some very, very good teams," Pero said. "I’ve seen Cal-Mum and Attica. The competition doesn’t stop. It’s really a great tournament for the middle of the season where it’s almost like a sectional atmosphere. To me, the team to beat is Batavia. This is still their trophy until somebody can beat them. They’re playing very, very well right now. I’m looking for some strong competition and hopefully someone else can walk off with it this year. We’ll see what happens. I know Batavia will be ready."

Game times are 6 and 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday for the consolation game and the championship game.

Pictured are team captains Kierra Perl, Attica, Madison McCulley, Batavia, Rebecca Krenzer, Notre Dame, Adrianna Molisani, Cal-Mum. Back row is Corinne Jones, head coach of the SUNY Brockport women's basketball team, who delivered a few remarks about basketball and life during this afternoon's Rotary luncheon.

January 5, 2016 - 8:20am

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Batavia Lady Devils had been rolling on a streak, winning their last six straight games. But coming on the court in the first half Monday night, they were very flat-footed and missing opportunities.

Pittsford Sutherland came out hitting five 3-point baskets, and they held the lead by six points after the first quarter 20-14.

Batavia's senior Madison McCulley needed 12 points to reach a 1,000th-point milestone and her hopes were not good after the first half. Hitting one of one from the 3-point line, rimming a couple from underneath, the ball just would not drop for #42. Seniors Tiara Filbert led the first half with 15 points and Sam Cecere had nine.

Pittsford Sutherlands' Mary Bayer had seven points and Lena Kaufmans was three for three, ending with 11 points at the half, and Batavia was down by five, 36-31.

Coach Marty Hein and assistant John McCulley had to get their team back in the game and they did.  

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Tiara Filbert came out strong with eight of the 16 points. Batavia scored in the third quarter to lead 47-43. Pittsford Sutherland started making some key errors, was missing baskets, and Batavia took advantage. 

Taylor and Ryann Stefaniak started the charge combining 12 points in the fourth quarter. McCulley sank two buckets to bring her within one point of making her milestone. At the 5:54 mark in the fourth quarter, McCulley made her third straight 3-pointer to get her 1,000th high school career point -- actually 1,002. 

McCulley went to her bench and was embraced by her players (top photo) above, her dad John, and Coach Hein.  

Final score was 71-51 Batavia who is now 8-1 and Pittsford Sutherland drops to 5-5. Next game for Batavia is tomorrow at Genesee Community College where they are hosting a tournament and playing Calmum at 7:45 p.m. in the first round. 

Pictured below is Madison McCulley along with her teammates holding signs of her 1,000th career point tonight. Last year Tiara Filbert made her 1,000th career point on Batavia's home court.

For more photos of last night's game go to: Steve Ognibene Photography

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December 31, 2015 - 3:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Lions Tournament, batavia, basketball, sports.

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A team coached by Buddy Brasky plays defense, but lockdown all you want, you've still got to score to win games.

The Blue Devils didn't do that very effectively Wednesday night in the Lions Tournament finale at Genesee Community College against University Prep.

The final score, 57-45 in U-Prep's favor.

"They're scoring 80 points a game and we held them in the 50s and we score 40 something," Brasky said. "You're not going to beat good teams scoring 40 something points."

There's no doubt, U-Prep is a good team. The Griffins' feature a 6'4" post player in Jeenathan Williams and an athletic guard in Isaiah Brinkley, and even with schemes designed to limit their scoring opportunities, Williams notched 23 points and Brinkley had 18.

Williams scored 14 points in the second half.

"We tried to lock him up," Brasky said. "Then Brinkley hit a couple of threes against the zone. That was another part of the game plan: Always know where he is, and close out hard on him, and make him put the ball on the ground. But you can't always find him."

For most of the first half, the game looked like it might be all Batavia.

The half ended with the Blue Devils up 12-4. Brasky thought the margin should have been bigger.

"We got that seven-nothing lead and then we missed three little easy chippies inside," Brasky said. "It could have been 15-4 or 18 to 4, so I thought that was a key part of the game right away."

The Griffins' rang up a surprising number of offensive fouls in the first quarter, which kept putting the ball back in Batavia's hands.

"That's one thing we take pride in," Brasky said. "We do take a lot of charges. But specifically for this game, yes, they look to put their head down and attack the paint. We really emphasize stepping in and taking charge and we did. We were hoping that would make them more tentative. I think it did that in the first quarter."

Brasky said he would need to review the game tape to see what changed either in the defense or U-Prep's offensive scheme to see why things turned around so dramatically in the second quarter when the Griffins' outscored Batavia 22-10.

Batavia's offense came primarily from Malachi Chenault, 13, Ryan Hogan, 10, Tee Sean Ayala, eight.

U-Prep's game plan seem to be to deny in the paint and let the Blue Devils fire away from beyond the arc. Batavia has gunners who can hit from that distance, but too few balls dropped in the bucket.

"I think the real story of the game is, we couldn't shoot," Brasky said. "Let's call a spade a spade. I mean, they packed the zone. They know Malachi and Jake are our two biggest weapons and they packed it in and didn't give us many looks. They gave us any shot we wanted on the perimeter and we couldn't hit many of them."

Batavia actually had five three-pointers compared to only two for U-Prep, but it wasn't enough.

In the paint, Chenault once again showed how much his grown since last season as a low post player, good footwork, fighting for position and attacking the glass. Several of his points came on offensive putbacks.

"He's a senior now," Brasky said. "That's number one. He's a three-year starter, and (Jeff) Redband's not here anymore and we need a go-to guy, so, yes, he's stepping up like a senior should. We talked about that in the off-season. He really worked hard on his game and he's really producing for us."

Batavia is now 7-1 and U-Prep is 7-3. Both are Class A2 teams, so a sectional meeting come postseason isn't out of the question. Brasky likes his team's chances against the Giffins if they work out the kinks with their shooting.

"We can play with them," Brasky said. "If we make some improvements, I think we can compete with them and I think we can beat them."

All-Tournament Team honors went to Tyler Prospero, Notre Dame, Tommy Mattison, Albion, Chenault, Batavia, Ayala, Batavia, and Brinkley, U-Prep. Williams, U-Prep, was named most valuable player.

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December 29, 2015 - 7:19am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Lion's Tournament, Batavia HS, Notre Dame, batavia.

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University Prep and Batavia High School will vie for the Lions Tournament Championship on Wednesday following dominating victories in the opening round games Monday night at Genesee Community College.

U-Prep beat Notre Dame 80-36 behind Isaiah Brinkley's 20 points, with Joe McGrady adding 14 to go with 10 rebounds. For the Fighting Irish, Tyler Prospero had 13, Jordan Lyons had seven, and C.J. Suozzi, seven.

In the nightcap, the Blue Devils beat Albion 58-38. Off the bench, Tee Sean Ayala scored 15 points, all coming off of five three-pointers. Malachi Chenault scored 11, Adonis Davis, seven. For Albion, Tommy Mattison hit five three-pointers and scored 19 points.

Batavia is now 7-0 on the season.

U-Prep and Batavia will play at 8 p.m. Wednesday at GCC.

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December 23, 2015 - 12:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, oakfield-alabama, pembroke.

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In an effort to preserve its undefeated season, the Oakfield-Alabama Hornets twice battled back from double-digit deficits in the second half, and managed to briefly grab the lead with 1:11 left in the game. But missed free throws and two whiffs on easy layups proved to be O-A's undoing, allowing Pembroke to slip by with a 59-58 win.

"I told them this is one we let get away, but we learn from it," said Hornets Head Coach Ryan Stehlar. "You can't dwell on it. You learn from it and get better."

Both coaches were proud of how their teams stayed focused and played tough in the hard-fought contest.

The Dragons know O-A would play hard and fast, and they came prepared, said Dragon's Head Coach Matt Shay.

"They play a real intense style and I thought our guys faltered a little bit at times, but showed some resliance at the end," Shay said.

Junior guard Ryan Cansdale lead all scorers with 16 points for Pembroke; Zach Staebell had 15 and Dakota Dieter scored 14.

For O-A, Jake Mandel scored 13, Trey Nadolinski had 12 and Allen Chatt had eight.

The Hornets and Pembroke are both at the top of the Genesee Region standings with just one defeat each. They won't meet again until the final regular season game, Feb. 9.

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December 18, 2015 - 2:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, pembroke, basketball, Roswell Cancer Institute.

Submitted photo of Pembroke High School Girls Basketball Team.

Press release:

During the last four seasons, the Pembroke High School Girls’ Basketball Team has focused on winning—not just league games, but the battle against breast cancer. They will host their fifth annual "Shooting For A Cure!" game at 7 p.m. on Jan. 5 in support of funding breast cancer research at Roswell Park.

To date, the Pembroke team has raised more than $30,000 for the cause and hopes to raise more than $10,000 in one night on Jan. 5.

It’s a cause that is personal to the team and their school district because of the number of faculty and family members who have been affected by the disease.

Yet according to senior captain Aralyse Johnson, this year’s fundraiseris particularly important, as it marks the final season this group of six seniors will be able to play in the event.

“I was only an eighth-grade when my older sister Breanna and her teammates came up with the idea to host the first 'Shooting For A Cure!' basketball game in support of Toni Funke’s battle with breast cancer,” Aralyse said.

The team spent that season seeking support from the community and local businesses in hopes of funding research efforts at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in honor of Mrs. Funke.

“Impressive Marks donated pink uniforms and Walt Disney World donated park passes," Johnson said. "The support was overwhelming. That original team laid the foundation to what has become an annual event that we look forward to before the season even starts.

"This fundraiser means so much to our team and our community; we are all dedicated to supporting those in our community battling cancer and using our event to help fund research. This game has become the identity of Pembroke Girls’ Basketball and we take great pride in that."

The 2016 "Shooting For A Cure!" donors list numbers more than 80 merchants and individuals such as the Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bandits, GLOW YMCA of Batavia, Carly’s Club, Chestnut Hill Country Club, Darien Lake, Dry Creek Group, Fava Brothers Lawn Care, Insty-Prints, Kendall's Impressive Marks, Meinke Agency, Party City, Target, and Save-A-Lot to name a few.

Many of the product donations will become game night auction baskets and raffle prizes. Monies will also be raised from food and ticket sales with the generous support of local pizzerias and vending companies. Additionally, online donations are being accepted at the team’s online fundraising page: (https://www.crowdrise.com/shooting4acure).

The team hopes "Shooting For A Cure!" will continue its tradition of topping the previous years’ fundraising total. According to senior team member Emma Patterson, the event succeeds because of the format.

“Every penny that we raise goes to Roswell Park Cancer Institute to help fund cancer research,” Emma said. “It’s truly about service over self. As athletes we always put our team first. This game has the same guiding principle on a much larger scale.

"To think that this will be our team’s fifth 'Shooting For A Cure!' game is unbelievable to me. I can remember every single game vividly since I was in eighth grade, and it’s an honor to be a part of it. Each year our small community comes together to support this event, and it becomes more meaningful each season.”

RPCI has officially sanctioned "Shooting For A Cure!" as a Team Cure fundraiser and as a valuable example of the way that young people can make a difference.

“We continue to be impressed by the Pembroke Girls’ Basketball Team as they push themselves, not only on the court, but off the court as well," said Julia Harvey, Team Cure coordinator. "It’s inspirational to have a group of teens who are so passionate about raising critically needed funds for cancer research at Roswell Park. These girls continue to demonstrate an incredible amount of compassion.

"This team is special and their community is amazing. Although the players may change each season, 'Shooting For A Cure!' has remained constant, with the girls leading the charge, for five consecutive seasons. To me, it’s just remarkable.”

For more information go to the Shooting or A Cure Web site, Twitter, Pinterest

ABOUT PEMBROKE HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS’ VARSITY BASKETBALL TEAM: The Pembroke High School Girls’ Varsity Basketball Team is comprised of 11 outstanding girls, ages 15 to 18. Their 2015-2016 captains are Aralyse Johnson and Mandy-Jean Skeet. They are coached by Ron Funke. Team colors are green and black and their nickname is The Dragons. The team’s motto is Family-Hustle-Winning. The team began "Shooting For A Cure!" as an annual event in 2012 and they are committed to the hard work and dedication it will take to win the battle against breast cancer.

ABOUT ROSWELL PARK CANCER INSTITUTE: RPCI is among the first and only upstate New York facility to hold the National Cancer Institute designation of "comprehensive cancer center" and to serve as a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Many RPCI faculty serve on the NCCN panels that create the Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology™ — the internationally recognized standards for clinical policy in oncology, and the most comprehensive, most frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine.

The RCPI campus spans 25 acres in Downtown Buffalo and consists of 15 buildings with about 1.6 million square feet of space. A new hospital building, completed in 1998, houses a comprehensive diagnostic and treatment center. In addition, the Institute built a new medical research complex and renovated existing education and research space to support its future growth and expansion.www.roswellpark.org

December 16, 2015 - 9:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, Le Roy.

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Le Roy's basketball team ran into a talented and disciplined Perry team Tuesday night, resulting in a 71-47 loss.

Perry's Autin Croll led all scorers with 25 points, missing only two field goal attempts all night and hitting a trio of threes in the first half.

For Le Roy, Tom Dunn scored 12, Canyon Roster, nine, Holden Bonnell, eight, and Jason Doomling, six.

Also in double digits for Perry were Zach Lowery, 14, and Tyler Cowie, 10.

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December 12, 2015 - 8:57am
posted by James Burns in batavia, sports, basketball.

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The Batavia Blue Devils faced Charter School for Applied Tech (CSAT) Eagles Friday night at home to a gym filled with enthusiastic fans.

The first quarter was back and forth with CSAT out rebounding Batavia and landing a 3 to start the scoring. Coach Buddy Brasky straightened out the Blue Devils for the second quarter. From then on they controlled the ball well and out scored CSAT leading by as many as 20.

Three-point shots dropped well for both teams all night. Batavia had a hard time scoring in the paint but little problem shooting from the perimeter, defeating CSAT’s defense with good ball movement.

Ryan Hogan led the night with 21, T Sean Ayala had 10, Malachi Chenault and Jake Schrider both finished the night with eight.

The final score was Batavia 73 CSAT 56.

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To see more photos, or purchase photos, of the game follow this link. 

December 11, 2015 - 11:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, elba, Notre Dame.

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With size on the inside and guards who can hit from the perimeter, the Elba Lancers demonstrated some of what they might be able to accomplish in boys basketball in 2015-16.

The Lancers dominated archrival Notre Dame on Thursday, winning 52-40.

"The last time we came in here and beat these guys, I was a senior in high school," said new Elba's new head coach, Ciaci Zambito. "That was 10 years ago, so it means a lot to these kids. I think they've all kind of bought into the basketball program."

That program is one that uses a pressure defense to help create points on transition.

Anchored at center by 6'4", 225-pound senior Jack Hocmuth, the Lancers can dominate against most Class D teams in the paint. Scoring comes from Hocmuth, who 13 last night, and Henry Pflaumer, a junior point guard who scored 14. Senior guard Dakota Dillon added six on a pair of threes and Shane O'Halloran had seven.

"They made everything in the first quarter," said Mike Rapone, Notre Dame's head coach. "They're a good shooting team when they get their looks."

The Lancers were up 20-5 at the end of the first quarter and Notre Dame was in the midst of an 11-minute scoring drought that started when John Sutherland knocked out of the game with an ankle injury. He did not return and he's questionable over at least the next few games.

The Fighting Irish came out in the second half playing with a little more intensity and at a faster pace. They were able to pick up points in transition by getting to the basket before Elba could set its defense. That attack was slowed with C.J. Suozzi fouling out with five minutes left in the third quarter. That put the burden of being the big man leader on the floor on Nico Zambito.

"Nico did a great job, but physically he is just not as tall or as strong as John," Rapone said.

Even with the lopsided loss, there are several positives for his team, Rapone said. The team's season will depend on making shots, Rapone said. He believes the scoring will come, but Thursday's game was an example of what can happen to the Irish when the baskets don't fall.

"We just couldn't make a shot," Rapone said. "Some of these guys are pretty good perimeter shooters, but they weren't hitting tonight. Maybe it was their defense, or maybe it wasn't our night. I'm just proud how they competed for the whole game. Down 20-5, you could just pack it in, but they never did."

Zambito and Tyler Prospero each had six points for Notre Dame, with Casey Midwick and Evan Bender adding five more apiece.

Rapone describes his team this year as athletic, but small. They've got to shoot to win, getting points in transition, which will be harder if Sutherland is out for any length of time. The Irish have a team bench, with eight seniors and eight juniors on the squad.

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December 9, 2015 - 11:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, Batavia HS.

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After making runs at sectional titles each of the past four years, the three girls who helped make those teams contenders -- Tiara Filbert, Sam Cecere and Maddie McCulley -- are all seniors, and if they are going to turn 2015-16 into a championship season, Head Coach Marty Hein knows they can't turn it alone.

That's where sisters Taylor Stefaniak, a sophomore, and Ryann Stefanik, a freshman, come in. They're young for starters, but Taylor brings confidence and maturity gleaned from half-season as a starter last year, and Ryann is simply fearless.

"The seniors have those girls' backs," Hein said. "We know that if we want to make a deep run this year that those two sisters are a big key to it."

The Lady Devils are 2-1 on the young season after a 56-36 win over Brighton at home Tuesday night. McCulley led the way with 17 points, including sinking a trio of threes, Cecere had 15 and Filbert scored 14. Ryann Stefaniak added eight.

Any championship trail probably runs through Mendon, and it was in Mendon that Batavia suffered its lone defeat last year 50-63. There, Hein said, the team showed it still has some work to do coming together as a unit.

Ryann's youth showed a bit, he said, but that's no different than what it was for Taylor early last year and McCulley when she was a freshman.  

"It's a building process, so hopefully we'll get in the right spot by the end of the year," Hein said.

Ryann won a starting job coming out of preseason because that fearlessness is what enables her to compete at this level.

"That's why she's here," Hein said. "She's a ninth-grader. She can handle the ball. She can shoot the ball. She's not afraid to go up, so this was a huge game for her to bounce back from the Mendon game."

Still, what makes this team is that very special trio of seniors, whom Hein has coached since they were young girls. Even at this point of the year, Hein admits to getting a little misty-eyed realizing this is the last run he'll have with Filbert, Cecere and McCulley.

"I've had them for so many games through summer, spring, the regular season, the whole cohesiveness between them and the rest of the girls, they're the glue," Hein said. "They hold it all together."

Filbert plays at a whole other level, with skill and basketball IQ to create scoring opportunities and disrupt the offensive flow of opponents, and as Hein noted, "she's a highlight reel at any given point."

Filbert, Cecere, McCulley and the two Stefanik sisters -- five girls in Batavia who are likely to make the 2015-16 pretty entertaining.

The next play at home at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

In photos: Ryan, #3; Filbert, #22; Taylor #23; Cecere, #30; McCulley, #42.

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December 5, 2015 - 1:07pm
posted by James Burns in sport, batavia, basketball, mendon.

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Batavia High School Blue Devils faced Mendon in a season home opener Friday night. From the tip off Batavia controlled the ball and scored on their first possession. Batavia jumped out to an 11 to 0 lead and never let go. Batavia was up 25 to 9 at the half.

In the second half Mendon was able to control the ball but the shots did not drop for them and they never really got back into the game. The final score was Batavia 48 Mendon 28

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For requests for custom pictures of this game, or to photograph your player at an upcoming game, contact [email protected]

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December 2, 2015 - 3:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, basketball, sports, batavia.

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The season opener for the Notre Dame Girls Basketball Team didn't exactly go the way Dave Pero Sr. would have liked, with a tough loss to Gates Chili, 42-33, but Pero couldn't have been prouder of his son.

Dave Perio Jr., was appointed the Gates Chili coach during the off-season, and after three years as an assistant to his father at Notre Dame, the younger Pero gets his first opportunity to run his own program.

"I've been happy for him since the day he got the job," said Pero Sr. "It's a great opportunity for him. It's his second win. He's 2-0. He's got a nice road ahead of him. Let's hope he keeps building and great things are going to happen."

Always intense on the sidelines, Pero Jr. was perhaps even a little more animated making his first appearance as a head coach in a gym where he played high school ball and helped the Lady Irish to a couple of championship seasons.

"Coming in here, seeing my brother on the other bench and my family here, and I've coached these girls on Notre Dame's team for three years, so I know every single one of them," Pero Jr. said. "I know they wanted to beat me as much as I wanted to win. I'm trying to build a program at Gates Chili, so a win at Gates is just as big for my program. I loved my time here, but unfortunately, I had to move on and I'm trying to do the best I can where I am now."

He said the win was bittersweet because he hates seeing his father lose, but he needed his girls to play winning basketball.

"My father is my mentor, one of my best friends," Pero Jr. said. "It was tough coaching against him."

Both coaches said the game was like watching twin teams battle on the hardwood.

"I teach the same things he does," Pero Jr. said. "Hard work, boxing out, diving on the floor for loose balls. Everything I know, I learned from him."

Both coaches are optimistic about their teams' prospects for 2015-16, even though they both have young teams. Pero Sr. said the loss was just a small setback. It doesn't derail the season.

"My expectations are high, even after a loss tonight," Pero Sr. said. 

One roster change that makes Notre Dame a bit younger than expected this season is the departure of Shea Norton, a 6' 2" senior who was one of the area's dominant girls basketball players last season, who decided she would rather be a cheerleader than a hoops star. It's a change of heart Pero Sr. didn't want to discuss other than to say, "We're moving on."

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November 7, 2015 - 5:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, basketball, jeff redband, UB Bulls.

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That's Jeff Redband, the former Batavia HS hoops star, in the white shirt, though, technically, he's a redshirt.  

Redband is sitting out his freshman season at Daemen College as a redshirt, giving him time to develop his game for the Division II level. He can practice with the team, but can't suit up for games. The status allows him to avoid losing a year of NCAA eligibility.

Daemen kicked off it's first official Division II season with an exhibition game against the UB Bulls, a Division I team that made the NCAA tournament for the first time last season, but was rocked in the off season by some key personnel changes.

Head coach Bobby Hurley left to take a position at a higher level university and last season's MAC player of the year, Justin Moss, was dismissed from the university for an alleged theft from a dorm room.

The Nate Oaks era, however, started in fine style, with the Bulls dominating Daemen 87-68.  The Bulls played the aggressive brand of basketball, which Oaks prefers, though were bedeviled by 24 turnovers.

Oaks, in his first season as a Division I head coach, has a reputation for being the top-flight recruiter, and the early returns for his freshman class look good.  C.J. Massinburg, from Dallas, scored 25 points, going 5-6 from beyond the arc and snagging five rebounds. Nick Perkins, a freshman from Ypsilanti, Mich., scored 12 points and had eight rebounds.   (In photos, Massinburg is 3 and Perkins is 33.)

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