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January 11, 2014 - 10:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, sports, high school sports, blue devils.

It's an established pattern for the Blue Devils so far this season: doldrums in the fourth quarter make it hard for Batavia close out a game.

Last night against Odyssey, the home squad turned a double-digit lead into a one-point deficit with 56 seconds left in the final period.

Clutch free throws in those closing seconds sealed a 57-55 victory for Batavia, but not without a few fingernails getting whittled down among the faithful.

"It's what happens every game," said Head Coach Buddy Brasky. "In the fourth quarters we can't score. We had a number of easy opportunities in that fourth quarter in the first four minutes or so, so we can maintain that lead or extend it and we missed them."

Fatigue late in the game for Jeff Redband and Justice Fagan, and defenses designed to thwart the two most consistent scores on the team, are the issues. Typically, the two standouts play nearly every minute of the game. Defenses run either a box and one (putting a man, typically, on Redband combined with an otherwise zone defense) or triangle and two(man on both Fagan and Redband and a three-defender zone).

It's a challenging puzzle for Brasky to solve.

"It's kind of hard because I can't afford to take Jeff and Justice out of the game for very long," Brasky said. "I don't have an answer to that, quite honestly. Other guys have to step up. They keep playing that triangle and two, and other guys are getting opportunities and they have to knock down some shots. That's the answer."

Batavia scored 17 in the first quarter, 20 in the second, 13 in the third and a miniscule seven in the fourth.

Last night, it was Jarrett Laskett who stepped up and took advantage of a lax defense in his vicinity. Laskett finished with 15 points, one more than Fagan's 14.

"Jarrett's capable of scoring," Brasky said. "He hadn't done it much, but he's starting to get a little bit of an opportunity now."

Redband led Batavia with 21 points, including three threes and eight free throws. He and Malachi Chenault had eight rebounds.

As the seconds ticketed away with the Blue Devils down a point, it was Redband the team turned to once again to sink the winning shots.

This time, the offense set Redband up on the near-side wing with a look at a three-point jumper. As he got the shot off he was fouled by an Odyssey player, sending him to the line with three opportunities to at least tie the game, if not give Batavia the lead.

Redband missed the first shot.

Were you nervous? Brasky was asked after the game. He smiled. "Yes," he said, "of course."

But with the game on the line, the ball in Redband's hands is never a bad thing. His shooting stroke as sweet and smooth as honey from the comb consistently delivers results.

"Jeff's clutch," Brasky said. "I really anticipated he would make all three. I would have been shocked if he didn't make at least two out of the three. Yeah, I was nervous, but he's clutch, so I didn't really doubt he would make two out of the three."

Two shots made and Batavia is up by one with 18 seconds left in the game. Odyssey fails to score on its possession and then Tyler Crawford is fouled.

Crawford came through at the line.

"Crawford's free throw, that was a big one, too," Brasky said. "That put us up two. All they could do was tie it. We're weren't going to give them a three at that point, so worst case scenario, unless we took stupid pills, it was going to be an overtime game."

Odyssey got the ball back with seven seconds left on the clock. Plenty of time to score. A dash down the court, a scramble under the board, shoot and miss, shoot and miss, and the final buzzer blares and the Blue Devils jump for joy.

Brasky-coached teams are drilled on defense and taught to never give up more than 13 points in a quarter.

Odyssey scored 16 points in the second quarter, but those final three points came on a prayer of a jumper from 20 feet out that hit the backboard and banked into the basket. Braskey said it was almost like it didn't count from a 13-point and under calculation.

"We held them to six or eight in the third (it was eight)," Brasky said. "So it was 57-55. That's three points more than we want to give them, and that's that banked three in the second quarter, so I was happy with the defense."

For Odyssey, a player Brasky said hasn't gotten a lot of playing time this year and has done very little scoring, Jamie Magone, came through big for the visitors, leading his team with 20 points. The only other player in double figures for Odyssey was Jacob Dixon, who had 14.

The win puts Batavia at 6-3 on the year and 2-1 in league play. The Blue Devils next play Eastridge on the road and come home again Jan. 17 for a game against Greece-Arcadia. Game time is 7:45 p.m.

Top photo: Jeff Redband is fouled as he takes a three-point shot in the closing seconds of the game.

Jeff Redband drives to the basket in the first quarter.

Justice Fagan looking for a lane to the basket in the first half.

Tyler Crawford grabs a loose ball during the second quarter.

Cheerleaders during their routine at the half.

Jeff Redband Inbounding the ball in the fourth quarter to Malachi Chenault.

Jarrett Laskett

Victory celebration

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January 10, 2014 - 9:44am

The 25th edition of the Rotary Club of Batavia Basketball Tournament has certainly been eventful.

After the tournament was postponed because of the blizzard earlier this week, the teams finally took to the court at Genesee Community College and for the second straight season, Batavia and Notre Dame will meet in the finals.

The Lady Blue Devils were forced to play without leading scorer and rebounder Tiara Filbert due to injury, but they prevailed, defeating Alexander 44-36 in the first game of the night.

The two teams appeared evenly matched after two quarters of play, as Batavia took a four-point lead into halftime.

The Trojans came out hot in the second half, eventually tying the game at 23 midway through the third quarter.

The Blue Devils responded though, using a 14-2 run to end the frame, and at one point extended their lead to 14.

Batavia looked to miss Filbert in the fourth quarter though, as Alexander cut the lead to five with just under two minutes to play.

“To lose one of your top players, you’re not the same team,” said Batavia Head Coach Marty Hein. “But the defense shouldn’t have let down. I’m disappointed we didn’t play 32 minutes of defense.”

Madison McCulley came up big though, as she knocked down a three-pointer to extend the lead to eight  and the Blue Devils would not look back.

Sophomore Sam Cecere came up big all night for Batavia, as she scored a game-high 16 points on the night.

“I told Sam that this was a real big stepping stone game for her,” Hein said. “Tiara wasn’t here and it was time for her to step up, and she did that. The last three or four games she has been progressively getting better.”

McCulley pitched in 11 points for Batavia, which improves to 7-1.

Prior to this week’s snowstorm, Perry was scheduled to take on Notre Dame in the second game, but when the games were postponed, they had to drop out due to conflict. So, C.G. Finney stepped in to take on the Fighting Irish.

Unfortunately, they were overmatched by the defending state champions.

Notre Dame opened the game on a 34-0 run and continued onward, cruising to an 87-13 victory.

“I thought we got a lot of good minutes out of a lot girls,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Dave Pero. “Down the road, you never know. We might need some of those girls. We have been getting good bench play all year and this helps.”

Mel Taylor led the way for Notre Dame, scoring a game-high 16 points, grabbing five rebounds and adding seven steals.

Rebecca Krenzer chipped in 12 points and six rebounds, while Shea Norton added 10 points and six rebounds and Burgundy Bartlett scored 11 points for Notre Dame (7-0).

Batavia and Notre Dame will meet in the championship game for the second consecutive season, as the Lady Irish took home the title with a 41-38 victory.

“Batavia is going to give us all we want,” Pero said.

“They will be ready for us. We played them last year in the finals and had a three-point game, and I don’t see it any different this year. They have good shooters and rebounders. We have to come out to play if we are going to take home the title again.”

The Blue Devils won the title back in 2012.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday at Genesee Community College.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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December 25, 2013 - 4:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, sports, youth sports.

The sixth-grade Batavia Blue Devils won the Community Youth Basketball Tournament in Rochester this past weekend.

Game summaries by Bryan Falitico:

Game 1: Starting off against the hometown team CYP in our first
game we came out sleepwalking. Strong efforts from our bigs inside on both
ends of the court we were able to fight our way back from being down 11
points. Alex Rood had six points, Andy Clark three, and Jake Humes four, with all
three having monster rebounding games we came up short in the end, losing

Game 2 -- vs. Brighton: Building off the fire we started to play with in
the second half of the first game, we came out strong and pounded the ball
inside. Jake Humes led with 10 points, and Andy Clark had eight. The real
key to our win vs. Brighton was behind the leadership of our point guards,
who not only chipped in point wise, but also great ball protection and
finding the open man in transition. Max Rapone had four points, Bryce Reigle had six
and Luke Grammatico had four. Final score BHS 43, Brighton 34.

Game 3 -- HFL: Day 2 we were without one of our bigs inside so in order for
us to be successful other key guys needed to step up in the absence. Andy
Clark had eight points, and the White brothers, Cam and Caeden, came to play.
Cam had six points and Caeden had five, including a game-changing basket drive
that resulted in a (point) and one opportunity. He sealed the deal with the free throw.
Matt Beach and Alex Rood both came up big on the boards in Jake's absence to
help us get the win 35-30.

Game 4 -- vs. Eastside: All around contributions helped us seal the win. Big
game again from Caeden White with 11 points. Cam pitched in five points of
his own, and again Andy Clark, Alex Rood, and Matt Beach controlled the
boards, helping set up our guards to push the ball for some easy baskets. Luke
Grammatico had two points, Josh Weis had four, Bryce Reigle and Max Rapone
both had a number of great passes inside that set up our bigs for easy
baskets. Final score 37-25, tournament champions.

December 21, 2013 - 1:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, alexander.

Kendall proved to be just a bit much for Alexander to handle Friday night as the Eagles took command of the game in the first period and were never in danger of losing their lead.

The final, 63-41.

Alexander is now 3-2 on the year.

"We definitely had Kendall marked on our calendar," said Head Coach Josh Bender. "I think they're one of the best teams in the GR. They've got all the right pieces. They've got a big guy, athletic guards, shooters, size. It's tough when you don't have a 6'5" guy to battle their center. They're a pretty experienced bunch. Good coach. They run a good system."

The Tigers did a good job of getting good looks for themselves throughout the first half, and a lot of those shots dropped for points.

By the half, the Trojans were already down 37-18.

Kendall almost let Alexander sneak back into the game in the third quarter, scoring only eight points, but the Trojans found their own little scoring slump late in the period and only added 13 points for the eight minutes.

"I told the guys if we want to make a real run at it, we can't trade baskets," Bender said. "We were getting good looks. The high post area was open all night. We had cutters slashing, but at the end of the day, if you're trading baskets with a team like this, you're going to come up short."

Bender, in his first year as varsity coach after three years leading the JV squad, said his team is young yet. Even though it includes seven seniors, none of his starters got many minutes last year, he said.

"I think you'll see down the road, the more games we get in, the more cohesive we'll be and the more effective we'll be in game situations," Bender said.

Nelson Burke led the Trojans with 10 points.

For Kendall, four players were in double digits scoring. D'Andre Nauden, 12, Devin Appleton, 11, Garret Love, 14, and Isaiah Brown, 11.

In other Genesee County hoops action, Friday:

  • Batavia beat Hilton in Hilton, 62-49. Jeff Redband scored 19 points and had 14 rebounds.
  • Wheatland-Chili 56, Batavia Notre Dame 42. The loss ended ND's 70-game league winning streak. Tim McCulley had 18 points.
  • Byron-Bergen 53, Pembroke 48. Dajuandrick Gardner scored 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Collin Lewis, 17 points. Nick Magin, 18 and Steele Truax 10.

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December 19, 2013 - 1:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, Notre Dame.

The final score was as lopsided as the size differential between Notre Dame and Lyndonville in an early season basketball match on the home court of the Fighting Irish on Wednesday night.

The Irish notched the team's third win of the season 90-51.

While Notre Dame has some clear offensive firepower, the ability to grab rebounds at both ends of the court created more scoring opportunities.

"I thought the Lyndonville kids played hard," said ND's Head Coach Mike Rapone. "They got some good play off their guards, but they're undersized underneath and they had trouble with us off the boards."

The Tigers put only two 6'0" players on the court through all 32 minutes of play while the Irish could call on Jarrod Wall at 6'2", Josh Johnson at 6'1", Alec Covel at 6'2", Alex Domkowski at 6'3", Tim McCulley at 6'3" and Charlie Herbert at 6'5".

In some ways, Herbert was the story of the game.

Called upon to start at center after Caleb Nellis sprained his ankle in practice yesterday, Herbert, who never played basketball at all before this year, left Rapone wondering what could be if the school's star wide receiver listened to his peers begging him last year to fullfill their hoops dreams.

"I think had he played last year he'd really be a force this year because he gets better every day," Rapone said. "I think by the end of the season, he's going to be pretty solid."

Herbert, whose past athletic prowess was confined to the gridiron showed a strong sense of how to muscle opponents under the glass for points and rebounds.

With 10 rebounds, only he and McCulley (13) reached double digits. Herbert, with eight points, missed a double-double by one field goal.

McCulley also had 23 points and with three more assists would have had a triple-double.

Guard Josh Johnson was second on the team in scoring with 18, and had eight rebounds, but only two assists.

Covel and Domkowski each added eight points.

Lyndonville scored 18 points in the first half, but most of that came before more than a couple of minutes had passed in the second period as ND's full-court press cut off passing lanes, forced mistakes and eventually wore down the Tigers.

Even ND's bench, taking over much of the duties about half-way through the second period, kept the pressure on Lyndonville.

While Rapone put his starters back in the game to start the third period, he stopped using the press (because it was the right thing to do, he said), and the Tigers went on a little scoring run and got enough looks through the half to notch 31 points.

Pat Hinkson (15) and Evan Milleville (11) led the Tigers in scoring.

Even so, the play of the second team was impressive. They stayed calmed, stuck to the game plan and stayed aggressive through the final minute of play.

"They work us hard in practice every day," Rapone said. "What I like about them is they play basketball when they come in. They don't just see who can get a shot off first. They run our offense. They run our defense. They do what they're supposed to do. I'm really proud of them."

Ironically, perhaps, among the leaders on the second team was the shortest player to handle a ball Wednesday, 5'6" junior Dylan Fix. 

Fix was in control with a ball in his hands, making few mistakes, staying confident and calm and demonstrating an unmistakeable fearlessness. He shot laser-sharp passes between defenders, fought for rebounds against bigger players and fired three-pointers with every open look, even though it was an off night for his shooting stroke.

"He plays hard," Rapone said. "He knows they game. He shoots the ball very well. He didn't have one of his better shooting nights tonight, but normally he shoots the ball very well. The only thing that's ever held him back is he's a little undersized. He grew a little bit during this year and hopefully he grows a little more next year. He's definitely comes in and makes things happen."

Top photo: McCulley; bottom photo, Fix.

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December 12, 2013 - 11:59pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in basketball, elba, high school sports, Notre Dame. sports.

Notre Dame 83, Elba 39

Tim McCulley scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the Fighting Irish to their second win of the season.

The Elba Lancers opened up the scoring in the first quarter when John Hochmuth put up three points, but they quickly found themselves behind later in the second quarter.

The Lancers were not able to stop Tim McCulley as he scored 21 points on 18 shots in the first half. Notre Dame held a 37-15 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter Notre Dame went on a scoring streak. Scoring 29 points to Elba's 10. By the fourth quarter the game was out of reach.

Notre Dame's Josh Johnson and Elba's John Hochmuth each had 15 points.

Notre Dame's next game will be at home next Wednesday against Lyndonville.

Elba is 1-3 on the season.

December 7, 2013 - 3:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, sports, high school sports, Batavia HS, blue devils.

The Batavia Boys basketball team beat Williamsville South today in a game scheduled as part of the Niagara Falls Cataract City Classic, an invitational tournament for the top prep teams in WNY.

Jeff Redband led the Blue Devils to a 58-46 win with 18 points. Justice Fagan contributed 13 and Malachi Chenault added 11.

Batavia jumped out to an early 34-18 lead, but the game tightened in the 4th period with Williamsville closing in at 40-35. From there, Batavia pretty much controlled the game and put Williamsville away.

December 7, 2013 - 1:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, sports, high school sports, Lady Devils.

Mendon has always presented a challenge for the Batavia High School girls basketball team, often over the years snatching double-digit victories over the Lady Devils, which was why Head Coach Marty Hein put the Vikings on the schedule early in the season.

It was a chance for Hein to see where his team stood.

The verdict? Not really different from what he said about his team in the pre-season: The Lady Devils lack bench depth and until the younger players step up their game, Batavia will struggle against teams that can rotate seven or eight players.

"Some of the girls will understand that we've got to work hard and work our way to having a deep bench like Mendon does," Hein said. "Hopefully, we'll be there by mid-season."

To start the game, the Lady Devils looked like the dominate team and held a lead until just about a minute left in the second period, and even through most of the third period, Batavia kept the game within a basket or two.

Then the wheels came off. The plays didn't run as smoothly, the passes weren't as crisp, if not higher risk, and the steals came easier for the Vikings.

"Todd's (Todd Julien) a very smart coach," Hein said. "He didn't use any time-outs (in) quarters one, two and three because he didn't give any opportunity for my girls to get a rest. He knew the longer I kept my starters on the floor, the sooner they were going to wear out."

The final score: Mendon 43, Batavia 36.

Sam Cecere led Batavia in scoring with 14 points. Mendon's Darby Kreienberg presented a challenge for the Lady Devils. She scored 26 points.

Maddie McCulley, who hit a clutch three late in the second period just when it looked like the Vikings might be poised to pull away, suffered what appeared to be an ankle or foot injury early in the third period. She returned to the game a few minutes later and Hein said she'll be fine.

"When we play one-three-one she's down at the bottom with some giants so she takes a beating sometimes," Hein said.

Top photo: Essence Williams drives for a successful layup.

Maddie McCulley

McCulley and Alley Phillips scramble for a loose ball.

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December 5, 2013 - 10:25pm
posted by Andrew Crofts in basketball, GCC, sports.

Naquil Jones scored seven early points to spark a 15-5 start for the Genesee Community College men's basketball team on Thursday night, and the Cougars earned their fifth win in a row, 83-76.

The visiting Knights from Niagara College (Canada) erased a six-point GCC halftime lead and took a 46-45 lead three-minutes into the second half.

Redell Freeman came off the bench and hit two straight three-point baskets and Alastair Cole also hit consecutive three-pointers, sending GCC on a 12-0 run and giving Genesee the lead back for good.

Ervin Mitchell played to another double-double, scoring 24 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Gabriel Burroughs finished the night with 13 points, Cole added 12 points, Freeman dished out seven assists and scored 11 points and Jones grabbed six boards to go along with 11 points.

Genesee improves to 6-2 with the win and will travel to Lakeland Community College on Friday night for a 7 p.m. start.



A six-minute scoring drought to start Thursday night's game set the Genesee Community College women's basketball team back against Niagara College (Canada), and the Lady Cougars fell to the visitors, 65-55.

Genesee was 0-14 from three-point range in the opening half and committed 13 turnovers to fall behind at the midway mark of the contest.

Despite the early struggles, GCC started the second half on a 13-5 run and got back to within three midway through the second. Niagara responded and went on a 7-0 run to extend the lead back to double-digits and never looked back.

Genesee was just 2-29 from beyond the arc and shot below 25% on the night.

Dashawna Jenifer led the way for Genesee with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Macey McCulley added nine points and grabbed five boards, Renetta Fordam chipped in eight points, Shanell Glover collected 11 rebounds and scored six points and Hillary Rivera added five points.

Genesee falls to 1-6 with the loss and the Lady Cougars will travel to Lakeland Community College on Friday for a 5 p.m. start.



(Picture: Renetta Fordam (#40/white) fires a shot over an outstretched Niagara College defender)

December 4, 2013 - 12:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, elba, high school sports.

A pair of 23-point performances by Jesse Pflaumer and Brandon Naylor wasn't enough to secure victory Tuesday night for the Elba Lancers in the team's season opener against Albion.

After Elba jumped to an early double-digit lead by pulling down defensive rebounds and getting easy baskets in transition, foul trouble in the first quarter and a rash of turnovers let the Purple Eagles grab a lead it never relinquished the rest of the night.

"When switched to zone, we gave up some defensive rebounds and they (Albion) ended up cashing in on them," said Head Coach Mark Beeler.

The Lancers battled back, erasing a 10-point deficit late in the fourth quarter and when Pflaumer hit all net on a three-point jumper from the top of the key with just 26 seconds left in the game, Elba trailed by only two points, 71-69.

"That's when I really had a feeling it was going to go our way, but give Albion credit, they executed down the stretch to close it out," Beeler said.

On the in-bound pass, the Lancers fouled Albion to kill the clock and then grabbed the rebound on the missed free throw. Chad Kowalik got behind the defense and had an open path to the basket, but the pass was just a little beyond his reach and traveled out of bounds.

Albion would inbound two more times in the game, drawing fouls each time, leading to more free throws, which lead to two more points and seal the victory for the Eagles.

"I was just really happy to be in it at the end after being down 10 in the fourth," Beeler said. "The guys showed a lot of character tonight, sticking with it."

As exciting as the game was, it was also sloppy. Both teams got into foul trouble early and Albion rang up a number of fouls early in the second half (Elba slowed the pace a bit for their fouls in the third period).

The Lancers had 30 turnovers, with more than a dozen of them coming on in-bound passes, while the Eagles coughed the ball up 27 times.

"I'd like to blame it on first game jitters, but we had four scrimages so we shouldn't be that nervous," Beeler said. "Thirty is a lot. They had 27, so I'm sure (Albion's head coach) is not happy either. The third and fourth quarters were helter skelter and the intensity was amped up, and when it gets to that pace and the kids aren't used to it, turnovers are going to happen. But, yeah, you're not going to win many games with 30 turnovers."

Despite the loss, Beeler likes what he sees of his team so far and thinks with five seniors in the starting line up, a run at a sectional title is not out of the question.

"I think as these guys play and the season goes on and we eliminate some of the errors, I think we'll be right there," Beeler said "We've got good size. We've got a lot of seniors. That's going to help us down the stretch."

Beeler also has a secret weapon on the bench -- Tom Nowak, the recently retired former coach of the girls team, the coach with eight sectional titles and a state championship to his credit.

Nowak has been filling in as a part-time assistant for Beeler, whose first coaching job was working for Nowak as a girls JV coach.

"He taught me lot and continues to teach me a lot," Beeler said. "It's been great to have him in practices and definately on the bench. It's like hitting the coaching jackpot as far as getting an assistant on the bench with you."

The team responds well to Nowak's presence, Beeler said.

"When I tell the kids he's coming to practice ahead of time and as soon as I tell them he's coming in, they get excited because they know they're going to get better that day," Beeler said.

Besides the 23 points apiece for Pflaumer and Naylor, Dan Scott had 14 points. For Albion, Dez Blackmon had 20 points and Manny Thompson had 15.

Top photo: Jesse Pflaumer driving for the basket.

Albion's Alex Bison.

Brandon Naylor at the free throw line.

Head Coach Mark Beeler


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December 3, 2013 - 11:03pm
posted by Andrew Crofts in basketball, GCC, sports.

The Genesee Community College men's basketball team has won its last four games and has scored 100 or more points in three out of the last four after a 113-69 win over visiting Medaille College (JV) on Tuesday night.

Ervin Mitchell extended his scoring streak of 20 or more points to seven games in a row after scoring 21 points on Tuesday night in limited action.

Genesee shot close to 60% and the Cougars' bench saw plenty of action, producing 45 points in the win.

Gaberiel Burroughs led the way for GCC with 26 points and six rebounds. Naquil Jones added 19 points, Redell Freeman and Alex Morris each finished with 13 points and Freeman dished out nine assists. Da'Shawn Suber chipped in nine points and Alastair Cole added eight points and six boards.

The Cougars held Medaille to just 32% shooting from the field and forced 24 turnovers, resulting in 26 fast-break points.

Genesee improves to 5-2 and will host Niagara College (Canada) on Thursday night for an 8 p.m. start.

November 26, 2013 - 12:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, sports, high school sports, Batavia HS.

The 2012-13 season was a banner campaign for the Lady Devils. They won the school's first league title in girls basketball and made it to sectional finals for the first time.

But there's also some unfinished business from that championship run, according to first-year Head Coach Marty Hein.

The loss to Waterloo was ugly.

"The girls poured their hearts out in the semifinals two days before," said Hein, who was assistant coach to Bill Wade last year. "They just didn't have it in their eye that night and they know that. The girls know we didn't give 100-percent effort against Waterloo that night and that's the lesson that I hoped they learned -- give 100-percent effort all the time."

With Batavia HS moving to Class A1 and Waterloo staying in Class B, there's no hope for a rematch.

"I'm hoping to line up a scrimmage with Waterloo," Hein said. "I'd like to play Waterloo again because I don't like the taste in my mouth of how we lost in the finals."

Hein thinks with the players returning, the core of that league-leading team will be back on the court this season and they should be able to hold their own at least through the Monroe County schedule and into A2 sectionals.

The attitude is there, he said.

"They've come back with that buring desire to want to focus a little more, work a little bit harder and get back to that same spot and hopefully a little bit better," Hein said.

Senior Liz Myers and sophomores Tiara Filbert and Madison McCulley are third-year varsity players and anchor the starting line-up. Sophomore Sam Cecere, at 5' 9" tall, has made great progress playing post, Hein said.

Hein is going to be looking for a stronger defense from the girls this year.

"I want a lot more communication out of our defense this year," Hein said. "We're turning the pressure up a little bit on defense. Even if we stumble a little on offense, if we can hold our opponents to a lower number then we should still come out victorious in the end."

There will be a few changes in the team from the Wade era, but Hein has a lot of admiration for the local coaching legend.

"When the job came open (four years ago), I applied," Hein said. "Bromley (BHS athletic director) gave me a few clues about who else applied for it, and I told Mike at that point to take my name out of the hat. It was a good learning experience to be sitting behind Bill for the four years. I learned a lot."

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November 21, 2013 - 10:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, Le Roy.

With a new head coach, the Le Roy boys basketball team is being put through its paces.

At a practice Thursday night, there was no slowing down, no waltzing through zone defenses, no stepping through an offensive playbook. The boys ran, they jumped, they weaved and they passed and they shot.

The fast-paced practice is designed to help prepare the team for what Rick Rapone hopes will be a quick-break offensive style during the regular season.

"We're going to try," Rapone said.

Rapid transitions, Rapone believes, equals more scoring opportunities.

"The faster you get down the court, the easier a shot you get, the percentages are you should make it," Rapone said.

He'll have to find out if his team can handle the fast pace in real time under game pressure.

He's certainly gotten the boys' attention. The players went through the practice with game faces on, not missing a beat.

"You've seen for yourself, they're hard workers," Rapone said. "They've responded well to all the new things we're trying to do. Even though we had a little bit of a short time frame because football was so successful this season, we're catching up pretty well. It's a great group of kids."

The boys should listen. Rapone has the coaching pedigree to command attention.

He's the brother of Notre Dame's Mike Rapone, and while Rick is 606 wins short of his brother's legendary accomplishments as a varsity coach, Rick was one of Mike's assistants in the 1980s.

This, however, is his first head coaching job.

"I've always wanted to coach basketball and the opportunity came up and I took a shot and was fortunate enough to get it," said Rapone, a Le Roy resident.

While Rapone is waiting to see how his team responds in game situations, he thinks he's got the athletes ready to have an impact in the Livingston County League.

There's Zach Moore and Steve Cappotelli. Cappotelli he said missed last season because of an injury but will provide a key leadership role on the team.

Kody Lamkin gives the Knights a big man under the boards who will surprise people with his athleticism.

"People are going to see how fast he is for such a big guy, and he has a great shooting touch for a big fellow," Rapone said.

Sophomores Nick Egling and Ethan Witkowski are also expected to be contributors this season.

"The key to the whole thing, though, is our point guard, Mike McMullen," Rapone said. "He's very smart. He's very tuned in to what we're trying to do."

With Notre Dame in the Genesee Region and Le Roy playing in Livington County, and Le Roy in Class B and Notre Dame in Class D, there's no chance -- at least this season -- that the Rapone brothers will see their teams meet in competition.

That may make it a little easier for Mike to share some of his ideas with Rick, which Rick said Mike is very willing to do.

"I'd be a fool not to have learned by watching him coach and win his 600 games," Rick Rapone said. "A lot of the successful things he does, I can guarantee you, that we're going to try our best to pick up on. He's a great man and obviously a very successful basketball guy. I'd be a fool not to get as much information as he's willing to share, and he's willing to share a lot."

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November 21, 2013 - 9:10pm
posted by Andrew Crofts in basketball, GCC, sports.

Ervin Mitchell kept his scoring streak alive on Thursday night by scoring 28 points in a 106-71 win over Houghton JV. The Genesee Community College freshman forward has scored twenty or more points in every game so far this season.

Mitchell extended his streak in the first half alone, scoring 21 of GCC's 64 points in the opening period.

The Cougars held a comfortable 31 point lead at the break, but the Highlanders made a 13-3 run to start the second half and eventually got back to within 19.

After the slow start, Naquil Jones sparked the Cougars, scoring 15 second half points and helped GCC extend its lead back to a wide margin.

Genesee had four players in double-figures, led by Mitchell. Jones finished with 24 points, Alastair Cole added 14 points and Gabriel Burroughs finished with 11. Jason Perry-Murray grabbed 10 rebounds for GCC, which was plus 24 in rebounding.

The Cougars improve to 3-2 this season and will travel to Davis College on Saturday for a 3 p.m. start.

November 20, 2013 - 9:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, elba, high school sports.

Tom Redband is feeling like perhaps the luckiest first-year varsity basketball coach in the State of New York.

He's taking over an established program with a long history of success and is able to call on two coaching mentors who are among the best in the business -- Tom Nowak, his predecessor, and Buddy Brasky, whom he worked for in Batavia prior to moving to Elba to teach business and coach the Lady Lancers.

"It's rare to take over a program like this," Redband said. "You have to get a little lucky. You have to be in the right place at the right time. It has to be good timing and a good fit. And to have them both (Nowak and Brasky) here, where I can call them up, I can go to either of their houses right now and watch film, it's just a tremendous resource to have."

Redband was a special education aide in Batavia and coached seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders and assisted with the basketball program before he was offered the job in Elba. Redband is also the older brother of Jeff Redband, the junior forward for Batavia High School who sunk that all-important buzzer beater in last year's regional championship game.

Under Nowak, the Lady Lancers won eight section titles and a state title and was ranked among the top 10 Class D programs in the state each of the past eight years (the furthest the records go back). 

Rather than feeling intimidated to step into such big shoes, Redband is feeling excited and fortunate.

"There's so much passion for basketball here," Redband said. "The girls love it. There's a system all set up. There's a ton of postives. There's a youth program. Having him (Nowak) as a resource is amazing. He wants to spread his knowledge to anybody who wants to listen."

In many ways, Redband doesn't see much changing. He shares the philopsphy of Nowak and Braksy, that building winning varsity teams begins with players in the third grade.

"You don't just hope the girls come to high school ready to play," Redband said.

Redband said he will certainly have his own way of doing things, but the core values will remain the same.

"We're blending a lot of what they know," Redband said. "I 'm learning a lot about what they know and then blending in what I know. Hopefully we can get a great fit."

One aspect of the Batavia program Redband is used to is there's almost always some hoops going on somewhere, even in the off season and he will look for an opportunity to get the girls more involved in basketball -- so long as it doesn't interfere with other athletic pursuits -- in the spring, summer and fall.

"That's one thing I learned from Coach Brasky in Batavia," Redband said. "If you want to be good and you want to be good compared to the best, then you've got to put the time in."

How good will Elba be in 2013-14? It's hard to say.

The team graduated five seniors, losing four starters, so it will be a young team. 

"We lost a lot but we still have a lot of talent," Redband said.

The Lady Lancers will be the only Class D team in the Genesee Region, so they will spend most of the regular season playing mostly against larger schools, which makes for a challenging schedule but also preps them for sectionals.

Kelsey Bezon, a starter on the 2012 state champion team, returns as a senior and the point guard.

"We're going to rely heavily on her," Reband said. "That's no secret."

Alex Reigle, Haley Brown, Alyssa Bogue, Bri Pangrazio are also all returning players and Redband said there is a lot of talent in that core group of players.

He praised Reigle, a guard, as smart and strong, a player who loves the game and has a good attitude.

"We're going to be competitive," said Redband, who will be assisted this year by Nathan Shirk. "There's no reason (reaching sectionals) shouldn't be our goal."

Redband also expects the team will benefit from the strong support the Elba community always gives its basketball teams.

"I'd rather coach some place like this where there's an expectation and where people come and they're into it and they watch and it's a community thing rather than some place where it's not that big of deal," Redband said.

Kelsey Bezon

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November 19, 2013 - 9:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, Notre Dame.

It will be impossible in 2014 for the Notre Dame girls basketball team to repeat as Class D state champions.

Section V officials made sure of that.

If the Fighting Irish make it to the post season -- very likely given the fact that all but one top player from last year is returning -- making a deep run in the post season will be difficult.

Again, thanks to Section V officials.

Notre Dame, with only 149 students, has been moved from Class D to Class B2 where eight of the 10 schools in the class have an average of 283 students, and all but Le Roy (283) and Bishop Kearney (216, and last year's Class C state champions) have more than 300 students.

Section V officials moved Notre Dame past Class D1 and three Class C divisions to get the team in with schools nearly twice as big.

"I always thought sports was about the kids, but they're doing what they have to do to make it difficult for the private school and that's just the way it is," Pero said.

Any shot at a State Championship will mean getting past several schools in Class B1 with more than 400 students.

"I'm not crying wolf," Head Coach Dave Pero said. "To me it's not fair, but sometimes life just isn't fair. There's a lot worse things out in life than us going to Class B."

Rather than cry over what he can't change, Pero is doing what good coaches do -- getting his players ready to play, running through offensive and defensive drills, working on conditioning and planning how to use his available resources for the best possible results.

"It is what it is," Pero said. "We're preparing our girls to play and I think they'll handle that, and the chips will fall where they may."

There will be a lot of tools at Pero's disposal: Mel Taylor, the MVP of the state championship game, returns to her play-making guard position; Laurie Call, a Scottish terrier on defense who gets a hold of an opposing player's leg and won't let go; and Burgundy Bartlett, who's quick and strong with three-point range, but is coming off a missed season because of a knee injury.

Then there's Shea Norton, who's grown from last year's 5'10" to 6'1" and added some muscle. The sophomore may be primed for a breakout year. She worked hard on her game over the summer, improving her ball handling and perimeter shooting, making her a threat in the paint and from long range.

"Last year, she was here, but learning," Pero said. "She's improved by leaps and bounds. She's playing the inside, but also making shots outside."

At the post positions, Pero can also look for big contributions from two other tall and strong sophomores, Taylor DiMartino, returning from last year's team, and Becca Krenzer, a transfer from Pavilion. Both are six-footers who can pull down rebounds on both ends of the court.

Also returning are Bailee Welker (who is also made big off season strides, Pero said), Hannah Green, Emily McCracken and Emma Francis, who all made significant contributions during the course of ND's championship run.

"We have 11 players who can contribute, who can come off the bench and I won't feel like we're losing much," Pero said.

That kind of quality player rotation will be important in a season where coaches are expecting refs to call more fouls.

Just like the NCAA, officials have decided the pendulum in basketball has swung too far toward the defense and it's time to let the offense reassert itself. There are no new rules, but rules about hand checking and giving driving shooters space will be more rigorously and consistently enforced.

So far this season in NCAA men's hoops, there have been an average of 10 more fouls called per game. In last Saturday's Niagara and Seton Hall game, there were 72 fouls called and 102 free throws. Men's game scoring has increased to 76 points per team, up from 67.5.

Notre Dame made it through the post season last year in large part because of a never-let-up defensive style that kept opponents off balance and out of sync.

Nobody was more tenacious or aggressive on defense than Call, but after a scrimage yesterday in which the Irish were called for 21 fouls in the first quarter, Pero believes his team learned a valuable lesson, and the lesson wasn't lost on Call.

"She's matured so much and I think her eyes really opened up last night in the second quarter," Pero said. "Even last year through the run, we were worried she was going to get into foul trouble but she changed her game and I think she's mature enough to do that again."

Pero still expects Call to spark the defense.

"If Laurie's on you, you're going to have a lot of problems," Pero said.

Last year Call lead Section V with 120 steals. If she hits that mark again -- and Pero believes she will -- that would put her at 400 career steals, which Pero said would be quite a milestone.

Taylor will also be closing in on a career milestone of 1,000 points scored.

The lone senior to graduate after the state championship was Shea's older sister, Riley Norton. Riley was the team's leading scorer, hitting about 14 points per game, but Pero believes with the improvements in his younger players and the strong rotation he can put on the floor the team can fill the scoring gap.

The Lady Irish will only go as far as the girls are willing to focus and play hard, Pero said, and that's true whether they're in Class D or Class B.

The Genesee Region League -- the majority of ND's regular season opponents -- is comprised mainly of Class C teams. Only Elba -- which won the state championship in 2012 and had a seven-game winning streak against ND snapped in Sectionals last year -- is Class D. The Irish are probably the pre-season favorites to when the GR title.

Which puts them into sectionals, where anything can happen, even when playing bigger schools.

"It's all breaks," Pero said. "When you get into the post season, you've got to catch some breaks and the post season is so far away right now that we want to get through our 18 games and then the post season will be here and we can concentrate on that."

Top photo: Dave Pero.

Mel Taylor

Asst. Coach Dave Pero Jr.

Laurie Call

Bailee Welker

Shea Norton

November 17, 2013 - 12:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, football, sports, elba, high school sports.

In a room filled with friends, fans and supporters last night, former Elba Lady Lancers Head Coach Tom Nowak was all smiles.

"It's really special," Nowak said. "It's a little bit, I don't know, I want to say the word, 'imposing,' because you want to be in the background as a coach. It's difficult when you come out here and you're the person, but it's really nice to see."

Nowak was honored with a retirement party at the Elba Fire Hall that featured a collection of memorabilia and lots of memories from 26 years of serving the community by teaching young people how to compete and win.

In 1977, after two years at Dundee, Nowak joined Elba Central as a history teacher. He also became the varsity football coach and the varsity girls basketball coach.

His football record over 22 years was 130-60-6 with two sectional titles.

Leading the Lady Lancers, Nowak compiled a 457-132 record, eight sectional titles and, most significantly, a state title in 2012.

"Just that one precious one," Nowak said of the state championship. "It was special. We went in 2000 and lost in the finals. I always thought I'd never get a chance to go back and I got a chance to go back and the girls came through."

Teaching and coaching in Elba was a perfect fit, he said.

"I've always considered myself a shallow person," Nowak said. "I like history and I like sports. I first got to be a history teacher at Elba and then I got a chance to coach, so it really worked out well for me."

It takes time and dedication to be a successful varsity coach in any sport, and that means, Nowak acknowledged, that he maybe wasn't home as much as his wife might have liked over the years.

"We're going to do some things for my wife," said Nowak, who retired from teaching in 2009. "She spent so many years staying home on a Friday night watching Dallas and Falcon's Crest while I was out gallivanting around scouting football games. It will be nice to give her the opportunity to do some of the things that maybe we didn't get to do when I was a coach."

With all those wins and all those titles, surely young coaches could learn something from Nowak, and here's his advice:

"Find a mentor," Nowak said. "Find the people who are successes and spend some time and find out why they're successful.You will see something you can incorporate into your own plan. That's something I did. I looked at some role models because as a young coach you really don't know what to do and that was really beneficial to me."

November 14, 2013 - 9:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, sports, high school sports.

In recent years, even on the first day of practice, Buddy Brasky said he was eager for go-time. He thought his teams were ready for their first regular season game.

This year, with six seniors graduating and a roster stocked with sophomores and juniors, it's going to take a little time to get the team into championship form.

"We've got to get better throughout the year," Brasky said following a practice at Batavia High School today. "We get a little bit better, a little better, a little bit better, and hopefully we peak by the end of the year. Where in the past couple of years we've been really good right from the beginning, I think it's going to take a little while this year."

The core of the starting squad appears to be Justice Fagan, a senior guard, and Jeff Redband, a junior forward whose clutch buzzer beater in last year's regional championship helped send the Blue Devils to the state championship semi-finals.

"We've got two really good players, two first-team, all-league type of players," Brasky said. "If we can get the guys around them to step up, yes, we can win the league title and then the next step from there is sectionals."

It's a little bit of a setback, Brasky said, that Redband is sitting out pre-season wth an injured ankle. He's already been sidelined for three weeks and is at least two weeks away from returning for action. He may not be ready for the opening tip-off.

Also missing a big chunk of practice time is starting senior guard Andrew Turner, who will miss the next 10 days of practice after suffering a mild concussion.

Brasky is also expecting a big contribution from sophomore forward Malachi Chenault, who made the varsity last year as a freshman.

Coming up from JV is that squad's second-leading scorer last year, guard Jerrett Laskett, a junior.

"These are good kids," Brasky said. "They listen. They're coachable. Our schemes are pretty complicated. Our defenses are not easy to pick up, so little by little, I see improvement every day. I'm pretty pleased with how they're working right now."

The Blue Devils, in Class A-II this year, opens the season Dec. 7 against Williamsville South at Niagara Falls HS. There are no home games scheduled before the Lions Tournament, Dec. 27 and Dec. 30 at Genesee Community College.

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November 13, 2013 - 10:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, Notre Dame.

In the late 1960s, when David Pero played boys basketball for Notre Dame, one of the schools annual opponents that always presented a challenge was St. Mary's School for the Deaf out of Buffalo.

The boys played hard and and ran their plays with no verbal communication.

It was quite an experience, as Pero remembered it. As the girls basketball coach at Notre Dame, Pero thought his team should share the same experience.

"This is a life lesson," Pero said. "Our girls get a chance to see that people with disabilities might play the game differently, but it's the same game and they're just as aggressive as we are."

Notre Dame hosted a pre-season scrimmage tonight with St. Mary's, the Rochester School for the Deaf and Geneseo High School participating.

"We thought it would be a great experience for our kids, our girls, to have a scrimmage with hearing teams and with another deaf team," said Tim Kelly, St. Mary's superintendent. "All four schools are getting a great experience playing against schools they wouldn't necessarily play against."

Notre Dame and St. Mary's haven't played competitively against each other in years, since both left the Smith League. The Fighting Irish are now part of Section V and the Genesee Region. St. Mary's and Rochester School for the Deaf are independent teams.

"They were always, always a good basketball team," Pero said. "They would give you all you wanted. We probably only ever beat them, all the years we played them, by three, four, five points, because they always had very good teams."

The scrimmage was a great chance for the teams to learn from each other and about each other, Kelly said.

"We're always looking at our school to have our kids reach their full potential both academically and athletically and this certainly helps our girls reach their full potential," Kelly said.

The scrimmage was sponsored by T.F. Brown's owner Rick Mancuso.

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November 12, 2013 - 10:39pm
posted by Andrew Crofts in basketball, GCC, sports.

Shanell Glover helped pace the Genesee Community College women's basketball team to its first win of the season on Tuesday night, compiling a performance of 31 points and 15 rebounds in a 72-65 win over visiting Lakeland Community College.

GCC (1-4) got off to a fast start thanks to 20 first half points from Glover.

Dashawna Jenifer recorded her third double-double of the season, finishing with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Genesee grabbed a total of 57 rebounds on the night and took advantage with 28 second chance points.

The Lady Cougars took a four-point lead into halftime and used 11 points off the bench in the second half to hold off Lakeland.

Breana Gleaton added eight points and Markina Robinson chipped in six points.

Genesee will return to action on November 23rd when it travels to Davis College.




The Genesee Community College men's basketball team could not hold on to a late lead against #17 Lakeland Community College on Tuesday night, and dropped its home opener of the 2013-14 season, 90-84. 

Lakeland led the majority of the first half, shooting 60% from three-point range. The Cougars battled and stayed in the game by shooting 50% from the field in the opening period.

The Cougars took a 79-76 lead with four-minutes remaining in the game when Alastair Cole hit his fourth three-point basket of the night. Lakeland responded and with under a minute to play, broke an 82-82 tie with a layup and a chance at a three-point play. The Lakers could not capitalize with the free-throw.

Trailing by two with 40-seconds remaining, the Cougars forced a five-second violation on a Lakeland inbound attempt, but could not capitalize and were forced to put the Lakers at the line the remainder of the game.

Ervin Mitchell scored a game-high 26 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Cole finished with 23 points, Naquil Jones added 19 points and five rebounds and Gabriel Burroughs scored ten points.

Genesee (1-2) will return to action on Saturday against St. John Fisher (JV) at home at 12 p.m.


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