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January 26, 2009 - 7:20pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, sports, Notre Dame, prattsburgh.

Saturday was quite an experience for me.

I've taken a bus ride with the Batavia basketball team before, but this one with Notre Dame was completely different and was a ton of fun, even though the team lost to Prattsburgh 70-64.

I live less than 10 minutes walking from Notre Dame, so I decided to walk to the school. As soon as I got in the building, coach Mike Rapone was doing a walk-through with his squad.

Prattsburgh and Notre Dame make trips each year to play together and their home courts and it is always a great game, with the home team usually winning.

We then got on the bus and it took exactly two hours to get to Prattsburgh, which is a great town that is old time. The buildings on the main street are from the way-back and the people there are just good folks.

The ride there was a lot of fun.

The kids from Notre Dame know how to bust each other's chops. There was the ribbing of Tommy Rapone on his Pokeman fetish, the gum wrapper belt put on Rick Lair when he fell asleep and just a lot of goofing off.

But when the Fighting Irish arrived at Prattsburgh, it was all business. I had some business to attend to, visiting friends from Notre Dame and Section 5 Talksback that made the trip.

I watched the jayvee game with the varsity squad for the third quarter, then midway through the fourth I went down with coach Rapone to hear his pregame speech. 

Rapone is not a yeller and not a big ra-ra coach. He's one of those guys that has been around long enough to know everything the other team is going to do and he ran through it with his kids. He knew what players on the Vikings did and what to do if they pressed or went box-and-1 on Kevin Francis.

Notre Dame jumped out to a quick 15-6 lead  in the first quarter. But Francis picked up his second foul and had to sit down, and that's when the flow of the game changed. Prattsburgh took advantage of arguably the Genesee Region League's best player being on the bench and wound up leading 34-27 at the half.

There was nobody on ND that could rebound in the second half and Prattsburgh was dropping 3-pointers like crazy. Patrick Wightman scored 21 points and hit five 3-pointers and Ryan Caron scored a game-high 29 points.

The crowd was totally into the game, with fans from both sides cheering when big things happened.

When the game ended and Notre Dame took it on the chin, Rapone gave his post game speech and basically told his team what they did wrong and hopes that they learn from the mistakes made in this game and become a better team from the loss.

Then the two teams, coaching staffs and all of the media and some locals that were there got together to enjoy pizza, subs and cookies together. It is a tradition that when the two teams play that they get together afterwards and enjoy and meal.

This is not done with any other rivalries as far as I know. Very cool.

As we loaded the bus to go home, I was expecting a depressing ride and kids sleeping. Yes, some were depressed and yes some slept, but it wound up being as much fun as the two hour ride there.

It started with Greg Barr leading a chorus singing songs from cartoon movies of the past. I could not stop laughing. 

Then those that were not sleeping, gathered around my seat to talk and hang out. The conversation was good and everybody got a preview of the video, seeing the footage I took on the bus ride up.

There is a sad point that I must end on. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association is attempting to cut the amount of games that a team can play in a season.

That would mean Notre Dame would play it's regular season games and then have three open slots. They aren't going to back out of the Lions Club tournament, which only allows them to play one extra non-league game. This very well might be the end of a great rivalry and tradition that has lasted for many years. Rapone and Prattsburgh coach Jim Burke are both over 500 career wins and good friends.

The kids enjoy playing each other and making the long trips.

But it looks like a great tradition is over.

January 25, 2009 - 6:37am
posted by Brian Hillabush in basketball, sports, Notre Dame, prattsburgh.

 Notre Dame jumped out to a 15-6 lead to start the game.

As strange as this sounds, that might have been a bad thing. The Fighting Irish started relaxing and couldn't grab a rebound and Prattsburgh was getting all the boards and hitting a lot of shots and came away with a 70-64 win.

The Vikings won by six points, but the game was far from that close.

After the Irish opened the 9-point lead to start the game, star guard Kevin Francis got into foul trouble and sat for a good portion of the second quarter.

That was when Prattsburgh took over.

Notre Dame led 21-12 at the end of the first, but wound up trailing 34-27 at halftime.

Ryan Caron may have played the game of his life for the Vikings, with 29 points. He scored seven of those points in the second period as Prattsburgh dominated.

Patrick Wightman hit two 3-pointers and had another basket in the frame. Wightman finished with 21 points, including five 3-pointers.

It looked good for Notre Dame as Francis opened up the third quarter with a basket and-1.

But again, Prattsburgh took over with Garrett Parker scoring twice, Wightman dropping and 3-pointer and Caron adding a bucket to give the Vikings a 47-35 advantage.

Kevin Schildwaster hit two 3-pointers and another basket in the third quarter to keep the Fighting Irish within striking distance, but the third quarter ended with Prattsburgh leading 58-49.

That lead was expanded to 68-54 as Caron had two free throws, and three baskets in a quick stretch.

Notre Dame made a late charge with Vinny Zambito hitting a long 2-pointer and Nick Bochiccho draining a trey, but the game wound up being a blowout.

Garrett Parker scored eight of his points in the second half for Prattsburgh while Schildwaster added 13 points to Francis' 18 and Tommy Rapone scored eight points, all in the first half.

 Prattsburgh (12-3) is currently ranked third in Class D2  in the Section 5 sectional bracket, while ND is 10-2 and the top ranked in D1.

With the NYSPHSAA looking force teams to drop two games in the season, means this might be the end of the great rivalry.

Notre Dame will only have three non-league games, and two of those will be in the Lions Club Tournament, leaving just one open slot.

 

December 22, 2008 - 2:47pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports, Notre Dame, prattsburgh.

 Channel 13 has an excellent video talking about coaches Jim Burke of Prattsburgh and Mike Rapone of Notre Dame.

The two matched up against each other on Saturday, and we had some pretty solid coverage on The Batavian.

I would recommend checking out the two videos at the end of my post because I have the complete pregame presentation and interviews with both coaches about the great rivalry.

But if you are interested in this topic, make sure you check this story out. 

Another cool angle to this piece is that the anchor is Chuck Wade, who is the son of Batavia girls basketball coach Bill Wade and a Notre Dame grad.

 

December 20, 2008 - 9:52pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in batavia, basketball, sports, Notre Dame, prattsburgh.

 

It was the first time in the history of New York State basketball that two coaches with over 500 career victories guided teams against each other.

Notre Dame's Mike Rapone earned career victory 513 while Prattsburgh's Jim Burke was held at 502 as the Fighting Irish picked up a 60-53 win.

The evening started off with Notre Dame's court being dedicated to Rapone and girls volleyball coach Rhonda DiCasolo. Rapone followed it by presenting Burke with a plaque in honor of his 500th victory, which happened in Prattsburgh's first game of the season.

Then, the teams that play a pair of non league games with each other every year, took the court. The Fighting Irish took an early lead.

Kevin Francis had a steal and basket, Tommy Rapone had a basket with an and-1 and Kevin Schildwaster scored to give ND a quick 7-0 lead.

But Francis picked up a second foul midway through the first quarter and had to go to the bench, which allowed the Vikings to creep back in the game.

Ryan Caron scored nine points in a three minute stretch, with the only Fighting Irish basket coming on a 3-pointer by Matt Thompson.

Brandon Bulley scored the final basket of the opening period and Notre Dame had a very slim 18-16 lead.

Prattsburgh took the lead right away when Patrick Wightman drained a 3-pointer to open the second period.

It was back-and-forth for the second quarter until the end when Francis, Nick Wetherwax and Schildwaster had baskets to give the Fighting Irish a 32-28 halftime lead.

Notre Dame opened up a 12-point lead when Vinny Zambito and Thompson hit consecutive 3-pointers, but the third quarter ended with ND leading 51-41.

The fourth quarter was a series of free throw attempts that dragged on, but Notre Dame held on for the win and improves to 4-0.

Francis had 18 points with 10 assists and Thompson hit four 3-pointers to score 14 points.

Rapone and Zambito had eight points each.

Caron had 18 points and Garrett Parker added 17 for Prattsburgh (4-3).

 

 

 

VIDEO + INTERVIEWS FROM THE GAME

 

GREAT VIDEO OF THE COURT PRESENTATION AND RAPONE HONORING BURKE

 

November 12, 2008 - 7:48pm
posted by Brian Hillabush in basketball, sports, Notre Dame, prattsburgh.

Notre Dame boys basketball coach Mike Rapone and Prattsburgh coach Jim Burke have had some great battles over the years. Burke won a regular season contest between the two squads last season, making Rapone wait another game before getting his 500th career victory as a boys basketball coach.

Rapone beat Burke to the 500-win plateau as Burke is still sitting at 499 career victories heading into this season. But Burke beat Rapone to the Section 5 Hall of Fame and will be inducted on Saturday at the Clarion Riverside Hotel in Rochester.

Burke's daughter, Jamie, will also be inducted at the ceremony as well as NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, who is a Brockport native.

Here is the description given on Burke at the Section 5 Web site.

.. This coaching icon has been a model of success in both boy’s and girl’s basketball. Jim has amassed 676 wins (499 boys, 177 girls) and has directed Prattsbugh Central to 6 Boys and 4 Girls Section V titles. His 1991 Boys team netted the NY State championship with an unblemished 29-0 record. He was honored by the Rochester D&C in 1991 as their AGR “Coach of the Year.” Coach Burke is also a member of the New York State Basketball Coaches and Wayland-Cohocton Halls of Fame.

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