Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Opening Round of Sectionals Are Over..What Now?

We have survived the first two days of the Section II basketball tournament! Congratulations everyone!

Let's all take a moment to metaphorically pat each other on the back. Now, that we've gotten past that, let's acknowledge that these past two days were perhaps some of the most exciting, upset-inducing and dramatic games that we've seen all year, let alone in the postseason. 

So with quarterfinals on the schedule over the course of the next three days, it seems like a good chance to see where we all stand heading into the weekend. Under the cut, I broke down all five classes on both the girls and boys side with up-to-date schedules and matchups as well. 

I'll be at games every day for the next three days, accepting iced caramel latee donations on the sidelines at HVCC. 'Tis the season, right?
Boys Basketball
Class AA 
Quarterfinals at Hudson Valley Community College, Saturday Feb. 22
2:30 - CBA vs. Guilderland; 4:15 - Shaker vs. Green Tech; 6:00 - Columbia vs. Niskayuna; 7:45 - Saratoga vs. Shen
It was the upset heard 'round the Section II basketball world. After leading by 12 at halftime, No. 8 Niskayuna held on to beat top-seeded, and state ranked, Catholic Central 59-57. The Crusaders loss was a heartbreaking finish to an otherwise dominant season that included the first Big 10 championship since 1982 and a total resurgence of the program. But while the CCHS loss was certainly unexpected, it also opens up the Class AA tournament. Shenendehowa, the top seed out of the Suburban, now seems like the team to beat here. The Plainsmen were the hottest team coming into the tournament and an 80-45 victory over Bishop Maginn just kept that streak alive. It's also interesting to note that CBA is the only true Big 10 team to make it through the first round. There has NEVER been a Suburban Class AA champion and the last time a Suburban team did win the large school tournament was in 2000 when Colonie won Class A. Now, while the Brothers may be sitting on a bit of a Big 10 island, it's important that we don't count them out of this quite yet. No one has seemed to find a defensive answer for Greig Stire yet and if CBA can get some offensive production out of its backcourt, they could be a force. This is an experienced team and if they find their footing, they could be back in the championship. 
Class A
Quarterfinals at Hudson Valley Community College, Sunday Feb. 23
1:00 - Averill Park vs. Amsterdam; 2:30 - Queensbury vs. Gloversville; 4:00 - Mohonasen vs. Troy; 5:30 - Lansingburgh vs. Scotia
The thing that's interesting about Class A is that the top seeds in this tournament never actually get a home game. They've also been on a week and a half break since the last time they played. That forces teams to change their approach a little bit, if only to keep the teams focused during practice. Now, does that change the favorites in this tournament? No. The odds are still pretty good that we'll see Scotia and Troy duking it out in Glens Falls on March 1st, but it is something to think about. 
Class B
Quarterfinals at Hudson Valley Community College & Shenendehowa HS, Friday Feb. 21
5:00, Shen - Broadalbin-Perth vs. Hudson; 6:30, Shen - Schalmont vs. Hoosick Falls; 6:30, HVCC - Mekeel Christian vs. Mechanicville; 8:00, HVCC - Voorheesville vs. Catskill
This was another upset bracket on Tuesday night after No. 14 Hudson sank a last-second three to top No. 3 Cohoes, a team that was actually one of the favorites to win the whole tournament. That doesn't change the top two seeds of course and No. 1 Voorheesville and No. 2 Hoosick Falls are still the best bets as far as teams primed for a championship. That being said, Hoosick Falls may have a bit of a bigger challenge on Friday night against No. 10 Schalmont. The Sabres don't boast the best seed, but they held their own during the regular season against a tough Colonial Council schedule and they've got five different players in triple digit scoring this year. The Panthers are going to need another strong and evenly balanced showing to punch a ticket to semis; luckily that's been their m.o. all season. Also, keep an eye out for the No. 4 Mekeel Christian vs. No. 5 Mechanicville game. It's an evenly matched game as far as quarterfinals go and it pairs up two of the top scorers in the area in Logan Polsinello and Mano Senthil. Also, a possible Mechanicville-Voorheesville semi could be a lot of fun. 
Class C
Quarterfinals at Hudson Valley Community College & Shenendehowa HS, Friday Feb. 21 & Saturday Feb. 22
Friday: 5:00, HVCC - Canajoharie vs. Hoosic Valley; 8:00, Shen - Greenwich vs. Waterford. 
Saturday: 11 a.m., HVCC - Rensselaer vs. Saratoga Catholic; 12:45 - Maple Hill vs. Lake George
It may not be a major issue for No. 2 Lake George, but it's important to note that the team's second-leading scorer Andrew Zibro had to leave Wednesday night's game with an arm injury after a flagrant foul. That could be totally nothing and Zibro could very well be back on the court on Saturday afternoon. But if he's out, the dynamic of the Warriors team could change and that could make things interesting down the line. Granted Joel Wincowski is still Joel Wincowski, but it's something to keep in the back of our collective minds. On the other side of the bracket, watch out for the No. 5 Waterford-No. 4 Greenwich game at Shen. It may not seem like it, but these teams match pretty well. Also, seeing the Witches in the semis was exactly what No. 1 Hoosic Valley was hoping wouldn't happen. 
Class D
Quarterfinals at Stillwater HS, Saturday Feb. 22
1:00 - North Warren vs. Fort Ann; 2:30 - St. Johnsville vs. Hartford; 4:30 - Salem vs. Germantown; 6:00 - Northville vs. Argyle
No. 10 Salem's 70-54 victory over No. 7 Heatly was a bit of a surprise on Tuesday night. The Generals had only put up 70+ points three times this season and were very much on the road in the opening round matchup. Now, Salem gets a second-straight CVHL team in the No. 2 Germantown squad. As we've said all season though, the team to beat is Argyle and the three-point shot of Joey Lufkin. The state-ranked Scots take on No. 9 Northville. 

Girls Basketball
Class AA
Quarterfinals at Shaker HS & Albany HS, Friday Feb. 21
Shaker: 6:00 - Shenendehowa vs. Catholic Central; 7:30 - Guilderland vs. Shaker
Albany: 6:00 - Niskayuna vs. Bethlehem; 7:30 - Columbia vs. Albany
Shen and Catholic Central might be one of the best and most interesting games on the docket for Friday night. The Crusaders have been playing their best basketball of the year over the past few weeks, while Shen is looking to bounce back after a tough loss to Shaker in the final regular season game. Even though both teams wrapped up league play with a loss, give a bit of the edge to CCHS. The Crusaders are a determined bunch and they're starting to get production from the entire lineup. It's been said before and it will probably be said again, but No. 2 Bethlehem is not a team to forget about this postsesaon. Watch out for the Eagles against No. 8 Niskayuna tonight and prepare for some serious excitement if we get an Albany-Bethlehem rematch in next week's semi. 
Class A
Quarterfinals at Averill Park HS & Troy HS, Saturday Feb. 22
Averill Park: 6:00 - Glens Falls vs. Holy Names; 7:30 - South Glens Falls vs. Averill Park
Troy: 6:00 - Scotia vs. Queensbury; 7:30 - Amsterdam vs. Troy
It's interesting to note that both of the games at Troy High are between league opponents. Generally in postseason competition, brackets are designed to prevent that, but sometimes in a class as small as the A's, it's unavoidable. That being said,  both Queensbury and Troy swept their upcoming opponents twice during the regular season and while they say it's impossible to beat a team three times in a single season, odds are pretty good it's going to happen. On the flip side of the bracket, expect a Holy Names-Averill Park semifinal. 
Class B
Quarterfinals at Tamarac HS & Watervliet HS, Saturday Feb. 22
Tamarac: 6:00 - Fonda vs. Schalmont; Mechanicville vs. Tamarac
Watervliet: 6:00 - Johnstown vs. Hoosick Falls; Ichabod Crane vs. Watervliet
The No. 3 Johnstown vs. No. 6 Hoosick Falls game is going to be a fun one. The Panthers may have been seeded a little lower than expected after some late-season bumps in the Wasaren but that tough league competition has left the team focused and aggressive. Of course, that's not to say that Johnstown doesn't face aggressive competition in the Foothills, but Hoosick Falls has been through the metaphorical war this year and they're an experienced squad with a handful of offensive threats. On the other side of the bracket, Jenna Erickson just simply continues to be Jenna Erickson. The Tamarac senior passed 1,500 career points and 400 points this season in Wednesday's victory over Bishop Gibbons. If she can keep doing that, she'll have Tamarac in the championship game this postseason.
Class C
Quarterfinals at Hoosic Valley HS & Maple Hill HS, Friday Feb. 21
Hoosic Valley: 6:00 - Lake George vs. Middleburgh; 7:30 - Canajoharie vs. Hoosic Valley
Maple Hill: 6:00 - Mayfield vs. Greenwich; 7:30 - Fort Plain vs. Maple Hill
Hoosic Valley was the only team in the bracket to earn a first round bye, so the Indians haven't played an actual basketball game since February 7th. That's three weeks of practice. If the Valley wants to advance, and they should advance, then the team is going to have to come out of the metaphorical gate early and get back into the rhythm of the game as quickly as possible. On the other side, No. 11 Mayfield took down high-scoring Waterford with a slim victory on Tuesday night, but it's going to be tough for the squad to shut down Greenwich's Alex Case. The Witches guard is still second among all Section II scorers, averaging 22.1 points per game and if she gets into a rhythm, watch out.
Class D
Quarterfinals at Fort Edward HS & Fort Ann HS, Friday Feb. 21
Fort Edward: 6:00 - Argyle vs. Heatly; 7:30 - Germantown vs. Fort Edward
Fort Ann: 6:00 - Hartford vs. Warrensburg; 7:30 - North Warren vs. Fort Ann
Watch out for Heatly in this tournament. Now, the No. 4 Hornets are not the favorites to win a championship, but there's no reason to expect that they can't make some noise while they're here. Heatly topped No. 13 Salem 74-34 on Tuesday night and Cayla Heffern's jumpshot is among the most underrated in the area. If Heatly wins on Friday and potentially meets top-seeded Fort Edward in next week's semi, things could get fun. 


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