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Monday, January 20, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Photos: Opening of MLK Day hoops showcase at BHS

post by Howard Owens in sports

Hoops fans can get their fill at Batavia High School this afternoon and evening with both the boys and the girls varsity teams, as well as the JV teams, competing today.

Right now, the girls teams are playing Greece Odyssey and the boys teams play East Aurora at 5:45 p.m.

The unique double-header is billed as the Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Showcase and it's a first-time event for BHS, but Athletic Director Mike Bromley said he hopes it will become an annual event.

Monday, January 20, 2014 at 10:28 am

Local rugby club celebrates 40th anniversary

post by Howard Owens in rugby, sports

The Genesee Creamers Rugby Football Club celebrated its 40th anniversary over the weekend with a banquet attended by about 70 players and guests.

The club was founded in Batavia in 1970 and plays teams from all over WNY and Canada as well as the rest of the U.S.

Honored at the event were two 40-year members, Dominic Lovria, and ‘Tin Cup’ Teddy Anderson.

The dinner was attended by members of U.S. Rugby, including CEO Mark Griffin, who was the guest speaker.

Attendees also donated 40 jars of peanut butter and jelly to the Salvation Army.

Photo submitted by Mark Kielbasa.

Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 11:43 am

A tough month for Notre Dame improved by victory over Blue Devils

The month of January has been a nightmare for the Notre Dame Hockey Team, but yesterday afternoon it may have woken up as the players defeated Batavia/Alexander, 2-1.

The Fighting Irish came into the contest just 1-4 this month, and had lost four straight by a combined score of 28 to 4. But, the win against crosstown rival Batavia/Alexander is a step in the right direction.

“We’ve been struggling recently,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Marc Staley. “We had two good practices getting prepared for this. We felt that we had hit rock bottom and the good thing about rock bottom is that you’re done falling. We thought we would come out and play a good game tonight.”

Notre Dame came out fast in the first period, controlling play for the majority of the period before Spencer Misiak pounced on a loose puck and put it by Blue Devil goaltender James Cryer 7:25 into the game.

“We wanted to focus on puck possession,” Staley said. “I thought we did a great job of that in the first period. We wanted to wear their defense down. The more we kept the puck down low, the more we can keep it out off of the stick of guys like Rich Francis.”

Just like the Irish did to start the game, Batavia/Alexander came out fast in the second period and their leading scorer, Francis, was able to get loose.

Francis picked up a nice pass from Julien Schimley and deked out goaltender Tyler Stroud for his 10th goal of the season.

“I think we had a little letdown in the second period,” Staley said. “But we also had three penalties called against us in the period, so that took a little steam out of us. We got focused again after the second period and righted the ship.”

The Irish would strike again on what would be the game-winner as Kevin Moscicki blasted a shot from the point that got through less than two minutes into the third period.

The Notre Dame defense did the rest of the work as Stroud stood tall in goal, making 19 saves on the night.

“Moscicki did a great job just getting it through to the net,” Staley said. “This game against Batavia is always that way. It’s one bounce or another and it ended up bouncing our way tonight.”

Cryer faced a barrage of shots all night, stopping 32 of 34 shots on the night for Batavia/Alexander (4-9-0).

“A win is always important,” Staley said. “We needed a win at this time of the year just to lift the spirits in the locker room.”

Notre Dame improves to 5-9-1.

Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 11:12 am

Greece Arcadia out-muscles Batavia

They say you can’t teach size, and that was evident as Greece Arcadia out-muscled Batavia en route to a 61-56 win in Monroe County League play.

The Blue Devils got off to a slow start in the first quarter, as the Titans imposed their will inside and raced out to a 20-7 lead after the first frame.

“[Arcadia] is a physically tough team,” said Batavia Head Coach Buddy Brasky. “They’re the most talented team in the division. But, I was disappointed with our lack of toughness to start. We’re not big, we’re not strong, but we’re usually pretty scrappy. For some reason we didn’t bring that toughness to start the first quarter.”

Batavia scrapped their way back throughout the game, cutting the lead to as few as six in the second half after switching defenses and getting back-to-back three-pointers from Jerrett Laskett.

“I thought their size was hurting us in man-to-man,” Brasky said. “We switch on screens and we got some bad mismatches. We were hoping that the zone would get them a little more stationary. I thought it worked well, it helped get us back in the game.”

The leading scorers for the Blue Devils, Jeff Redband and Justice Fagan, struggled to find room to breathe all night and were smothered by the Arcadia defense.

Laskett stepped up in the second half while the defense was keyed in on Redband and Fagan. The junior reserve knocked down three three-point field goals in the second half and finished with 14 points.

“Everybody is taking Redband and Justice out of the game,” Brasky said. “Until someone else starts scoring consistently, it’s going to be difficult to be good teams. The tough thing is, the guys we’re asking to score are young guys.”

The Blue Devils, however, struggled all night to find an answer for Arcadia’s big men.

6-foot-6 senior Josh McFarland dominated inside all night, scoring 15 points, pulling 18 rebounds, blocking two shots and making two steals.

Jimmie Eddington, a 6-foot-5 senior, chipped in 14 points and grabbed five rebounds for Arcadia (7-4).

Fagan finished with a team-high 15 points, while Redband chipped in with 14, and Malachi Chenault added 11 points and eight rebounds for Batavia (7-4).

Top Photo: Jeff Redband attracted a crowd everywhere he went last night. A foul was called on the defense.

Photos by Howard Owens.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Jeff Redband, again in a sea of maroon jerseys.

Jerrett Laskett driving for the basket.

Greg Mruczek awaits a rebound opportunity during a free-throw attempt.

Jerrett Laskett scores on a layup in the fourth quarter.

Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

Notre Dame comes out on top in tough, physical game with Batavia in Rotary Tournament

post by Nick Sabato in sports

If you saw last year’s Rotary Club Tournament final between Batavia and Notre Dame, you would expect a similar tough, hard-fought matchup between two of the top teams in the area.

After winning a close game last year, Notre Dame edged Batavia to repeat as Rotary Tournament Champions, 44-39.

The Blue Devils were unsure if they would have the services of leading scorer Tiara Filbert after she sat out the last contest with an injury, but she was active and made an impact on the game.

The sophomore put in a game-high 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a losing effort, but it was another Batavia sophomore the Lady Irish keyed in on.

After averaging nine points per game on the season, Madison McCulley, the Blue Devils’ top outside shooter was shutout on the night by Tournament MVP Laurie Call.

Batavia Head Coach Marty Hein attempted to do whatever he could to free up McCulley, who is also the point guard, by allowing other players to handle the ball.

“They put Call on her, and she is a ball-hawk,” Hein said. “We have three girls who can handle the ball, so we just let Essence [Williams] and Tiara [Filbert] bring the ball up.”

Call finished with nine points and seven steals on the night, including four points in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer to put the Irish ahead 37-32.

“I had tears in my eyes, I was so happy for her,” said Dave Pero, head coach for Notre Dame. “Every team needs a Laurie Call, and every team would be happy to have her.”

Mel Taylor, who was knocked out of the game briefly in the first quarter when she hit the floor hard causing a cut on her chin, made a lay-up to give the Lady Irish a 33-32 lead that they would never relinquish.

Call would score the next four points in the contest to extend the Notre Dame lead, cementing her MVP performance.

“They aren’t the defending state champions for nothing,” Hein said. “It would have been nice to beat Notre Dame, not just for the community but because they are a good team. They have great girls and there isn’t a bad one among them.”

Essence Williams scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Sam Cecere pitched in nine points and 13 rebounds as both were named to the all-tournament team for Batavia (7-2).

Taylor scored a team-high 12 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Shea Norton scored eight points and pulled down 16 rebounds as they also earned all-tournament team honors.

Notre Dame improves to 9-0 on the season.

Top photo: Laurie Call takes it on the chin as she collides with Essence Williams while going in for a lay-up.

Laurie Call brings the ball down court, defended by Liz Myers.

Mel Taylor

Essence Williams

Tiara Filbert and Emma Francis battle as Filbert goes in for a shot.

The Notre Dame team with their tournament trophy.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 11:18 am

Blue Devils overcome flat fourth quarter to snag 57-55 win

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

To purchase prints, click here.

Friday, January 10, 2014 at 10:44 am

Batavia, Notre Dame to meet for Rotary Tournament Crown

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.

To purchase prints, click here.

Friday, January 3, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Hockey team sponsored by city firefighters wins tournament

post by Howard Owens in batavia, sports, youth sports

The Batavia Mites Firland Flyers Hockey Club played in a three-day tournament in Greece recently and went undefeated to win the team's division. The Flyers participation in the tournament was only possible because of a generous donation by the City of Batavia Professional Firefighters Association. To show their appreciation, the Flyers and their coaches wanted to pose for a picture with members of the firefighters association.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 11:28 am

Batavia edges Notre Dame in defensive struggle to win Lions Club Tourney

post by Nick Sabato in sports

Many coaches will say that the key to winning is defense, and that’s exactly what propelled Batavia to their eighth consecutive Lions Club Tournament championship, 46-36.

The game featured two of the top players in the area -- Batavia junior Jeff Redband and Notre Dame senior Tim McCulley, and both squads dug deep into their bag of tricks to stop them.

The Blue Devils guarded McCulley tight all night, making it a point of emphasis to deny him an easy catch on a pass and forcing other players to make plays.

“Our defense was very solid,” said Batavia Head Coach Buddy Brasky. “I thought we did a really good job on McCulley for most of the game, so I was happy with our defense.”

Batavia’s defense enabled them to jump out to a 17-6 lead after the first quarter, helped out by 10 points from Redband.

Notre Dame would then switch from a 2-3 zone to a box-and-one to attempt to slow down Redband’s scoring prowess.

“We weren’t finding [Redband] in the zone like we had practiced,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Rapone. “So we switched and I think it worked pretty well for the most part.”

The Irish managed to hold the Blue Devils to just 27 points in the first half, but they were unable to find their own shooting touch and trailed 15 at the break.

“Our defense wasn’t the problem,” Rapone said. “When you hold a team to 46 points, you should probably win the game.”

The Blue Devils began to show some fatigue late in the fourth quarter, and Notre Dame got two big baskets from McCulley and Covel to cut the lead to 11, but Batavia found a way to put points on the board.

The Blue Devils got a three-pointer from Jerrett Laskett and tournament MVP Justice Fagan scored two of his 12 points to push the lead back to 16 at the end of the frame.

“Justice [Fagan] and Jeff [Redband] are our two best players and we depend on them for a lot of things,” Brasky said. “They don’t come out of the game very often, and that shows late in games. I can’t take Justice or Jeff out and fatigue sets in.”

Redband finished the game with a game-high 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Blue Devils, who improve to 5-2, and have won four straight.

Despite the strong defensive effort from Batavia, McCulley still had a strong outing, scoring 18 points, grabbing six rebounds and blocking four shots.

“Tim is a very good player and he worked hard for every single one of his points,” Rapone said. “Covel and [Josh] Johnson started to hit some shots in the second half, but we need other guys to step up.”

Covel pitched in nine points and five rebounds, while Johnson scored eight points and played well defensively while shadowing Redband all night.

Notre Dame falls to 5-2 on the season.

Top photo: Jeff Redband drives for a layup trailed by Tim McCulley.

Malachi Chenault scores for Batavia during first period.

Josh Johnson

McCulley blocks a shot.

Lions club member Bill Hayes hands out the game's MVP trophy to Justice Fagan. Members said the Lions Club is grateful to Bill Hayes and his company, Turnbull Heating & Air Conditioning, for being a major sponsor of the tournament.

Cousins Josh Johnson and Justice Fagan played against each other for the first and last time of their high school basketball careers. Fagan was the tournament's MVP.

To purchase prints of photos, click here.

Photos by Howard Owens

Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Sisters will be rivals Monday when their schools, Batavia and Notre Dame, meet in championship game

post by Howard Owens in batavia, cheerleading, high school sports, sports

The DellaPenna family is pretty certain this has never happened before in the history of Batavia basketball: Two sisters, on opposite sides of the court, cheering for their respective teams, when Batavia High School and Notre Dame meet Monday in the championship game of the Lions Club Tournament at GCC. Danielle is a senior at Batavia and Gabrielle is a freshman at ND.

Information and photo submitted by Tim Tucker.

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