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Friday, December 19, 2014 at 12:43 am

Wednesday Night Basketball: Elba and Notre Dame renew rivalry in hardwood battle

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

NOTE: Apologies for not getting this story posted sooner. Since the end of the game last night until tonight, another news story has been our priority.

In the midst of the ruckus in a near-capacity Stan Sherman Gymnasium at Elba Central School on Wednesday night, the Lancers and Fighting Irish put on quite a basketball show.

Passes zipped around the keys, bodies slammed under the boards and fast breaks were launched in transition with the swiftness of an executioner's sword.

In the end, Elba, having spent their all on the hardwood, left the court disappointed, as Notre Dame scored 61 points to their 53.

"It was an entertaining game," said Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Rapone. "Both teams played hard. We both made some bad mistakes. We made some good plays. It was a typical Elba/Notre Dame basketball game. Both teams competed and both teams wanted to win. It had to be a good game for the fans to watch."

It's easy to see the game as an uplifting moment when your team wins, but Elba Head Coach Mark Beehler hardly hid his disappointment at the outcome during a post-game interview.

Elba hasn't beaten its arch-rival since a 2008 sectional playoff.

"That was everything we expect as far as energy and excitement of the game," said Beehler with hardly a trace of energy or excitement in his voice. "Every time we play Notre Dame, it's always a big one."

Elba took a 29-27 lead into the half and the start of the third continued the back-and-forth battle, but as players knocked about for position under Notre Dame's basket midway through the quarter, John Hockmuth was conked in the nose. The game was delayed while officials cleaned blood from the court. Hockmuth was taken to the locker room for treatment and missed the rest of the third and the start of the fourth quarter.

While was out, Notre Dame went on a run. Tyler Prospero scored a pair of threes, Josh Johnson had one and James Farmer had one.

The Irish outscored the Lancers in the third 21-8.

Elba's defense tightened when Hockmuth was back on the court, but couldn't capitalize of a string of Irish possessions that yielded no points.

As the second to last minute wound toward the final minute, the Lancers went on a mini-run, drawing within six points of the lead.

With about a minute left, Notre Dame was called for a backcourt violation. Elba's Richard Flores celebrated a little too exuberantly and was called for a technical foul, his fifth foul of the game.

Rapone said that foul did shift the momentum back to Notre Dame.

"The kids are excited, but they're (the officials) are really strict about taunting now, so you've got to be careful," Rapone said.

Flores (top photo) was a big reason Elba made a game of it. In his first start of the season, he scored eight points and had 10 rebounds.

He plays bigger than his 5' 10" height.

"He hits boards really well," Beehler said. "He's got sticky hands. If he grabs it, he's going to keep it."

In a box-and-one defense, Flores was charged with guarding Notre Dame's hot-shot shooter Josh Johnson. That is what really contributed to Flores fouling out.

"He had a tough task tonight," Beehler said. "He played as hard as anybody out there."

Rebounding was a big part of what kept Elba in the game, Beehler said, that and taking care of the ball, even against Notre Dame's pressure defense.

"Turnover-wise, we only had eight," Beehler said. "That's pretty low for us compared to years past against their press."

Rapone said after the game it's clear his team needs to work on its free throws. The Irish only sank 14 of 33 attempts (43 percent).

For Elba, both Hochmuth and Shane O'Halloran had 14 points. Hochmuth -- nine rebounds. Evan Cole had eight points and 11 rebounds.

For Notre Dame, Johnson had 17 points, C.J. Souzi 10 points and nine rebounds, and Caleb Nellis recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Josh Johnson drives for the basket.

Hochmuth blocks a Casey Midwick shot attempt.

Hochmuth and Nellis battle for position during a free-throw attempt.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 10:46 am

Notre Dame beats Elba in girls basketball, 51-31

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

The score may not reflect it, but the Elba Lady Lancers played an intense, hard-fought game against archrival Notre Dame on Tuesday night.

They came up short, 51-31.

"Elba's very well coached," said Notre Dame Head Coach Dave Pero. "They're hard-nosed girls. They're going to be reckoned with all year. We're fortunate to do what we did."

The Lancers' game plan called for a pressure defense that would attempt to hold the Fighting Irish to 12 points or under per quarter.

All went to plan in the first half. Notre Dame scored only eight in the first quarter (six on a pair of threes from Shea Norton) and 11 in the second quarter.

Unfortunately for Elba, their shots weren't falling either and the Lancers trailed 19-10 at the half.

"I thought we both played good defense in the first half," said Tom Redband, head coach for Elba. "They started to pick it up in the second half and our shots continued not to fall. We had some untimely turnovers and the rest is history."

Pero said his team was pretty hyped up about playing Elba, but they relaxed in the second half and that, along with some adjustments to deal with Elba's press, made the difference.

"The listened to what we needed to do," Pero said. "That's a sign of good quality girls. They'll listen to you when you need to make adjustments." 

Notre Dame features three starters who are all six-feet tall and over. Elba's shooters repeatedly found their shots being knocked down, and rebounds were hard to come by.

"You practice the boxing out and you practice the crashing, but it's hard to simulate the 6-1, 6-2," Redband said. "They get an extra hand on the ball. It's a tough match up for us."

While both teams are in the Genesee Region League, Elba is Class D and Notre Dame is Class C.

Elba, now 3-1, looks like a team that can make a run at sectional play, though Redband is taking a one-game-at-time approach.

"We have some work to do like we all do this time of year," Redband said. "It's only our fourth game. It's a long season. Fifteen more games. We've got two more games before the break, then we've got 16 days off, so we'll be able to fine tune some things before the new year."

Guard Alex Riegle scored 14 ponits (with four three-pointers) for the Lady Lancers and proved a deft ball handler and capable court leader, even against Notre Dame's pressure defense.

For Notre Dame, Rebecca Krenzer had 15 points, Norton 13 and Emma Francis 11.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Rotary ready for 26th tip-off of girls basketball tournament at GCC

The 26th annual Rotary Basketball Tournament is Jan. 6 and Jan. 8 at Genesee Community College and this year features Alexander, Batavia, Notre Dame and Midlakes.

The Rotary Club hosted the teams (Midlakes couldn't make it) in its annual tournament announcement luncheon at the YWCA.

Pictured are Madison McCulley and Samantha Cecere, from Batavia, Emma Francis and Emily McCracken, from Notre Dame, and Sydney Breton and Elizebeth Taylor, from Alexander.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 10:13 am

Blue Devils turn up defensive heat, hold Brighton to 27 points

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, Batavia HS, high school sports, sports

The normally stingy Batavia Blue Devils defense got scorched for 62 points earlier this week by Pittsford-Mendon, so over the past couple of days, Head Coach Buddy Braskey has drilled his team on defensive fundamentals.

The Brighton Barons paid the price Friday night.

Coming off a 58-point game against Greece-Odyssey, the Barons found it much harder to score against the Blue Devils.

In fact, they were held scoreless for the first six minutes of the game and managed only two points in the first quarter.

By the end of the game, Brighton was only 8 for 51 from the field (a 16 percent field goal percentage) and lost 47-27.

"I thought against Pittsford-Mendon on Tuesday, our defense really wasn't up to par," Braskey said. "We made a lot of fundamental mistakes with our principles.  We showed it to them on field, worked on it in practice, and I thought today, we took what we learned in practice and transferred it to the game."

Right from the tip-off, Batavia employed a press to pressure ball handlers, create turnovers and limit shot attempts. 

Even when Brighton appeared to get open looks, the shots weren't falling, and Brasky said that even with those seemingly open shots, looks can be deceiving.

"I think we rushed them," Brasky said. "We never let them get comfortable. ... Even when they were getting open shots, they really never could get their feet set because we were closing out really hard on their shooters."

With only 47 points, though, Batavia still needs to find away to get some scoring help for senior standout Jeff Redband.

Redband scored 21 points Friday, coming off a 32-point performance Tuesday.

In both games, only Malachi Chenault got into double-digits scoring, with 10 points each night.

None of the guards have yet stepped up and shouldered some of the load.

"It's not happening yet (getting help for Redband)," Brasky said. "We're searching. (Jerrett) Laskett, (Tee Sean),  Ayala, (Alex) Canty are three guys that are all good shooters, but they haven't found their rhythm yet. Malachi is contributing inside, but we've got to find some more scoring from the guard position, for sure."

Brasky is pleased with the progress Chenault is making under the boards.

"We're working hard with him to get the ball and go strong and not hesitate," Brasky said. "Malachi tends to think when he gets the ball. We're trying to get him to get the ball, make a quicker decision and just go strong.  I thought he did a much better job of that tonight."

It would also help Blue Devils scoring to take better care of the ball. Batavia turned the ball over 23 times against Pittsford-Mendon and 19 times last night. Brasky said that number needs to get down to eight or nine.

Overall, Brasky said his team is responding well in practice, working hard and getting better and better.

Next up, Bishop-Timon, a private school in Section 6, at home Tuesday. Game time is 7:45 p.m.

Top photo: Greg Mruzcek.

Trevor Sherwood

Jeff Redband

Malachi Chenault

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Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Batavia's Brennan Briggs named a Buffalo Bills/National Guard Coach of the Week

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, football, high school sports, sports

The Batavia Blue Devils Head Football Coach Brennan Briggs will be recognized on the field Sunday before the Buffalo Bills game against the Green Bay Packers as the Buffalo Bills/National Guard Coach of the Week for week 11.

The school will receive a $1,000 contribution to the football program as a result of the award.

During the game, Briggs will be seated inside the Red Zone section, complements of the Buffalo Bills.

File photo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Turnovers swamp Lady Blue Devils in home opener

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, Batavia HS, high school sports, sports

Turnovers bedeviled the Lady Blue Devils in their home-game debut for the 2014-15 season as they suffered their first defeat of the campaign, losing to Mendon 54-33.

This is a better team than they they showed Tuesday night with the four returning starters, Essence Williams, Tiara Filbert, Sam Cecere and Madison McCulley.

"We've got a great group of girls," Head Coach Marty Hein said. "They're all returners. We lost one senior. Our bench is stepping into their jobs. We'll be there. It just wasn't a good night tonight."

It was a sloppy first quarter for both Mendon and Batavia, with both teams struggling to retain possession. Batavia (1-1) took a 15-10 lead. But Mendon started to find its rhythm in the second quarter, scoring 18 points and holding Batavia to nine points.

The game became lopsided in the third quarter, with Mendon scoring 15 while the Lady Blue Devils didn't knock down a single field goal and scoring its lone point on a free throw.

Batavia needs to be more aggressive on offense, Hein said, pushing the ball up the court faster on inbounds and transitions.

"When we push the ball, we're a much better team," Hein said. "In the last five minutes, we were looking ahead, running the floor and we did better. It was the same thing in Albion. We waltzed the ball up the floor, and if you're meeting good pressure, you're not getting into your offense. When we're actually running the floor, at least we're getting their defense below the foul line."

Filbert, a junior, remains the team's offensive fire power. She scored 16 points Tuesday and has 25 on the season along with 13 rebounds and nine steals. 

McCully had seven points and Williams had four.

Now, Hein said, the team knows what it needs to work on.

"There's nothing wrong with a loss as long as we learn something from it," Hein said.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 11:58 am

Batavia falls to Mendon 62-58 in OT

post by Steve Ognibene in basketball, batavia, Batavia HS, high school sports, sports

Blue Devils got off to a heartbreaking loss in their first game last night versus the Pittsford Mendon Knights.  Senior Jeff Redband led the devils with a game high 32 points and added 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks.  The 1st qtr Mendon sunk three from 3pt. range and led 19-14.  

2nd quarter Batavia was down by 10 and rallied back to cut Mendon’s lead to 4 leading at halftime 32-28.  Batavia went on a run where Freshman Tee Sean Alayla and Jeff Redband added a couple 3 pt. plays to take the lead after 3 quarters 45-42. 

Batavia was down by 2 and Jeff Redband sunk a key basket and both teams ended tied 56 each sending the game into overtime.  However Batavia’s turnovers got them in trouble where Mendon capitalized by adding 6 points versus Batavia’s 2 and won the game 62-58 in overtime.  

Mendon’s Zuril Hendrick and Daniel Jacob each scored 17 points on the night.  Batavia’s Junior Malachi Chenault tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds giving him a double, double and Senior Jerrett Laskett added 9 points for Batavia. 

Batavia hosts Brighton this Friday at 7:45pm for their first home game.

(photo above) Batavia #24 Junior forward Malachi Chenault going for 2.  

(photo below) Batavia #3 Junior guard Greg Mruczek getting ready for a pass.

(photo above) Batavia #14 Junior guard Trevor Sherwood jumpshot 

(photo below) Batavia's freshman #0 Tee Sean Alaya shooting for 3 points.

Batavia #40 Senior forward Jeff Redband layup for 2 points in the 4th quarter to tie the game:

Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Le Roy zooms past Warsaw with pressure defense and fast breaks

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Le Roy, sports

After a pre-season disrupted by a championship run by the football team, three days of practice lost to snowy weather and Thanksgiving, Le Roy's basketball team is still working out some kinks.

A rebuilding team of Warsaw Tigers got a taste Friday night of what a kinkless Oatka Knights might look like.

The Knights pressured on defense, forced turnovers and converted fast breaks into buckets to put 64 points on the board compared to 37 for the Tigers.

The win comes after a season opening 62-47 loss to York.

"Today we played with more energy, more flow to what we want to do," said Le Roy's Head Coach Rick Rapone. "In another week or two, we'll be right where we should be. We'll be fine."

Kody Lamkin had his second double-double in two games with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Nick Egeling had 10 points and 10 rebounds

"Those are the guys we would expect to pretty much do it for us every game," Rapone said.

Dylan Laney sparked the offense early, scoring 10 points for the game.

Mike McMullen was playing on a sore ankle, but Rapone praised his strong performance as the team's floor leader. 

Coming off an 0-18 season, the Tigers are now coached by Steve Baker. Baker has seven years experience coaching basketball. The first six with modifieds and JV. He was Warsaw's boys varsity head coach five years ago, then he became a father and took time off from coaching. He agreed to take the position again this season after he and his wife moved closer to the school.

In Le Roy, the Tigers got a taste of the kind of fast-paced, high-pressure defense and transition offense Baker would like to instill in the Warsaw scheme.

"Instead of sitting in a half-court offense, I'd really like to start pushing the floor," Baker said. "That's a big thing to me."

His team his learning, he said. Last night, when they went man-to-man for part of the second half, they held Le Roy to just eight points. That was a good sign, Baker said.

The goal is to improve every game, every practice and that's happening, he said.

"I notice improvement every day," Baker said. "I'm getting compliments from the other coaches and officials. The kids are playing a lot better."

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Friday, December 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Hustle helps Lady Lancers to opening game victory of Lyndonville

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, elba, high school sports, sports

Lyndonville got a good taste Thursday night of the kind of team the Elba Lady Lancers hope to be in 2014-15: an aggressive defense that generates turnovers and a disciplined offense that uses spacing and passing to create open looks.

The result, Elba 64, Lyndonville 32.

"We try to share the ball," said Head Coach Tom Redband. "If we don't, we're not going to be very good. And we try to eliminate shot attempts."

Possession after possession Thursday, the Lancers swatted the balls from Tiger hands or snatched passes midflight.

The turnovers were often created by pure pressure on ball handlers.

The Lady Lancers are a team that will be looking to define itself early in the season following the graduation of last year's point guard Kelsey Bezon.

"She was our leader," Redband said. "She was our facilitator. We had to wait and see how everyone reacted to new roles and they're doing a great job of dealing with it. People have been filling roles. They step in and they step up."

Returning as starters are Alex Reigle, Alyssa Bogue, Jennifer Pedro and Haley Brown.

Redband is looking for big things from that core group to help Elba make another run at post-season play.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Hoops Preview: Pero hopes bigs for Notre Dame will help girls team put up points

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

The thing you'll notice about the Notre Dame Girls Basketball Team this year is they're going to have some big players crashing the boards.

Shea Norton is 6' 2". Rebecca Krenzer is 6' 1". Taylor DiMartino is 6' 2". Michelle Martinucci is 5' 11".

"This is the biggest team I've ever had," said Head Coach Dave Pero.

It's still a young team -- there are only three seniors on the squad and all of the bigs are juniors -- so the girls still have a lot to learn, but they're showing progress, Pero said. 

"I like what we have. We have a really, really nice group of girls. They're working very, very hard."

The goal, as always with Fighting Irish basketball, is to dominate on defense and make points on transitions.

"We always want to keep teams in 40s. If we can keep teams in the 40s, 45, we've got a chance to win."

The three seniors are Krysta Tomaszewski (currently injured), Emily McCracken and Emma Francis.

McCracken and Francis are both guards, team captains, and Pero said they are good shooters who should help score some points.

He said the team is eight or nine players deep. Also expected to contribute are Hannah Bowen and Callie McCulley.

McCulley is a familiar name, of course, to Notre Dame hoops fans and the youngest McCulley (who is 5' 10") to make a varsity roster. She shows a lot of promise, Pero said, even as an eighth-grader.

"When you bring up young players, you're going to live and die with the good things they do and the bad things they do, but we think she's ready and we expect her to come off the bench and give us a hand."

The Notre Dame roster, on paper, looks strong. When the team opens its season at 7 p.m., Dec. 10, in Oakfield, we'll get to see how all those big numbers translate to points on the board.

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