Contenders aplenty for the AA title

first_img By Paul Gotham on February 21, 2017No Comment Add to Google+ Subscribe by Email Follow on Facebook Contenders aplenty for the AA title Share on Facebook Print This Postcenter_img McQuaid’s Anthony Iglesia (1) and Bishop Kearney’s Kevin Goode Jr. (0) do battle during a recent contest. (Photo: RON KALASINKAS)Six first-round games open the Class AA Championship on Wednesday. Top seeds Fairport and Victor await the winners. Here’s the rundown:No. 1 seed FAIRPORT (18-1/Monroe County Division 1)Players to watch: Ryan Algier, Stephen Gabel, Cam Keeley, Dan Masino and Matt Muncey. Trend: Fairport has won 11 straight including victories over Aquinas, Bishop Kearney, Rush-Henrietta and Victor. The Red Raiders have lost in the finals the past three seasons. Fairport last won a sectional title in 2007 – their second of back-to-back AAA championships.Outlook: Numbers can’t define the Red Raiders. Masino is a crafty point guard who knows how to pick his spots to shoot and set up teammates. Keeley is a 3-point threat, and Algier finishes in the post. They have the balance and tools to compete at the state level. The Red Raiders held Aquinas to six first-half points in a 55-29 victory in January. Fairport will host the quarter-finals against the winner of Edison Tech and Hilton.No. 2 seed VICTOR (15-5/Monroe County Division 1)Players to watch: Jacob DiSanto (19.9 ppg, 3.1 apg, made 56 3-pt. FG’s), Michael Novitsky (15.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg, FG percentage 54.0), Jackson Parker (4 ppg, 7.1 apg, 2.65:1  assist to turnover ratio), Connor Keenan (6 ppg, 4 rpg) and Brandon Fink (6 ppg, 3 rpg, made 19 3-pt. FG’s).Trend: Victor won three straight before dropping its season finale to Rush-Henrietta. The Blue Devils lost to McQuaid in the opening round of the 2016 AA tournament. Victor won the 1978 Class A tournament.Outlook: DiSanto and Novitsky form a proficient outside-inside attack. Parker keeps the offense in motion. Victor won five straight and eight of nine earlier in the season. Will that Victor squad show up in the sectionals? The Blue Devils will host quarter-finals against the winner of McQuaid and Penfield.No. 3 seed UPREP (15-4/Private-Independent)Players to watch: James Barnes, Jakhi Lucas, Jabez Thomas and Jeenathan Williams.Trend: UPrep won two in a row before losing to Bishop Kearney to end the regular season. The Griffins opened the 2016-17 campaign 7-1 with impressive victories over Liverpool (III) and Niagara Falls (VI). UPrep won the 2013 D1 title.Outlook: Williams is as talented an offensive player as there is in Section Five. A 6-foot-6 guard he makes economical use of the dribble to create space for an impressive mid-range game. Thomas is one of the best rim protectors in the area. Lucas is an underrated point guard. Griffins have not played a game since February 7th. UPrep hosts Churchville-Chili to start the sectionals.No. 4 seed AQUINAS  (14-6/Private-Independent)Players to watch: Jalen Pickett (19.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.3:1 assist to turnover rate, 2.7 steals, 1.45 blocks, 73.9 FT percentage, 1,000-point career scorer), Jason Hawkes (13.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.75 apg), Luke Putnam (5.2 ppg, 36.0 3-pt. percentage) and Graycen Carter (3.2 rpg).Trend: Two-time sectional and reigning state champions look to win their sixth title in seven years. Aquinas won three consecutive before dropping their regular season finale to McQuaid.Outlook: The emergence of Putnam and freshman Ruben Torres (up from junior varsity) gives the Li’l Irish three-point threats they lacked during their losses. Pickett and Hawkes started on last year’s state championship team. AQ will lean on their experience. When at their best, the Li’l Irish are stingy on defense and create offense off turnovers. AQ limited opponents to 50.2 points per game. Aquinas hosts Webster-Schroeder to start the sectionals.No. 5 seed BISHOP KEARNEY (14-6/Private-Independent)Players to watch: Nahziah Carter (19 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 apg),  Shykell Brown (12 ppg), Patrick Thomas (11.5 ppg, 9 rpg) and Sheldon Adams (11 ppg).Trend: Bishop Kearney won five of six to close the season, and its only setback during that stretch came as the result of 40-foot shot at the buzzer in a one-point loss to West Genesee (III). The Kings took the 2013 AA1 title, their third championship in as many years. BK has won 13 titles all since 1994.Outlook: A 30-point win over McQuaid followed by a victory over No. 11 NYS Class A Park School (VI) 24 hours later to close the season gives an indication of this team which is peaking at the right time. Carter does it all and is as underrated a defensive player as he is dynamic on the offensive end. The Kings first seven are as good as anyone in Section Five and beyond. Thomas plays the game like Dennis Rodman. Bishop Kearney hosts Gates-Chili in the first round of the sectionals.No. 6 seed RUSH-HENRIETTA (13-7/Monroe County Division 1)Players to watch: Mecca McCullough, Chris Reed and Kailee White.Trend: Rush-Henrietta closed the season winning eight of nine. Their only loss coming at the hands of Fairport. R-H won back-to-back AA1 titles in 2010 and 2011 as well as the 2008 AAA crown.Outlook: McCullough and White refuse to lose. The junior back-court tandem is capable of putting points on the board in a hurry. Reed provides an inside threat. Royal Comets host Webster-Thomas to open the sectionals.No. 7 seed McQUAID (14-6/RCAC Division A)Players to watch: Isaiah Stewart (19.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 3 bpg), Anthony Iglesia (13.6 ppg, 5.5 apg), Divine Williams (10.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.5 apg), Thomas Jones (8.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Kobe Long (11.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Cam Wilson (7.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5.7 bpg).Trend: McQuaid won eight of its last nine games. McQuaid took back-to-back Class A titles in 2002 and 2003.Outlook: The well-documented return of Jones and Stewart makes McQuaid a dangerous seven seed. Both starters missed all of December and January as the result of injuries.   Stewart is a force in the paint. Iglesia needs very little room to score from deep. Long is a microwave (heats up quickly) off the bench. Williams is an underrated on-the-ball defender. Jesuit Knights host Penfield to open the sectionals.No. 8 seed EDISON TECH (11-9/RCAC Division A)Players to watch: Marique Simkin (23.4 ppg, 4.7 assists, 3.o steals, 60.o FG percentage), Amari Holland (15.o ppg, 48.0 percent 3-pt.), Felipe Carter (11 ppg, 3 apg) and Chaz McKinney (10 ppg, 8 rpg).Trend: Edison dropped two of three to close the regular season. The Inventors won back-to-back Class A titles in 1998 and 1999.Outlook: Edison won four straight at one point late in the season including a 16-point win at Victor. Will that Edison team show up in the sectionals? Simkin is capable of putting a team on his back and carrying it. At the Inventors’ best, Holland is hitting from outside; McKinney is taking advantage of open space in the paint, and Jahrel Holt is cleaning up around the rim. Inventors host Hilton to open the sectionals.No. 9 seed HILTON (9-11/Monroe County Division 1)Players to watch: Tah-Jae Hill, John Letta, Joey Lipani and Christian Ranke.Trend: Hilton won its last game of the season.Outlook: Hill, a freshman, is worth the price of admission (and then some). If Letta gets hot from the outside and Ranke is doing work in the paint, it can be a long night for the opposition. Cadets start the sectionals at Edison Tech.No. 10 seed PENFIELD (9-11/Monroe County Division 1)Players to watch: Mirza Mesic, Isaiah Preston and Bryson Scott.Trend: Penfield dropped its last two games.Outlook: Preston and Scott have the ability to carry Penfield. Patriots open at McQuaid.No. 11 seed WEBSTER-THOMAS (8-12/Monroe County Division 2)Players to watch: Tyler Curtis (11.6 ppg, 8 rpg, 2 bpg), Ryan Mason (12.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Joe Luconte (6.6 ppg, 3.6 apg, 1.4 steals) and Will Johnson (8.2 ppg).Trend: Webster-Thomas lost its last game of the season.Outlook: Mason can carry a team. Luconte is a hard-nosed point guard. Titans open at Rush-Henrietta.No. 12 seed GATES-CHILI (7-13/Monroe County Division 1)Players to watch: Damon Payton and Keith Slack.Trend: Gates-Chili lost its regular season finale.Outlook: Slack is an up-and-coming star. Spartans open at Bishop Kearney.No. 13 seed WEBSTER-SCHROEDER (5-15/Monroe County Division 2)Players to watch: Clay Dwyer, Malachi Duvall and Nate Hardy.Trend: Webster-Schroeder won two of three to end the regular season.Outlook: Warriors open at Aquinas.No. 14 seed CHURCHVILLE-CHILI (2-18/Monroe County Division 2)Players to watch: Garland Akins and Eric Lewis.Outlook: Saints open the sectionals against UPrep.Screen grab courtesy of  HILTON, Jesuit Knights, Royal Comets, UPREP This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Connect on Linked in Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published. 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