Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It’s postseason time; a look ahead at the Section II playoffs

The Averill Park High School girls basketball team and coaching staff lines up to listen to the national anthem prior to a Suburban Council game at Shenendehowa on Dec. 18, 2009. The Warriors are likely to be the No. 1 seed in the 2009-10 Section II Class A tournament. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

The 2009-10 high school basketball regular season concludes tonight. Wednesday morning, members of the Section II basketball committees will congregate to sketch out brackets for the postseason. Here is The Record’s glimpse into the crystal ball.

Class AA boys

The favorite: Christian Brothers Academy (15-0, 16-1)

The Brothers have appeared in seven consecutive Section II large school championship games and there is no reason to believe they will not be back again in 2010. CBA has depth on the bench behind stars Kameron Ritter, Max Weaver and Galal Cancer, making them the team to beat.

The darkhorse: Troy High (8-7, 10-7)

The Flying Horses turned a corner in the second half of the season, winning five of its last six games, by turning things over to three sophomores and a freshman. Troy will have a distinct height advantage over nearly every team it plays, but do they have enough maturity to make up for their lack of postseason experience?

Others to watch: Shenendehowa (15-0, 16-1), Bishop Maginn (12-3, 14-3), Albany Academy (8-9)

Class AA girls

The favorite: South Colonie (13-2, 15-2)

The Garnet Raiders hit rock bottom during a 40-point loss at Averill Park in January, but returned the favor Thursday night with a one-point victory over the previously unbeaten Lady Warriors. Unlike their grinding Suburban Council rivals, Shenendehowa, Colonie plays an up-tempo style led by Division-I prospect Tehresa Coles.

The darkhorse: Albany High (10-2, 11-5)

The Lady Falcons’ biggest strengths are their conditioning and three-point shooting skills, which make them dangerous against anyone.

Others to watch: Shenendehowa (14-2, 14-2), Catholic Central (10-1, 12-4), Shaker (12-4, 14-4)

Class A boys

The favorite: No clear favorite

Class A features a trio of league champions in Lansingburgh (12-2, 15-3), Averill Park (10-6, 11-7) and South Glens Falls (12-2, 13-4) that could grab the top three seeds in some order, but Scotia-Glenville (10-3, 15-3) and Ichabod Crane (15-2, 15-2) were second place teams that also deserve attention. Any of these five teams have a shot in this wide-open race.

The darkhorse: Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (6-9, 7-10)

Many of the Spartans have played on back-to-back Class A football state finalists, so they have plenty of postseason experience in another form. Burnt Hills also has a balance of height and perimeter shooters.

Class A girls

The favorite: Averill Park (15-1, 17-1)

Despite its recent one-point loss at Colonie, the Lady Warriors are still the team to beat in Class A. They have speed, shooting touch, size and a deep bench – essentially, everything head coach Sean Organ could want. Averill Park’s biggest challenge, aside from Holy Names (18-0, 18-0) and Mohonasen (9-7, 11-7), will be dealing with the pressure of having the target on its back.

The darkhorse: Lansingburgh (10-8, 10-8)

The Lady Knights have some key victories this season, including wins over Mechanicville and Watervliet, but lost three of five down the stretch.

Others to watch: Scotia-Glenville (13-1, 15-3)

Class B boys

The favorite: Watervliet (12-2, 15-3)

Fonda-Fultonville may grab the No. 1 seed with a 17-0 overall record, but the Cannoneers have Section II’s most potent offense. Watervliet averages 71.3 points per game thanks to the shooting of Nick Durocher and Devonte Gleason, but Kevin Pontore is the glue that holds Watervliet’s defense together.

The darkhorse: Granville (7-7, 11-7)

The Golden Horde were shot out of a cannon to start the season, winning their first nine games in a row. Granville dropped four consecutive games to end the regular season. Can they regain their early-season magic?

Others to watch: Schuylerville (12-2, 15-3), Catskill (12-5, 12-5)

Class B girls

The favorite: Watervliet (14-4, 14-4)

Fonda-Fultonville (12-0, 16-1), will likely take the No. 1 seed, but Watervliet is a dangerous No. 2. Aside from a three-game losing streak in January and an early-season loss to Holy Names, the Cannoneers were perfect in Colonial Council play. Will their lack of a non-league schedule this year dampen Watervliet’s chances?

The darkhorse: Mechanicville (12-6, 12-6)

It’s hard to call a 12-6 team a darkhorse, but aside from dropping season series to Holy Names and Lansingburgh, the Red Raiders, surprise semifinalists as No. 12 seed a season ago, have been especially strong in the second half.

Others to watch: Stillwater (8-6, 11-7), Hudson (13-5, 13-5) Cohoes (10-8, 10-8)

Class C boys

The favorite: Maple Hill (17-1, 17-1)

It will be a three-way battle for the No. 1 seed, as Wasaren League champion Hoosick Falls (13-1, 15-2) and Voorheesville (11-3, 14-4) also can make a case to be the area’s best C team. The Wildcats, however, return three starters from last year’s run to the New York State title game and are poised for another with the Castleton Crazies at their back.

The darkhorse: Hoosic Valley (9-5, 13-5)

The Indians have scored some big victories this season, including handing Hoosick Falls its only league loss, and their defense always has the potential to carry them in a big game.

Others to watch: Corinth (13-1, 14-3), Rensselaer (14-3, 14-3), Schoharie (9-3, 13-4), Canajoharie (9-3, 13-4)

Class CC girls

The favorite: Maple Hill (18-0, 18-0)

The Wildcats qualify as a Class CC team this year and they know Hoosic Valley (12-2, 15-3) will be waiting to slow them down at some point, likely in the finals. Junior center Katie Roth, however, has been unstoppable in Patroon Conference play and will always be the key to Maple Hill’s success.

The darkhorse: Voorheesville (9-9, 9-9)

The Blackbirds lost six of seven down the stretch, sliding back to the middle of the pack in the Colonial Council. Liz Madden can score points in bunches, something Voorheesville will need to beat Maple Hill or Hoosic Valley.

Others to watch: Albany Academy for Girls (9-9, 9-9), Schenectady Christian (9-3, 12-5)

Class C girls

The favorite: Greenwich (12-1, 16-1)

Sophomore sensation Dani DeGregory scored a ridiculous 19.8 points per game in the always stingy, man-to-man Wasaren League this season as the Witches scored 58 points per contest. Waterford-Halfmoon (14-2, 16-2) and senior star Jackie Sorensen, however, will make it an interesting race to the finish.

The darkhorse: Rensselaer (10-8, 10-8)

The smallest school in the Patroon Conference fielded a worthy squad this season, as the Lady Rams fared well against larger schools. How will it do against schools its own size?

Others to watch: Berne-Knox-Westerlo (9-3, 14-3)

Class D boys

The favorite: Germantown (12-2, 13-3)

The Clippers won the CHVL regular season title a year after finishing in second behind Heatly. One of three teams in the section to average more than 70 points per game, Germantown is a terror to defend.

The darkhorse: Loudonville Christian (9-5, 10-8)

Cullen Overholt eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier this season and he’d also like to lead a CHVL team to a Section II title for the first time since Waterford-Halfmoon won the Class D championship during the 1993-94 season.

Others to watch: Argyle (15-0, 16-1), Sharon Springs (8-4, 12-5), Heatly (8-6, 10-7)

Class D girls

The favorite: Germantown (15-1, 16-1)

The Clippers won a second consecutive CHVL title this year, as Taylor Race was one of just five players in Section II to average more than 20 points per game.

The darkhorse: Heatly (13-3, 14-4)

Led by sophomore guard Melissa Heffern, the Hornets won seven consecutive games to close out the regular season. Will their hot streak continue in the playoffs?

Others to watch: Whitehall (15-0, 17-0), Argyle (13-2, 14-3)

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