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Canisius pair typifies mix of youth, experience

The All-Western New York first team is a combination of youth and experience and the No. 1 large school is responsible for a dose of each.

Canisius, ranked first at the beginning of the season and again at the end, boasts senior Matt Hart and junior Adam Weir on the first team.

Rounding out the top five are Player of the Year Stan Wier of East Aurora and fellow senior Reggie Agbeko of St. Joe's as well as Williamsville North's Sterling Taplin, who is just the fourth sophomore to earn first-team honors in the last 18 years.

The last time time two underclassmen made the first team was when Will Regan of Nichols and Chris Secky of Maple Grove made it as juniors in 2009.

The 54th annual All-Western New York team was chosen by The Buffalo News with an assist from area coaches, officials and voters on The News polls.

>Matt Hart

On a Canisius team that started three talented juniors, senior captain Hart was the most vital organ.

The 6-foot senior set the tone for the best team in Western New York whether he was needed to score (15 points per game) or set up his teammates with excellent passes (3.5 assists), and he loved the big shots at the most important times.

His season high of 30 (with three threes) came when the Crusaders were pushed by McKinley in January's MLK Classic. In the Crusaders' late-season visit to Timon, the score was tied in overtime when Hart drained a dagger of a three-pointer that gave him 20 points and Canisius the win. He then hit six threes among his 22 points in a home rout of St. Joe's, and had 21 and three threes to help Canisius overcome Timon in the Manhattan Cup semifinals.

He shot 35 percent from three and 82 percent from the line. He will play at Hamilton next year.

>Adam Weir

You name it, you'll get it from this talented 6-4 junior.

Weir has a devastating shot from all parts of the court, including from three. Respect that shot and he has a quick, long step that leads to finished drives or fouls. Canisius loved to cause turnovers and run the floor, and the fierce competitor and defender was outstanding in finishing in the open floor.

He averaged 18 points and seven rebounds per game and earned Manhattan Cup MVP honors after leading the Crusaders in scoring in the postseason. Consistent, reliable point production included a 21-point game in a victory at Rochester power Bishop Kearney as well as in wins over Timon (19 in first meeting, 18 in second) and St. Joe's (23 at home).

>Reggie Agbeko

The 6-foot-8, 235-pound senior was a instant force for St. Joe's after arriving from his native Ghana last season, and he made tremendous strides in his game in a short amount of time.

Agbeko's footwork, ballhandling, aggressiveness and touch around the basket was on display all season, helping St. Joe's to the top spot of the large school poll for three weeks. If he was delivered the ball anywhere near the post, the options seemingly were endless: soft fadeaway, a nice hook or put the defender on his heels by putting the ball on the floor. Defensively he was omnipresent in the lane, averaging 2.2 blocks and altering countless more.

He averaged 18.6 points on 56 percent shooting along with 14.5 rebounds. His progress showed in the point column, scoring 466 this year after 308 as a junior.

He said he expects to make a college decision in the next month, considering offers from Marquette, Oklahoma, Auburn, Fordham, Drexel and recent entry Rhode Island. He also is considering a year at a prep school.

>Sterling Taplin

The 6-1 sophomore has been one of Western New York's young standouts for three seasons already, and this year he showed off his high level of talent in key postseason performances.

He had 19 points in Will North's quarterfinal victory at Kenmore West, displaying his ability to hit from deep and drive through traffic in the first half, then set up teammates several times for crucial baskets in the second. Had 26, including five fourth-quarter threes, against Niagara Falls in the Class AA semifinals at Buffalo State

Averaged 19.1 points per game and stands third on North's all-time scoring list with 1,010. Hit 38 threes. Was 73 percent from the line -- 82 percent in the fourth quarter. Led team in assists (3.6), steals (2.7), blocks (1.1) and was second in rebounds (5.7).

After becoming only the third freshman to be honored with top 20 All-WNY honors as a third-teamer last year, he becomes the first sophomore on the first team since Nichols' Regan made it in 2008. Prior to Regan's first-team selection, it had been 14 years since Traditional's Jason Rowe and LaSalle's Tim Winn both earned first-team spots as sophomores in 1994.

email: kmcshea@buffnews.com