This story was originally published April 7, 2012
News Sports Reporter
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Archbishop Walsh: 6-3 senior guard
PPG: 20.6 Reb: 11.6 Assts.: 4.0
Perhaps the most impressive statistic from this entire season belongs to this savvy scorer and all-around talent: He finished his career with 2,347 points — second all-time in Western New York and just seven points behind all-time leader Ritchie Campbell. The five-year varsity player averaged 20.6 points and 13.0 rebounds (1,399 total) for his career. Team captain and valedictorian will play at Union College.
MST Seneca: 5-11 senior guard
PPG: 23.0 Reb: 8.2 Assts.: 9.7
Well-rounded playmaker set up teammates but also had ability to take over games with explosive drives and deadly shooting as he capped off a standout career for Math, Science, Technology Prep at Seneca (1,393 points). Helped the Indians to a spot in The News small school poll all year. Considering North Carolina A&T of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Division II Glenville (W.Va.) State College.
Niagara Falls: 6-5 junior forward
PPG: 17.0 Reb: 9.0 Blocks: 2.0
Imposing combination of a big body who operates well under the basket and is also uniquely near-automatic with jumpers from the elbows. Averaged three assists for a team with four double-figure scorers. This past fall he verbally committed to accept a scholarship offer from Canisius College; however, that was under now-fired coach Tom Parrotta so that situation may change under new coach Jim Baron.
OTC Middle College: 6-3 senior forward
PPG: 13.1 Reb: 9.1 Blocks: 2.3
Averaged three assists for Section VI Class C champion team that had five starters average double figures, but the two-way impact player came up biggest when Kats needed it most. Highest outputs were versus St. Joe’s (21), East Aurora (21), MST Seneca (26) and Cooperstown (21) in the Class C state semifinals, where the all-tournament team pick hit two FTs with :01 left in OT to give OTC a one-point win. Will play at Genesee CC.
Williamsville East: 6-3 senior guard
PPG: 23.0 Reb: 6.6 Assts.: 3.1
Contributed in every column of the stat sheet (2.7 steals, 1.1 blocks) in leading Flames to share of ECIC II title and Class A-1 final. Went for 30 five times, including career-high 37 vs. Iroquois. Scored 26, including a final-minute game-winning three, in an early statement win at rival Will South. Fifth on Will East’s all-time scoring list with 1,028 points. Ranked 15th in his class (96.5 avg.). Will play at Geneseo.
Holland: 6-0 senior guard
PPG: 19.2 Reb: 9.1 Assts.: 3.1
The epitome of a do-it-all player (also had 3.7 steals per game), he earned first team All-ECIC honors playing for the smallest school in the conference. Can drive, shoot from long range, find teammates and handle the ball. Torrid postseason player, averaging 25 points in 14 games over five seasons. Totaled 1,575 points and 600 rebounds for his career. Considering Daemen or a walk-on attempt at St. Bonaventure.
Jamestown: 5-9 junior guard
PPG: 18.6 Assts.: 4.3 Steals: 2.1
Jamestown lost last year’s Player of the Year (Jaysean Paige) to a transfer to Kentucky, but the Red Raiders stayed in the top echelon of Western New York thanks in large part to the leadership and grit of Campion. Often hurt teams with his three-point shooting but never shied away from entering the lane to set up teammates and certainly makes his presence known playing man-to-man defense.
Olean: 6-2 sophomore forward
PPG: 11.8 Reb: 7.6 Assts.: 2.2
On a young, talented team that seemed to have it all among its five underclassmen starters, Bathurst has a bit of everything in his game. Great size, ballhanding, leaping ability, body control, knack around the basket, three-point range, defense (2.1 steals), rebounding, unselfishness, explosiveness. The X-factor on a team that went 22-2, advanced to the state final four in Class B and held the top spot in The News small school poll all year.
Olean: 6-7 sophomore center
PPG: 14.8 Reb: 9.2 Blocks: 2.0
The poster boy — and a big one — for the precocious Huskies as he displays fundamentals, shooting touch and footwork beyond his years as a serious post presence — despite regularly battling double teams. Also very solid with short jumpers around the basket. Scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half of regional to help send Olean to Glens Falls for the state final four.
Tonawanda: 6-1 senior forward
PPG: 22.0 Reb: 9.0 Steals: 3.7
Helped lead a Tonawanda turnaround that included winning its first ECIC IV title since 1958 last season, a co-championship this year (with Cleveland Hill), two straight trips to the final four at Buffalo State and a two-year record of 34-6. His long arms, great knack around the basket and serious three-point range enabled him to finish as Tonawanda’s all-time leading scorer (1,185). Will play at Daemen.
Bishop Timon-St. Jude
One of the best pure shooters in Western New York, the 6-2 senior took on point guard duties this year and was particularly adept at delivering fine feeds (3.5 assists) to big man DeMilo Gibbs for the large school top 10 Tigers. Deadly if left alone (44 threes), he was also able to create his own shot, drive and added toughness on defense. Averaged 12.7 points and five rebounds and finished with 1,105 career points. Considering Medaille, St. John Fisher and Point Park (Pittsburgh).
Bishop Timon-St. Jude
The 6-2 senior guard formed a superior sharpshooting tandem with Kobis. Equally lethal from long range (45 threes), Williams could also be very disruptive on defense. He put up 29 — including five three-pointers — in a 75-66 loss to No. 1 Canisius in the Manhattan Cup semifinals (Kobis had 23). Averaged 12.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2 assists. Williams, an All-WNY football first-teamer at wide receiver, will head to Niagara and attempt to walk on.
Whatever the Centaurs needed, the 6-1 senior guard was able to do, as the triple-double threat helped extend the season until a Class B-2 semifinal loss to Wilson. Averaged 22.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Highest point totals came against top Yale Cup II rivals and top 10 small schools OTC Middle College (32) and MST Seneca (30 twice). Recorded triple-doubles against Lancaster and I-Prep/Grover.
The Blue Devils had one of their finest seasons in years, and a main reason why was the 5-8 senior guard who would not be denied when driving to the rim. Tremendous on-ball defender racked up 3.2 steals per game. Starred on both ends (26 points) in program’s historic first-ever victory over Niagara Falls. Averaged 16.9 points despite playing all season with a torn ligament in his right shoulder.
Gifted 6-1 junior forward helped lead Riverside into The News large school top 10 all season before being ousted by East Aurora in A-2 semifinals. Capable of devastating shooting runs, with great touch on midrange to three-point range. Averaged 22.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.8 assists. Has 969 career points.
(Underclassmen indicated by grade after name)
Jonathan Belton-11 (Amherst), Marcus Clarke (Archbishop Walsh), Josh Haight (Barker), DeMilo Gibbs (Bishop Timon-St. Jude), Aaron White-11 (Canisius), Matt MacDonald-11 (Canisius), Dustin Schauman (Cassadaga Valley), Jack Ranallo (Christian Central), Adam Walker (Clymer), Darnell Carson-11 (CSAT), Jon Gemerek (Depew), Kevin Holmes (Dunkirk), Brendan Cox-10 (East Aurora), Matt Taylor (Frontier), Marcus Nelson (Hutch-Tech), Maurice Cheatom (I-Prep/Grover), Adam Cecchini (Jamestown), Quinton Campbell-11 (Kenmore West), Alex Grace (Maple Grove), Marcus Morris-11 (McKinley), Lovell Smith-11 (McKinley), Reyzon Jordan-11 (McKinley), Jaleo Wilkins-11 (Niagara Falls), Taijay Williams (Niagara Falls), Nick Schmidt-10 (Olean), Bri’an Brown-10 (OTC Middle College), Khalid Brown (OTC Middle College), Matt McCormick (Orchard Park), Nick Lenart (Panama), Lamont Little (Riverside), Zeddy Williams-11 (Silver Creek), Jordan Glover-11 (St. Joe’s), Jake Denz (St. Mary’s), Nate Meyers (St. Mary’s), Erik Simmons (St. Mary’s), Devin Redden (St. Mary’s), Clayton Hess-11 (Tonawanda), Austin Alonge (Westfield), Chaquiel Nettles-11 (Williamsville South), Tyler Martin (Wilson).