To paraphrase a line from Flash character Eobard Thawne/fake Harrison Wells, it was never my intention to make you wait this long for the final Power 10 of the winter sports season.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, for goodness sakes. Babcock watch didn’t last as long.
Without further ado, let’s officially put the winter sports season to rest by honoring its best.
- Canisius basketball. Without question the best team in Western New York. The News No. 1 team’s only losses came against programs from outside of Western New York. The Crusaders capped a historic season with TOTAL team efforts during the postseason to win the Manhattan Cup, state Catholic Class A championship and then overall state Class A title at the Federation Tournament of Champions. LaTerrance Reed, Josh Huffman, Stafford Trueheart, TJ Wheatley and Justin Jones were among the players to deliver in the clutch for Kyle Husband’s crew. Canisius likely doesn’t beat Scotia-Glenville and Albany Academy at the Fed in Albany without Wheatley’s intimidating presence in the paint.
- Park boys’ basketball. The state Federation Class B champions finish as second best team in Western New York. Pioneers lost close one at Canisius just before playoffs, but tough schedule down the stretch prepared them for playoff run that included an overtime victory over defending Federation champion Westhill in semifinals. Jordan Nwora had huge postseason, including 27 points in overall state final, but Park received contributions from everyone in authoring its best season ever. Kyle Harris’ decision to drive and draw foul in closing seconds of comeback win over Westhill instead of forcing up contested shot in the paint was smart, bold, brave and saved Pioneers’ season.
- Williamsville South girls’ basketball. There’s a theme here. Billies have hand in crafting one of the most memorable basketball seasons in Western New York history. Only second girls program from Section VI to ever win a state Class A championship and first to do so in 21 years. One of the most unselfish teams I’ve ever covered, Billies followed season-opening loss to a Rochester-area school by winning 25 in a row before closing with season-ending loss in Federation Class A final to Nazareth of New York City that played Class AA schedule during regular season.
- Nichols girls’ hockey. Finished season ranked fourth in the country. Vikings became first team in its league to win four straight North American Prep Hockey Association postseason championships but reign as Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association champions ended after three seasons with championship-game loss to Appleby (Ont.).
- Canisius hockey and swimming. I’m thinking I can do a Power 10 on just Canisius sports at the end of the school year. This has to be the best sports season in the history of the school. Hockey comes out of nowhere to shock defending champion St. Joe’s to win Niagara Cup and then caps season by winning state Catholic title. Canisius swimming proved to be scary good even without graduated All-American Jack Boyd as Crusaders won 13th straight All-Catholic team championship.
- Monsignor Martin girls’ hockey. OK, so you took a back seat briefly to Kenmore. Blame your playoff structure for it. After failing to win Federation girls playoff championship last season, Linda Mroz’s charges rally to get the job done for third postseason championship in four seasons.
- Kenmore girls’ hockey: Won fourth straight Section VI title and became first Section VI team to reach state championship game. Another fine season by perennial all-league goalie Lauren Pray, who graduates and will be missed.
- Jamestown basketball: Boys and girls pull off the threepeat as Section VI Class AA champions. That’s extraordinary for one school. Both teams gave tough Rochester foes a run for their money in Far West Regionals before suffering close defeats. Boys coach Ben Drake earns 300th win in sectional final.
- I-Prep/Grover boys’ basketball. Presidents extend streak of Yale Cup teams reaching state semifinals to six in a row and eight out of the past nine seasons. Fun team to watch played at just one speed -- really fast.
- Section VI girls’ basketball: For first time ever, Section VI wins four of five Far West Regional games, giving Rochester schools a taste of their own medicine for a chance. Considering only six Section VI programs, including Will South, have won a state title, this was huge. Chautauqua Lake’s quest for state title repeat ended against eventual Class C champion Cooperstown with a close semifinal loss. With double-double machine Emma Brinker still just a freshman, East Aurora has look of team that could make another run at the state title after falling in semis to eventual state champion Susquehanna Valley. Panama filled town with warm memories during a cold winter in which it won its first sectional title, regional title and got to experience the state semifinals for the first time.
High honor roll.
Williamsville East hockey, East boys’ basketball, Middle Early College boys’ basketball, Mt. St. Mary girls’ basketball, Williamsville South boys’ basketball, Olean boys’ basketball.
Niagara-Wheatfield hockey, Sweet Home boys’ and girls’ track and field, Williamsville South boys’ and girls’ track and field, Frontier girls’ bowling, Kenmore East boys’ bowling, Hamburg boys’ swimming, Wilson boys’ and girls’ basketball.