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Our One Shining Moment: The 15th annual Championship Week Awards -- with a new wrinkle

One Shining Moment is usually a tradition of Championship Week, but we’re changing things up this year.

Instead of just honoring the moments that helped make the Section VI and Manhattan Cup tournaments must-see events, this corner will include the rest of the playoffs – including some moments from the girls tournaments.

With assists from staff writer Budd Bailey and correspondents Corey Desiderio, Nick Veronica, Tom Dinki and Marquel Slaughter, we present our updated version of One Shining Moment.

The award for best moment happened just two Saturdays ago.

When Olean defeated Marlboro for the state public schools’ Class B championship in Glens Falls, Huskies players during the awards presentation began chanting “hall of fame, hall of fame.” It was their way of saying thank you to 29th-year coach Jeff Anastasia, who was inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame the morning after Olean captured its first state title since 2008.

“It’s touching to me to win the state championship and have these guys there” at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony,” Anastasia said. “It means the world to me.”

The other award winners from this memorable postseason include:

Best game

Boys: For the second year in a row, Canisius not only captured the Manhattan Cup Class A championship but this honor as well. Park School receives an assist because it takes two opponents to make a game memorable.

The Crusaders overcame a late seven-point deficit to defeat Park, 60-58, in overtime to earn the right to move on to the state Catholic tournament. Stafford Trueheart’s layup with 30 seconds left tied the game at 55-55 in regulation. But Trueheart’s defense ultimately saved the day for Canisius as the Pioneers had two chances to win in the final seconds. Each Park shot attempt got swatted away by the 6-foot-7 senior. The first came just before the buzzer on Joe Jones’ jumper from near the foul line. The second came with 3 seconds left in OT and Canisius nursing a one-point lead as Trueheart rejected Hunter Anderson’s layup attempt.

Runners-up: Lewiston-Porter defeating Starpoint in the Class A-2 semifinal thriller, 68-67, as Lancers scoring sensation Jernard Jackson scored the game-winning basket with 7 seconds left. … Olean’s 66-65 win over Kipp Academy of New York City. After BLOWING 23-point lead in 6:16 seconds, Jake Cavana saves Huskies’ season by calmly sinking two free throws with six-tenths of a second to go during a 66-65 victory in the state Federation semifinals in Albany.

Girls: This is a no-brainer. Lake Shore rallying from a 15-point second half deficit to end Williamsville South’s reign as state champions with a 58-54 triumph in the Class A state qualifier. The Eagles, who start three eighth-graders and have four total who see regular playing time, closed the game on an 18-2 run to pull off the unthinkable. Eighth-grader Sophie Snyder scored Lake Shore’s final six points in the victory.

Runners-up: Olean defeating East Aurora, 62-60, in overtime for overall Class B crown behind Sara Pfeiffer’s 28 points. … Williamsville North breaking the hex, earning Section VI’s first Class AA Far West Regional win.

Best drive

Boys: Williamsville Greg Dolan going coast to coast baseline with reverse finish during the Billies’ decisive run in the Class A-1 final over McKinley.

Girls: This one comes courtesy of Fredonia junior Hannah Cybart during the Class B-2 semifinals at Sweet Home. Cybart drove from the top of the three-point arc and scooped in a right-handed layup with 3.8 seconds left to beat Wilson, 58-56.

Best dunks

Posterization division: Graham Dolan of Williamsville South, who threw down a one-handed jam on Batavia sophomore TeeSean Ayala in the third quarter of the Far West Regionals off a feed from, of course, younger brother Greg.

Championship Week division: Chris Blose’s putback jam in the final minutes of the Class D final at Jamestown Community College provided the exclamation point on Panama’s 56-36 triumph over Ellicottville. And yes, the dunk got the arena hopping.

Glens Falls division: Gary Foster of Middle Early College closed the third quarter of the Kats’ state semifinal win over AuSable Valley with a pair of manly throw downs. The first was a two-handed jam that got the backboard shaking. The second came seconds later as he drove past a defender and threw down a savage one-handed dunk.

Eye-catchers

Boys: Jernard Jackson is no longer a unknown entity in Erie County. The sharp shooting and slick ball handling Lewiston-Porter junior averaged 34 points per game in two appearances at Buffalo State. He nailed the game-winning shot in the A-2 semifinal win over Starpoint and almost willed the Lancers to the Class A-2 championship over a heavily-favored Amherst crew. He scored 26 points in the first half of the A-2 final and assisted on at least five other baskets in the opening 16 minutes. Jackson averaged 31.3 points, 6.3 assists and 8.9 rebounds in three playoff games.

Girls: Budd Bailey had heard about Olivia Schmidt from Holland all year, so he was thrilled to finally get to see her play in person. Budd’s assessment: “She was probably the best girl I saw at getting good shots whenever and wherever she wanted - and worked well with her teammates. Schmidt was very, very smooth.”

Best defensive play

Boys: Park’s Jordan Nwora stepping in front of Trueheart and snatching a potential alley-oop pass away from him. It’s the third meeting between the teams and proof they knew each other quite well. Nwora cut toward Trueheart just as the pass from beyond the arc was launched in Trueheart’s direction.

Girls: I’m picking junior Shayla Scanlan for getting in the way and disrupting a two-on-one break by Williamsville South in the final minute. If South scores there, it could’ve been the basket that ended Lake Shore’s miracle comeback in the Class A final. Instead, the Billies missed and the Eagles, a team that starts three eighth-graders, closed with an 18-2 run to earn a 58-54 win over the defending state champions.

Clutch moment

Boys: Olean’s Jake Cavana hitting two free throws with under 1 second left in the state Federation semifinal win over Kipper Prep to give Huskies 66-65 win and chance to complete a perfect 29-0 season (they didn’t as they lost 49-45 to Collegiate in Fed final.)

Girls: Ericka Taplin of Williamsville North hit four free throws in the final 20 seconds to help the Spartans become the first Section VI Class AA team to beat Section V in the Far West Regional. She scored the final four points in a 59-56 victory, enabling North to post the historic win. The state went to five classifications in 2004.

Best shot

Boys: Jorden Buell from the left corner for the win with 10 seconds left in Williamsville South’s 53-51 regional win over Batavia.

Girls: Audrey Craffey for Williamsville North late in the third quarter of its Far West Regional win over Penfield. She had the ball around halfcourt with time running out, and she unleashed a long running shot toward the basket. It hit the rim pretty solidly, and the crowd let out an oooh because they thought it would roll away. But the ball went straight back to the backboard, hung around the rim for a split second, and then decided to come straight forward and in. It turned a 44-37 game into a 44-40 game. It was a forgotten but huge play during the comeback win.

Best individual single-game wow performances 

Boys: Jackson almost single-handedly led Lew-Port to the Class A-2 title. The reason he didn’t, Bona-bound senior Amadi Ikpeze. Ikpeze dominated the paint during the second half, scoring 19 of his 30 points en route to a triple-double that included 13 rebounds and 12 blocks in the final.

Girls: Erica Martinsen of Williamsville East. Everyone in these parts knows who the super sophomore is, but Hamburg still could not stop her during their Section VI Class A-1 semifinal. Martinsen went off for 50 points during East’s 63-54 victory. She also grabbed nine rebounds in what coach Chris Durr accurately summed up as “a performance of the ages.”

 

All-Postseason Team

Here’s something new but don’t worry, the All-Championship Week Teams are still part of One Shining Moment.

Boys: Gary Foster (Middle College), Greg Dolan (Williamsville South), Elijah Ramadhan (Olean), Stafford Trueheart (Canisius), Josh Odell (Panama).

Girls: Sarah Young (Sacred Heart), Ericka Taplin (Williamsville North), Olivia Schmidt (Holland), Emilee Sperry (Panama), Anndea Zeigler (Cardinal O’Hara).

All-Championship Week MVPs (aka the Cam & Jonathon Lewis Awards, named for last year's MVPs)

Boys: Greg Dolan (Williamsville South). Girls: Sara Pfeiffer (Olean).

All-Championship Week Boys Team

First team: JoJo Staton (Middle Early College), Patrick Moore (Fredonia), Jackson (Lew-Port), Ikpeze (Amherst), Trueheart (Canisius).

Second team: Qeyion Williams (Niagara Falls), James Rojas (Jamestown), Ben Eckstrom (Olean), Brandon Roach (Olmsted), Justin Jones (Canisius).

All-Championship Week Girls Team

First team: Martinsen, Taplin, Schmidt, Summer Hemphill (Cardinal O’Hara), Noelani Cornfield (Lake Shore).

Second team: Brianna Neeley (Williamsville South), Natalie Angeletti (Panama), Allison Forness (Allegany-Limestone), Allie Delano (Williamsville North), Anndea Zeigler (Cardinal O’Hara).

A’aron Mungro Hustle Team

Named for the 2003 City Honors state champion who packed 7 feet of heart into his 5-10 frame.

Boys:  Kaelan Clouser (Olmsted), Master Bradford (Olmsted), Colby Moultrie (Canisius), Jarod Burmaster (Fredonia), Hunter Anderson (Park)

Girls:  Shayla Scanlan (Lake Shore), Caroline Zanghi (St. Mary’s), Sarah Young (Sacred Heart), Corean Dickson (Cardinal O’Hara), Taylor Bowen (Panama).

Best league

CCAA West I produced three finalists (Chautauqua Lake, Olean and Fredonia), two sectional champions (Fredonia and Olean) and a state champion (Olean).

Three of the five girls Section VI champions came from one of the ECIC divisions.

Best coach

Jeff Anastasia, Olean. Guides Huskies to state title same season he gets inducted into state basketball hall of fame. He’s living the dream.

Honesty award

Bill Shaw of Williamsville North. He blamed “coach’s stupidity” for his team’s slow start in a semifinal win over Clarence. He thought about pressing from the start but didn’t. Once he ordered North to turn up the heat, though, it cruised to victory.

Back on top

Niagara Falls won its first Section VI title since 2012 and 10th overall since the merger of old Niagara Falls and LaSalle high schools in 2000.

Best band

Panama's band was awesome; it takes the honor just ahead of Niagara Falls.

Best fans

All of you, especially those who made long trips to cheer for your favorite teams at various Western New York venues.

Worst fans

Where were all the fans for the Federation Tournament of Champions? They sure weren’t at Times Union Center and that includes Albany Academy’s two games.

Best host

The Buffalo State Sports Arena and its staff proved to be outstanding again.

States on the move

Glens Falls hosted its final New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association boys basketball final four but is already plotting to get it back. The tournament moves to Binghamton for the next three years.

Glens Falls does regain the Federation Tournament of Basketball Champions it had lost to Albany. Hopefully, Glens Falls can lure fans to the Federation and it can temporarily fill the void left by the NYSPHSAA’s move.

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