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Prep Talk: 'Centercourt' helps break down Section VI boys hoops tournament

It's time to talk Section VI boys basketball tournament.

For the second straight year, we enlist Buffalo News basketball pollster Chad Andrews from the View from Centercourt blog to help breakdown the event.

The postseason tournament heats up Friday with quarterfinals in eight classes and includes the Dominick Welch watch.

The Cheektowaga senior resumes his quest for the Western New York career-points record. He needs just 49 as the Warriors host Lewiston-Porter with Welch coming off a 51-point effort in last week's regular-season finale against Depew.

Class AA

Last year's champion: Niagara Falls

Favorite: No. 1-seed Jamestown

Contenders: Lancaster, Kenmore West

Top quarterfinal: Niagara Falls at Lockport

Potential sleeper: Clarence, winners of five straight and two close losses to Jamestown.

Prep Talk: Jamestown is the top seed, has reached 16 semifinals under coach Ben Drake and has won five of the last seven titles. Shouldn't the Red Raiders be the clear-cut favorite?

Chad Andrews: I think it's so wide open it would be fool's gold to pick the top seed. The top seed was awarded by virtue of a coin toss with Lancaster.

PT: Do the Niagara Frontier League teams perhaps have an edge due to the league's competitive depth, even though two of them have to go through each other in the quarterfinals in Niagara Falls visiting Lockport?

CA: This is one of those years I don't know. I'm looking forward to the games at Buffalo State telling me who are better: the best in ECIC I or the best in the NFL.

Class A-1

Last year's champion: Williamsville South

Favorite: No. 1 Williamsville South

Contenders: NT, McKinley and Grand Island

Top quarterfinal: Sweet Home at Grand Island

Potential sleeper:  West Seneca East, which owns win over Yale Cup I champion South Park.

PT: There are good teams here but can any of them take down a Williamsville South team that has wins over Monsignor Martin High School co-leaders St. Francis and Bishop Timon-St. Jude, Class AA top seed Jamestown and Section V Class AA contender University Prep?

CA: I think the teams that try to challenge South are going to find it extremely challenging. … They're the two-time defending champions and now that freshman point guard, Greg Dolan, is a junior turning some heads.

PT: In addition to Dolan, the Billies are also gettting fine guard play from Lockport transfer Dakota Wiley and Devin Degree. But Dolan is scary good.

Class A-2

Last year's champion: Amherst

Favorite: No. 1 Amherst

Contenders: Cheektowaga, South Park, Olean

Top quarterfinal: Maryvale at Olean

Potential sleeper: Maryvale, which beat Olean in overtime in December

Cheektowaga's Dominick Welch resumes his pursuit of the Western New York all-time points record during quarterfinal Friday action at Cheektowaga. (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

PT: This is going to perhaps be the toughest classification to win in the tournament. Quality abounds with four teams that at least won a share of their respective league title among the top four seeds.

CA: It is definitely the bracket that has me most excited for Buffalo State week.

Amherst should be the favorite because they've been held in high regard all season. They are the only local public school to beat Williamsville South since 2015. They've lived up to the expectations.

PT: It's tough to overlook Olean. Last year's Class B state champion is a No. 4 seed that has quietly won its last 14 games – including a win over Timon. The Huskies have won nine sectional titles the past 10 years.

CA: Correct. Despite Amherst being the favorite, if I were to predict a winner – it's best not to go against history.

PT: Before we move on, does Welch set the points record Friday or, should the Warriors win, does he wind up passing Ritchie Campbell's record at Buffalo State?

CA: I think it happens under the bright lights at Buffalo State.

Class B-1

Last year's champion: Olean

Favorite: No. 1 East Aurora

Contenders: MST Seneca, Newfane

Top quarterfinal: Dunkirk at Springville

Potential sleeper: Dunkirk

PT: East Aurora has won 11 of its last 12 including seven in a row and has key players back from last year's Class B-1 runner-up team that lost to eventual state champion Olean. The Blue Devils seem poised to move up a spot on the podium. There are a couple potential threats lurking and not just the potential of having to go through two battle-tested Yale Cup teams to earn a spot in the overall B final.

CA: I think the cool story line to this bracket is Dunkirk being the five seed. We could have a Dunkirk-East Aurora semifinal.

PT: Dunkirk beat Class AA No. 2 seed Lancaster at its home and also beat a Chautauqua Lake team, the top C-1 seed, which beat Olean. What is it about the Marauders?

CA: When they're on they're scary.  They've been up and down but I wouldn't want to catch them on an up (day)."

Class B-2

Last year's champion: Fredonia (now in B1)

Favorite: No. 1 Medina

Contenders: Health Sciences, Middle Early College

Top quarterfinal: Middle College vs. Health Sciences at Daemen College.

Potential sleepers: Olmsted and Wilson

PT: This is a unique bracket. Last year's runner-up and most-of-the-season favorite remains in Health Sciences, but the two teams that played for the overall Class C title last year, Middle Early College and Olmsted, experienced an enrollment spike and elevation into this classification. Of course, No. 5 Middle College already defeated fourth-seeded Health Sciences once this year. What should we expect here?

CA: I think Health Sciences is going to be very hungry to win that rematch because Middle College is the only small school to beat them this season. Tyron Lott didn't play in that loss. He's back and having Lott play will make a huge difference.

PT: The winner gets red-hot Medina, which hasn't lost since Dec. 30. The Mustangs have scoring depth, a major Division I recruit in Jalin Cooper and have won 13 in a row. Are folks overlooking them?

CA: I'm not. I think if Health Sciences gets to that semifinal, I think the Medina game might be even harder than the Middle College game because Medina is crazy improved. Davonte Gaines against Cooper is a whole lot of Division I athleticism.

Class C-1

Last year's champion: Olmsted

Favorite: No. 1 Chautauqua Lake

Contenders: Cleveland Hill, Salamanaca

Top quarterfinal: Allegany-Limestone at Salamanca

Sleeper: Tapestry, which owns a buzzer-beating win over Cardinal O'Hara.

PT: Chautauqua Lake came close to winning it last year and even had three chances in the final minute to deny Olmsted. Will the Thunderbirds, with Devin Pope (28.7 ppg) and Aaron Swan (15.2) leading the charge, end with the title next week?

CA: I see the Thunderbirds as the biggest favorites in any class this year.

Devin Pope and the Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds own a win over Class A school Olean and look to return to the Section VI Class C-1 final after falling in last year's title game. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

PT: Anything can happen in postseason is there one team or matchup that can give them problems?

CA: There are two. Salamanca and Cleve Hill would both have the potential to win head-to-head matchups.

Class C-2

Last year's champion: Middle Early College

Favorite: No. 1 Randolph

Contenders: East, Frewsburg.

Top quarterfinal: Maple Grove at Frewsburg

Potential sleeper:  Maple Grove, which just beat Dunkirk during a run of four wins in five games and has a veteran coach who knows how to win in Curt Fischer.

PT: The top seed is Randolph but East is in this bracket and you know how I think teams with coaches who have been there before and triumphed have an edge in postseason. Still, Randolph also has a good coach in Kevin Hind and does come into playoffs on a nine-game winning streak.

CA: East coach Starling Bryant has a rich history this time of year. East has already won a head-to-head with Randolph in Jamestown.

PT: Has Randolph, which usually seems to make a run to JCC, snuck up on anyone? The Cardinals did start slowly with two losses in first four games.

CA: They didn't sneak up on me. Randolph doesn't have any bad losses. You see losses to other good teams. They're like Medina, on the cusp of being in the poll (all season).

Class D

Last year' champion: Panama

Favorite: No. 1 Clymer

Contenders: Flip a coin between Ellicottville and Franklinville, as the toss resulted in Ellicottville taking the No. 2 seed. Both split regular-season league games.

Top quarterfinal: Forestville at Sherman

Potential sleeper: No. 4 Sherman, which has 1,000-point scorer Chris Robson (24.4 ppg) leading the way and is two years removed from winning sectionals.

PT: There will be a new champion since Panama opted out. The seeding reads that Clymer is the favorite since it is No. 1 and the team is rolling (11 wins in last 12 games). However, it seems like Franklinville or Ellicottville – after they go through each other in a potential semifinal – is the de facto favorite given that the two have either been ranked or flirted with being ranked all season.

CA: Clymer collected power points playing in the other CCAA league, which has bigger schools than Ellicottville's and Franklinville's. I think it's a two-horse race between Ellicottville and Franklinville until another team comes barrowing down and shocks the world.

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