Without further ado, here's the first Power 10 for the scholastic winter season.
(Through Friday night's games)
1. Williamsville North hockey. Defending state champions have spent much of the winter ranked first in the state Division I poll. Spartans (13-0-2) remained unbeaten by defeating reigning state Catholic champion St. Joe's on Friday night. The teams also battled to a 2-2 tie during their annual pre-Christmas clash before a sold-out Feature Rink crowd at Northtown Center. The fact North has gone this long unbeaten in what's regarded by many as the toughest league in the state is impressive. Still, it only gets more difficult from here for the Spartans, especially with two other league rivals ranked among the top seven in the state, among the host of teams trying to take them down.
2. Canisius boys basketball. The Crusaders have three wins over teams ranked in the New York State Sportswriters' Class A poll – including downstate Nazareth and Section V power Irondequoit, hence the reason they're ranked first in the state. Only loss in 11 games heading into Saturday's huge No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown at Park came against state-ranked St. Pius X Catholic of Georgia in the championship game of Pius' Christmas Tournament in Atlanta.
3. Nichols girls hockey. The Vikings are rolling with a 7-2-1 mark in Shelly Looney's second season. Reigning Buffalo News Prep Talk Award Girls Hockey Player of the Year Katy Knoll not only represented Old Glory on the international stage but scored twice in gold-medal game triumph by Team USA's 18-under national team at world championships.
4. Cardinal O'Hara girls basketball. I don't care how many losses the Hawks (7-4) have at this point. Until a Western New York team beats them – which hasn't happened since 2013, they're the top girls team in the area – period.
5. Orchard Park bowling. Boys team is 9-0 in league and has placed first in two of three in-season tournaments. Squad also took second, finishing behind III-Cicero-North Syracuse in Festival of Lights Tournament. Girls team just suffered first league loss to Lancaster but has participated in three in-season tournaments, winning each of them.
6. Williamsville East swimming. Flames (10-0) remained unbeaten in dual-meet action by having a big night at Hamburg on Wednesday, setting three pool records. East also owns wins over Orchard Park and Sweet Home. As of Tuesday, Flames swimmers had top times among Section VI leaders in eight events and second-best times in seven events.
7. Lancaster wrestling. Legends entered Section VI Team Dual Championship Meet as the top seed among large schools. They've been ranked first all season, capturing the ECIC Tournament team title and placing second behind an Ohio school in the heavyweight Niagara Frontier Officials Tournament.
8. Monsignor Martin girls hockey. Monsignor Martin trails first-place Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park by 4.5 points with two games in hand, but perennial Fed playoff contender gets the nod here by virtue of handing defending champion FLOP its only loss of the season.
9. Sweet Home track and field. The boys and girls teams swept the titles at the Western New York Relays. Boys team has runners or relay teams ranked in the top three among area leaders in 10 different events.
10. Niagara Wheatfield boys hockey. Falcons bounced back from first regulation loss of season to Williamsville North by defeating Bishop Timon-St. Jude and Frontier. Nice resume includes tie vs. North and wins over St. Joe's and Canisius.
-- Bishop Timon-St. Jude boys basketball. The Tigers own win over state-ranked Park (Class A) and also beat Class AA Rochester power Rush-Henrietta when it was ranked in the state poll.
-- Franklinville basketball. Unbeaten girls team ranked first in Western New York. Tiny Class D school owns wins over Sacred Heart and St. Mary's heading into Saturday's tough nonleague test at East Aurora. Boys team stands 10-2, ranked fourth in state with wins over the following larger schools: Niagara Catholic, Chautauqua Lake, Pioneer and Iroquois.
-- Health Sciences boys basketball. Top-ranked small school in the area and state's second-ranked Class B team gave Canisius fits in nonleague loss and followed that up with wins at St. Francis and state-ranked Tapestry.
-- Orchard Park girls basketball. Unbeaten with wins over defending Class AA champion Clarence, runner-up Frontier. Impressive considering ECIC I isn't easy.
-- Panama girls basketball. Two-time state runner-up ranked first, ahead of Franklinville, in state Class D poll but ranked second among area small schools. The Panthers' 10-0 start includes two wins over Class AA-sized Jamestown and a pair over defending Section VI Class C-1 champion Chautauqua Lake.
-- Pioneer wrestling. Top-ranked small school in the area rankings, the Panthers entered Saturday looking to win their second straight Section VI Division II team championship.
-- West Seneca West boys basketball. Unbeaten through 14 games after winning just five times last year. That's an attention-getter.
-- West Seneca West hockey. Another West team with championship aspirations, Indians scored major win over rival West Seneca East last Monday – handing defending Section VI Division II champion its first loss of the season.
Honor roll: Allegany-Limestone girls basketball, Amherst girls basketball, Amherst girls bowling, Canisius hockey, Canisius swimming, Cheektowaga indoor track, Clarence/Amherst/Sweet Home girls hockey, Clarence boys bowling, Clarence girls basketball, Clarence rifle, East boys basketball, East Aurora girls basketball, Ellicottville boys basketball, Falconer wrestling, Frontier/Lake Shore/Orchard Park girls hockey, Grand Island hockey, Grand Island wrestling, Hamburg swimming, Iroquois girls basketball, Lackawanna boys basketball, Lancaster hockey, Lancaster-Iroquois-Depew hockey, John F. Kennedy boys basketball, Kenmore East girls basketball, Lancaster indoor track, Lancaster rifle, Lockport boys basketball, Lockport boys and girls bowling, Maryvale boys and girls bowling, Mount St. Mary girls basketball, Newfane boys basketball, Newfane girls basketball, Newfane wrestling, Niagara Falls boys basketball, Niagara Falls boys and girls bowling, Niagara Wheatfield wrestling, North Tonawanda boys basketball, Olean boys basketball, Olean wrestling, Park boys basketball, Pioneer boys and girls bowling, Sacred Heart girls basketball, St. Francis bowling, St. Francis hockey, St. Francis wrestling, St. Joe's hockey, St. Joe's wrestling, Silver Creek boys basketball, Southwestern girls basketball, Sweet Home hockey, Tapestry boys basketball, West Seneca East hockey, West Seneca West track, Williamsville girls hockey, Williamsville South boys basketball, Williamsville South girls basketball.
Story topics: Canisius/ Cardinal O'Hara/ grand island/ Health Sciences/ iroquois/ kenmore/ Lancaster/ Miguel Rodriguez/ Newfane/ niagara falls/ NIagara Wheatfield/ Orchard Park/ Panama/ Park/ Pioneer/ Power 10/ St. Joe's/ Sweet Home/ Timon-St. Jude/ West Seneca East/ West Seneca West/ Williamsville/ Williamsville North/ williamsville south