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Quarterfinal Friday: Where we're going

Turns out that our choices for the two top quarterfinals tonight are the same as the people's.

I'll be covering Alden at Lackawanna III, in what will certainly be a highly competitive game, and, of course, I'm sure there will be a lot of passionate, respectful fans.

Correspondent Jay Skurski will be at Williamsville South for the Billies' game with Riverside.

I expect I'll have live updates posted here during the Lackawanna game.

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As far as the try-and-get-to-as-many-games-in-one-night challenge, with all the games at 7 p.m. it doesn't set up well (even though, as suggested, one could get to Sweet Home, Williamsville South and Williamsville North).

This school year I think I'll have to settle with football's sectional semifinal Saturday, when I just missed getting to a fourth game in one afternoon (and a total of seven on the weekend -- two Friday and five Saturday).

Two years ago when I saw -- I believe -- six different basketball games at four different sites, the main factor that helped me pull it off was that there were two doubleheaders at Yale Cup gyms. That made four games accessible within close distance, then I bolted up Main St. to Amherst and Williamsville South for two more.

Also, if memory serves, all of the matchups in 2007 were good-but-not-great, nothing near the caliber of this year's games. I think that's a testament not only to the balance and depth of this season, but to WNY playing better basketball as a whole.

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Another piece of evidence is that in the nine previous years I've covered hoops, I have never gone out to prequarterfinal games -- there was nothing compelling enough to see, really. Wednesday I not only saw two very good teams (and very talented players) in Hutch Tech's win over Middle College, I caught a fantastic finish to Bennett's win.

Think about it: Middle College's Justin Stokes and Darale Young, two extremely talented players and certainly All-Western New York candidates, had their season end after a prequarterfinal. It's no fault of their own, really -- the Kats just ran into a flat-out better team.  

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Yet another note from the history books: Last year, I went to Jamestown because it hosted Riverside in the AA quarterfinals, which was worth the trip because it was far and away the best quarterfinal (and it was a tremendous game -- you may remember the finish of the game and a few blog entries (scroll down through February 2008) about what the Jamestown fans though of me). However, this year, there are obviously several choices for great games.

Then again, you never know what will happen. There are going to be results tonight that will surprise people, like Wednesday's wins by Iroquois and South Park and last year's quarterfinal win by Hutch-Tech (at Williamsville South).

It has all the makings of being a wild Friday night -- the great news for me is that it is Day One of nine straight days of hoops, continuing with the Manhattan Cup final four Saturday and Sunday. 

---Keith McShea

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