After the Maple Grove boys basketball team won its fourth straight Section VI championship, his coach wasn't afraid to put a lot on the shoulders of his senior captain.
"I just feel like you're going to see Chris Secky go on fire," coach Curt Fischer said. "I'm making a prediction right now. I'm not predicting we're going to win, but I'm just going to say I think Chris Secky is ready to put this team on his shoulders and take us on the journey we need to go on."
You certainly don't hear expectations like that being placed on a high school athlete every day. However, Chris Secky is certainly not your everyday high school athlete.
This weekend, the reigning All-Western New York first teamer (in basketball and football) will add a third straight trip to Glens Falls for the state championships to one of the most impressive resumes in recent Western New York high school sports.
While he'll be showing his teammates what it's like to participate in a final four, he could certainly offer some pointers to the other Western New York teams heading down the Thruway.
While he and Maple Grove have become Glens Falls regulars, it is the first time that the OTC Middle College boys of Buffalo and the Clymer girls are headed to the final four. Maple Grove (Class D) and Middle College (C) will compete in the boys tournament Glens Falls while the Clymer girls (Class D) are the lone Section VI team to advance to the girls final four at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
Secky, who has been an all-tournament selection at Glens Falls in both of his trips, is the unquestioned leader of a Red Dragons team which is quite different from last year's, which was quite different than the one before it.
Two years ago, Secky was the point guard for a vaunted Red Dragons team that won the Class C championship and included four seniors (including older brother Tom; eldest brother Randall served as an assistant). Last year he learned to be more of a scorer with a new group, and then nearly started over again this year as only one other senior starter returned (Kevin McElrath).
In football, Secky was the state's Class D Player of the Year as well as the state championship MVP when he quarterbacked the Red Dragons to the state Class D title in 2008. He led Maple Grove to the Section VI final this season, a game that took place just after he signed to play basketball at Division II Le Moyne.
Last week, Secky lived up to his coach's prediction when he scored 13 of his 24 points in the third quarter to lead Maple Grove to a 52-36 Far West Regional win over Section V (Rochester area) champion Houghton Academy. Among those third-quarter points was a swished jump shot that made him the 13th member of Western New York's 2,000-point club (he now has 2,020).
"We have a lot of young guys, and it's my job to carry them," said Secky. "They've never been in these situations. When they see me pick them up, it lets them play loose and play hard."
Maple Grove (14-8) will face the state's top-ranked team, Section III (Syracuse area) champion New York Mills (23-0), in the semifinals at 11:45 a.m. Friday at the Glens Falls Civic Center. Middle College (21-1) will take on Moravia (21-2) of Section IV (Binghamton area) at 5 p.m. in the Class C semifinals.
Even though Middle College's varsity program is just in its second year, expectations are high for the Kats after they won their last two postseason games by 36 and 46 points. The Kats won the Section VI title with a 71-35 rout of Cassadaga Valley and last week it throttled Section V champion Mynderse Academy of Seneca Falls, 96-50.
Middle College (21-1) won the Buffalo Public Schools' Yale Cup behind a group of starters which matched talent with defense and teamwork; in the postseason the team's performances have been exceptional.
"We all play together, and that's why the outcome is like this," senior Darale Young said after the regional win. "I don't think anyone took over 15 shots. We share the ball all the time, everyone gets involved and everybody's happy."
Clymer, a town with a population around 1,500 tucked into the southwest corner of the state, has been in the grips of its own March Madness ever since the Pirates qualified for states.
Clymer (18-4) will play private school John A. Coleman Catholic (19-3) of Section IX on Saturday at 9 a.m. in the Class D semifinals.
"You can't go anywhere without someone talking about basketball," said Hinsdale, now in his ninth season. "This is awesome for myself, and the girls, and the school and community. Small town sports is big. You can't image what kind of enthusiasm this generates. It's been a hell of a ride."