Olean was thought to be a year or two from contending, starting four sophomores and a junior, but apparently it is working on a different timetable.
The Huskies bring a 16-game winning streak and the No. 1 seed in Class B-1 into next week's Section VI boys basketball tournament. The pairings for boys and girls were announced as part of Selection Saturday at Erie BOCES in West Seneca.
Olean's only loss was to Batavia in its tipoff tournament. It went on to win CCAA I for the 10th time in 11 years.
The Huskies start 6-foot-7 Sam Eckstrom, Wil Bathhurst, Luke Hennessy, Pat Scholla and Nick Schmidt, son of St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt.
"I had high expectations for these kids. Four starters played for me last year. As far as I'm concerned, they really have two years under their belt," said coach Jeff Anastasia. "We have looked so good at times I'm like, 'Holy cow, they're playing like seniors,' and sometimes we go back to that youth mode."
Another No. 1 seed, Amherst in Class A-2, likes its chances. The ECIC III champ has won nine of its last 10, led by double-figure scorers Alex Turecki and brothers Glen and Jon Belton.
"We have a very hard-working group that bases each game on defense, working as hard as we can," said coach Chris Kensy. "We are very, very unselfish. The kids from 1-12 all work for each other. They don't care who gets the most points, who gets the most assists they just care about winning. Each of them has each other's back.
Cleveland Hill is set to test itself as the No. 1 seed in Class B-2. The Eagles shared the ECIC IV title with Tonawanda for their first crown since 1989. Daryl Spencer, Miles Barker and Jared Watkins are the go-to players.
No. 1 seed McKinley and No. 2 Williamsville South are on a collision course to meet in the Class A-1 final for what would be the fourth time in six years. South might have to beat Williamsville East in the semis to get there. They shared the ECIC II title.
*Defending champions: Boys: Jamestown (Class AA), Williamsville South (A-1), East (A-2), Lackawanna (B-1), Cassadaga Valley (B-2), I-Prep Grover Cleveland (C), Pine Valley (D).
*Girls: Williamsville North (Class AA), Grand Island (A-1), Pioneer (A-2), Eden (B-1), Wilson (B-2), Randolph (C), Sherman (D).
*Top seeds: Boys: Jamestown (Class AA), McKinley (A-1), Amherst (A-2), Olean (B-1), Cleveland Hill (B-2), OTC Middle College (C-1), Silver Creek (C-2) and Panana (D)
*Girls: Lancaster (Class AA), Grand Island (A-1), Pioneer (A-2), East (B-1), Southwestern (B-2), Tapestry (C-1), Frewsburg (C-2) and Olmsted (D).
*Ticket takers: Ticket prices for the boys and girls games are unchanged from last year. The prequarterfinals and quarterfinals are $3 at the door with preseale tickets at $2. The semifinals are $5. The finals, cross-over finals and Far West Regionals are $6. The girls finals have moved to Niagara CCC in Sanborn.
*Who's got next? Buffalo will host the Far West Regionals against the champions from Section V Rochester. The five-game marathon begins at Buffalo State on March 10 at noon.
The girls will travel to Finger Lakes CC on March 9-10.
*Opting out of the open tournament: Boys: South Park, Lafayette, daVinci, Ripley and Cattaraugus/Little Valley. Girls: eight of 14 schools from the Canisius Cup, Buffalo Science, Brocton and Catt./Little Valley.