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Amherst, Maryvale on a postseason collision course

They’ve had on-court family reunions before, but never in the playoffs.

Should the Section VI Class A-2 boys basketball seeds hold, though, that will change for the Kensys – Mark the patriarch and longtime coach of Maryvale and his son Chris, coach of championship-contending Amherst. Their teams are on a potential collision course to meet Feb. 22 – the first day of the sectional semifinals.

If both teams survive quarterfinal tests Friday, the Kensy Family Feud hits SUNY Buffalo State to serve as a dynamic start to what figures to be an action-packed Championship Week.

While Chris’ team has gotten the better of its ECIC III rival in recent regular-season meetings, the Flyers have a rather impressive playoff résumé, having reached the Buffalo State-portion of the tournament 10 times the past 13 seasons and reaching the finals seven times.

Still ...

“They’re ruling in our family; they’re the kings in our family,” Mark Kensy said of Chris’ and Amherst’s recent string of wins over the Flyers. “There’s mutual respect for each other’s program. We’re a close family. We don’t avoid each other but we just don’t talk a lot of basketball until the games are over.”

Should the seeds hold, it would present quite the challenge for the fourth-seeded Flyers (14-6) because Amherst (19-1) is among the eight teams to earn No. 1 seeds for the tournament.

Other top seeds include Niagara Falls (Class AA), Williamsville South (Class A-1), Olean (Class B-1), International Prep at Grover (Class B-2), Cleveland Hill (Class C-1), Middle Early College (Class C-2) and Panama (Class D).

Williamsville North heads into the girls Class AA tourney as the No. 1 seed with a flawless 19-0 record. Other top seeds include Williamsville South (Class A-1), Lake Shore (Class A-2), East Aurora (Class B-1), Emerson (Class B-2), Allegany/Limestone (Class C-1), Holland (C-2) and Panama (Class D).

The boys tournament begins Tuesday with first-round games in Classes B-1 and B-2. Championship Week begins with semifinal games Monday, Feb. 22 at Buffalo State Sports Arena and Jamestown Community College. The Class C-1, C-2 and D finals are Feb. 26 at JCC and could have an Erie County feel depending how the Class C brackets play out.

As usual, championship Saturday at Buffalo State Sports Arena will be split into two sessions. The Class B-2 (noon), B-1 (1:45 p.m.) and A-2 (3:30 p.m.) finals constitute the first $6 session. The second $6 session includes the Class A-1 (7 p.m.) and AA title games (8:30 p.m.).

The girls tournament starts Tuesday with first-round games in several classes. Feb. 27-28 and March 3 are dates for the Section VI finals.

Section VI has home-court advantage for boys Far West Regionals this season, which take place March 5 at Buffalo State Sports Arena. The girls, who made history in winning four of five regional games last season, hit the road to face Section V’s champions at Rush-Henrietta on March 5.

While Maryvale is seemingly a Championship Week regular, that still doesn’t guarantee the Flyers a spot in the semifinals. They will have to earn their way to Buffalo State and most definitely will be tested by in-town and ECIC III rival Cheektowaga in the quarterfinals. The teams split the two-game regular-season series.

The fifth-seeded Warriors feature one of the area’s top talents in junior human highlight reel Dominick Welch. Welch leads Section VI with 29.0 points per game and has eclipsed 30 points eight times this season, going for more than 40 twice.

Other observations regarding the brackets:

• After a slow start, defending Class AA boys champion Jamestown brings a 15-5 mark into the postseason as a No. 2 seed.

• The Olean boys (20-0) and Williamsville North girls (19-0) are the only unbeaten teams in either field.


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