There have been three instances in its history in which Lewiston-Porter has had a chance to celebrate as champions of the Niagara Frontier League in boys basketball.
Matt Bradshaw has been there for all of them, but the Lancers’ most recent triumph may be a sign of things still to come from the young crew.
Third-ranked large school Lew-Port secured the league title Thursday with a 75-71 victory over defending champion Niagara Falls in a game played at Lockport. The win avenged a regular-season defeat last month to the Wolverines, the News’ second-ranked team in the most current poll.
By capturing the title at Niagara Falls’ expense, Bradshaw coached his alma mater to its first league title since 1984. Bradshaw was player on that 1984 championship team, while he was the ball boy when the program won it back in 1978.
“It’s huge, it’s a big confidence builder,” Bradshaw said.
While winning the league title should give the Lancers (17-3) some swagger this postseason, it failed to help them earn a top seed for the coming Section VI Tournament. Lew-Port lost a coin flip against Amherst during Saturday’s sectional seeding meeting used to determine the top seed in the Class A-2 bracket. Both finished the regular season with the same number of power points.
The Section VI Tournament begins Tuesday with a handful of play-in games. There will be quarterfinal games Friday and Saturday with Championship Week beginning Feb. 25 at Buffalo State Sports Arena and Jamestown Community College.
While Amherst (17-3) could potentially face a team it split the regular-season series with, Lew-Port could have a daunting home playoff game against Health Sciences. Health Sciences, a newcomer to Class A-2, is coming off back-to-back state semifinal appearances in Class B.
“It’s a big challenge,” Bradshaw said. “Our championship starts right away. ... They’re as good as anyone in our bracket.”
Amherst, which won ECIC II, isn’t the only division champion to earn a No. 1 seed for the Section VI boys tournament. ECIC I champion Williamsville North earned the top seed in Class AA.
Other No. 1 seeds in the tournament are Sweet Home (Class A-1), Medina (B-1), Allegany-Limestone (B-2), Yale Cup I champion Middle Early College (C-1), Ellicottville (C-2) and Franklinville (Class D).
Unbeaten Olean is in Class B-1 but is the No. 3 seed because it lost a tie-breaker (total league wins) for the second seed with Lackawanna, which had one more league win.
Last year’s sectional champions were Niagara Falls (Class AA), West Seneca West (Class A), South Park (Class A-2), Health Sciences (Class B), Olean (Class B-1), Tapestry (Class C) and East (Class D).
Teams that opted out of this year’s tournament are Lafayette, DaVinci, Gowanda, Falconer, Global Concepts and Brocton.
The Section VI girls basketball tournament brackets also were unveiled Saturday as the tourney begins Tuesday.
Teams that earned No. 1 seeds are Frontier (Class AA), Grand Island (Class A-1), Lake Shore (Class A-2), City Honors (Class B-1), Eden (Class B-2), Portville (Class C-1), Maple Grove (Class C-2) and Panama (Class D).
Sectional finals will be held at Jamestown CC (March 2 and 5) and Buffalo State Sports Arena (March 3 and 6).
Last year’s champions were Orchard Park (Class AA), Williamsville South (Class A), Amherst (Class A-2), Fredonia (Class B), Southwestern (Class B-2), Allegany-Limestone (Class C) and Franklinville (Class D).
Teams that opted out of sectionals are Barker, DaVinci, East, I-Prep, Lackawanna, Riverside and South Park.
Martin to be honored
Section VI dedicated the girls basketball program to late Allegany-Limestone coach Frank Martin. Martin passed away suddenly last March, days after guiding A/L to the state semifinals.
The section also plans to present the first Frank Martin Coach of the Year Award as chosen by the family and Section VI girls basketball committee.