When a player scores 34 points to get his team to Glens Falls, the performance is worth another look.
The first one, last Saturday night, was impressive enough. Jamestown guard Zack Panebianco helped lead his team to a 61-52 upset victory over Greece-Athena in the Class AA Far West Regionals.
I don’t think I can remember another Western New York player putting forth a similarly singular performance in that type of game. The deeper the game went on, the more important the 5-foot-10 junior’s points became.
Twenty-two of his points came in the second half. He hit all four of his three-point attempts in the second half, and each of them came at huge junctures.
After Greece-Athena came within five in the third quarter, Panebianco hit his first three — the first of several shots that would make that the closest Athena would come all game. His second three came with four seconds left in the third quarter and gave Jamestown a 10-point lead over a team that not only was ranked ahead of the Red Raiders (No. 6 to No. 14), but had beaten them by 20 in Jamestown’s home opener.
In the fourth quarter, Panebianco’s threes both pushed Jamestown’s single digit lead to double digits. If they weren’t daggers, they sure were close.
“The kid is ice,” Jamestown coach Ben Drake said Wednesday, repeating a line he used a few times Saturday night. “I’ve never been around a kid who is so even-keeled regardless of the circumstances. You wouldn’t know from his facial expression whether he turned the ball over or scored his 34th points. His highs aren’t very high, and his lows aren’t very low. He always seems to make plays in those big moments.”
According to this week’s New York State Sportswriters Association rankings, all four teams headed to Glens Falls are favorites in their semifinal matchup. And each team, in some sense, is familiar with the trip.
• Jamestown’s second trip to the New York State Public Schools Athletic Association final four is its second in four years. The No. 9 Red Raiders (18-4) will face Section IV (Binghamton area) champion and No. 12 Union-Endicott (17-4), which is making its first appearance in Glens Falls in 30 years after stunning state power Mount Vernon, in the regionals.
• In Class B, No. 3 Olean (20-3) makes its second trip in three years — and one it has been aching to make since last year’s buzzer-beater loss in the regionals to Batavia. It will face No. 8 Woodlands (20-3) of Section I (Westchester County) which makes its first trip to Glens Falls in 24 years.
• In Class C, Middle Early College (18-5) makes its third trip in five years after winning the 2010 title and losing in the 2012 final. The No. 2 Kats face No. 4 Friends Academy (18-3) of Section VIII (Nassau County), which won the C state title in 2011.
• In Class D, No. 2 Sherman (21-1) makes its third trip to Glens Falls under coach Cory Emory (2002, 2004). The Wildcats will face Section IX champion No. 4 Coleman Catholic (17-4) of Ulster County (Section IX).
The News will publish NYSPHSAA capsule previews of Olean, Middle College and Sherman in Friday’s paper and Jamestown in Saturday’s paper.
Privates at Glens Falls
As you may have noticed, Section VI schools in the NYSPHSAA’s two smallest classifications are playing private schools in Glens Falls. While most private schools are not members of Long Island’s Section VIII (Nassau County) and Section XI (Suffolk County), Friends Academy is not only in Section VIII, but has been placed in Class C for several years. It is the only Class C school in Section VIII, so it automatically qualifies for the state playoffs. Must be nice. By my research, I’m pretty certain Friends sued Section VIII to gain entry. The fact that a private school with no geographic boundaries is able to draw students from a highly populated area such as Long Island and compete in Class C is ridiculous.
Why? For the same reason that Sherman shouldn’t have to play consecutive games against private schools in the smallest classification in the state.
After beating Batavia Notre Dame (located in city of Batavia, home of Class B Batavia High), the third-smallest boys basketball program in Section VI will play Coleman Catholic of downstate’s Ulster County, which is not only larger but also more densely populated than Chautauqua County.
Private schools have no place in Class D, predominately home to rural districts like Sherman. Most shouldn’t be in C, either — especially if the school is based in a population center like Long Island.
While their enrollment numbers might be at a Class C or D level, private schools with no geographic boundaries have no place competing with public schools that do.
Carlson offered by UAB
Stephen Carlson, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior starting forward for Jamestown who is headed to Glens Falls this weekend, was also a first-team All-Western New York football player for the Red Raiders, and he received his first Division I scholarship offer Tuesday – from the University of Alabama-Birmingham of Conference USA.
Carlson told me that the University at Buffalo has had interest as well.
Carlson was a terrific receiver for the Class AA champion Red Raiders (56 catches for 1,065 yards and 12 TDs), making outstanding catches routine in a record-setting offense directed by quarterback Jake Sisson, The Buffalo News Player of the Year.
Around the halls
• Section VI’s 4-1 performance matched its best performance ever in the boys basketball Far West Regionals. It also went 4-1 in 2004 and 2008. The state tournament expanded from four to five classes in 2004. Section VI’s best performance in the A-B-C-D system was 3-1, achieved six times. Overall in the regionals, which began in 1978, Section V holds a 91-72 advantage (.558) over Section VI. It is worth noting that Section V includes private schools while Section VI does not include those from the Monsignor Martin Association (and it shouldn’t because they’re apples and oranges).
• The St. Mary’s boys basketball team heads to Fordham University Saturday for a 2 p.m. matchup with Regis of Manhattan (16-11) in the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association Class B championship game. The Lancers (18-7), who haven’t played since their Manhattan Cup semifinal overtime loss to Bishop Timon-St. Jude on Feb. 26, are ranked 25th in the Class B state poll while Regis is not ranked. The Class B final will be broadcast on msgvarsity.com. Regis won the downstate Class B title Monday with a 47-41 overtime victory over Sacred Heart of Yonkers.
• PrepTalkTV was to air Wednesday, but it was postponed due to the impending snowstorm (good call by us). Our guests were to be from Mount Mercy girls basketball following the Magic’s winning the NYSCHSAA’s Class B state championship last weekend. We’ll be covering the Magic and girls No. 1 large school Cardinal O’Hara, which recorded a major accomplishment in winning the Class A championship after being moved up to A from B this year, next week as they head to the Federation Tournament of Champions March 21-23 in Albany.
* The All-WNY basketball issue will be Saturday, April 5 (the first teams will be revealed in a special PrepTalkTV episode at BuffaloNews.com on Friday, April 4). Coaches should send information about their own nominees, as well as their overall picks for the All-WNY team, via email to kmcshea.