Niagara Gazette — The long-awaited high school basketball postseason officially starts today with a series of first-round boys games in classes B-1 and B-2.
The first local team to tip off will be the Wilson boys, seeded 14th in Class B-2. They'll travel to face 11-Medina, a Niagara-Orleans league foe the Lakemen lost to twice in the regular season, at 7 tonight.
"We just played them last Tuesday, and we were up two at halftime," Wilson coach Brett Sippel said. "... I think that gave us a little confidence heading into (tonight's) game."
"We have 11 guys on the roster, and seven of them are sophomores," Sippel added. "Any game that we can get to this point on is a bonus for us. It's definitely a positive to play tomorrow from an experience standpoint."
If the Lakemen win, they'll travel to face 6-Southwestern at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the prequarterfinals.
The majority of boys games start Wednesday, with pre-quarterfinal play opening in each class. Niagara-Wheatfield, the No. 11 seed in Class AA, will play a Niagara Frontier League rival at 7 p.m. when it travels to 6-Ken West.
The Falcons worked through a down year this season, which included two losses to the Blue Devils during regular-season play. They're still a dangerous team if senior Jack Mulcahy finds his stroke, and could push their way to a first-round upset.
In Class A-2, ninth-seeded Starpoint travels to face 8-Riverside at 8 p.m. at McKinley High School. The Spartans made a habit of building leads but stumbling in the fourth quarter, particularly late in the year. Their fate against Riverside will be determined by how quickly they can adjust to the Frontiers' speed. If they can handle the pace and play well for four quarters, the Spartans could find themselves in Round Two.
Niagara Falls (No. 2 in Class AA) and Lewiston-Porter (3/A-2) will host quarterfinal games Friday. Grand Island, No. 7 in Class A-1, will travel to play 2-McKinley. All Friday's games start at 7 p.m.
The Wolverines dropped to second in their class due to a pair of losses in Rochester, but they're still viewed as the team to beat among Section VI's largest schools. No. 1 Jamestown has a blend of young talent surrounding senior guard Thomas Campion, and No. 3 Williamsville North has Division I-bound guard Sterling Taplin, but the Wolverines' advantage in size, strength and experience inside makes them the favorite to advance to the Far West Regionals.
Lew-Port is a wild card in Class A-2. The Lancers enter with a 12-6 record, which includes wins over larger schools like Grand Island and Nia.-Wheatfield. The class has been dominated by Amherst in recent years, but the Lancers will have to worry about getting by their first-round matchup (6-Pioneer) before setting their sights on the Tigers.
Boys semifinal games are scheduled Feb. 25-28 at Buffalo State, except for Class B-2, which will take place at the higher seed. Finals are set for March 2 and Buff State, scheduled to start as follows: B-2, noon; B-1, 1:45 p.m.; A-2, 3:30 p.m.; A-1, 6:30 p.m.; and AA, 8:15 p.m. The Class A and B finals will tip off at 8:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, on March 5 at Buff State.Follow high school sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on all your local teams.