By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
Yesterday, I wrote a piece about the Section II girls basketball playoffs. What I filed started with a self-deprecating note about how readers should not take my thoughts too seriously -- after all, they are simply the ramblings of someone who thought yesterday's biggest news was the re-release of the Tamagotchi.
And, then, right at deadline, a game result came in that pretty much changed the entire makeup of one of the brackets: Fonda-Fultonville's win against Watervliet, the top-seeded club in the Class B bracket. Coupled with the loss, Watervliet may have lost one of its best players for the season because of a knee injury, giving a dramatic shake-up to the bracket's complexion and feel.
Who is likely to be the biggest benefactor? Broadalbin-Perth, as the No. 9 Lady Patriots' road to the semifinals now looks a lot cleaner without a fully healthy juggernaut in their way in a potential quarterfinal matchup.
Now, while this disturbance to the norm caused some rethinking of how that Class B bracket might shake out, what it has not done is rattle my iron-clad will to offer opinions on high school basketball, knowing full well that trying to predict the exploits of 16- and 17-year-old kids is a futile exercise. With that out of the way, let's take a look at the Section II boys basketball scene.
Local team with the best chance to do some damage
There are a few area clubs with a chance to be playing in the semifinals, but the Canajoharie Cougars, No. 4 in Class C, are the best bet. After a first-round home game against No. 13 Voorheesville, the Cougars -- if they advance -- will likely take on No. 5 Schoharie, a squad the Cougars have already handled twice this season. Canajoharie head coach Phil Schoff told me the other day he doesn't love the idea of playing the same team three times -- "There's an old saying about that," he said -- but, personally, I'd much prefer playing a team I've already beaten twice to an unknown commodity.
Best first-round matchups
Not including play-in games, here's what I've got ...
CLASS AA: Going with S3 Bethlehem against B6 Catholic Central. The Crusaders have Anthony Mack back after missing some late-season games with an injury, and the prolific scorer gives CC a chance against anyone.
CLASS A: No. 11 Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons at No. 6 Averill Park is the selection. One-win ND-BG has the best scorer in this classification in Dwayne Freeman, and his presence makes this an intriguing matchup. I'll have more on another Class A matchup in a bit ...
CLASS B: No. 9 Ichabod Crane at No. 8 Broadalbin-Perth. The Patriots are a dangerous team in this bracket; coming down in class from the Foothills Council, B-P's lack of size should not be a major disruption in the Class B field, where the club could get on a roll with a win against a tough Ichabod Crane squad. Also, much like in the B-P girls'matchup, the number of soccer players involved in this basketball game is enough to make it extra interesting; the Patriots and the Riders have met in each of the past two years in the Section II Class B boys soccer tournament in pivotal games.
CLASS C: Sticking local, as I think the matchup between No. 9 Fort Plain and No. 8 Rensselaer should be a quality one. The Hilltoppers' game against Mekeel Christian Academy aside, Fort Plain is on a roll and hitting its stride at the right time.
CLASS D: No. 9 Heatly at No. 8 St. Johnsville sticks out in a field of slim pickings. The real treat will be that the winner of this one gets to take on No. 1 Argyle and Joey Lufkin, who is averaging nearly 40 points per game this season.
Three early-round upsets
Not including any No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchups, here's what I've got ...
* B7 Bishop Maginn over S2 Shenendehowa in the Class AA first round: The Golden Griffins are a tough out each year come sectional time, and I expect this year to be no different. When the Griffins take on the Plainsmen, Bishop Maginn's lineup will include the best two players in the contest, in Demere Hannah and Derrick Thomas.
* B4 La Salle Institute over S1 Shaker in the Class AA quarterfinals: Both team need to win a game to get here, but I'm confident they will. I'm also confident that LSI's Elijah Burns and Ralph Erickson are still going to be playing when this tournament moves to the semifinal round.
* No. 10 Amsterdam over No. 7 Queensbury in the Class A first round: All season long, the Running Rams have looked to get to sectionals to (literally) take on someone their own size. This is their chance to show their 4-14 record is a product of the competition in the Big 10, and I expect Amsterdam to make good on the chance.