BATAVIA — If you like high school sports the week between Christmas and New Year’s, you will love this particular week.
There are several basketball tournaments throughout the GLOW region and two of those tournaments feature many of the area’s top teams.
The Batavia Lions Club Tournament will have two different brackets this year — a large school bracket featuring Batavia, Roy Hart, Attica and Le Roy and a small school bracket featuring Elba, Notre Dame and Oakfield from the Genesee Region and Mount Morris from the Livingston Conference.
We will be taking a look at this year’s small school bracket with Thursday’s first round games including Mount Morris vs. Elba at 5:30 p.m. and Oakfield-Alabama vs. Notre Dame at 7 p.m.
This one promises to be very tough and extremely competitive.
Mount Morris enters the tournament 4-2 and was a half court shot at the buzzer by Vinnie Molisani away from beating undefeated Cal-Mum two weeks ago and enters the Elba game riding a three-game winning streak including a 11-point win over Belfast, a 16-point victory over Pavilion and a 64-point blowout over Lima Christian.
Their top player is 6-foot-2 senior forward Cameron Regal, who averages 17 points and 13 rebounds a game and is tough both inside the post and out for the Blue Devils.
Another senior, 6-foot-1 G/F Dylan Cicero averages 12 points a game and six-foot junior Jansel Martinez averages around 11 ppg.
The Blue Devils’ top playmaker is 5-foot-8 senior guard Collin Young, who averages just over nine points and three assists per game.
This team is quick and loves to run and gun — sometimes to a point where they get a bit sloppy like they did in their 14-point loss at York during their second game of the season.
Their opponent, Elba, is also 4-2 on the year and has been a little hot and cold this season but with the return of junior Colton Dillon, who sat out five of the first six games, head coach Ciaci Zambito is more than a little excited.
“The Lions Club Tournament is the premier holiday tournament in Section 5 basketball,” coach Zambito said. “It’s an honor to be a part of this event. Our program is very excited to play on a stage like this. Our team is becoming more complete as we continue to get healthy, and we will be ready for this opportunity.”
While the 6-foot-3 Dillon is back in the starting line-up, Elba has been getting solid minutes from 6-foot-3 senior Jon Boyce, who has posted four double-doubles this season.
Elba’s backcourt consists of a freshman Zach Marsceill and a junior Collin O’Halloran, who both will see plenty of zone with teams focusing on Dillon and Boyce in the post.
Elba enters today’s game on a two-game losing streak having dropped a 62-34 game to Medina and a 62-55 game to undefeated Lyndonville.
M-M head coach Brian Stout is excited to give his kids an opportunity to play against the GR’s top small school teams.
“It is a very tough bracket and we start off with a tough Elba team whom we split with in the Batavia Spring League,” coach Stout said. “So we know what we are up against. They are a very good team, and we know that they love to get the ball to Boyce, so Regal and (Justin) Martin are gonna have to work hard on the defensive end for us to be effective. They also have some good three-point shooters, so we also need to step it up on the perimeter defense.”
The second game on the small school card features Oakfield-Alabama against Notre Dame.
Don’t let O-A’s 2-4 record fool you as three of those losses have come against Cal-Mum (8-0), Attica (6-1) and Alexander (6-1) teams that have combined to go 20-2 on the season.
Oakfield-Alabama will rely plenty on a pair of underclassmen in junior guard Joey Burdick and sophomore guard Travis Wiedrich.
The Hornets will take on a solid Notre Dame squad, led by 6-foot-2 junior guard Gabe Macdonald and his 18 points per game average. Macdonald does a lot of everything for Notre Dame and his presence on the floor is crucial for their success.
Notre Dame enters today’s first round game with a 3-3 record including their 52-48 loss to Elba Dec. 7.
The Fighting Irish will rely on strong guard play by Macdonald, along with seniors Zach Cocking (11 ppg) and Spencer Misiti (12 ppg).
Notre Dame’s post presence will be immediately obvious with 6-foot-7, 300-plus pounds center Keith Szczepanski, who after a slow start has really picked things up averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game.
“Our team is excited to have a chance to compete in a tournament with some of the best small school programs in the GLOW Region,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Rapone said. “The tournament gives us an excellent chance to gauge how much progress we are making on areas we feel we must improve to accomplish our goals for this season.”
With the first round set for today, the winners of both games will meet in Friday’s title game at 7 p.m. back at GCC. The consolation game for the small schools will be played at 4 p.m.
CAL-MUM CHRISTMAS TOURNAMENT
While the Batavia Lions Club Tournament will showcase some of the area’s top boys basketball programs, Caledonia-Mumford will play host to another highly competitive tournament Thursday and Friday featuring undefeated Cal-Mum (8-0), once-beaten Alexander (6-1), a very tough York squad (6-2) and Wheatland-Chili (0-5).
Thursday’s first round match-ups pit York against Wheatland-Chili at 5:30 p.m. and the much-anticipated nightcap featuring Cal-Mum and Alexander at 7 p.m.
York has been playing solid basketball this season with their only two losses coming against Cal-Mum and Avon, who are both unbeaten.
York, who shook off a slow start Saturday against Pavilion to come back and win 65-54, features a run and gun style of several three-point shooters that are dangerous. In the Pavilion win, seven different players connected from behind the arc. Coach Eddie Orman Jr’s squad has plenty of depth and has eight different players reach double figures this season in scoring.
Senior Matt McFarland, a 6-foot-3 versatile guard, is the engine to this Golden Knights’ squad averaging double figures in scoring and rebounding while leading the team in steals and assists.
McFarland posted back-to-back double-doubles this past Friday and Saturday in wins over Le Roy and Pavilion going for 16 and 10 against Le Roy and 14 and 15 against Pavilion.
Junior Hunter Stella, a 6-foot-3 forward, who can shoot it from the outside, has played very well in several games this season for the Golden Knights scoring in double figures in all but one game.
York’s perimeter attack will feature both McFarland and Stella, along with Josh Davis, David Cuozzo, Lucas Maggio and Timmy LaGeorge. If teams play York zone, and the Golden Knights are on from the perimeter, it could be a long night for opponents.
Sophomore James Kennedy — who also had a double-double in York’s win over Le Roy — has done an admirable job in the post for York this season.
“Our team is so excited to be a part of the Cal-Mum Christmas Tourney,” coach Orman said. “It’s a tradition for our community and the competition this year looks amazing. We are riding a four-game win streak and hope to use this tournament to continue to grow and develop as a team.”
York will take on a winless W-C team led by Elijah Gissendanner.
Three of the Wildcats five losses have come by six points or less including their 49-48 loss to Kendall last week.
The match-up of the night will come in the second game where Cal-Mum will take on Alexander.
Cal-Mum loves to press and run with a pair of talented guards in Eric Wilson (18 ppg) and Vinnie Molisani (15 ppg).
Forwards Joe Laursen (12 ppg) and Ethan Pies (7 ppg, 8 rpg) have done a tremendous job in the post for the Red Raiders. Freshman guard Kyle Wade (6 ppg) has also provided a solid spark to the Red Raiders including his last second basket against Le Roy to send the game into OT.
Cal-Mum head coach Dan Dickens knows his team will have plenty of tests the next two days and he and his Red Raiders are excited about it.
“We always are excited for our annual tournament,” Dickens said. “We have a tough first game with Alexander who I’m sure is going to be trying to avenge last year’s loss and has a lot of talent with (Chris) McClinic and (Bryce) Davis and getting some solid play from (Tyrone) Woods and (Dylan) Busch. York is really solid this season as well as both losses have come against two teams who are undefeated and have some good veteran leadership from McFarland and Stella and some really talented young players. Wheatland is struggling but Elijah is a tough match up. They have some nice young players trying to make their own history in the tourney. It’s a very exciting tourney for us and we’ve had some great games over the years and it brings almost a sectional atmosphere.”
Lions Club- Elba 62, Notre Dame 52
C-M Tournament- Cal-Mum 67, York 66
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