The Fredonia State women's basketball team has made a late push for the playoffs. Just a few weeks ago, they were on the bubble. Now, although they have not officially clinched, they are in control of their own destiny in an effort to secure a home playoff game.
With both Buffalo State and Plattsburgh at 12-2, and the Devils at 8-6 with four games remaining, earning a top-two seed is a longshot. The top two seeds receive a bye.
The Nos. 3 and 4 seeds will get a first-round home playoff game. Currently, the Devils are two games behind Oneonta for third place, and tied with Cortland and Geneseo in the win column with eight victories. With wins over Buffalo State and Oneonta, the Devils would have a leg up if they remained tied with Cortland, who they split the season series with. The Devils face Geneseo on Friday in a game that will begin to clear up the playoff picture.
Here's how the standings look going into the weekend (top six teams advance):
Buffalo State 12-2
Fredonia State 8-6
Potsdam, New Paltz and Oswego - eliminated
Brockport is barely alive. They can leapfrog the Devils if they go 5-0 and the Devils go 0-4. The two teams will go head-to-head on Saturday.
Last weekend the team swept Oneonta and New Paltz. In their previous 16 games combined at those two venues, covering nearly a decade, they had been 0-16. In addition, the Devils dropped games to Oneonta, Cortland and Oswego earlier this season. During their current four-game win streak, they avenged all three losses, as well as completing a season sweep of last year's SUNYAC champ, New Paltz.
The win streak has been marked by improved all-around play. This can be attributed to a number of younger players stepping up their games. Seniors Becky Hebert, the leading scorer in the SUNYAC, and Jaimie Warren, the leading rebounder in the conference, have provided steady numbers all season and most of their careers.
It's the young, supporting cast that has made a difference lately.
Sophomore guard Brittany LaForce had 30 points - a season-high 18 at Oneonta followed by a 12-point effort over New Paltz. Her previous high of 10 occurred a couple times early in the season. She also combined for eight 3-pointers over the weekend.
"As the season has gone on," said first-year head coach Linda Hill-MacDonald, "Brittany has grown accustomed to our style on offense and defense... and we've seen more of her potential. Last weekend was a break-out [series]."
Fellow sophomore Sabrina Macaulay had her fifth double-double of the season and ranks third in the SUNYAC in rebounding (9.0 per game) and sixth in blocked shots. She also is averaging 8.4 points per game.
Freshman Alexis Cheatham, who was not in the opening-day lineup, is quickly becoming one of the most exciting players in the SUNYAC. She is capable of scoring - 17.5 ppg over the last eight games - and playmaking. Her 111 assists and 5.6 per game lead the conference. Her 39 3-pointers rank fourth on the Devils' all-time single-season list.
Another freshman - Kathryn Halloran - hasn't made as significant statistical contributions, but has been the first off the bench. "She is very focused. Nothing flashy... She works hard and is not going to back down," said Hill-MacDonald.
As for the games this weekend, Hill-MacDonald is first and foremost focused on Geneseo Friday. "They are a very talented team. Their strength is their size... and they have a point guard that can distribute and score."
Tipoff is a slated for 6 p.m. in Steele Hall.
Saturday the team takes on Brockport on Senior Day. Hebert, Warren and Alicia Mikowicz are the team's three seniors. Game time is 2 p.m.
Notes: Cheatham's 111 assists rank 11th on the Devils' all-time list. Sherri Ervin's 151 in 1998-99 rank No. 1 ... The three ahead of Cheatham's 39 on the 3-point list: Lori Taberski (54); Sarah Adkins (51); Maria Scaffidi (40) ... Hebert's career point total is currently at 1,513 ... Her 23.5 ppg this year ranks eighth in DIII, while her shooting percentage of 59.2 ranks 11th ... Her school-record 44-point game vs. Oswego is the fifth-highest scoring game in Division III this season ... Hebert is the reigning SUNYAC and the ECAC New York Region player of the week. She averaged 22.5 points and shot 70 percent from the field in conference games at Oneonta and New Paltz ... Warren is at 1,064 career points ... She ranks fifth on the team's all-time rebound list (707) ... There was one other 1,000-point tandem in school history, although they were not at the 1,000-point level at the same time: Clare Crowley (2000-2004) and Kim Guenther (1999-2003) played together three seasons.
concludes this weekend
This weekend will mark the final home games of the season for the Fredonia State men's basketball team. They will square off against the top two teams in the conference, and hope to keep up their recent winning ways.
Tonight, the team will take on conference foe Geneseo at 8 p.m. The Blue Devils enter the weekend 6-15 overall and 3-11 in SUNYAC play. Geneseo will come into Steele Hall second in the conference standings (16-3, 10-2).
Saturday - Senior Day - the Devils will take on SUNYAC-leading Brockport, who is ranked No. 15 in the Feb. 3rd d3hoops.com poll.
Brockport and Geneseo are also ranked 1-2 by the NCAA in the East Region rankings. Geneseo received 12 votes in the Top 25 poll.
The Blue Devils have been eliminated from post season competition. Unfortunately for the Devils, though, the season looks to be ending a little too soon.
The team has shown a dramatic improvement, and they are coming off a pair of wins and an overtime loss in the past three games.
Senior Tyrone Clark has put together one of the most exciting seasons in recent team history. With four games to go - the team travels to Potsdam and Plattsburgh next weekend - Clark is currently seventh in single-season scoring at 446 points. Given his current pace of 21.7 ppg, he could find himself in the Top Four all time. His season per-game average ranks fourth.
He is also tied for 10th on the single-season three-point list with 48. Five more long-range jumpers would move him all the way up to fourth place. Greg Lauer connected for 63 back in the 1999-2000 campaign.
His top game this season - 45 points - also tied a 29-year old school record set by All American Chris Hughey back in December of 1985.
In addition to Clark, the team has three other seniors making their Steele Hall swan song. Team-captain Markus Williams (Niagara Falls/Niagara Wheatfield) has averaged 5.4 ppg and 4.0 rebounds.
Ray Parris and Zack Edwards have seen limited playing time due to injury and will not be active for the game. Parris average 5.1 points in nine games, and Edwards made one appearance before his season ended.
Is Buff St. visit playoff preview again?
It's that time of year again, when followers of SUNYAC men's hockey begin looking at potential playoff matchups.
In the case of the Fredonia State Blue Devils, that talk has become something like a broken record. It keeps skipping ahead to a familiar first-round opponent.
With two weekends remaining, a lot can still happen - yet the needle for the Blue Devils seems to be pointing toward another playoff meeting with the Buffalo State Bengals. When the Western New York rivals meet last season in Buffalo, it marked the fourth time in seven seasons they had faced each other in the first round of the SUNYAC Tournament.
Yet first, the foes will face off tonight in the Steele Hall Ice Arena. Game time is 7 p.m. Doors open one hour prior to faceoff.
"With one game this weekend, the season is winding down," Blue Devil head coach Jeff Meredith said. "Buffalo State presents a pretty big challenge."
The Bengals come to tonight's game in fourth place - three points ahead of the fifth-place Blue Devils. Each team has three conference games remaining. The top six teams make the SUNYAC tournament with the usual format: seeds 1 and 2 draw byes, while 6 visits 3, and 5 visits 4.
The Blue Devils are coming off a one-point weekend in the north country. They lost at nationally ranked Plattsburgh before trying Potsdam in a game in which they rallied from 2-0 down to start the third period, took a 4-2 lead, and gave up two late goals.
Meredith is looking for a more complete effort tonight vs. Buffalo State.
"Our No. 1 goal of this game," he said, "is to stay with our team identity for 60 minutes or however long it takes. Against Plattsburgh, we strayed a bit and it didn't work for us. I think we got closer to it against Potsdam and it really paid dividend in the third period for us ... However, at the end, we didn't manage the game very well and paid for it by taking a few penalties and then giving up two goals. Losing that one point from a tie to a win might end up being a big point next week."
The Blue Devils close out their regular season on the road next weekend - Friday at Brockport, Saturday at Geneseo. They will then find out if another first-round meeting with Buffalo State is in the cards.
"We still have the chance to get home ice for the play-in round of the playoffs," Meredith said. "Looking at the standings, it would not surprise me to be playing the Bengals in the first round ... again."