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Tight races in the CCAA boys basketball divisions

Ballin’ for banners

Fredonia’s Alec Schrader goes for a layup in a game earlier this season.

After the graduation of key contributing seniors Brady Woleben and Tucker Gates, along with a coaching change, the Silver Creek Black Knights had all the signs of a team where rough times were ahead. But under the coaching of Ralph Jackson, the Black Knights have found themselves in a tie for first place of the CCAA Division 1 East boys basketball league with Randolph, who is also 4-0 in league play.

When most teams lose a long tenured coach and one of its most prolific scorers in Woleben, they tend to struggle to stay relevant or maintain previous success. However, this season the Black Knights have seen several key players step up, including Dom Jamison, a returning senior. Jamison, a key piece to last year’s squad, is currently thriving in his role leading the Black Knights offense with 16.6 points per game.

If Silver Creek has any hopes of finishing atop Division 1 East, they’ll need to go through reigning champion Randolph. The Cardinals are led by the second-leading scorer in all of Section VI, Tyler Hind. Hind currently averages 26.6 points per game for the Cardinals and the scoring is infectious as many of the other Cardinals have caught the scoring touch, especially in league competition. In four league games, Randolph has scored a whopping 327 points and eclipsed 90 against both Gowanda and Falconer.

The battle for supremacy in Division 1 East will go down on Friday this week at Silver Creek High School. We will find out if either Silver Creek is legit and can compete for the league title or if Randolph really is that much better than its competition.

Another division with two top dogs in a fight for first is the CCAA Division 1 West, which features Allegany-Limestone in first at 5-0 and Fredonia in second at 4-1 with its only loss coming against Allegany-Limestone. Fredonia got a tough draw in league play and had to play the Gators for their first league game and lost 64-46 on the road, but the Hillbillies have bounced back with four consecutive league wins.

OBSERVER File Photos Silver Creek’s Sam Braidich puts up a shot in a game earlier this season.

Thursday’s game in Fredonia has major implications for the league title and could see Fredonia move into first place with the Gators. If Fredonia can replicate any of its offensive firepower from last week’s 96-55 win over Southwestern it will be very difficult for Allegany-Limestone to come out with a victory.

Currently the only team in the county and one of two teams undefeated in Section VI is the Westfield Wolverines — Health Sciences an A2 school is the other undefeated squad also at 11-0. After winning the CCAA Division 2 West title last season and returning five players who could start anywhere in Nathan Culbreth, Michael Johnson, Ryan Jafarjian, Andrew Baribeau and Dylan Scriven, the Wolverines’ expectations were once again to win the league title. The only member of the starting five not averaging double-digits is the point guard Culbreth, but he does average 7.2 points to go along with his team-high 6.2 assists per game.

Westfield’s undefeated record does not mean they have been untested in league play, as their last two games against second and third place Panama and Sherman have been 2-point victories. Panama poses as Westfield’s biggest threat, and with just one loss behind the Wolverines, it just might require a perfect regular season to win the title. Westfield won’t have to worry about Panama until Feb. 6, but in the meantime they will have to take on the rest of the field and just watch and see if another team can contain the Section’s leading scorer Cameron Barmore.

Panama’s Barmore has been the player of the year thus far, scoring at will for 30 points per game to go along with his 14.8 rebounds per game. Without Barmore, Panama wouldn’t be in contention for the division, but with him they could certainly win the league and most definitely will repeat as Section VI Class D champions.

Similar to Division 2 West, Division 2 East also has another defending champion looking to repeat in Ellicottville. Ellicottville went undefeated in league play a year ago to claim the division and this year it looks like things might be coming out the same. The team with the best shot to take down Ellicottville as of now is Forestville in second place at 3-1.

Forestville’s Javier West goes for a layup earlier this season.

The Hornets have seen a lot of turnover from last year, but under new head coach Jon Feniello, Forestville is right in the conversation for the league title. Forestville’s only loss comes against Ellicottville, 44-41, on the road and all of the other league wins have been by double-digits. Forestville’s next big match is on the road in Franklinville on Friday.

North Collins only managed one win last season and this year the Eagles find themselves at 3-1 in league play. On Friday, North Collins will travel to Ellicottville and we will find out if the unproven squad belongs right in the conversation as a contender for the division.

With the cancellation of today’s game between Dunkirk and Silver Creek, the only local game on tap is Pine Valley at Cassadaga Valley in a nonleague game.

Westfield’s Michael Johnson drives past a defender in a game earlier this season.

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