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Section VI reveals basketball postseason brackets

Patrick Reading of the Fredonia Hillbillies. OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen.

Section VI released the official boys and girls basketball postseason brackets on Saturday. Now, local teams know their path toward a Sectional Championship, and there are multiple teams in our area with favorable matchups. All games listed are 7 p.m. start times, unless noted otherwise.

On the boys side, five of the 10 OBSERVER teams that will be participating in the postseason will begin with a home game — Fredonia, Silver Creek, Westfield, Forestville and North Collins. The most favorable path belongs to the Fredonia Hillbillies, who earned the 3-seed in Class B2. Fredonia (16-4) will have a bye straight to the quarterfinals, where the Hillbillies will host either 6-seed Cleveland Hill, 11-seed Royalton-Hartland or 14-seed Buffalo Arts on Saturday, Feb. 29 at Fredonia High School.

In Class C1, the Silver Creek Black Knights, with a record of 11-9, will host the Gowanda Panthers on Friday at Silver Creek High School. Silver Creek is the 3-seed in Class C1, while Gowanda is the 6-seed with a record of 4-14. Also in the C1 boys basketball bracket, Chautauqua Lake (5-15) earned the 5-seed and will play at 4-seed Portville (12-8) on Friday. Cassadaga Valley (3-17) is the 7-seed and will play at the 2-seed, Tapestry Charter School (14-6) on Friday. All four local teams in Class C1 enter the postseason with new coaches from a year ago, although Silver Creek’s Ralph Jackson led Forestville to the Class D finals a year ago.

While seeds 5-8 in Class C1 each have five wins or fewer on the season, Class C2 on the boys side is a much tougher bracket from top to bottom. What may be the toughest bracket of all features the Westfield Wolverines, who earned the 4-seed once again after winning league titles in back-to-back seasons. The Wolverines (17-3) will host 5-seed Salamanca (14-6) on Friday night at Westfield Academy. Also in the C2 boys bracket, Frewsburg (6-seed, 15-5) and Maple Grove (7-seed, 14-6) each will begin on the road, even after impressive seasons in the CCAA West 2 Division. Randolph is the top seed in Class C2 with a record of 19-1.

In Class D, Panama (16-4) has to be a clear favorite after winning the Sectional title a year ago. This season, leading scorer Cam Barmore has taken his game to new heights, as he finished atop all of Section VI in both points and rebounds on the season. After Brocton (3-17) opted out of the playoffs, Panama — the top seed in Class D — receives a bye to the semifinals at Jamestown Community College in the first week of March.

Mike Johnson of the Westfield Wolverines. OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen.

Even after turnover on the roster and even on the bench, the Forestville Hornets once again look like the team best positioned to compete with Panama. First-year head coach Jon Feniello has the Hornets (10-10) as the 2-seed in Class D. Forestville will host Pine Valley (7-seed, 7-13) on Friday in the Class D quarterfinals. The other teams hosting playoff games in Class D are Sherman (3-seed, 11-9) against Clymer (6-seed, 8-12) and North Collins (4-seed, 9-11) against 5-seed Riverside (5-11), both on Friday night. North Collins has had quite the turnaround, turning a 1-win team a year ago into hosting a playoff game this season.

Perhaps the toughest path of all the teams in the CCAA in the postseason this year belongs to the Dunkirk Marauders, who enter the Class B1 boys basketball bracket as the 14-seed among 15 teams in the bracket. Dunkirk (5-15) will travel to 11-seed Maryvale on Tuesday. The winner will face 6-seed Albion on Wednesday. The winner of that game travels to 3-seed Depew on Saturday, Feb. 29, meaning Dunkirk would need to win three straight road games against teams with better records to make it to Buffalo State College.

On the girls side of the bracket releases, Dunkirk looks to be in much better shape. The Lady Marauders enter the postseason as the most accomplished of all OBSERVER teams this season. With a record of 19-1 overall and a CCAA West 1 Division title for the first time since 1991, Dunkirk is finally not seen as an underdog when the playoffs roll around.

What works against the Lady Marauders, however, is that Class B1 is the most stacked bracket in Section VI. While Dunkirk could be a 1-seed in other classes, the Lady Marauders are the 5-seed in Class B1, behind City Honors (1), Iroquois (2), East Aurora (3) and Burgard (4). The top 3 seeds receive byes, while Dunkirk hosts 12-seed Olean on Tuesday. The Lady Marauders have beaten Olean twice this month already, including the league-clinching blowout victory on Feb. 15 in Dunkirk. As if the fiery ending to that game, featuring Olean’s coach shouting towards Dunkirk coach Ken Ricker didn’t add enough flair to a rematch in Dunkirk, the Lady Marauders are looking to avenge a loss in the postseason at Olean a year ago.

Also looking back to a year ago, the Fredonia Lady ‘Billies were the lowest seed in the class with a losing record overall before the postseason began. Even those odds couldn’t stop the Lady ‘Billies from pulling off a pair of postseason upsets. This year, Fredonia is still an underdog as the 10-seed with a record of 11-9, but new coach Dan Vona has his team with high hopes aimed at another postseason run. Fredonia begins its journey on Tuesday against 7-seed Health Science, but the Lady ‘Billies will host the game with Health Science not having a home gym. Tip-off is at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Jessica Beehler of the Dunkirk Lady Marauders. OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen.

Dunkirk is far from the only local girls basketball team with a favorable playoff seed. In Class C1, the defending Class C1 Sectional Champion Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds enter this postseason as the 2-seed with a record of 12-8. Chautauqua Lake will host 7-seed Cattaraugus/Little Valley (6-13) on Thursday in Mayville. Also in Class C1, Cassadaga Valley (3-seed, 11-9) will host 6-seed Silver Creek (11-9) on Thursday. Silver Creek coach Tammy Rice is a teacher at Cassadaga Valley, making an exciting matchup even more interesting. The top seed in Class C1, Portville (15-5) hosts 8-seed Gowanda (4-14) on Thursday in Portville.

In Class C2, Holland (1-seed, 17-2) hosts 8-seed Westfield/Brocton on Thursday. Franklinville (2), Maple Grove (3), and Salamanca (4) are the other teams receiving home playoff games in Class C2. The semifinals for both Class C1 and C2 are at Jamestown Community College during the first week of March.

In Class D, with only five teams, the top three seeds receive byes to the quarterfinals. 2-seed Sherman (16-4) will meet 3-seed North Collins (4-13) at JCC, while 4-seed Pine Valley (2-18) will host 5-seed Clymer (9-11) on Thursday for the right to play 1-seed Panama (18-2) at JCC.

Look for coverage of the local teams in the Sectional playoffs throughout the coming weeks in The OBSERVER and online at observertoday.com

Kazlin Beers of the Fredonia Lady ‘Billies. OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen.

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