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Ed Stores on the 103rd Section V basketball sectionals; Coaches quotes, Brasky closes in on 500

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By Bill Collmer (@BC_SVTB on Twitter), Sun Senior Sports Writer

ROCHESTER — High School Basketball has their version of college basketball’s Big Dance and it’s called the sectional tournament. However instead of 64 teams playing in it there’s 111. This year’s Section V sectional basketball tournament will be the 103rd edition.

The Section V Basketball tournament was born in 1922. That season one tournament Championship game took place as East High School won the first Championship defeating West High 22-18. In 1930 the tournament expanded to three classes with A, B and C holding championship games until 1942 when they added Class AA. Class D was added in 1955.

(Bill Collmer with a full report on EVERY team in Class B, C and D, click HERE)

Over the 100-plus years of the tournament there’s been some amazing games and amazing teams. This year’s tournament is sure to be another exciting one. This season has seen both players and coaches reach milestones. Several players became their respective schools all-time leading scorers.

Gennaro Picco (Hornell), Jake Pangrazio (York), Tyson Totten (Pembroke) Michael Rowland (Avon) Braedan Chambry (Byron-Bergen) and Merritt Holley (Leroy). While several other players reached the 1,000-career point Plateau, Macoy Putnam (Avoca-Prattsburgh), Leighton Williams (Wheatland-Chili), Colin Gentile (Bishop-Kearney) Zach Sisson (Fillmore), Sam Howland (School of the Arts), Davijon Lipscomb (Edison), Khorie Reaves (Greece-Athena), Zee Johnson (Greece-Athena), Cole Harding (Attica) & Ryan Fitzpatrick (Batavia Notre-Dame). Hornell Coach Kirk Scholes won his 300th career game while Batavia’s Buddy Brasky is closing in on 500 career wins.

Sectional play will be begin today (Feb. 20), sectional championship games will be held March 1st and 2nd.

Ed Stores is in his sixth year as the Section V Boys Basketball Chairman he started during the 2018-2019 season. What are the biggest obstacles the committee faces with the sectional tournament?

“The number one thing is communication — We have 111 teams, coaches and ADs to get information out to … it’s much easier now with social media but you never want to miss something,” Stores said.

Stores has stated in previous interviews that he feels the Section Five tournament is the best one state-wide.

“We have the most teams, we can start there, to get out of Section V is a challenge,” Stores said. “Not too many sections put on a banquet for their kids. We have consolidated our banquets this year from two down to one but it will still be a very nice event which is due to the great sponsors, we have.

“Other sections do have very nice arenas for their finals but I’m pretty confident that they do not have a Blue Cross Arena like we do and the history and nostalgia that goes along with that building. Kids get super excited to know they have advanced to play there,” Stores added.

Seeding Matters

In last years tournament four number one seeds won championships. Six number one seeds advanced to the championship game. Three number two seeds won sectionals. In Class C a number five seed won sectionals and a number six seed lost in the championship game. In Class B a number four seed defeated a three seed in the championship game. In Class A a number four seed defeated a two seed and in AA a six seed lost in the championship game.

Coaches reflect on the Sectional Tournament

“As a coach, anytime you advance in the tournament, it’s exciting. As the chair, I think my favorite times are meeting the coaches and the players,” Stores said. ” As I am relatively new, I still do not know all of the coaches.  We know each other by email addresses but it is nice to meet them in person.  The many that I do know are very appreciative of what our committee does for them and that is rewarding too. Getting out of Section Five is no easy task and I think the players and coaches understand this so when they win a title it is very rewarding to share that with them and be a small part of their celebration.”

Several area coaches are ready for sectional play and hope their teams are too. Longtime coaches have had some memorable moments in Sectionals.

Andover-Whitesville’s Jimmy Joyce, who was named Section V Class D Coach of the Year

“I believe this sectional tournament has the makings of being one of the wildest in recent memory.  There is a ton of talent and good coaching throughout.” Joyce said. “I’m happy with where we are as a team, and we are anxious to get it all started soon.”

Past Section V champion and coach of the year, Elba’s Ciaci Zambito

“I have been very fortunate enough to coach in three Sectional Finals games. Each one of them has been special. The run that we had in 2017, bringing home a title for the first time since 2005. That would have to be my favorite memory of coaching in the tournament,” Zambito said.

Bolivar-Richburg coach Justin Thomas on the tournament

“My favorite part of the Sectional tournament is that it’s often a microcosm of the NCAA Tournament.  It’s our own version of ‘February Madness’ to presage the big dance in mid-March,” said Thomas. “Everyone’s record is 0-0, and that is often a motivating factor across the board.  Teams often play differently when their backs are against the wall, which always makes for interesting outcomes.  That’s the beauty of any tournament.  Games are not played on paper, and anyone playing their best basketball at the right time often finds themselves in the midst of a Cinderella run.  Basketball fans should get their money’s worth in over the coming weeks!”

Defending champion coach and coach of the year, Hornell coach Kirk Scholes

“My favorite memory from sectionals was winning it in 2013. I remember how much fun that ride was with those kids. Also, in 2014 when we were the No. 5 seed and knocked off the No. 4 and No. 1 to make it to the finals was a moment that I’ll never forget,” said Scholes. “We have been close a few times since.  We also have had our fair share of tough losses. This is what makes the tournament so much fun.  It’s win or go home.  Everyone plays their hardest and the games are magnified.  We are looking forward to the challenge that awaits us and the excitement this time of year brings.”

Taking teams to the top with Brad Hoyt

“As far as my favorite Sectional memory as a coach, the Alfred-Almond run has to be tops so far.  Going winless the season before and playing in the finals the next year was very special. But, playing Avon to a 4-point game in the semi-finals during the Covid season showed us that we can compete with the best, we just have to get over the hump,” Canisteo-Greenwood coach Brad Hoyt said.

Ethan Bower says February is the most wonderful time of the year

“When a team is competitive heading into sectionals it really hypes the entire school up. The sense of community brings the boys together more than ever and truly makes late February the most exciting time of the year,” Hammondsport Coach Ethan Bower said.

Dean Schott II, learning from a legend

“The history of the Section V Tournament … so many great people and so many great teams. Winning a Championship as a player with my dad as my Coach for the greatest basketball town I know is my greatest memory,” Lyons Coach Dean Schott II said.

The one-and-done format impresses Alexander’s Jalen Smith

“The best part of the sectional tournament would be the intensity that comes with the one and done format. Anyone can win on any given night, which can be exciting and frightening. I think it would be so special for these boys to get the feeling of playing at Blue Cross because those games you remember forever,” Alexander Coach Jalen Smith said.

Arkport-Canaseraga’s Max Houy sees the energy ramp up

“The energy of Sectionals! It’s a new season. The winter season is a grind. There can be some dog-days in the regular season, but you to try stay up the best you can. We love our Steuben County Tournament, but sectionals are what it’s all about. Arkport has never won a boys’ basketball title, and it’s been decades since Canaseraga took one home. We hope to make a historic run that our communities can be proud of!” Arkport-Canaseraga Coach Max Houy said.

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