Sunday, December 15, 2013

State of the Section (Girls Edition)

I think we're far enough in at this point that we can take a preliminary look into how each league is shaping up and who the contenders are for league and sectional titles.  Without further adieu, the State of the Section...

The CHVL has schools from three different classes, B, C and D.  Emma Willard is the lone B school and are currently 1-2 on the year with losses to Waterford and Heatly.  That doesn't speak well to their chances in either the class or the league.  Class C is made up of Waterford and Berlin.  Waterford appears to be the prohibitive favorite again this year, but their margin of victory this year is 19.5 compared to last year's 35.4, which included two losses.  They don't seem to have the same fire power they had a year ago when they were convincingly knocked out of the sectionals in the first round.  I think the C bracket is down a bit on whole this year, but even if they manage to beat our Heatly for the CHVL crown, I don't think they'll be serious contenders come February.

Speaking of Heatly, they and Germantown headline the class D teams consisting of Loudonville Christian, Doane Stuart, New Lebanon and Hawthorne Valley.  Either Heatly or Germantown could contend for the CHVL title, though Germantown has already lost to Waterford by a mere 3 points.  If the CHVL has any post season hopes it lies here in the D bracket with these two teams.

Adirondack League
The Adirondack is one of the larger leagues in Section 2 and also has teams in classes B, C and D.  The story here is in the D bracket.  Last season the final four were all from the Adirondack League and it really wasn't all that close.  If I had to guess I'd say that it is just as likely to happen again this year.  Fort Edward and Fort Ann who met in the title game last year are both undefeated to start this season. Warrensburg has already lost to Fort Edward by 16 and North Warren lost to Fort Ann by 11.  Both are 3-0 in their other games and I wouldn't be surprised if they made a run even though they'll probably fall short.  Hartford, Argyle and Salem round out the D teams.

Of the C teams, Whitehall, Lake George and Hadley-Luzerne, only Lake George appears to be any threat.  They are undefeated in league play and lost to Greenwich by 12, only 3 points worse than Hoosic Valley could manage.  Bringing Hoosic Valley finally back down to Earth is the main reason the C field is down, but it should allow for a much more competitive bracket.

The lone B is Corinth who have losses to Fort Edward and Lake George on their schedule to date.  They'll probably finish middle of the pack and won't be a threat in their bracket.

The WAC is more like two leagues since the teams don't play each team at least once, but for these purposes I'm going to combine them.  Unlike the Boys, where Mekeel Academy is classified as a B school, all but three of the teams are C schools.  The D's, Sharon Springs, Northville and St. Johnsville are currently 2-8 combined in the Section with both wins coming against one of the other three.  Needless to say, that's not a good sign.

The C schools, first in the North, are Canajoharie, Fort Plain, Galway, Mayfield and Spa Catholic, and then in the South, Berne-Knox, Duanesburg, Middleburgh, Mekeel Academy, and Schoharie.  The North teams have already played a number of games and it's bottle necked at the top.  Canjo is 4-1 in league play losing to Fort Plain by 9.  Fort Plain is 2-1 losing to Mayfield by 1 and beating Galway by 5.  Galway beat Mayfield by 10 and is 3-1 and Mayfield is 2-2 with that previously mentioned big win over Fort Plain.  I'm not even going to venture a guess on this one.  Typically when it appears this close in league play, none of them are strong enough win Sectionals.

The South schools have barely played any in-Section games.  Berne-Knox lost in the sectional final last year and even though it was by a wide margin they will probably be somewhere near the top in their division this year.  Unfortunately, their one point loss to Mekeel Academy doesn't help things.  With the limited information we have to date, I'll say one of those two wins the league and makes a decent run in sectionals.

Wasaren League
The Wasaren took a big hit this year with the graduation of arguably the league's best player and Hoosic Valley has already lost to Greenwich this year.  Cambridge rounds out the C's here as Hoosick Falls was hurt by the reduction in the B/C cutoff numbers falling over by only 4.  The C bracket should be more competitive this year and I expect Greenwich and Hoosic Valley to be in the thick of it.

Unfortunately for them, the League title is probably off limits as Tamarac looks really strong again this year and I fully expect them to go undefeated in league play having already beaten Hoosick Falls by 19 (not to mention only losing to Shen by 14.  Just to put that into perspective, Shen has 1,978 more students than Tamarac which means they got roughly 1 extra point for every 150 additional students.  The rest of the Wasaren League has 2,057 students.  Makes you wonder how Tamarac would do against a Tamaracless Wasaren All-Star team).  Regardless, Tamarac may very well be the team to beat in the B bracket if they can overcome the Colonial B's.  Granville, Schuylerville and Stillwater are the other B's and don't figure to be a factor.

Patroon Conference 
Once again this year, the Patroon looks like it will begin and end with Maple Hill who has broken and maintained their record league winning streak.  Their one threat here won't be the other C school, Rensselaer, but rather from one of two B's, Hudson and Greenville.  All three are currently undefeated but you can see from their average margin of victory (27.25 for Maple Hill, 19.3 for Hudson and 6.3 for Greenville) that Maple Hill is probably going to continue their supremacy over the three teams already mentioned and the rest of the B schools, Cairo-Durham, Catskill, Chatham (all three winless in the league thus far), Coxsackie-Athens and Taconic Hills.  What this likely means is that the only team with a solid chance at Sectional glory is Maple Hill.  And that chance is probably better than average.

I would say Hudson has an outside chance in the B bracket, but the field is pretty deep with a couple teams at the top that seem far better equipped for the task.  Ultimately, I think they'll fall well short.

Colonial Council 
One of three leagues that refer to themselves as a "Council", they lay host to only two classes this year, A and B due to the shift in enrollment cutoffs.  Of the two A's, Holy Names and Lansingburgh, Holy Names boasts opportunity to do some damage in the league and in sectionals.  They lost in the final to Troy last year after narrowly beating Averill Park in the final four.  I wouldn't put it past them again this year currently undefeated at 3-0.  I have feeling these three teams could very well be in the same position in the final four this year.

Earlier I mentioned how when a league is evenly matched that typically doesn't bode well in Sectionals.  The Colonial Council may be the exception.  The only problem with that theory is that Watervliet may be significantly better than the others.  Ichabod Crane and Voorheesville have both gotten off to a good start, and though Ravena has not, I wouldn't count them out of making a late season run like last year.  Schalmont already has two wins as well, but lost to Watervliet by 14.  Mechanicville, Fonda-Fultonville, Cohoes, Albany Academy and Cobleskill will be fighting it out for the middle of the pack within the league and in class B.

Foothills Council
The big change in the Foothills this year is the rejoining of Gloversville who hadn't played in each of the past two seasons.  They join Scotia-Glenville, South Glens Falls, Queensbury, Glens Falls and Hudson Falls as the class A teams.  The B's are Broadalbin-Perth and Johnstown.  There isn't much to go on yet as no one has played more than one in-league game.  The teams with wins are Broadalbin-Perth, Hudson Falls, Queensbury and Scotia.  With the limited information thus far I would put Queensbury and Scotia with the best chances to take home the league title.  Queensbury beat Glens Falls by 11 who beat Hoosick Falls by 17 who lost to Tamarac by 19.  That's a good sign for them if they are on the same level as Tamarac.  Either way, the A bracket looks pretty tough this year and while I'm not counting out Queensbury or Scotia, it will be tough to compete with Troy, Holy Names and Averill Park.

Suburban Council
Speaking of Averill Park, they are one of three A schools in the Suburban and also the best by a wide margin over Burnt Hills and Mohonasen.  They've already done something they were unable to do last year by beating Bethlehem and with that win I'm inclined to give them the early "favorite" tag in the A bracket. 

The Suburban crown may be a little tougher as they are loaded with AA schools.  Ballston Spa, Guilderland, Colonie, Niskayuna and Saratoga Springs shouldn't give them too much trouble, but the remaining schools, Bethlehem, Shaker, Shenendehowa and Columbia may. Of those, Shaker, Shen and Bethlehem are probably the teams to most watch out for.  Before the games started I would have given the nod blindly to Bethlehem and while that may turn out to come true, it can't be classified as a given anymore (if it ever really could).  These three teams will not only be fighting it out for the Suburban title, but likely, along with Albany, the AA sectional championship. 

Big 10
The Big 10, thus called even though they only have 7 schools, is the only league without a "league", "council", or "conference" designation.  They also lay claim to last years AA and A sectional champions.  Albany may not be as good as last year, but they and Catholic Central are still at the top of the AA schools.  Luckily, they, along with Troy have all played Amsterdam to date, with margins of victory of 8 for Albany, 11 for Troy and 28 for Catholic Central.  That may mean that Catholic Central is the better of the three or it may just be noise as it's just one comparison point.  Regardless, Catholic Central lost to Hoosic Valley by 3 (in an event that is unique to girls basketball where C schools are just as good as AA schools at the higher skill levels), while Tamarac, who will probably win the Wasaren, lost to Shen by 14.  If it's true that Catholic Central wins the Big 10, that probably means the AA winner comes from the Suburban this year. Bishop Maginn and Schenectady, the other AA's won't be involved.

The A side looks much brighter for the Big 10 however, with Troy and even Amsterdam having a good showing thus far.  Even though Bishop Gibbons won't compete, I would expect Troy to make a deep run again this year.  Again, the same rules apply here as they do in AA, but with Averill Park the only threat from the Suburban, as opposed to Shen, Shaker and Bethlehem in AA, the odds are better they can repeat. 

The lone Independent squad this year is Albany Leadership.  They are competing in the A bracket this year but it's too early to say how they stand.  They have two wins in the books over Gloversville (who hasn't had a team in two years) and Rensselaer (a weak C school) both by large margins.  We need to see them play a larger school who is able to give them a contest to see how they translate to the A bracket.  They may be a surprise however, so we need to keep our eyes on them.

Coming up in a few days I'll get the boys State of the Section out and we are rapidly approaching the end of the year and the first sectional forecast.  Can't wait...

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