(Health Sciences is WNY's top small school after advancing to states this season/Photo: Buff News)
1. Canisius (MMA) - The Crusaders made me look pretty smart for predicting their ultimate success in the preseason. Manhattan Cup champs once again, Canisius took a less dominant approach during the regular season, but ended up on top once again. They own the distinction of being the only team to defeat St. Francis twice, along with wins over Timon, Aquinas, and Bishop Kearney.
2. St. Francis (MMA) - They may not have broken through with a championship this season, but the Red Raiders are squarely back on the WNY basketball map after an incredible campaign that was highlighted by being the first team to topple Park. They went on to do it twice more, including the Manhattan Cup semifinal win that got them a third meeting with Canisius. Timon, Health Sciences, Kenmore West, and the champion Crusaders were among the team's wins.
3. Park (MMA) - The Pioneers never lost a local regular season game in regulation and never lost to a public school. They also completely bludgeoned some pretty good teams - Cheektowaga by 49, East & Nichols by 43, St. Mary's by 41, and Canisius by 28 & 26 points. They also handed Timon its biggest loss of the year (13 points) and beat Williamsville South & Niagara Falls.
4. North Tonawanda (A1) - Back in December, I proclaimed this version of the Jacks might be the greatest North Tonawanda team of all time. After a league title in the Niagara Frontier League, a Section VI title in Class A1 (first since 1961), a trip to the Far West Regional, and all the team records that fell along the way...I'd say it would be tough to argue. The Jacks own wins over Williamsville South, Amherst, Health Sciences, Niagara Falls, St. Mary's, and a pair over Kenmore West.
5. Williamsville South (A1) - The Billies made it to number one in the large school poll heading into the postseason after earning a share of the title in ECIC II and a regular season that included wins over UPrep, St. Francis, Timon, Amherst, Jamestown, and Cheektowaga.
6. Timon (MMA) - The Tigers earned the number one seed in the Manhattan Cup playoffs with an awesome regular season that resulted in an eye-popping resume of wins - St. Francis, Park, Bishop Kearney, Amherst, Health Sciences, St. Mary's, Class B Federation champ LaSalle, and a sweep of Canisius.
7. Amherst (A2) - The Tigers moved up to ECIC II and earned a co-championship, before repeating as Section VI champs in Class A2. Wins on the season included North Tonawanda, Williamsville South, South Park, Lancaster, Olean, East, and Jamestown.
8. South Park (A2) - By season's end, the Sparks were lighting up opponents in the Yale Cup and not even keeping it close. The result was the first Yale Cup trophy for the team since 1986. They followed it up with a win over Cheektowaga at Buff State to reach the Class A2 Final, which they lost in heart-breaking fashion at the buzzer.
9. Niagara Falls (AA) - The Wolverines finishing fourth in the Niagara Frontier League and taking the #5 seed in the Class AA sectionals for a road game at Lockport was just their way of ironing out the kinks. Falls' path to a repeat title in Class AA included wins over UPrep, Lancaster, Kenmore West, two against Lockport, Jamestown, and Grand Island.
10. Lancaster (AA) - The Legends ended a league title drought that spanned back to 1995 when they blew the doors off the gym in an emphatic win over Jamestown, followed by a clinching win over Frontier. They swept Clarence and took a third meeting with Orchard Park, before cruising past Kenmore West to reach the Class AA Final.
1. Health Sciences (B2) - After winning the Charter Cup for a third straight season, the Falcons just kept on going. They earned their first Section VI plaque in Class B2, knocked off previously top-ranked East Aurora for an overall Class B championship, and then won the Far West Regional for a trip to the state final four.
2. St. Mary's (MMA) - The Lancers took the number one seed in the postseason and won their first Manhattan Cup in Class B to reach the CHSAA state championship, before falling to the eventual Class B Federation champ from LaSalle. Their season included wins over Lancaster, St. Joe's, Cardinal O'Hara, a pair over Walsh, and three wins against Nichols.
3. East Aurora (B1) - The Section VI champs in Class B1 were also co-champs in ECIC III with Cheektowaga after splitting with the Warriors during the regular season. Other key wins on the year came against Dunkirk, Newfane, Lackawanna, Orchard Park, and Burgard.
4. Franklinville (D) - A historic season for the Panthers saw them advance to their first state final four in Class D. They were co-champions of CCAA II East during a season that saw them take two of three from Ellicottville, along with wins over Chautauqua Lake, Randolph, CG Finney, Gowanda, Allegany-Limestone, Sherman, and Portville.
5. Chautauqua Lake (C1) - Another team that enjoyed unprecedented success for their school, the Thunderbirds won the first Section VI crown in their history and followed it up with an overall Class C crown and a trip to the Far West Regionals. Chautauqua Lake picked up its first ever win over Olean and also collected wins over Randolph, Ellicottville, Dunkirk, Cleveland Hill, Allegany-Limestone, and Portville.
6. Randolph (C2) - The Section VI champs from Class C2 raised the hardware after an inspiring defensive effort against East. The Cardinals were undefeated champions in CCAA I East with sweeps of Gowanda, Allegany-Limestone, and Portville. They also earned nonleague wins over Yale Cup Champion South Park, along with Ellicottville.
7. Medina (B2) - After an undefeated campaign in the Niagara-Orleans league, the Mustangs rode the Section's second longest winning streak into postseason play before running into eventual Class B regional champ Health Sciences. Medina earned double figure wins over Newfane and Gowanda, along with a nine-point win against Orchard Park.
8. East (C2) - The Panthers had fourth quarter leads before eventually falling to South Park in the game that decided the Yale Cup and to Randolph in the Class C2 Final. East did have wins over both prior to those losses, along with wins on the season against McKinley, Middle College, and a pair versus Burgard.
9. Ellicottville (D) - Co-Champs of CCAA II East had wins over Randolph, Franklinville, Gowanda, Sherman, Allegany-Limestone, & Portville. The only losses on the season for the Eagles were to Section VI champions Chautauqua Lake, Randolph, & Franklinville. All five starters return next season.
10. Nichols (MMA) - For a second straight season, the Vikings put it all together by the end of the year and reached the Manhattan Cup Final in Class B. Along the way, they picked up wins over St. Joe's, Walsh, Allegany-Limestone, and a pair of wins over Cardinal O'Hara.