In-depth previews of each game, quotes from coaches and a look at interesting stats and the history of this incredible high school basketball showcase for Allegany and Steuben counties
By BILL COLLMER (@BC_SVTB), Sun Senior Sports Writer
ALFRED — The Eighth Annual Barkley Showcase kicks off Friday and Saturday at Alfred State College pitting Steuben County boys’ and girls’ basketball teams against Allegany County teams.
After a brief hiatus due to Covid and an appearance in Bath last season, the Showcase returns to the Orvis Activities Center. Friday’s Schedule is the Annual Hornell versus Wellsville Doubleheader featuring the Girls and the Boys. Saturday’s Schedule will feature five boys Games.
Dana Hand of the sheriff’s department, who has chaired the Showcase since the inception, said it’s been a labor of love.
“I cannot say thank you enough to the Local 3989 Union, our sponsors and all the parents and basketball junkies who have supported this event over the years,” Hand said. “The media has helped make this special, Chris Brooks, Steve Harrison and lastly John Anderson always coming up with cool ideas for the kids and always making them feel special, kudos to all of those and to those who’ve moved on.”
The Barkley Showcase is like a Box of Christmas Chocolates you never know what you’re going to get.
Last season in the Showcase Steuben County went 7-0, the first time that’s ever happened. Steuben County leads the overall series 26-21.
The previous seven Barkley Showcases have featured a little bit of everything, from buzzer-beaters to game-winning blocked shots to double overtime nail-biters and blowouts.
There have been freshman J.V call-ups hitting game winning free throws. Senior stars scoring their 1,000th career point. Mason Putnam from Prattsburgh scoring 50 points in a losing effort, Adam Enders scoring 44 points in a win over Hammondsport. Enders going to the free throw line 30 times in one game versus Avoca.
Here is a schedule and stats, figures, the history, facts and quotes from the coaches going into the weekend:
FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 2024
Wellsville vs Hornell, Girls 6:15 p.m.; Wellsville vs Hornell, Boys 8 p.m.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2024 (All Boys games)
Andover-Whitesville vs. Hammondsport, noon; Cuba-Rushford vs. Canisteo-Greenwood 2 p.m.; Bolivar-Richburg vs. Addison, 4 p.m.; Thomas Edison (Elmira) vs. Jasper-Troupsburg, 6 p.m.; Genesee Valley/Belfast vs. Arkport-Canaseraga, 8 p.m.
Admission: $5 for Friday, $5 for Saturday OR a weekend pass for $8.
In July of 2013 while working at the Allegany County Jail Dan Barkley suffered a heart attack and passed away. Dan was an 11-year veteran and was also very active in the Richburg Fire Department as Assistant Chief, EMT and Ambulance captain. This Showcase was started to honor Dan’s memory by raising money for a scholarship fund.
“We all loved Dan, he treated everyone the same and worked his butt off. It was a true tragedy akin to deputy Derek Ward. Both men were what we all strive to be as officers and as a person in general,” Hand said.
The Barkley Showcase is brought to you by the Allegany County Deputy Sheriffs Association and began as a one-day event held in Wellsville in 2015. However, they couldn’t have anticipated the crowd they were going to get that day and by the final game a Hornell versus Wellsville boys game there were over 50 people standing on the sidelines as there was no place to sit.
“I never thought it would get this big and do such great things for the Scholarships the union doles out to both counties I truly hope Dan’s made a lasting impression to many,” Hand said.
This year will mark several firsts in the Annual Showcase. This will be the first time there’ll be a former player return as a coach. Hammondsport’s Ethan Bower played in the 2016 Showcase at Alfred University and had an epic shootout with Belfast’s Adam Enders, Bower scored 33 but it wasn’t enough as Enders finished with 44 points and led Belfast to a 70-66 victory. Bower is back in the Showcase this season but now as the head coach of his Alma Mater, Hammondsport.
This will also be the first time a team is participating that isn’t from Steuben or Allegany County as Thomas Edison from Elmira and Section IV will be playing in this years Showcase. However, their Coach is familiar to the Allegany County Fan Base as Lenny Smith a Belmont native and 1993 Belmont Graduate is in his 20th season Coaching Edison.
Hornell vs. Wellsville Round one
Friday January 12, 6:15 p.m.
The Fourth Annual Showcase in 2018 started the Friday night Hornell versus Wellsville double header and it’s featured some great Games. The Wellsville Girls took the first matchup by 16 points but the following season Hornell hit thirteen 3-pointers and won by 15. In 2020 Hornell won a barn burner 34-30.
The Wellsville girls have played every year. A few seasons the schedule did not work out to play Hornell. In one year, the game turned out to be a Section V finals preview. That Wellsville team had balance, as Jordyn Pettit was the Barkley Showcase MVP, then a few weeks later, Rayanna Anderson was the Section V MVP as the Lady Lions won the title for coach Michelle Alvord.
Alvord said she is honored to coach in the game.
“This will be our sixth meeting with Hornell they lead the series 3-2. Our girls are the only girls’ team that have been a part of the Barkley Classic from the beginning,” Alvord said. “In the 2016 Showcase, we played Wayland-Cohocton winning 44-29 which was our second meeting that season and a set up for an epic third meeting in the sectional finals when we won 51-48. The next year, we played a strong Prattsburgh team prevailing 48-43. I am honored to be a part of this event that is for such a special cause.”
Going into the game Friday night, some of Wellsville’s top players so far this season have been Natalie Adams (15.0 PPG), Makenna Dunbar (7.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG), and Averee Palmatier (7.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG), who are all juniors.
“Nat (Adams) has been phenomenal through our first nine games. She is so consistent and gets it done on both ends of the floor,” Alvord said.
Alvord sees the opportunity to play at Alfred State as a great opportunity looking ahead to sectionals.
“It is an excellent opportunity to play a high-quality opponent, on a big stage with an amazing atmosphere. It is electric. We have played at AU, Alfred State, Wellsville, and Bath over the years. It is nice to have it back at Alfred State. It definitely does help to prepare for sectionals, playing on the bigger court and it has that sectional energy. Both fan bases travel well. The only thing you can’t really mimic is the one and done of sectionals,” Alvord added.
Alvord knows like every season that Hornell is going to be a tough opponent for her girls.
“I have had a chance to scout them, they are the most experienced “young” team that I have seen. They are very quick and athletic; they like to play fast and they want to make you play at their pace. They are a tough to match up with individually and make it difficult for you to double or concentrate on any one player with their ability to hit 3’s,” Alvord said.
Hornell is coming off their first Sectional Championship in program history with almost everyone back and off to a hot start to the season. They’re currently the #1 ranked Class B Girls School in New York State and already have wins over some of the best teams in Section Five in Dansville and Palmyra-Macedon.
Coach Jim Dagon attributes the success to his players.
“So far this year we have seen a lot of different schemes from our opponents, especially defensively, whether it’s one or two of our girls being face-guarded, or junk defenses. The girls have done a great job of being selfless and countering these schemes by sharing the ball. None of the girls care about statistics, they just do whatever it takes to win games. Secondly, the girls come to practice every day with a willingness to work hard, to have fun, and to push the boundaries of what they’re comfortable with. Pair that with a focus on the present moment/ the task at hand and it leads us to being successful more often than not,” Dagon said
Dagon is looking forward to playing at Alfred State and knows Wellsville is going to be another tough opponent on their schedule.
“I think playing at Alfred State is going to be awesome. It’s equidistant from Hornell and Wellsville so the fans for each team should be able to travel well. Anytime you can get a post-season environment it’s beneficial for your team because it helps to acclimate them to what the atmosphere will be like come February,” Dagon said. “A handful of the girls on our team have aspirations of playing college basketball, so getting to play in a college gymnasium will be a cool experience for them. With our style of play, we prefer a large court which A-State provides too, so all around we are happy about getting the opportunity to play there. There’s always a handful of games on the schedule that you circle right away when you see them, and for us, the matchup with Wellsville is always one of those games. In the practices leading up to those rivalry types of games, you can always count on there being a little extra buzz in the gym.
I’ve watched a couple of their games so far this season and I expect them to be very well-coached like they always are. The Wellsville girls do a very good job of executing the details that tend make teams difficult to beat; playing in rhythm with one another, making hard cuts, and boxing out well (among other things),” Dagon said .
The Young guns from Hornell have had multiple players contributing each night Sophomore Jordyn Dyring (16.7 PPG) and Sophomore Payton Bentley (14.3 PPG) currently lead the team in scoring.
When asked who has stood out so far this season, Dagon had a hard time coming up with an answer.
“It’s honestly hard to choose one or two players because they’ve all stepped up in big moments so far this season. Jordyn Dyring and Payton Bentley have been our most consistent scorers. Lillian Hoyt has been our leading scorer in a few games too and has also made huge plays including her game winner against Pal-Mac. Selena Maldonado flirts with a triple double every night, and Raegan Evingham is leading our team in rebounds, steals, and is second in assists which has been huge. Not having a simple answer for this question really speaks to how well rounded this group is as a team,” Dagon said.
For the girls who do the dirty work this season during each game gets an award at the end of the game for their hard work.
“The Dog of the Game award is something that Assistant Coach Chris Clark came up with during the preseason and the girls have really bought into it. Chris tends to think outside the box in his approach to coaching the girls and this is a prime example of that,” Dagon said. “The award puts extra emphasis on doing the dirty work, diving on the floor for loose balls, playing hard-nosed defense, and being tough and selfless enough to do all the things that don’t necessarily make it into the newspapers or the stat sheets. Some teams have one or two kids who can be relied on to do these things for them, but with this award, Chris has got all the girls on the team competing to be the biggest Dog every night.
“At the end of each game, we announce the Dog of the game, and we give that player a giant gold chain that has to weigh at least 5 pounds (which he surprised the girls and myself with after our first game of the season) that has “Absolute Dog” inscribed on it. It’s an awesome tradition that we plan to keep going into the future,” Dagon explained.
Hornell vs. Wellsville, boys game, Round two
Friday January 12, 8 p.m.
The Hornell and Wellsville boys have met in all seven Showcases and just like the girls the games have been must-see.
Last year Hornell won 59-46 in the Showcase however the two teams would meet again in the Class B2 Sectional Semifinal this time with Wellsville winning 51-46.
“One of my favorite memories from the first year was when I asked then-Wellsville Athletic Director Dennie Miles to ask the Wellsville Student section to move, he responded with, ‘Good luck, welcome to the Wellsville-Hornell Rivalry.’ This rivalry has been our main feature since day one. It hasn’t disappointed. Both the boys and girls trading punches. We’ve been truly blessed to have these games,” Hand added.
Hornell comes into the Showcase on Friday with a record of 9-1 and gotten off to a hot start with high scoring Senior guard Gennaro Picco (24.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.0 APG) his brother Junior PJ Picco plays Robin to his Batman averaging 14.0 PPG and 8.0 RPG. One player who has stepped for Hornell early in the season and might not get the headlines is Sophomore Wyatt Evingham (10.0 PPG 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG) Evingham is a defensive specialist and isn’t afraid to take a charge.
“Wyatt has been great defensively all year. He’s been our catalyst defensively with his quickness and energy. He’s feisty and not afraid to challenge people. He does a great job applying ball pressure, but also isn’t afraid to step in on the weakside and take one for his team. Offensively, he has a lot of ability as well. He can live in the paint off the dribble, shoot the midrange pull-up, and shoot the 3. He’s getting better and better and his ceiling is really high. Sometimes I forget he’s still only a sophomore and that he’s just scratching the surface,” Hornell Coach Kirk Scholes said.
Juniors Aaron McInerney (8.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG) and Kellen Crowe have also stepped up for the Red Raiders.
“Aaron has been really good all year as well. He’s stepped up his level of play a lot since last year. He’s gotten so much better defending this year. He’s shot the ball really well and he’s a versatile piece. He gives us some length to help on the glass. I’m really happy with how much he’s grown and I still think he has another level he can get to. Kellen is a kid that I think the 2nd half of the year is going to make a big impact. He has so much game offensively. We are trying like crazy to get him be more assertive and aggressive offensively. I expect him soon to have a big break out game,” Scholes said.
When it comes to Wellsville versus Hornell you throw the records out the window it’s always a big game.
“This game is always circled on the calendar. It’s a true rivalry game in that it’s gone back and forth over the years. We have played in a bunch of close games with Wellsville over the fifteen years I’ve been coaching. Records don’t matter in this game because both teams play so hard. Many times, over the years it’s hard to get the kids to relax. I know both teams usually have great crowds for this game and the student sections usually have fun with it as well,” Scholes said
Wellsville got off to an unusual start to the season at 0-5 but have turned things around as of late.
“I have seen Wellsville play. They lost a lot to graduation and I think they are just figuring out the pieces. JJ Howard is extremely athletic and versatile. He’s added to his game at the offensive end and is being asked to do more. They have a couple kids that can shoot it and Wellsville always is very solid defensively,” Scholes added
Wellsville comes in at 4-7 but has played a difficult schedule and will be up to the task.
“Our season has been picking up. We started off 0-5 playing great competition to both sides of us in Corning, Olean and Allegany-Limestone but coming up short every game. Our team had little to no experience playing together to start the season and it’s been rapidly building as the chemistry and cohesion grows,” Wellsville Coach Tom Muska said.
Wellsville will play three straight games on college campuses in a seven-day span.
“It’s a big opportunity but a stage we’re growing more accustomed to. We play Attica at Alfred University on January 9th and Avoca-Prattsburgh at Keuka College on January 15th. It’s always fun to play in that atmosphere of what feels like a big game,” Muska said.
“Our top player is JJ Howard, our lone returner from our starting Five last season that won a title. We have a lot of growing pains around him but a great group of kids overall. Our leading scorers are usually Howard, Tyler Vogel or Aiden Cowburn,” Muska said.
“Hornell is great as ever. Unfortunately for us a third Picco brother has popped up and came on. Those kids are as good as any we will see. Few players we face have the all-around game Gennaro Picco brings every night. He’s a great shooter, a great finisher, ball handler. He defends the best players when needed. All around talent like that is hard to come by and even harder to stop. But we are excited for the challenge in slowing him down,” Muska concluded.
Hammondsport vs. Andover-Whitesville
Saturday January 13, 12 p.m.
The first game on Saturday will feature Hammondsport and Andover-Whitesville.
Hammondsport comes in at 4-6 and has already surpassed their win total from last season. Andover-Whitesville will enter the Orvis Center at 5-4 and brings a very young team to Alfred-State.
“We are very young; Derek Perkins is our lone senior. It’s certainly an odd dynamic. The good thing is that most of these guys have played together for several years. Pat Vance (Assistant Coach) and I have actually coached these kids since 3rd or 4th grade. Sometimes I catch myself expecting too much from the guys because I just don’t see them as freshman and sophomores. I think the nervousness of being so young and on the varsity, level is slowly fading. Every day I can see the guys getting more and more comfortable. Once they all fully understand that they deserve to be here, I think the results will speak for themselves. We actually have some young JV guys who will also contribute sooner rather than later,” Andover-Whitesville Coach Jimmy Joyce said.
The Andover-Whitesville players already have some experience playing on a college campus as they played Arkport-Canaseraga earlier this season at the Reilly Center on the Campus of St. Bonaventure.
“To have both the Bonas game and the Barkley showcase on our schedule is pretty amazing. The Bonas experience was almost surreal. To walk out on that floor with our team was one of those experiences you will never forget. We kind of knew that with our young group along with missing a couple players for that matchup, it would be a tall task vs such a good Arkport-Canaseraga team. The bright lights and big stage were a lot to handle and we certainly didn’t perform like we expect to, but I believe the experience will really help us at A-State vs Hammondsport,” Joyce said.
Hammondsport will provide a tough task for young Andover-Whitesville squad.
“They are a very dangerous team who can beat anybody. Extreme length at center and guards who can shoot, they are a scrappy physical team. They have had the same basic varsity team for several years, so they have the varsity level experience that we lack. I fully expect this to be a battle,” Joyce said.
Looking ahead to sectionals, with only a nine team Class D bracket Joyce feels playing Allegany County foes like Bolivar-Richburg, Genesee-Valley/Belfast, Fillmore and Cuba-Rushford will help them come sectional time.
“Yes, it will help immensely. All those teams mentioned are very good and well coached. We have certainly taken our lumps vs those big boys but I feel we compete more and more each time we play them. We spend a lot of time talking about playing those C schools and what we can learn from them. I’m glad they are on our schedule,” Joyce added.
“I’m super-proud of our entire program from players, coaches and everyone involved. To be invited to such a prestigious event like the Barkley showcase is a very big honor and I think it shows all our hard work is starting to pay off. The future is bright!” Joyce concluded.
Hammondsport Coach Ethan Bower who played in the Showcase his senior year and now brings the Lakers back for the first since 2016 but now as their Coach. This is the first time a former participant has returned as a coach.
“I wasn’t aware of that fact but it’s definitely an awesome thing to be a part of. That was a memorable day for all of us eight years ago, however I am more focused now at preparing this current group of guys for their experience. My coach back in the day, Jon Lowin, had us believing we were the most dangerous team in the room back then and that’s exactly what I hope to do with my guys now. The Barkley Showcase is an excellent event and a great experience for all involved and I am glad Hammondsport is back in the mix and ready to compete at a high level,” Hammondsport Coach Ethan Bower said.
Bower thinks his boys will be able to adjust rather quickly to the college atmosphere.
“Competing in a college environment can be an overwhelming experience at first but a lot of these kids have been playing AAU and going to camps in similar environments for years. I remember it took my team and I a few minutes to settle in but once we did, just like I expect my guys to do Saturday afternoon, the floodgates opened up and we were more confident than ever. Like I tell my guys everyday – the bigger the stage, the bigger your heart needs to be to rise to the occasion and everything else will follow,” Bower said.
Hammondsport has already surpassed last years win total and things are looking up for the Lakers.
“With the exception of two of our first eight games so far this season, we have been ahead or within 5 points in the final minutes of regulation. Last year, this same group, minus one player who graduated, did not play in one single digit game and lost by an average of 40 points in all 17 games. What we have been able to build this year is really special and the guys know it. Regardless of all outside factors this team loves to compete and will go head-to-head with anybody. Guards Ty Ritter and Henry Morrison have been two pillars of consistency on and off the court for us so far this year. Andrew Morrison and Ben Dluzak set the tone and initiate our defensive identity while Alex Brown and Ethen Beers bring the intensity every day,” Bower added
Hammondsport Junior guard Henry Morrison was recently selected to represent Team
USA on the U16 team at the United World Games. He will be traveling with PHD Hoops in June 2024 to Italy and Austria to compete for a gold medal. Henry’s Journey to Team USA began over a year ago. Phone interviews, game footage and coaching recommendations were needed for him to be selected.
“I have not had a chance yet to scout Andover-Whitesville yet. We still have two other games this week, and once these games are completed, we will set our eyes on AW. Our mentality all year has been one possession at a time, one quarter at a time, one game at a time. Like I previously mentioned, this team has the talent to beat any team on any given night and more important, the belief in ourselves and the work ethic to pair,” Bower concluded
Canisteo-Greenwood vs. Cuba-Rushford
Saturday January 13, 2:00 p.m.
The second game Saturday will feature Canisteo-Greenwood versus Cuba-Rushford.
Canisteo-Greenwood comes in at 11-1 with their only loss coming to Hornell where they were missing one of their top players Carson Chaffee.
“Yeah, we were missing Carson the first three games of the season, one of which was Hornell. Not a team you can afford to have a key starter miss. He was out with an ankle injury but seems to be back close to 100%,” Canisteo-Greenwood Coach Brad Hoyt said.
Some of the key players for C-G so far this season have been Sophomore Carson Chaffee, Senior J.J. Reese, and Sophomore Thomas Sirianni.
“So far this year everyone on the team has an important role, but anyone on the floor for us at the time is key,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt is looking forward to his boys having the opportunity to play at Alfred-State College.
“It’s always fun to play at the Showcase. It’s an exciting atmosphere to play in front of a big crowd and get to see other teams and players that you may not normally get a chance to see,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt hasn’t had a chance to watch Cuba-Rushford play yet this season but see them as a familiar opponent.
“As far as Cuba-Rushford goes, we haven’t seen them play this year but we have always played them home & away over the last several years and the games are always good. They are very well coached and our game this year in the Showcase should be no different,” Hoyt concluded.
Cuba-Rushford got out to a hot start to their season but have played a tough schedule. Coach Patrick Wight is excited to play at Alfred-State.
I absolutely love it. Our guys get to play on a college floor. It’s also a playoff type atmosphere at a neutral site. Anytime you can play on a college campus is a great experience. We have played a very tough non-league schedule. Games with Section 6 powers Allegany Limestone and Ellicottville. Section V B2 defending champions we have played twice in Wellsville. Also matched up with an always well coached and solid C.G. Finney squad. Not to mention Bolivar-Richburg twice who is currently the one seed in the class C2 bracket. I’m pleased with how we have played. I have some young kids getting a lot of important experience as we head towards playoffs,” Cuba-Rushford Coach Patrick Wight said.
“As a group we don’t have one guy that’s going to go score 25+ PPG. We have 5-6 kids that could all go get 10 and that makes us hard to guard when we share the ball and hit open shots. We’ve shown some great potential, however we haven’t put it all together on a consistent basis yet. I’m excited for the challenge this weekend and playing CG. They are always a solid team and it’ll be good for us to see where we stand going forward,” White added.
Some of the top guys to watch for C-R are Senior forward Luke Brooks who is great rebounder grabbing just under 10 rebounds per game (9.6). He also chips in around 8.5 PPG. He’s a great defender and always works extremely hard. Senior Guard Braeden Wight struggled early but in their last four games he’s averaged over 14.5 a game. On the season he is averaging 10.7 PPG. From his guard spot he also chips in 6.0 rebounds per game. He’s a leader on the floor for the Rebels. Sophomore Center Peyton Joy is their leading rebounder at 12.2 RPG. He also chips in 9.5 PPG. Against Wellsville he scored 16 points and had 14 rebounds. He’s young and has battled some illness as of late so his numbers and minutes played have fallen off a bit. They are hoping to get him healthy and get a good week out of him and get his minutes back up. Junior Guard Finn Ricketts is an extremely hard worker and averages 9 PPG. He has the potential to have big night offensively every time he steps on the floor. He’s a solid rebounder and defender.
“I have seen C-G them play a couple times via livestream. They are tough, athletic, and very well coached by Coach Hoyt the Sirianni. boys and Chaffee are a handful not to mention their big kids inside. We split with them last year. They are another top seed in class B so we are hoping to go over and put our best foot forward and compete. We have a busy week with Houghton Wednesday, Fillmore Friday and then cap it off with C-G on Saturday. It’ll be a battle for us for sure but we are glad we get to compete in the Barkley Showcase,” Wight said.
“Special thanks to the Barkley Showcase for inviting us to play,” Wight concluded.
Addison vs. Bolivar-Richburg
Saturday January 13, 4:00 p.m.
Addison comes in at 6-5 and is looking forward to the experience of playing at Alfred State.
“It should be fun to play in the Barkley Showcase again. The boys are looking forward to playing someplace that haven’t played like Alfred-State College,” Addison Coach Josh Allen said.
“So far, my top players have been junior guards Zane Wheeler and Frank Heidrick. Each player excels on both offense and defense, they play excellent defense and score the ball,” Allen said
This year’s 50/50 raffle at the Showcase will benefit the Blake Anthony Driskell Scholarship in memory of Blake Driskell from Addison who tragically passed away unexpectedly while hiking a few years back.
“I am close to the Driskell’s as I’ve known Blake’s dad Corey Driskell since he was a boy. In many ways I consider him family. I had the privilege of coaching Blake and his passing was a devastating tragedy. Blake was a positive influence on all those around him. Quick to make a joke or smile, his passing was a shocking blow to a small community like Addison. However, as much as his passing was a tragedy for our community the BAD 3 vs. 3 tournaments have been one of many steps aiding in recovering from the loss,” Allen concluded.
Bolivar-Richburg Coach Justin Thomas is excited to be a part of the Showcase and has great memories of past Showcases going back to when he was the Junior Varsity Coach.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have been a part of the Barkley Showcase for several years, going back to my days of coaching JV basketball and assisting Dave Kottwitz when he was the head man of the Varsity boys here at B-R. I’ve gotten to experience the Showcase during the Alfred State and Alfred U days and am incredibly happy to see it return to A-State this year. It’s a great venue/environment for the kids, and adds some extra excitement to the regular season,” Bolivar-Richburg Coach Justin Thomas said.
Bolivar-Richburg got out a great start to the season starting 7-0 before losing two tough games to Class B Canisteo-Greenwood and private School C.G Finney from Penfield in Rochester. But the Trip to Cleveland to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse to play Cuba-Rushford after a Cavs game stands out for Thomas.
“We are very happy with how the beginning of our season has played out. We’ve played some tough teams, had an amazing experience in Cleveland against Cuba-Rushford, and the boys are still hungry to get better. I think that’s been one of the keys. The boys work hard at practice, are students of the game, and continually ask questions in practice and watch film on their own to adjust their approach to the game and fine-tune their craft. We’ve been successful, but the boys are not resting on their laurels. They continue to work hard in practice and routinely bring the energy and enthusiasm it takes to be successful. We have big goals, and we know that the work is not even close to being done. Most importantly, they are great kids who are incredibly fun to be around. I enjoy every second with them, and their excitement about basketball is encouraging and infectious. Racking up some early wins has been nice, but the joy of working with such incredible young men who look out for each other and have dedicated themselves to this cause is luxury that I absolutely do not take for granted,” Thomas Said.
Junior Landon Barkley and Senior Aydin Sisson have been two players that standout so far this season.
“We have several kids who have put together some nice games, but our two most consistent contributors have been Landon Barkley and Aydin Sisson. (Both of which actually have family ties to Dan Barkley. Landon Barkley is Dan’s nephew, and then Aydin Sisson would be a 2nd cousin to Dan.) These two boys are the heartbeat of our team, as they continually lead by example and keep us moving forward. They were quite unanimously voted for as captains by their teammates at the beginning of the season, and they have conducted themselves as such at all times. Their character is what I admire most of them, but they are pretty solid basketball players too. Both are capable of putting up something north of 20 points every night, and they often do it on the same night. Regardless, they understand that their success is a testament to the efforts and work of the entire team. Every guy on this team makes everyone else better, which is evident through the way they work in practice and how they communicate with each other on game nights,” Thomas added.
For Thomas, last year’s Showcase game in Bath against the host Rams is a game he’ll never forget.
“Last year’s Barkley Showcase game was everything a basketball fan could have hoped for (a double-OT thriller against Bath). We unfortunately didn’t secure the win that night, but the bigger picture was that you didn’t have to be a BR or Bath fan in order to enjoy that one! I think that’s the beauty of this Showcase, in that it is an incredible promotion of the game of basketball itself. I hope that we can continue to help shine a spotlight on basketball in our area alongside many other great teams who will be competing on Friday and Saturday. That’s what this is all about, and we are unquestionably appreciative of the opportunity to represent our school, county, and the sport itself,” Thomas concluded
Jasper-Troupsburg vs. Thomas Edison
Saturday January 13, 6:00 p.m.
Thomas Edison from Section IV in Elmira will battle Jasper-Troupsburg in the 6 p.m. game. Former Belmont Star Len Smith will return to the area for the first time with his team to play Jasper-Troupsburg. Smith helped lead Belmont to their first ever sectional Championship in 1993. They ended up playing Jasper-Troupsburg in the State Qualifier and the Wildcats won. Now 30 years later he will lead his team against J-T in the Barkley Showcase.
“Man, I wish something like this was around when we played, the Smith boys were definitely something to witness. Great rivalries with Prattsburgh. It just happened to work out this year, I knew he coached fairly local and we were able to make it work. He was a stud back in the day. My senior year was Belmont’s first trip to the Sectional Finals, he missed a buzzer-beater that wouldn’t have won the game versus Wyoming. He was a freshman and played like a senior along with his twin brother Sean, it was a true pleasure playing with those guys and learning the game with them. Coach Don Baker made the most of that talent,” Hand said.
Smith went on to a successful college career at Elmira College where he still holds several records. In 1997 he averaged 18.9 PPG and 11.4 RPG.
“I am excited to bring my team to the showcase so they can see some different teams from what they are accustomed to, memories that stand out for me from my playing days were the three consecutive sectional runs, and all the teammates who helped make that possible,” Lenny Smith said.
“We are struggling for consistency night in night out. Junior Talon LaPlante, Junior Drew Slaven, and Sophomore Brendan Smith have been our top performers thus far. I really cannot compare the two sections, I have not seen enough Section Five basketball recently,” Smith Added.
Jasper-Troupsburg had a memorable season last year advancing to the Sectional Championship game at the Blue Cross arena before falling to Mt. Morris. Many of the players from that team graduated. This year’s team has had moderate success but has had to deal with multiple injuries and illness and actually had to reschedule a game because of lack of available players.
“We have been struggling with injuries and some sickness. We just got back Sawyer Troxel, one of our two seniors. It will take a few weeks to get him back on track as far as game shape but we have all intentions on him being able to play by the Barkley Showcase on the 13th,” J-T Coach Lou Zver said.
Sophomores Landon Zver (13.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.2 APG) and Jim Ainsworth (13.0 6.4 RPG, 2.1 SPG, 3.0 APG) have taken Leadership roles on the Wildcats team this season.
“We are excited and honored to play in the Showcase some of the players have been to it many times and have great memories of watching the matchups,” Lou Zver added.
Arkport-Canaseraga vs. Genesee-Valley/Belfast
Saturday January 13, 8:00 p.m.
The Showcase Main event will feature Arkport-Canaseraga and Genesee-Valley/Belfast.
Both teams are rebounding this season from a few down years. GV/B Coach Lintz Bliven has coached in the Showcase several times and appreciates that the event is about more than just Basketball.
“Some of my favorite memories of the showcase were seminars they had before we played about the reason why this takes place, drinking and driving, they had those beer goggles available for kids to wear and shoot foul shots, they had guest speakers that drunk drivers had impacted the lives of them and other families,” Coach Lintz Bliven.
Bliven’s Genesee-Valley boys had two epic battles with Prattsburgh in 2019 and 2020 with Prattsburgh taking the first matchup 81-74 and GV getting revenge in 2020 80-76 despite 50 points from Mason Putnam.
“Basketball wise it was always fun to lock horns with Prattsburgh. We always brought the best out of each other; Mason and Cody Schneider were good friends so that made it even more interesting. We had some hard fought, clean, physical games that’s for sure,” Bliven said.
“I think the kids are excited about the opportunity to play in the Showcase, none of the kids have had the chance to play in this before. Plus being at the college makes it a little more intriguing to them for sure,” Bliven said.
“This season has started out well for us, we won our Rotary tournament this year, we have had some tough opponents as in Bolivar-Richburg and Cuba-Rushford, we lost both of those games but actually the kids played well in both games. These kids love the game of basketball and want to be in the gym, that’s really awesome. We should be competitive all year and the future for this program is bright. Seniors Jacob Borden, Kadin Logue and sophomore Ian Mackenzie have been our leaders this season. Jacob is a beast when he wants to be, very strong and can hold his own with anybody in the paint. Kadin, he is exciting to watch, he makes things look easy at times and is playing with confidence. Ian, he’s just a pleasure to have around, he plays this sport year around and it shows, he is a workhorse, loves this game and he can make the difference in any game,” Bliven said.
“I would like to thank Dana Hand and everyone that’s taking time to do this, it’s for a good cause. Hopefully the communities will come and support the towns and all these young men that work their butts off for this game of basketball,” Bliven concluded.
Arkport-Canaseraga is playing the role of “New Kids on the Block” this season. After finishing 5-17 in 2022 and 10-11 last season. They’re off to a great start this season with a record of 9-2
“I went and watched A-C play Perry last Saturday, they are well coached and they have a very nice team with some exceptional guards that can shoot extremely well and can defend also, hopefully we can defend the three and rebound. Hopefully we can make a game of it. We will give it our best,” Bliven Said.
One February 23, 2022 Arkport-Canaseraga won their first-round sectional game defeating South Seneca 51-40 advancing to the Quarterfinals in Avoca against undefeated Avoca-Prattsburgh. In front of a packed house, A-P would go on to win 114-24. They would eventually finish the season undefeated winning the Class D State Championship in Glens Falls. Following the loss A-C Coach Max Houy would ask A-P Coach Brian Putnam if he could sit in on an A-P practice the following week. Putnam obliged.
“To build a winning culture you want to be like the best. Avoca-Prattsburgh has raised the bar and been at the top of the mountain for many years. One of my best childhood friends and former boss’s, Koby Hahn, who also at one time worked as the AD in Prattsburgh, reached out to coach Burke and Putnam on my behalf, and they have been kind enough to pass along advice – coach Putnam allowed me to observe a practice. What an incredible gesture and kind thing to do especially to help out the competition. I learned a lot that day in his practice especially the importance of time management, those guys don’t waste a minute and that will always stick with me. Coach Putnam is very generous but he also won’t hesitate to put a 100 on your head, which will always stick with me as well! Those guys are the ultimate competitors and our program wants to be where they have been,” Arkport-Canaseraga third year Coach Max Houy
Avoca-Prattsburgh would go on to win the Class D State Championship again last season finishing 25-2.
Fast forward to this season, On December 21, 2023, Arkport-Canaseraga traveled back to Avoca for the first time since that sectional game. In a tight back-and-forth contest with neither team ever leading by more than five points Arkport-Canaseraga defeated Avoca-Prattsburgh 68-67. This was A-P’s first loss to a Steuben County League opponent since merging sports programs in 2021 and only their fourth loss total.
“Beating those guys this season is by far our biggest win in many many years. It’s just one regular season game, but being able to be the first Steuben County team to beat them in a while was special,” Houy said
“This season with this particular group has been many years in the making. When I returned to Arkport to teach 8 years ago (graduated in 2009), our boys program was in really rough shape. The numbers were extremely low, so my mindset immediately went to building up our youth program at school. I wanted to model it after our youth soccer programs that my teachers/coaches Mrs. Harwood and Mr. Steiner spent decades building up, which resulted in sectional and state titles. There are parents in our community that have taken the youth program to a whole new level, and the roster we have now – many of these boys we’ve been working with since they were young kids. We went through some tough times at the high school level, but watching these boys come up through the ranks, we knew something special would take place when they reached varsity together. We have guys that work year-round on their games and put in so much time — basketball isn’t an easy sport to play, you have to put the time in and all that effort is now paying off!” Houy added.
Freshman Caden Carey is leading the way for the Wolves with 17.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, Steals 2.3 SPG, and 2.3 RPG.
“Tim and Alex Vilkhu moving from Buffalo to Burns a few years ago is something I’ll never take for granted. Those boys have also led the way in making Arkport-Canaseraga Boys Basketball into a legitimate respectable contender again in Section V. The shape those guys are in and the dedication they have to the game is impressive,” Houy said. “Devin Moran and Ibra Ford are other huge pieces for establishing a winning culture. Those guys are so driven to be the best as well. All these boys push each other. Devin continues to go to camps and work on his game in the off-season, which shows on the floor! Ibra is a world-class runner and is somebody who doesn’t want to lose (ever). The Ford family bringing their kids to Arkport is another “thank you universe” type of feeling. The rest of our roster: Kohler Preston, Dan Clark, Lucas Smith, Tayven Lavetsky, and Connor Westfall — these guys have put in so much time on the court and continue to learn and grow each year. I’m so grateful to all of them for the time and effort they put in. We really are a family. And I believe that togetherness is the foundation for the basketball program that we continue to build. All the coaches and volunteers who put the time into help – I’m so proud of everybody. The parents who support these kids and what we are trying to do – it’s awesome stuff. I’m a very lucky guy!” Houy said
Houy is looking forward to playing at Alfred State and being a part of the Showcase and his matchup with Genesee-Valley/Belfast.
“GV-Belfast I don’t have a lot of experience playing, but I know that they are tough – both programs have great storied histories. I saw them play against Fillmore recently, and they play hard. Well-coached and tough. Our guys know we will have to bring everything we have and execute well to beat them. Our team is super excited about the chance to play at Alfred State College! What a cool opportunity – just like our experience at St. Bonaventure, which just fell in our lap as well (thank you again Andover-Whitesville for the invite!). What an experience that was! Our team is still on cloud 9 from playing in the Reilly Center,” Houy concluded