DISCLAIMER: This outlook includes only the parts of New York that I call my ‘primary coverage area’ in the winter. That region includes Sections II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, IX, and X. Section I (downstate) and Sections VIII/XI (Long Island) along with NYC are not included in this post.
It might be a little past ‘midseason’ at this point for most, but plenty of regular season action left to go so not too late to continue with these. Let the deeper dives continue!
Already knocked out the Class AA & A outlooks – scroll back to last week on the blog to check those out.
Next stop: Class B, which is often the wildest of the bunch for many areas. It’s deeper in some regions than others this year, but there’s an interesting race taking shape in almost all sections that I cover – and unlike many years, Class B also features some of New York’s premier individual talent.
The midseason outlook on the Bs, separated by section:
Whether looking at talent or résumé, starting a Class B conversation with anyone besides Albany Academy would be irresponsible. There’s ‘section competitive’ and there’s ‘state competitive’… AAG looks like the latter. The 15-0 Bears have run almost all competition off the floor, with only four games – home wins over Columbia (Class A), Catholic Central (Class A), and Ichabod Crane (Class B) and a neutral site victory over Niskayuna (Class AA) – even being competitive. Their talent is undeniable, both in firepower at the top & in depth, and the pieces – some old and some new – have gelled a little better than even I expected. They use their athleticism to create transition opportunities on a consistent basis and also defend at a high level – if they’re clicking in the half-court offensively too, they’re close to unbeatable in the Bs. It’s not a runaway as they can get definitely pushed by their top Class B competitors, but AAG leads the discussion in Section II.
And Catskill is holding it down in the Patroon and right there with them. They’re led by one of New York’s premier talents in Stony Brook bound Janay Brantley – to think of Catskill is to think of her – and they’re especially dangerous because she has the ability to go off for video game numbers and lead her team past anyone on any given night. They’ve received some increasingly consistent production out of others and will need that reliability to beat the top teams in late February/early March. Similar to AAG, Catskill has blown through its competition so far. Only one game – a 49-41 early December win over Greenville – has finished within 20. The Patroon is a weaker schedule for a competitive Class B team and I’m usually big on strength of schedule, but this is a ‘don’t let the league fool you’ situation because the Cats have the firepower to put it on anyone if it all clicks. If the season ended today, I think they’d be in line for the 2 seed behind AAG, but look for a big upcoming nonleague game with Ichabod Crane to either cement that or make it messy.
And speaking of Ichabod Crane… this is a team I continue to be high on. I think they need a complete outing with ‘plus’ games throughout their starting five to beat a team like AAG, but they have the capability of doing so – and similar to Catskill, they have a lead guard with the ability to put her stamp on a game in Carolina Williams. Their only losses are single digit road setbacks to AAG (61-52) and one they’d like to have back at Schalmont (53-48). Their guard play is dynamic and they can fill it up in the backcourt as well as anyone in Section II. If they can get balance that with frontcourt production, I like their chances. As long as they’re at full strength, IC is pretty much a shoe-in for neutral site play where things really get interesting.
I would consider those three the teams that have separated themselves from the pack, but there’s a little more depth than that. Schalmont is undoubtedly next in line – the defending state champs still have a D1 talent in Karissa Antoine and when the young backcourt plays with confidence and provides complimentary production, they’re tough for anyone. Their 8-6 record features many more wins than losses over the last month, and I could see them getting 5 out of their last 6 regular season games as well. The one time I watched them in person this season was their win over Ichabod Crane, case in point that they can’t be looked past… Broadalbin-Perth has rolled to an impressive 11-3 start with all losses coming to larger schools (Shaker, Queensbury, Mohonasen), but they were dealt a sizable blow a few weeks ago when they lost standout guard Jillian Sassanella to injury. They will still be competitive as their length & frontcourt potency is tough for many teams to contend with, but it’s a major blow when comparing them to the top Bs… Tamarac is an interesting team at full strength. They’re on the small end and rely heavily on their backcourt, but that backcourt has depth and brings both skill & toughness. They’re at 9-1 with their only loss on the road at a pre-Syd Hart injury South High. Big ones coming up the next few days at a very good Greenwich along with Mechanicville… one more team that can sneak up in the discussion is Schuylerville. They’re below .500 at 6-8 and results can be inconsistent because they struggle to score consistently, but they have good general athletes & the pieces to make life difficult for opponents. I look at them as a quarterfinal team that has the potential to put a scare into their opponent at that time depending on how seeding shakes out.
There’s very little overlap between General Brown and non-Frontier Class B schools in Section III as their schedule is almost exclusively North Country teams, but that’s what I’m here for. Their complete dominance in most games is no fluke, they’re still very good and should be regarded as a clear favorite in the Bs. The two losses in their current 13-2 mark came in consecutive games at the hands of Baldwinsville (Class AA – neutral site) and top area competitor Indian River (Class A – on the road). Other than a very entertaining 54-53 neutral site win over competitive Section II Class A Catholic Central, the rest of their schedule has been an array of 40+ point margins. They’ll come in without the number of late game situation battles that others have, but the challenge for everyone else will be to get them in that scenario to begin with. The Lions have solid positional size, can play uptempo or in the half-court, defend at a pretty high level, and now have the ‘basketball balance’ of a player that can fill it up against top opponents when needed in recent 1,000 point scorer Kori Nichols along with several contributors that can be trusted to make plays. Similar to what I said about AAG above, GB has the look of a ‘state competitive’ team. The road to the crown in Section III runs through Dexter.
The Section III team that has caught my eye the most out of any class might be Cortland. I mentioned them in the preseason preview as I anticipated what they brought back would make them competitive as they dropped into Class B, but they’re proving to be more than ‘competitive’ and more of a contender. The lone B in a SCAC division that features several As and a AA, they’ve marched to a 13-3 record with their only losses coming to Auburn (the AA), Jamesville-DeWitt (when they were playing their best early in the year), and contending Section IV Class B Chenango Forks (in overtime). I had the chance to see them in person early in the season and liked what they brought to the table both athletically and on the defensive end, and they’re a tougher group that can win the gritty games. Class B looks like an absolute mess of everyone beating on everyone for the most part, but Cortland has separated to me as the ‘if someone knocks off General Brown, it’ll be them’ team.
And after that, it’s kind of a mess, though a team I like in that ‘if someone can do it’ discussion is Notre Dame. They’re proving to be the best TVL team not named Rome Free Academy & they even gave RFA a decent battle. I love what Maggie Trinkaus (2024) and Ella Trinkaus (2026) bring in the frontcourt, and if they stay out of foul trouble, they’re a load for everyone in their path. Given their roster makeup, I think they have to make threes to keep pace & beat the top Bs, and that’s something that’s been inconsistent for them against the better teams on their schedule. That being said, we’ve at least been able to see what they’re like against tough opponents as they’ve probably had the toughest schedule out of all area Bs. That may hurt them in seeding as they’re currently 8-6 and project as 13-7 or 14-6 in a few weeks, but it’s a guarantee that no one will want to see them on their side of the bracket… Another team that no one will want to see early is Skaneateles, though their record will probably put them in position to have a higher seed as they sit at 11-3 with only a couple potential ‘losable’ games left. Out of those 14 games, opponents have scored 40+ only four times and 50+ just twice (Class AA Henninger and the aforementioned Cortland). I wouldn’t exactly call their schedule strong and their toughest week is probably the last one of the regular season, but defense has carried them and they have one of the best lead guards in the Bs in Maddy Ramsgard, so they’ll be in the mix… Westhill is always in the discussion so this is no surprise. Even in a new era with legendary coach Sue Ludwig having moved on to the Syracuse University staff, it’s been business as usual as they’ve started 10-3 with their only head scratcher being an early season loss to Marcellus (who they turned around & beat by 18 last week). Always well-seasoned so they’ll be ready. Big one coming up with 12-1 league/class foe Mexico, who – looking at the rest of their season schedule – will likely be a top 2 seed in a few weeks.
Whereas the two sections above have at least a minor favorite at this stage, I think Section IV is more of a wide open crapshoot with a handful of teams that can knock each other off depending on matchup & day.
It’s been a while since a team not in the STAC took home a Class B title in Section IV. I can’t think of a time that it’s happened in my tenure covering girls’ basketball. Newark Valley came relatively close with a trip to the finals in 2020, and although the depth of competitive Bs lies in the STAC once again, the Cardinals – last year’s section champions in Class C & state finalists – probably give the IAC its best chance in a while. In a field with no true standouts, they have as good of a shot as anyone, and similar to last season, they’ve cleared through everyone in their path. Two competitive but relatively decisive wins over Waverly and an impressive neutral site W over Horseheads highlight their current 14-0 mark. In a field with teams that generally look somewhat similar in roster makeup & style, Newark Valley has something none of the others do in Cha Gardner, a commanding post presence. The 6’3″ forward has been their anchor & is an individual talent that none of their competitors can directly match up with. It looks like they’re on the way to another undefeated regular season unless Union-Endicott can find a way in an intriguing matchup next week, and although the IAC might not get respect in the Bs – understandably so in the past given how things have always shaken out – the Cardinals might make teams respect them.
Chenango Valley is one of numerous STACs that will be in the mix when it matters. They made it to the finals last year and returned impact players. After a somewhat up & down start that included losses to Owego and Cortland (S3), they’ve put it together of late and reeled off 7 straight wins. That streak features a lopsided win over a solid Chenango Forks team and two wins over Susquehanna Valley, one close (overtime) and the other more decisive. This is more of a grind-it-out sort of team that makes it difficult for opponents to score (under 40 points in 9 of their 14 games to date) but also doesn’t score too fluidly themselves (under 50 in 8 of their games). I worry about those teams in sectional play as it almost always gets to a point where you have to score to win, but if/when someone beats them, they’ll have to grind for it.
I expected Chenango Forks to compete this winter, but they may be a step beyond what I anticipated. As stupid as it sounds, I’m left wondering if their season-opening game had anything to do with it. I was in the building when they were getting handled by Unatego, then flipped a switch and turned it around in the 4th quarter, turning a late 15 point deficit into an overtime road win against a school whose basketball program is respected. Forks hasn’t been known for basketball in my time covering the game, but they have upperclassmen that impact the game (Helena Willis being a leader of that) and a generational type talent for the school in 2026 Maggie Warpus that is realizing that potential in her freshman campaign. They’re up to 12-3 with the aforementioned loss to CV being the only lopsided one – a narrow defeat to Johnson City makes me think that getting beat that badly by anyone in Class B is an anomaly. We’ll find out soon as they wrap up their regular season at CV, but regardless, they’ve made their statement as a team to respect.
A few others are worth noting. The new calendar year hasn’t gone so well for Susquehanna Valley as they’ve suffered five straight losses, but they’re not a team I would count out. Many games this season have been close and they’ve dropped a few one possession games – in it against almost everyone… Another team that’s had their moments is Owego. Their current 9-5 record features a couple losses that I’d call shaky but a couple wins that I’d call eye-opening. A steady & solid backcourt will win you big games, and they have that. They’re a team that I’m definitely not counting out… Shotmaking will be key for a guard-oriented Waverly team. They’ve handled the teams that they should beat on their schedule and boast an early-season victory over Forks, but they’ve struggled to get out of the 40s against the best teams they’ve played (Newark Valley & Elmira namely). They like playing with pace and have the guards to do so. If they can make a game their style – especially if they have the chance to do so on a 94×50 – and make shots, they can sneak up on any of these teams any given night.
- Worth noting in Section V is that they go to split-class divisions in the Bs, so although only one Class B team makes it out of regional play, there will be ‘champions’ crowned in both B1 & B2. This is currently one of only two sections in my coverage region that has split-class playoffs in B (Section VI being the other one).
With that said, starting with a B1 field that looks like the stronger of the two sides:
Defending section champ and 2021-22 state finalist Waterloo hasn’t skipped a beat. All roads to ‘the block’, as they call it in Section V, go through Waterloo. They’re 12-0 as of now and very few opponents have been able to push them. Last year, they had good guards that worked around a unique big. This year, it’s the guards that run the show and they’ve created a pretty exciting brand of basketball. 70+ in the books has been the norm for them over the last month and they have four players averaging double figures. They aren’t a total runaway favorite like they were last year, but a repeat is certainly in their sights.
If anyone stands in Waterloo’s path on the B1 side, look no further than a Livonia team they already have some familiarity with. The teams met in the championship of Livonia’s holiday tournament and Waterloo squeaked by with a 64-60 win, by far their closest game of the season. That’s also proed to be the Bulldogs’ only loss to date, and their 13-1 record includes impressive wins over Pittsford Sutherland, Mercy, and Victor. Niagara bound Kylie Buckley has been nothing short of a star, averaging over 25 PPG & nearly 12 RPG, and she’s received valuable help from the supporting cast. I’m intrigued by them as they’ve found ways to win both high-octane shootouts and gritty battles played in the 40s. Experience closing both kinds of games out can prove valuable when it matters most.
Beyond those two – I’m intrigued by Palmyra-Macedon and think they have the pieces to make a run. They boast one of the best forwards in the Bs in Marianna Hodgins who has been a consistent double-double type kid, and they also have backcourt talent that allows both sides to complement each other. Big one coming up to end the week against Waterloo, one of the two teams to beat them so far… The youth movement has been heard loud & clear at Aquinas, who was the other team that knocked off Pal-Mac, and they look to have taken that next step as one of the top Bs in the area. Unfortunately for them, they lost standout 2027 Loren Green to injury a few weeks ago (the Pal-Mac game was the last one she played) and sounds like she’ll remain out for the near future. Others have stepped up though and they’ve picked up a couple impressive wins in the last week or so that show they still need to be respected… Midlakes has been a little up & down and they’re still looking for a signature win, but they’re still a team that no one can look past. They just played Pal-Mac tight and – take it for what it’s worth – they beat Mynderse by considerably more in their last game than the 1 point squeaker in their first matchup. Signs of a team finding its way? I wasn’t there so I can’t tell you, but perhaps.
Onto the B2s:
Speaking of youth movement, that’s the Hornell way lately and the hits keep on coming with the young guns. They’ve taken their lumps at times, to be expected with a young group and a pretty challenging schedule, but they’ve largely remained competitive in their losses (three margins of 5 points or less in their 8-6 record). I would say they’re still looking for a signature win against a high-level opponent, and they’ll definitely have more cracks at it as Waterloo, Livonia, and Aquinas all await in the next 2-3 weeks. This is a guard-oriented group that plays with pace and relies on shooting it well – maybe not quite as much as the Rittenhouse/Harkenrider teams of a few years ago though – and I think 2026 Jordyn Dyring has the potential to be a star in the making. They got a taste of the finals last year while in B1, losing to Waterloo, and they look like a good bet to get back there in B2 this year.
And another team that has made its presence felt is one of those teams that beat Hornell in a close game – Dansville. Their 44-43 win a few days ago looks like the best on the résumé within their current 10-4 record. Their success this season is a bit of an eye-opener for me because I can’t really say I saw it coming, perhaps an indictment of my lack of homework more than anything. They look like more of a grind-it-out group as the scoreboard didn’t hit 50 for anyone in half of their games, somewhat the opposite of Hornell. Looking way ahead, a Round 3 between them – Round 2 happens late in the regular season – would be quite intriguing.
B2 seems somewhat lean, but the next team in line seemingly worth noting is Mynderse. All of their losses have come to B1 & C1 contenders. Their schedule has very little overlap with other B2s, but what’s a guarantee is they come in pretty battle-tested… Led by area standout Meredith Czajkowski, Haverling will be a factor when it matters, and Wellsville will be competitive in the B2 field as they look to get back to the finals behind Makenna Dunbar in the frontcourt.
Similar to Section V, the 716 operates under a split-class system in the Bs – so they’ll crown ‘champions’ in B1 & B2 before playing for a winner that advances into regional play.
I’ll group these two teams in the same paragraph because it seems like everyone is anticipating the crash course between Depew & Lewiston-Porter. They put on an absolute show in the Section VI Class B1 final last March, undoubtedly one of the best games I watched all year, and they’ve generally been running through teams on their path to potentially meet again. Depew is currently 12-1 with a few quality wins, and they also gave full-strength Lancaster a very good game in December. Lew-Port is 11-2 with their only losses coming to MMAs (and one not at full strength themselves), and similar to Depew, they’ve picked up a couple eye-opening victories along the way. Two of WNY’s most highly regarded talents – Binghamton bound Kaylee Krysztof (Depew) and Daemen bound Sophie Auer (Lew-Port) – lead their respective teams. Both sides have very capable running mates as well, though similar to KK & Sophie, they present in different forms as Mia Vannelli (Depew) brings a potent frontcourt presence and Aliza Whitehead (Lew-Port) is an emerging wing talent. Are there other competitors? Sure. Is the Depew/Lew-Port game an anticipated matchup at Buff State? Yes – and it would perhaps be the most highly anticipated matchup of the year in Section VI.
If anyone was to crash the party, it’d be Iroquois. Injuries have killed them this year – it took standout Molly Mescall several weeks into the season to get back on the court after an injury sustained during soccer, then as soon as she made it back, McKenna Sinibaldi had to get acquainted with a boot. If they can ever get to full strength among their key contributors (and especially if they can get a couple weeks together before win-or-go-home season), they could be a problem. They’re currently 8-7, but again, I look past the record to an extent because they haven’t been able to play with a full team pretty much the whole way. At full strength, I like the pieces they have to compete against the better teams.
And onto the B2s:
Similar to the B1s, we probably have a crash course on our hands. Similar to the B1s, it’s the same one as last year. Southwestern and Eden, two usual suspects in the Class B race that always seem to meet in playoffs, are on pace to end up doing it again. Again, maybe this is me not doing my job, but Eden has perhaps been a little better than I anticipated. To be fair, their schedule to date hasn’t been all that challenging, but they’ve shown competitively against their stronger foes. Behind the exploits of Maggie Zittel, who’s stepped into an alpha role & averages over 20 PPG for them, they’re probably in good shape to finish off the regular season in the 16-4 range. It would take Southwestern a spotless rest of the regular season to hit that mark as they’re currently 9-4 – and they have a couple tough ones left on the schedule so that thought would be far from a guarantee – but Reece Beaver and crew are very much a safe bet to make it back to Buff State no matter who’s on their side of the bracket. They’ve left no stone unturned in their path to get pushed in the regular season, which should only pay dividends going forward,
Other thoughts… I’m not breaking news when I say the Buffalo city public schools are generally not so strong, but it’s worth noting that Olmsted is up to 11-1. Behind the exploits of Brooklyn Bullock, they’ve proven to perhaps be the best in the city. I’m curious to see how they fare in the B2 field.
Well, I hate to make it so blunt, but here’s the deal. I’m not going to look past AuSable Valley, a Class C finalist last year that plays with a lot of scrap & toughness and can make things interesting against anyone on any given night. I’m also going to make an extra early mention of Peru, who’s not there yet but they’re building through the youth and have a couple 2027s that can lead them to the promised land in a couple years’ time. But… is there anyone that’s more heavily favored to get out of Class B in their section than Saranac in Section VII? I’d say not. On paper and in person, the Chiefs are the best team in the section at any class. They currently hold a 12-1 record with their only loss coming in Burlington to Vermont power Rice. They boast two of the most impactful players in the section in longtime standout Sydney Myers and emerging talent Brenna Ducatte, and their backcourt play is solid & steady. I wouldn’t call them a high-octane offensive team, but they score it well enough that it doesn’t really become an issue in their area, and they defend with discipline and toughness – Rice has been the only time to cross 40 against them so far. Nothing is ever a guarantee, but as long as they remain at full strength, Saranac is a very heavy favorite in Section VII.
Stranger things have happened of course, but similar to the Section VI talk, we have a crash course brewing in Section IX. If it’s anything like their first matchup a couple weeks ago, it’ll be worth the price of admission. In that game, Red Hook needed 36 minutes but outlasted Marlboro for a 50-45 win. They meet again on February 7 in Marlboro, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll enjoy a Round 3 either in semis or finals depending on seeding. They both have prominent frontcourt presences in Emilie Kent (Red Hook) and Hannah Polumbo (Marlboro), both have good backcourts led by Katie Boyd (Red Hook) and Gabby Murphy (Marlboro), and the sophomores out of that group – Kent & Murphy – have really started to emerge this winter. Looking forward to seeing how it shakes out in this area. One thing for sure is they’ll be in the mix.
If there’s a party crasher, we’re probably looking at OCIAA rep Chester. Class C section finalists last year now up in the Bs, they’ve ripped through their schedule after a season opening loss to Beacon (who they evened the score with a couple weeks ago). I wouldn’t call their schedule challenging as the OCIAA is pretty down with the exception of a couple AAs that they don’t play, but they’ve handled business as far as who’s been in their path. They have a certain level of backcourt/frontcourt balance when things are clicking as Susquehanna bound Allison Bono and Trinity Delgado, both 2023s and longtime contributors, give them what they need as primary weapons.
Even after graduating their all-everything player from last year, it looks like the defending champions vs. the field and smart money goes towards Gouverneur. Their record was spotless in all Section X play before a loss to Malone (Class A) that’s interesting but not interesting enough to cause doubt. Especially with Canton now down in Class C, the path is even clearer for the Wildcats. Ogdensburg is likely next in line – Gouverneur won Round 1 59-32 in the season opener – Round 2 is next on the schedule for both teams.