Over the past two weeks, Western New York's top boys high school basketball
players have been competing at Buffalo State's Sports Arena in sectional and
Starting Feb. 27 with the Section VI (Buffalo area) semifinals and culminating with
this past Saturday's Far West Regional Championships between the top teams
from Section VI and Section V (Rochester area), the games featured the area's best
talent, including future Division I players like East Aurora's Stan Wier (University at
Buffalo) and Niagara Falls' Jermaine Crumpton (Canisius College).
Buffalo State has been hosting the games for 18 years, said Section VI Boys
Basketball Chairman Jim Walker. The regional games are held every other year,
taking place in Rochester on off years.
"It's been great," Walker said. "It's really the ideal venue size-wise, and the college
staff have been really accommodating."
Three games are played in the morning, and two more are played in the evening,
separated by an hour-long break.
Buffalo State makes tickets for Section VI, and 3,000 are available for each set of
Brent Ford, facilities manager at Buffalo State, said there have been times in the past
when the crowd has been exceptional.
"A few years ago, when Niagara Falls had (Syracuse University stars) Paul Harris
and Jonny Flynn, they were expected to blow out Bennett," he said, "but Bennett
pulled off the upset, and the crowd stormed the court.
"It's never gotten out of hand, but it's definitely been crazy. This is definitely our
most hectic time of year."
While Section VI gets a venue suited toward its needs, the college receives positive
publicity, along with slight financial compensation, Ford said.
"The biggest thing for us is the visibility," he said. "Not even from the athletes, but
from their families who visit and their siblings who might consider attending Buffalo
State after seeing the facilities."
Ford, who's in his 12th year working at Buffalo State, also said that the college
receives $27,700 as a rent payment, but added that most of the money is used to
fund the event.
"We have to pay for (the University Police Department), cleaners and student
workers, who make the event happen," he said. "Whatever's left over usually goes to
refurbishing the gym floor, which we do every summer."
There are athletic advantages to hosting the games, as well, said Fajri Ansari, head
coach of Buffalo State's men's basketball team.
"I go to just about every high school game here," he said, adding that he also goes
to the Monsignor Martin (Parochial schools) Championships held at Canisius
College. "It's nice to have kids come in and be able to play in our arena."
Ansari said there are a couple members of his team that played at Buffalo State
before they were Bengals, including young players Maurice Miles and Justin Stokes.
"Sometimes it's tough to keep local kids here because they want to go away to
college," Ansari said. "Every advantage helps."
Buffalo State also hosts the Section VI Track and Field Championships in December
and the occasional WNY Federation hockey game during the spring semester.
Mike Meiler can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.