Friday, February 10, 2012

Section 2's hottest basketball ticket of 2012 needs a bigger venue

Last month, my alma mater, Troy High, upset Christian Brothers Academy of Albany, the 2-time defending champions of the Big 10 league in New York's section 2. Troy took over first place in the league, and held it until the rematch on Tuesday in Troy, in front of a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd, which CBA won in overtime, 52-50. I only wish I could've been there, but I knew going in I had no chance.

It has happened before with CBA, across the river in Albany. Rivalry games against in-city foes Albany High & Bishop Maginn have sometimes been played at the Washington Avenue Armory, especially against Maginn, which boasted the likes of Talor Battle, who graduated from Penn State last year. The gyms in the respective schools couldn't handle the likely overflow. In Troy's case, they couldn't have anticipated the packed house on Tuesday, but they should've. Now, they have to enact a contingency plan within the next week, in case the two teams meet again.

CBA closes its regular season tonight, while Troy has 2 games remaining. Assuming both teams win out, they will meet in a 1-game playoff to determine the league champion next weekend. However, there is just no way they can play the game at either school's gym. A neutral site, especially a much larger venue, has to come into play. The best Troy can offer is to play the game a block away at RPI's Houston Field House, which has hosted basketball in the past (i.e. Harlem Globetrotters), and can seat as many as 4,000-6,000 fans for a game, maybe more if they can reconfigure the venue for basketball. However, if RPI has a hockey home game that night, there goes that option, right out the window, forcing the game to Albany.

The Armory is available, but hasn't hosted a basketball game since the IBL's Legends won their championship nearly 2 years ago. The Legends now play their home games, ironically, at CBA, due to some sort of dispute between the league or the team and the Armory. Then, there's the cavernous Times Union Center, home to Siena College's men's basketball team, which routinely draws anywhere from 6,000-10,000 fans on a given night. A simple high school game won't draw that many, but there'd be enough room to accomodate fans from both THS & CBA, especially if the game has to be booked on short notice.

The common link between THS & CBA is Troy AD Paul Reinisch, who was a multi-sport star at CBA a number of years ago. If anyone has mixed emotions about the season series between the two schools, it'd be Reinisch, but, assuming he still has connections at CBA, it wouldn't take much to negotiate a neutral site for the playoff, should it happen. As with RPI, the only thing standing in the way of playing at the TU Center would be if Siena or the Albany Devils has the venue booked next weekend, forcing the game to go to the ancient Armory, and, for all we know, that would be the best bet.

With all that having been said, the only concern remaining is whether or not any of the schools in Section 2 can merit national attention from ESPN for their high school showcase. Why should schools in the South, Midwest, & West get all the attention? I'd be willing to bet that some Section 2 schools might be worthy of national attention, because it'd be the surest way to get scouts looking to the Northeast to find the next Jimmer Fredette or Talor Battle. Just what are they waiting for?

Hey, all I know is that if there's a playoff at the TUC or the Armory next Friday, I'm there. And I may just dust off that old THS basketball button.........

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