For area sports teams the year 2015 was highlighted by the end of several long championship droughts. The year also featured the continuing of several long championship winning streaks and the ending of others. Here’s a look back at this scribe’s list of the Top 10 area sports stories for 2015 along with several Honorable Mention stories that could not be left out.
1. Albion cagers end 43 year sectional title drought
Coming on strong after a so-so (8-6) Niagara-Orleans League campaign, Albion ended a 43 year long sectional basketball title drought by defeating Maryvale 65-57 for the Section VI Class B1 championship at Buffalo State College.
Des Blackmon poured in 20 points and Clayton Stanton 16 to spearhead the attack for Albion which had not claimed a basketball sectional title since 1972.
Tommy Mattison added 9, Austin Loyd and Manny Thompson 8 each and Alex Bison 4 for the Purple Eagles which jumped out to a 21-13 advantage and went on to hold leads of 36-25 at the half and 45-34 after three quarters.
Coach Brennan Meakin’s No. 4 seeded Purple Eagles had advanced to the B1 finals by upending top seeded Burgard 62-54 in the semifinals at Buffalo State.
Stanton and Blackmon each scored 16 points to set the pace for Albion which not only avenged a season opening 54-42 non league loss to Burgard but also earned a spot in the sectional title game for the first time since 1982.
Loyd chipped in with 9, Mattison 8, Thompson 7 and Bison 6 for the Purple Eagles.
Trailing 43-37 late in the third period, Albion rallied back into the lead for good at 48-42 as Bison hit a three to close the third stanza and Stanton scored on a rebound bucket, Blackmon on a three and Thompson on a layup to key an 8-0 run to open the final period.
Albion’s postseason run, however, came to an end in the Section VI Class B state qualifier contest as the Purple Eagles dropped a 72-54 decision to East High of Buffalo at Buffalo State.
2. Kendall girls repeat as league, sectional soccer champions
Giving up just two goals along the way, the Kendall girls soccer team posted a perfect 13-0 record to capture a third straight Genesee Region League Division 1 soccer championship.
Keeping the momentum, Kendall, which went 16-0 overall during the regular season, then rattled off three straight postseason victories to repeat at Section V Class C2 champions.
Kendall scored repeat wins over 2014 foes in both of the first two rounds blanking Campbell-Savonna 6-0 in the quarterfinals and Warsaw 1-0 in the semifinals on a goal by Maya Rutland. The Lady Eagles then defeated South Seneca 4-1 in the championship game as Maya Rutland, Taylor Rutland, Tayolr ReQua and Hailee Mitchell all took turns scoring goals.
However, Kendall bid for a spot in the state playoffs was dashed by another familiar foe as Cal-Mum nipped the Lady Eagles 1-0 in the Section V Class C state qualifier contest. The two teams had met for the Class CC title the previous two years with Cal-Mum winning 1-0 in 2013 and Kendall 2-1 in double overtime in 2014.
3. Hawks earn league, sectional diamond honors
Compiling an 18-5 record, Holley earned both the Genesee Region League Division 1 and the Section V Class CC championships.
No. 2 seed Holley captured the CC title by defeating top seeded East Rochester 6-2 at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia. The sectional championship was the first for the Hawks since 2009.
Senior Joey DeFelice had a huge game both at the plate and on the mound for the Hawks. At the plate he had a pair of run producing triples and on the mound he struck out all 10 of the batters he faced after coming on in relief in the fifth inning.
Breaking way from a 2-2 deadlock, Holley took the lead for good by scoring twice in the top of the sixth inning on RBI singles by Lucas Silvis and Nick Passarell. A leadoff single by DeFelice ignited the rally.
The Hawks then tacked on two big insurance runs in the seventh inning on an RBI triple by DeFelice and a run producing single by Silvis.
Holley had advanced to the title contest by nipping G-R League foe Alexander 3-2 in the semifinals on a two out, two-run ingle by Silvis in the bottom of the seventh inning. A single by Josh Porter and a double by DeFelice set up the rally.
Holley’s bid to gain a spot in the state playoffs was ended though as Geneseo bested the Hawks 6-3 in the Section V Class C state qualifier game at Genesee Community College.
Ten stranded base runners and five errors proved costly to Holley which lead only once, at 3-2 in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Jon Bower.
4. Barker sweeps N-O track titles
Making school history Barker captured both the N-O League boys and girls track titles by posting 6-0 records.
The championship was the fifth in a row for the Barker boys and the first ever for the Lady Raiders.
Narrow wins over Medina (74-67) and Wilson (72-65) highlighted the Barker boys title quest.
The Lady Raiders season was keyed by a season opening 75-65 win over runner-up Akron (5-1) and a season ending 75-66 victory over third place Albion (4-2).
5. Mustangs claim N-O diamond title
Endng a 20 year drought, Medina captured the N-O League baseball championship for the first time since 1995 by compiling a 12-2 record.
A season opening 9-2 victory over rival Albion, the Mustangs first win over the Purple Eagles in 14 years, ignited the successful title run.
The Mustangs, in fact, opened the season with six straight wins, then lost two of three but closed string with a five game win streak.
Leading the Mustangs were a quartet of first team N-O All-League selections including pitcher Jason Hellwig, first baseman Matt Riemer, outfielder Brennan Zinkievich and designated hitter Kyle Herman, along with catcher Justin Morgan, a second team honoree.
6. Channel Cats extend N-O reign
The Roy-Hart boys swim team captured a league record ninth straight N-O championship by going 10-0.
The Channel Cats have compiled a 90-0 league record during that stretch.
Roy-Hart’s closest meets were 94-76 and 92-78 wins over Barker which finished in a tie for second place with Medina at 7-3.
The Newfane girls likewise went 10-0 to earn a sixth straight N-O championship. The Lady Panthers have compiled a 60-0 record during that run.
7. Albion spikers score N-O title three-peat
Losing just one set along the way, Albion compiled a 12-0 record to claim a third straight N-O League volleyball championship.
First team N-O All-League selections Kelsee Soule, Chanyce Powell and Meghan Hurley led the way for Albion which has gone 36-0 over the past three N-O championship seasons.
8. Lady Rams rule in N-O softball
After sharing the title in 2014, Roy-Hart captured the N-O softball championship outright for the first time as the Lady Rams compiled a 14-0 record.
Before this year Roy-Hart’s only N-O titles were co-championships with Albion in 2009 and with Akron in 2014.
The Lady Rams were led by first team All-League selections pitcher Taylor Fry, infielder Ashley Bower and outfielder Kayla Brown along with second team honorees infielders Maddy Glena and Lindsay Yates.
Earning the top seed for the Section VI Class B2 playoffs, Roy-Hart shutout Lackawanna (4-0) and Falconer (7-0) before bowing to Fredonia 8-3 in the championship game.
9. Purple Eagle netters win N-O title
Emerging victorious in a tight five team race, Albion captured its first N-O League tennis championship since 2004 by compiling a 9-3 record.
The Purple Eagles edged out Akron and Medina, which both finished at 8-4, along with Wilson and Barker which both wound up at 7-5.
Albion used a late season 3-2.5 win over Medina to take the lead for good as both teams entered the match with 8-2 records. The Purple Eagles then claimed the title outright when Akron nipped Medna 3-2.5.
First team N-O selections Dyer Benjovsky and Josh Metzler along with second team honorees Monica Benjovsky and Kyler McQuillian led the way for the Purple Eagles.
10. Tiger grapplers claim sectional title
Led by a quintet of individual weight class champions, Lyndonville captured the Section V Class B wrestling title.
Individual champions Tony Recco, Devon Joy, Tom Follman, Jeff Gress Jr. and Chris McDonald led the way for the Tigers which also had Garren Bayne and Dustin Joy place second, Reese Ledford, Cullen Heveron and Dustin Hinkley third and Dawson Joy and Frankie Carrasquillo place fourth.
Recco went on to place first and Gress second at the Section V championships earning both wrestlers a trip to the state meet.
– Albion ended Medina’s three year reign in the century plus old football rivalry as the Purple Eagles downed the rival Mustangs 27-14.
– Kendall High senior Evan Gaesser had a big year on the links. In the spring he won a second straight Genesee Region League title, placed third at the state Public High School championships and fourth at the state Federation championships. This fall he accepted a Division 1 scholarship to attend and play golf at LaSalle University.
– The Lyndonville/Medina boys varsity volleyball team made its debut season highlighted by a victory in the opening round of the sectional playoffs.
– The Akron girls field hockey team ended Barker’s long run of nine straight N-O League championships and seven straight Section VI Class C titles.
– The Wilson girls soccer teams captured the N-O League, Section VI Class B and Far West Regional titles before bowing in the state Class B championship game to Schalmont 2-0. The Wilson girls basketball team also had a big year capturing a sixth straight N-O championship by going 14-0. The Wilson boys also claimed the N-O basketball and golf titles.
– The Barker boys cross-country team posted a 14-0 record to capture the N-O championship for the third straight year and the seventh time i nthe last eight years.
– In youth baseball, Barre defeated Sandstone in the Albion Midget League playoff championship game and Roy-Hart defeated Albion in two straight to win the Lockport Midget A League playoff title.
– In youth softball, the Medina 12U Fillies won the Metro Girls Softball League Silver Division playoffs with a 9-4 win over the Hamburg Extreme. The Medina U10 Fillies also captured the Metro League’s C Division championship with a 7-6 win over Hamburg.
– In youth soccer, both the Albion girls U17 and Holley boys U17 teams won Rochester District Youth Soccer Association division championships.