Mahopac Rallies for Win at Carmel; Somers off to Historic Start
At first glance, it looked as though Mahopac Coach Matt Simone had his Indians (7-4) playing over their heads through smoke and mirrors; that this superb five-game win streak was simply an allusion based on the fact that nobody saw this athletic group of football/lacrosse players taking their basketball skills to the next-level. The prevailing wisdom around Section 1 was that Mahopac would eventually come crashing back down to earth, but here we are at or beyond the halfway point of the 2018-19 season and the Indians are holding firm on what would be the current No.8 seed in the upcoming Class AA tournament should it start tomorrow, not to mention control of the League I-A title chase after defeating rival Carmel, 42-38, last Saturday and Arlington in overtime earlier in the week.
Last week was a big one for the Indians, who saw senior C Rheal Allen emerge with a few offensive explosions, including a career-high 42 points and 16 rebounds in the Indians’ 82-80 overtime triumph of host Arlington last Wednesday; this on the heels of a 32-point game against Panas.
“Reahl has been using his athleticism to his extreme advantage,” Simone said of his 6’5″ big. “Physically and athletically, there are not many kids in the section that can hang with him. Additionally, we have a very unselfish group of players, and everyone realizes when Reahl has a mismatch, and they do a great job of getting him the ball in the right spots for him to be successful.”
Trailing by 18 at the half, Mahopac mustered every ounce of resilience it had and rallied from what would become a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to win its fourth straight behind Allen and senior G Mike Argila, who added 13 points for the Indians, including a pair of huge 3’s down the stretch.
Allen, an All-Section football player, and Argila, the lax goalie with All-Section skill sets, fueled the comeback, and form just a portion of a unit that is short on overall basketball talent but long on heart and athleticism. Mahopac senior guards Tim Cegielski and Drew Riolo, yet another pair of football players, plus Matt McMahon – maybe the only true baller among the starting five – have the Indians playing their best ball since 2013.
The win over CARMEL wasn’t pretty by any means, but a 13-3 fourth-quarter run sealed the deal when junior Matt McMahon drilled the game-winning 3 late in the fourth.
“I’ve never played in an atmosphere like this before,” McMahon said. “But we battled and that was a war right there. In the end we grounded it out and we’re happy to go home with a win. It feels great to hit the shot, but I feel better for these seniors. I may have put us ahead but they did all the work. Our biggest attribute is that we worked hard every day and I love just going to practice with them.”
It hasn’t always been that way for stretches during the last five years as Mahopac hit the skids by their its standards, but the Indians are hoping to grind out a playoff win and put themselves in a position to reach the Final 4 for the first time since the winter of 2014…
SOMERS may have won the war, but PANAS provided quite a battle in the Tuskers’ 61-56 win over the visiting Panthers last Thursday. Panas had little answer for Somers big man Max Germaine, who netted 20 points. Drew Lasher added 10 points while Joe Grippo and Lucas Fecci chipped in nine points apiece for the Tuskers, who also defeated John Jay, 67-66, behind a game-high 26 from Germaine and 17 from Nick Maestri. Panas was led by Lorenzo Santucci, who dropped 18 after a sluggish start, down 16-5.
“We started awful,” Panas Coach Mike Auerbach said of the Somers loss. “Then we were down two (48-46) with three minutes left and it slipped away on us. We’re finally close to full strength. We have gotten a couple injured or ineligible guys back, which really helps.”
After reaching the Final 4 a year ago, Panas just can’t get over the hump against the second tier teams in Section 1 (see Somers, Mahopac).
“We haven’t had the easiest of schedules either,” Auerbach said. “It doesn’t get any easier. Hopefully, we can be one of those teams that is battle tested and surprises someone in sectionals.”…
LAKELAND, which has remained relevant despite loss of injured sniper Jack Kruse, beat host Brewster last Thursday, 46-41, behind 23 points from swingman Augie Karaqi and 10 more from F Joe Vetrano. The good news for Lakeland, which is beyond good news, really, is Kruse is set to return to practice next week and is shooting to play in the Greeley game on Jan. 22.
“I am very proud of how our team has played without Jack,” Lakeland Coach Steve Fallo said. “I think that experience will help us down the stretch. Jack obviously is going to make us better. Hopefully, he quickly gets back to where he was on opening night. Teams will now have to key on him, which will open things up for other players. Jack is not only an offensive threat but will make us better defensively also. We still have half the season left plus the tournament and are looking forward to playing those games with Jack on the court.”…
In CROTON-HARMON’s 53-24 pasting of Port Chester, Sean Reynolds led the Tigers with 10 points as they rebounded from Monday’s tough overtime setback to Briarcliff. Still, the Tigers have had a terrific run thus far and Class B remains a mystery to most, including Croton boss Ben Martucci.
“Bill Parcells’ saying, ‘You are what your record says you are’, doesn’t apply right now to Class B,” Martucci said. “I think Class B is wide open. There are teams hovering around .500 in Class B currently that could easily beat teams at the top of the rankings. We’ll get a better idea of where we truly stand as our schedule becomes more challenging; especially as we go through our league a second time, and we also face Class A Nyack, Class AA Ossining, and Class A Hen Hud. We love the current chemistry and attitude of our squad. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and we’re hoping our best basketball is yet to come.”
NWE/Putnam County Super 7 Hoops Poll
No.1 PUTNAM VALLEY – Coach McDonnell’s Class B state-ranked (No.9) Tigers (10-2) should see senior F Darnel Shillingford become just the 2nd player in program history to score 1,000 career points against North Salem today, joining Ryan Basso (circa 2015). Tigers will put themselves to the test against much bigger schools next two weeks, including Class AA Carmel, Class A’s Pelham and Lincoln and AA Ossining to close out the month.
No.2 SOMERS – Coach DiCintio’s Class A Tuskers (9-1) are off to the best start in school history, with wins over John Jay and Panas. State-ranked (No.25) Greeley will be some barometer this week. If Germaine continues to play at this accelerated level, Somers can be one tough out in the playoffs.
No.3 MAHOPAC – Coach Simone’s Class AA Indians (7-4) can crawl to No.2 or better with a win over Somers this Saturday.
No.4 LAKELAND – Coach Fallo’s Class A Hornets (6-4) get Eastchester, John Jay CR and Greeley in what will be a very telling tale.
No.5 CROTON – Coach Martucci’s Class B Tigers (8-3) gave up 69 points to Class A Nyack, a four-win club #Unacceptable.
No.6 CARMEL – Coach Brennan’s Class AA Rams (4-6) just can’t seem to get healthy all at once, but they had Mahopac on the ropes (up by as many as 11) and failed to deliver the kill shot. Rams can make serious headway in this poll by upsetting Put Valley Saturday.
No.7 BREWSTER – Coach Nelligan’s Bears (3-5) make you work for a win and they have some rough stretch forthcoming vs. John Jay CR, Greeley and Somers.
HM YORKTOWN – G Tommy Weaver had 14 points to lead Coach Pavella’s Huskers (3-7) in a 61-51 loss to John Jay.
HM PANAS – Coach Auerbach’s Panthers (3-6) are better than their record would indicate.