Panas Takes Yorktown Tourney Title, Evans Named MVP
After watching them first-hand at the 23rd annual George Budries Tournament at host Yorktown High, observers would have to give WALTER PANAS a ton of credit for its improvement from 2019 to the upcoming 2020 season. After a sub-par 2019 campaign, Coach Mike Auerbach’s Panthers (2-0) really got after it in the off-season and enter 2020 with renewed hope, having knocked off Clarkstown North, 71-59, in Saturday’s title tilt, a day after beating the host Huskers, 70-57, in the Friday’s opening round.
Panas showed some legit depth and vast improvement over a year ago, taking a 36-21 halftime lead on North before blowing the doors off behind MVP Caleb Evans, who scored a game-high 21 points, 20 after three quarters, including a couple of threes. Panther swingman Robert Ennis added 12 to receive an All-Tourney nod for the Panthers. Feisty sophomore G Arturo Macchia added 11 points for the winners.
Against Yorktown, Panas G Lorenzo Santucci provided the spark, leading the Panthers with 20 points, including three 3’s, while Alex Tavarez added 13, including 11 of 13 from the stripe (Panas shot 26 of 35 from the line). Santucci came off the bench and provided and instant boost to the attack.
Beacon transfer Evans added nine points and showed some versatility on both ends of the floor. Tom Palmaffy (7 points) and Macchia (8 points) were also big for the Panthers, who showed depth and the ability to balance the score sheet.
“We’re pretty comfortable going nine deep, and Rob Simmonds, who should be back after the break, will factor, too,” Panas Coach Mike Auerbach said. “We definitely saw the big upside from Evans. He showed it against Clarkstown North. He’s unique in that he can score inside against smaller defenders and also on the perimeter if you try and defend him with a forward.
We have a lot of options offensively. We feel like we can have five or six different guys potentially lead us in scoring on a given night. Defensively, we’re a work in progress. We’ll have to figure it out game to game. It’ll be pretty scouting-report dependent on that end of the court.”
Yorktown took third place with a 68-40 win over Carmel, which looks like it might struggle to score the ball this season. The Rams were eliminated by Clarkstown North, 44-30, in the opening round.
Yorktown sophomore Eddie Brucaj, a 6’5” forward with a ton of potential, was named to the All-Tournament team after notching a double-double (16 points and 12 rebounds).
In the season opener against Fox Lane, Yorktown nearly clawed its way back from a 17-point deficit but lost to Fox Lane, 51-47. Roni Brucaj (11 points, 3 boards, 2 assists), Eddie Brucaj (6 points, 7 rebounds) and Anthony Granitto (14 points, 3 boards) were big for the Huskers (1-2), who salvaged a third-place finish in the Budries tournament in a 68-40 win over Carmel. The Rams had no answer for Husker sophomore Eddie Brucaj, who dropped 16 points and hauled in six boards. Senior Roni Brucaj added 10 points and four assists while Tony Granitto had 10 points and six boards. Of note, Husker freshman Antoine Cole fared well with four points and six assists.
LAKELAND may not have got the desired outcome by placing fourth in its Relay for Life Tournament, but while Coach Steve Fallo’s Hornets were in it to win it, they benefitted from the competition they saw more than anything. The field of Suffern, Tappan Zee and Arlington was a rough and tumble assemblage. Arlington beat Lakeland 84-70 in the opening round, and the Hornets could not stand toe-to-toe with Class A heavyweight Tappan Zee in the consolation round. Suffern beat Arlington to claim top honors.
“We gave Arlington too many runouts and put-backs, and the 20 turnovers didn’t help,” Fallo said. “We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re only going to get better playing this type of competition.”
SOMERS hosted reigning NYS champion Poughkeepsie in a tough 62-43 opening-night loss. Drew Lasher led Somers with 11 points while Bennett Leitner added 10. Somers (1-1) rebounded from the Poughkeepsie loss by taking down Hunter College, 66-59. Somers trailed by 10 entering the fourth but rallied back when Nate Townsend scored all 10 of his points in the final stanza. Tusker F Henry Gilroy added 13 points while G Lasher had 11.
“Losing to Poughkeepsie was a tough way to start the season,” Somers Coach Chris DiCintio admitted. “Going against the defending state champs with as many top players as we’ve lost the last two seasons was tough, but our effort and defense was good. We just shot under 20% with many good looks. It’s hard to sustain the kind of defense we play when you’re not scoring. We’ll be find down the road with our athleticism, speed and chemistry.”
The Tuskers hope to put that on display this coming week when Somers hosts the 24th annual Michael DePaoli Memorial Basketball Tournament where the Tuskers will open up with Yorktown Friday (7 p.m.) and Mahopac will face Kennedy Catholic Thursday. The winners will square off on Saturday afternoon.
“It should be a great local tournament,” DiCintio said.
PEEKSKILL notched a tough road win over Pelham, 66-64, when senior G Antonio Taylor went off for a career-high 39 points off nine treys, but the Red Devils (1-1) were knocked off by Class AA White Plains, 82-71, in the Harry Jefferson Showcase despite another solid 28-point effort from Turner, who is about to make a name for himself. Brennan Heaven added 17 for the Red Devils and Laquan Jenkins dropped 13.
HEN HUD dropped a 51-47 game to Harrison despite 18 points from Sailor sniper Nick Hiltsley.
CARMEL gave its all in a 58-56 loss to Ramapo but the Gryphons scored the winning basket with 18 seconds remaining. Ram G Jarid Garcia had 17 and Andrew Fioretti 10 in the loss. Carmel missed a go-ahead 3-pointer on its final possession. The Rams (0-3) didn’t have much better fortune in the Yorktown Tournament, settling for a last-place finish after consecutive losses to Clarkstown North and the host Huskers.
OSSINING opened its season on a winning note, 53-41 over Clarkstown North. Jaeden Carr had 18 points and four assists, Khy’Leil Hawkins added 14 points and Griffin Dahle had eight points and 13 rebounds for Ossining (2-1).
Ossining lost that early momentum in a 54-48 loss to Mamaroneck in the championship of Sleepy Hollow’s Howard Godwin Tournament 54-48. Carr (22 points, 5 boards, 2 assists), Dahle (10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists), Hawkins (4 points, 5 assists) led the way. The Pride won the opening round, 66-57, over Sleepy Hollow. Carr (25 points, 5 boards, 3 assists) and Hawkins (24 points) were explosive in the win.
MAHOPAC suffered a tough 60-46 opening-night loss to Spring Valley. Vin Bastone led the way with 11 points for the Indians (0-1), who had two chances to trim the lead to five points in the fourth.
CROTON-HARMON improved to 2-0 with a tough 51-40 win against Edgemont in the first round of the Elmsford Classic. Senior Jack Connelley notched a double-double for the Tigers (2-1), finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Senior point guard Braden Burke led the offense with 14 points, including nine in the pivotal fourth. He added six assists for the Tigers, who failed their first big test in a 70-35 loss to defending Class C champion Hamilton.
HALDANE edged Rye Neck, 61-59, on opening night behind 23 points from Daniel Santos, who went off from beyond the arc (6 3’s). Fellow G Alex Kubik added 13 while F Mame Diba had 10. F Matt Champlin and G Darrin Santos added eight and five, respectively, for the Blue Devils (1-0), who are setting everything up in the regular season for a post-season run at both Tuckahoe and Hamilton.
KENNEDY Coach Mike McDonnell notched his first win with the Gaels, 60-55, over Cristo Rey in double overtime. Lou Hoinkis had 17 points and Jaden Watkins added 12 for Kennedy (1-1), who dug out of a 10-0 first-quarter hole. Hoinkis hit two 3-pointers in the second overtime and Watkins hit a 3 at the end of regulation. Brendan Sullivan added eight points and had 10 boards for the Gaels.
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.