Section 1 Hoopers Shining Bright Despite County Cloud
Put Valley Win over Panas One for Ages; Somers Takes Out Mahopac
They can go all the way back to the dawn of PUTNAM VALLEY basketball, all the way back to the turn of the century, and they won’t find a regular season game as good as the one the Tigers played last Wednesday against host WALTER PANAS, which came out on the shy side of an 88-79 triple overtime PV win.
Beastly PV junior F Darnel Shillingford and electric Panas senior G Brandon Hodge seemingly traded buckets throughout overtime until Shillingford’s Tigers prevailed in what might be the wildest game of the young season. Shillingford dropped a career-best 39 points while teammates TJ Brescia (14 points), John Millicker (11), Ryan Soto (12) and Brandon Guerra (13) were also clutch for the Tigers. The resilient Hodge went for a career-high 32 and Panther hotshot Brandon Ramos added 25 points before fouling out in OT.
Simply put, their will be a ton of great games like this one played this season despite the shroud of the County Center cloud that hovers. But kids like Shillingford, Hodge and hundreds of others continue to burst through the layers of cover and provide silver linings with games like this: In spite of the powers that be within Section 1 Executive Committee, which have epically failed the student athletes, fans and families throughout the section.
For those just tuning in, more than a dozen members of the Section 1 basketball tournament committees, including the boys’ basketball chairman Roman Catalino, tendered their resignations this week in protest of Section 1’s decision to move the boys’ and girls’ championships out of the institutional Westchester County Center, opting for Pace University instead. No slight on Pace intended, but it’s not the fabled County Center, home of the boys’ Section 1 semis and finals since 1933, and girls since 1999.
With the list of those who have resigned from the Section 1 basketball committee swelling, the black cloud hovers over the student athletes, the very same kids we’re sworn to serve. Big-wigs like Anthony Nicodemo, who is president of the boys’ basketball coaches’ association; girls’ basketball Co-Chairman Dan Ricci, the Ossining coach; North Salem Coach and Athletic Director Henry Sassone, Tappan Zee Coach George Gaine; longtime respected committee member Dave Greiner; girls’ committee member Eric Buzzetto, the North Salem coach, also resigned. These are men who held down the fort for years… all GONE!
In an effort to get a last-ditch resolution in their favor, the Coaches Associations for Section 1 high school Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball Programs have retained William P. Harrington, Esq. and the law firm of Bleakley Platt & Schmidt, LLP to represent them and their student athletes. The association hopes the retention of legal counsel will insure an open and honest conversation with Section 1 officials. A viable amicable solution exists to use both Pace University and the County Center for this year’s tournaments, and they hope to prove that.
Their decisions to resign were preceded by an email sent last Tuesday afternoon by Section 1 President James Mackin, the Hendrick Hudson High School Principal, who has taken much of the whip and backlash for the executive committee. Makin, seen previously as a good man and solid administrator by those in the know, sent a message to Section 1 school superintendents announcing that Section 1’s Executive Committee had reiterated its verdict to host the 2018 playoff semifinals at neutral sites and the finals at Pace.
Overall, by failing to get the County Center in play for the semis, we’ve failed our student athletes and those that love Section 1 basketball. As I sit back and watch, helplessly, as this travesty plays out, I could only thank my lucky stars for one thing: The black cloud will likely hover over Section 1 all season, but the games and the resilient athletes will push on and make the best of a bad situation. Still think some heads have got to roll on this, though…
AROUND the RIM: Shillingford was also unstoppable in the Tigers’ 58-34 win over Edgemont, scoring 24 points and yanking 17 rebounds, but the Tigers played far beneath their own expectations in a 59-45 loss to visiting Briarcliff last Friday…
Ramos (25 points), Hodge (11) and Staino (12) were right back at it the next night for Panas in yet another 49-48 heartbreaking loss at Rye…
The dominoes began to fall in Class B last week. Putnam Valley will likely have its hands full with the likes of North Salem looking every bit the part of the favorites after winning the Somers Holiday Tournament last Saturday, besting a field of two Class A teams and one AA, including SOMERS, HEN HUD and MAHOPAC. Throw in a 59-45 PV loss to Briarcliff last Friday night, and truth be told, the Tigers are looking like the third or fourth best team in class at this point, depending on the legitimacy of Irvington, another Class B obstacle.
A betting man would be inclined to lay odds on North Salem after the Tigers’ 67-58 first-round win over Hen Hud. Tiger 6’6” Baltimore transfer Kendrick Tchoua torched the Sailors for 24 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and two blocks, which was more than the Sailors could handle despite the efforts of senior G Dylan Fraser, who hit five 3s for 15 points while adding five assists and six boards…
Mahopac senior G Justin Parker had a career-high 28 points to go with five rebounds, five assists and two steals, but it wasn’t enough in the Indians’ 79-69 loss to Somers in the opening round last Saturday. That’s because Somers wing Lorenzo Bicknese threw up 30 on the Indians and F Jack Gilroy added a career-high 20. Tusker Drew Lasher added a career-high 12 off the bench and Lucas Fecci (11 points) was a fourth double-digit scorer for the Tuskers, who came up short in a 54-49 loss to Class A power Byram Hills earlier in the week…
LAKELAND sophomore Jack Kruse was at it again last Wednesday drilling 9-of-10 from behind the arc for a career-high 31 points in the Hornets’ 73-69 win over Eastchester. This Kruse kid can play a little, huh? So can this Joey Vetrano kid, the sophomore who went for a career-high 28 in Lakeland’s 65-56 loss to a quality Ardsley club.
In PEEKSKILL’s 58-48 non-league win over Harrison Shion Darby dropped 30 points. Darby went out and dropped another 29 in the Red Devs’ 81-72 win over White Plains in the opening round of the Harrison tourney where teammates TJ Lawrence added 17. The Red Devils were also dropped by the host Huskies the next night by a 50-45 count to snag the tourney title. Red Devils Darby and Cyrious Ellis were named All-Tournament…
OSSINING started out 5-0, before falling to upstart John Jay-EF, 84-68. Pride F Jacob Toppin has been spinning and winning all season and added to his résumé with a sterling 30-point, nine-rebound effort in a losing cause… Guard play was the order of the day when Haldane got 18 points from Nick DiPalo and 16 from Alex Kubik to upend the Children’s Village, 69-42…
Host CROTON-HARMON did not survive its first-round loss to Irvington in the Robert E. Mayclim tournament where the Tigers were bested by a solid Irvington club, 57-42, despite 12 points and three rebounds from sophomore Sean Macarchuk. Miles Ackerman (4 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block) and Cal Colistra (8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) were also in on the action for the Tigers. In Croton’s 64-47 win over O’Neill, Macarchuk showed why he is considered one of the purest shooters in Class B, dropping 26 points.
“Irvington showed why they are an early-season favorite to be in contention for the gold ball in Class B,” Croton Coach Ben Martucci said. “We held the lead at halftime with a tremendous defensive effort but couldn’t hold it.”
NWE/PUTNAM Examiner Super 7
No.1 HEN HUD – The Sailors weren’t going to survive North Salem with a sub-par game from both Mekhi Gray and Kyle James, but they still managed to lead through halftime and stuck like white on rice to the bitter end. Every team in this poll took at least one loss last week, and the top three all fell to legit title contenders.
No.1A SOMERS – When Bicknese is pulling for 30 and Gilroy is dropping 20, like the duo did against Mahopac, the Tuskers are pretty nice, but their non-league schedule is going to be a legit grind, which Byram Hills was.
No.3 PUT VALLEY – Guard play has to reach the next level if the Tigers are going to battle the Briarcliffs and North Salems for Class B supremacy.
No.4 OSSINING – Jacob Toppin went for 30 points and nine boards in an 84-68 loss to John Jay EF, who appears to be on the verge of a historical season.
No.5 PANAS – A loss in triple OT to visiting Put Valley last Wednesday and a devastating buzzer-beater setback at the hands of visiting Rye the next night: Welcome home Coach Auerbach.
No.6 MAHOPAC – Gonna come down to grit, toughness and the want to change the culture. Without that, we’re looking at another lackluster season.
No.7 LAKELAND – I’ll take my chances rebuilding this program around Kruse and Vetrano.
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.