Putnam Hoops Challenge Could Get Facelift for 2019
Okay, so here’s the deal: Almost seven years to the day since I last poked my nose into the affairs of the 11th annual Putnam Basketball Challenge, I’m doing so again; this time with the blessings of tournament directors Tom McMahon and Bob Nugent, who do all they can to keep this hoops challenge going.
Usually, when I stick my nose into places it doesn’t belong, the response is as expected: “Butt out, big fellow!” But after four fairly ordinary games and minimal fanfare at the Putnam Challenge last Saturday at Carmel High School, most of the necessary parties are on board with the idea to make the 2019 Putnam Basketball Challenge the best one yet.
The most vital element of the next rendition is to get all five Putnam County programs back on board, including Putnam Valley and Brewster, which opted out this year’s tournament for whatever reasons. Here’s what I’ll be asking Mr. McMahon and Nugent to consider when we sit down later this winter as partners in crime to hatch a new plan to invigorate the Putnam Challenge.
First and foremost, bag the Webutuck vs. Pawling game: the matchup doesn’t draw local flies when teams come from Amenia and other portions of Southern Dutchess for the Putnam Challenge. I’d rather see Pawling vs. Oniontown; just out of morbid curiosity.
Secondly, make the Putnam Challenge an actual challenge, and have the five schools from Putnam County challenge five bordering rivals from Northern Westchester in a five-game bid to establish regional supremacy. Haldane vs. North Salem is simple, since it’s already in place and provides folks with a superb small-school matchup between two feisty, well respected programs with two superb coaches – Haldane’s fiery Joe Virgadamo and Salem’s stylish Henry Sassone — who completely contrast in style.
Get Putnam Valley, a solid Class B contender now for six years, on board again, and pit Coach Mike McDonnell’s Class B Tigers against Class A Lakeland. Seriously, do I even need to say another word about this matchup? There’s no love lost between the bitter rivals who rarely get to square off against one another due to their classifications, and they love to kick each other’s @$$ whenever possible. PV vs. Lakeland is a must, so Hornet Coach Steve Fallo: Please clear your calendar for the first Saturday in January or, perhaps the first week in December, which is when I’d like to see this Putnam Challenge ‘Season Tip-Off’ take place.
That’s two games out of the way. So, Brewster used to host the event and Coach Tom Nelligan never backs down from a challenge since he was the prime minister of Kennedy Catholic’s heyday in the mid-90s/early 2000’s, so let’s square the Bears off against natural border rival John Jay (CR), who has been faithful Putnam Challenge participant for years, including Saturday’s 55-48 win over Mahopac.
Three down, two to go. So, let’s tee up Carmel next. Rams A.D. Susan Dullea, perhaps the nicest A.D. in the land, is totally on board to host the venue next year and do whatever she can to help promo the event, so we gotta get Coach Paul Brennan’s upstart Rams, who should be pretty decent next year, a special game. Off the top of my head, I like a Carmel vs. Somers matchup since Somers used to be a part of the challenge and I love me some of Coach Chris DiCintio’s Tuskers. I’d also settle for Panas, Ossining and/or Hen Hud in this game against Carmel… so we have some options here if anyone is listening and/or interested.
Lastly, Mahopac is in. We just need to figure out who Coach Matt Simone’s Indians play. While it would make some sense to just have the Indians face Carmel in the evening’s finale; that would limit us to four games and deter from the original Putnam vs. N.West. theme, so let’s get Yorktown in the mix and have Coach Kevin Downes’ Huskers battle against his former Mahopac club. Yeah, Yorktown vs. Mahopac makes a ton of sense any time. That might be the perfect finale.
So, in conclusion, let’s make the 12th annual Putnam Challenge something we can all be proud of: North Salem vs. Haldane; Lakeland vs. Putnam Valley; John Jay vs. Brewster; Somers, Hen Hud, Ossining or Panas vs. Carmel; and Yorktown vs. Mahopac. The first county to win three games wins the Putnam Challenge and claims regional supremacy.
Y’all have my email address. Consider this an invite, and hit me up if you’re interested in the 2019 Putnam Challenge. Let’s Make the Putnam Challenge Great Again!
NWE/Putnam Examiner Super 7 Poll
No.1 HEN HUD – Sailors (5-1) posted a 59-43 win over reining Class A champion Lourdes, who is hardly the same Warrior team we saw last year, but when Mehki Grey (17 points), Kyle James (14) and Austin Fraser (12) are all doing significant damage, the Sailors are still a unit with Final 4 potential and could be playing a semifinal game in Osh-Kosh (since we have absolutely no clarity from Section 1 Exec. Comm. on the County Center debacle).
No.2 SOMERS – At 4-3 overall, the Tuskers have a very intriguing tip off against host Panas today and a grudge match with league rival Brewster Thursday.
No.3 OSSINING – Coach Casey’s Pride (7-1) are currently behind state-ranked (No.1) Mt. Vernon and New Ro’ in terms of Class AA seeds as we enter the halfway point. Can they sustain or is this a mirage? League grind will tell the tale.
No.4 PUT VALLEY – 55-43 loss to Sacred Heart Sunday at County Center, on the heels of a 57-56 win over Carmel… you can’t tell me there’s not work to be done here. JV call-up Matt Aviles provided and offensive spark with 20 in his debut, and the youthful Tigers (7-3), without a senior starter, are still a dangerous Class B club when clicking on all cylinders.
No.5 PANAS – The Panthers (3-2) have a very legitimate chance to win the Yorktown tourney this coming weekend, and a win over Somers today would go a long way toward securing the respect of Section 1 and provide a major shakeup in this poll.
No.6 MAHOPAC – This 3-4 record could turn to 3-6 if Indians don’t know what’s good for them with Jay EF and Arlington on deck before the Indians tip off against Carmel on Jan. 17, but the win over 7-3 Suffern shows what the unit is capable of.
No.7 LAKELAND – Brewster, Magnus and John Jay this week. If the Hornets (4-4) are indeed legit, they need to go 2-1 worst case scenario and win the two league games.
HM HALDANE – Impossible to ignore the Blue Devils’ 6-2 start after they battled North Salem in a 52-50 loss at Putnam Challenge. Coach Virgadamo has always drawn blood from a stone but that was truly impressive, more striking than wins over Schechter, Chester, Rye Neck and Clark.
HM YORKTOWN – Really need to see the Huskers (3-4) make it to the finals of the Budries tourney this weekend, and would love to see a ‘Town vs. Panas final, but the Panthers have a tough road to hoe in Clarkstown North.
HM CARMEL – I mean, the Rams are 1-8, but they’re one of the better one-win teams around, if that means much of anything.