Boys’ Hoops Notebook: Mahopac Sweeps Carmel; Put Valley Beats Carmel, Falls to Pawling; Somers Survives Scare From John Jay; Panas Keeps Rolling; Thom Breaks Croton Scoring Mark

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Last Wednesday’s snow put the big game between Mahopac and Somers on hold until today (Tuesday) when the Indians host the Tuskers in a League I-B makeup game that tips off at 5:00 p.m. But we did have several other big games to highlight last week, beginning with a Mahopac’s 47-40 league win over Carmel last Saturday, and Putnam Valley’s 56-55 overtime win against host Carmel last Monday.

Putnam Valley’s Andre Soto fires shot over triple-team defense of Carmel’s RJ Martinez, JJ O'Connor and Dan Behnken in Tigers’ 56-55 overtime win against Rams last Monday. Photo by Ray Gallagher
Putnam Valley’s Andre Soto fires shot over triple-team defense of Carmel’s RJ Martinez, JJ O’Connor and Dan Behnken in Tigers’ 56-55 overtime win against Rams last Monday. Photo by Ray Gallagher

If you thought CARMEL (5-6) had issues with MAHOPAC (9-3) storming its court/field in the past (and it does), imagine how it felt when Class B PUT VALLEY junior Kevin Fitzsimmons fired the winning shot as time expired, sending scores of Tiger fans onto the Rams’ home floor. It went over like passing gas might in church when Fitzsimmons shot capped an action-packed affair that saw the Class AA Rams blow a five-point lead down the stretch. The state-ranked (No.20) Tigers (11-2) saw sophomore Ryan Basso drill a game-tying three, only to see a Dan Behnken put-back give the Rams a 55-54 lead with eight seconds left.

Down one point in the waning seconds of overtime Tiger junior G Zach Coleman found fellow G Fitzsimmons at the foul line for wide open jumper as time expired. PV fans stormed the court as the Tigers secured the biggest win in school history; in that it knocked off a rugged Class AA program for the first time in history (struggling Yorktown notwithstanding).

“It still feels surreal,” Fitzsimmons said the next morning. “The play was designed for Zach but he was covered and I was left alone at the line. When I got the ball from Zach I knew I didn’t have time to do anything but shoot it. That’s a great feeling to be able to hit a buzzer-beater like that.”

Coleman’s two free throws at the end of the fourth quarter forced OT. Coleman finished with 14 points and Basso (3 assists) added a team-high 15 and shot tantalizing 3-of-4 from downtown. Senior F Andre Soto added 12 points for the Tigers. Ram G RJ Martinez torched the Tigers for a game-high 25 points and G James Loughran added 11 for the Rams, who find themselves in dire need of a win this week, having lost four in a row.

Loughran, a junior with a sweet stroke, hopes to see his Rams pull a PV next year.

“They’re my inspiration” Loughran said of the Tigers. “They came into this year, and nobody knew who they were. Now look at them. Everyone’s talking about them. I like that. It’s truly inspiring.”

The Rams almost pulled off the comeback of the season against Mahopac, Trailing 41-23 after three, the Rams got busy and rallied behind Martinez’s seven 3-pointers (21 points in all). Anthony “Squnits” Lenahan scored 10 points for the 2012 Class AA runner-up Indians, who did not close out the game with the necessary killer instinct.

“Carmel is such an emotional game, especially for the seniors (on both sides),” Mahopac Coach Kevin Downes said. “It’s so hard for kids to maintain a high level of play throughout. That’s why most games between Mahopac and Carmel are close. I thought for not having played in a week we played well, and anytime you get a win against your big rival you take it.

“Lenahan has been playing very well lately,” Downes added. “With everyone so focused on trying to stop Brendan (Hynes), other kids are given more opportunities. Lenahan has really elevated his play the second half of the season. He is such an unselfish player and as point guard he always looks to get others involved. We need him to score and when given the chance he has been doing more of that. He is making it more difficult for teams to defend us; same with (John) Delahanty and (Glenn) Janik. Both have stepped up lately, which I am very happy to see. As more of our perimeter players produce, it opens up the paint more for (John) Vitkus and the Simones (Ryan and Mike).”

Saturday should be an awesome day as Mahopac will host the first annual Putnam/Westchester Challenge, which features three great games; including Brewster vs. Fox Lane (12:00 p.m.), Carmel vs. Panas (4:00 p.m.) and Mahopac vs. Peekskill (8:00 p.m.) in a whale of a nightcap. There are some girls’ tournament games (2:00 p.m. consy and 6:00 p.m. championship) mixed in as well, so get this on the docket if you’re up for a day of quality roundball.

Croton’s Ian Thom cemented his place in Tiger history in Monday’s 62-56 win over Horace Greeley in the consy round of the Yorktown Tournament where he scored 26 points to become the school’s all-time scoring leader. The senior guard passed Nick DiMaggio (1,078) and now holds the school mark for scoring and assists. Kid has to go down as an all-time great at Croton; goes without saying.

NWE/Putnam Examiner-area Slick Six Hoop Poll

(Clarity at the top continues to be an issue in this man’s functionless poll, but Mahopac appears to be playing better than anybody right now. However, Peekskill will get its chance to prove us wrong this coming Saturday when the Red Devils invade Mahopac in the game of the week at Mahopac’s version of the Putnam Challenge)

No.1 MAHOPAC – Coach Downes Class AA Indians (9-3) are streaking and peaking (7 straight W’s) right now, but they are about to be seriously challenged by both visiting Somers (Tues.) and Peekskill (Sat.) in a pair of jump-offs that should tell us a lot about Mahopac’s playoff potential.

“Three of our final six games are against two of the best teams in Class A,” Downes said. “The other three are tough league games. We started our season with a tough schedule and now we are ending it in similar fashion. We will see what our kids are made of. This is the reason our kids play high school sports. What a challenge.”

The Peekskill game should be a war in the paint as both clubs have wide-bodies that can clog the lane and make you pay. This is one regular-season game that I would pay to gain admittance to. Good thing I don’t have to, but I would. If Mahopac brings its A-game, which it didn’t against Carmel, we like the HM state-ranked Indians’ chances to eke out a close one.

No.2 PEEKSKILL –Coach P’s Class A Red Devils (8-2, No.10 in NYS) are squeaking past foes they should be handling (see Kennedy and Ossining), but they wasted little time in dispatching a struggling Lakeland club last Thursday, 88-61. Red Devil Neorck Brown had a breakout game, scoring a career-high 21 points. Sniper Jay Cabell continued to emerge as one of the section’s premier shooters, hitting five three-point shots for 15 points. Do-it-all G Ramon Searight also scored 15. We really couldn’t ask for better timing between Mahopac and Peekskill, as the winner should get the clear nod at No.1 next week. I’ll be curious to see if Peekskill fans make the trek, but I’m betting the Mahopac Maniacs will be out in force on a Saturday night.

No.3 SOMERS – Winners of nine-straight games, Coach Chris DiCintio Class A Tuskers (9-1) are looking at the No.4 seed and two potential home games in the playoffs should they stay the course, but the course was about to get dicey this week with Mahopac. With the schedule they have in place, who’s to say the Tuskers won’t be 15-3 come playoff time? Still, the Tuskers struggled against John Jay in a 54-52 win over the Indians. Senior G John Decker was on top of his game with a 38-point effort.

“All league games are close,” said Decker. “No matter the talent level of either team they’re always just great games. The two Mahopac games are going to be insane. I can’t wait.”

No.4 PUTNAM VALLEY – Coach Ed Wallach’s state-ranked (No.20) Class B Tigers (11-2) were shocked by Pawling, 50-47. “That’s what happens when they play great and we play like crap,” PV senior Andre Soto said. “We just didn’t bring it. We were off our game.”  It was a dismal effort, according to Wallach. “Maybe the kids are reading their press clippings. Whatever it was, we just didn’t come to play. We can’t play like that and expect to compete in Class B.”

No.5 PANAS – Coach Sully’s Class A Panthers (7-5) survived a 64-59 threat against host Kennedy Catholic and pulled away from Yorktown in a 74-60 win. Panther swingman Vaughn Dweck scored 16 points for the Panthers in both wins. Panas G Tim McCauley was dishing and swishing against Yorktown, going for a game-high 21 points. Smooth Husker freshman Luis Cartagena and bulky Ricky Corrado each had 16 points for Yorktown.

No.6 OSSINING — Steven Espinoza-Hunter went for 16 points and 10 rebounds as Coach Khalid Sales’ surging Pride (8-4) are making some serious noise on the Class AA beat. We can’t ignore them any longer despite the lack of a true quality win, particularly after nearly upsetting Peekskill in a 59-57 loss. Noah Morton, Espinosa-Hunter, Kayvon Murray and James Johnson are getting it done.

HM CARMEL – Coach Coates’ Class AA Rams (5-4) had their telling week reveal of tale of woe, rather than a week of wonderment after losses to Mahopac and Somers. If the playoffs began today, Carmel would be a 13-seed.



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