Briarcliff, Fox Lane Look Good as League Title Chases Fire Up

Fox Lane’s Charles Shevick drives on Byram’s Brady Karp in Foxes’ win over Bobcats.

Mahopac, Yorktown Split; Haldane Shredding Foes; Lakeland Nips Panas; Hen Hud Strong

By Ray Gallagher
Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
& Rob DiAntonio @RJD_Photos

It was beginning to look like the league title chases were shaping up as a one-horse race in Conference I-II Leagues A, B and C, until YORKTOWN stepped up bigtime in Saturday’s 48-46 LEAGUE B win over MAHOPAC, which was in firm control before the loss, having handed Yorktown a 51-29 thrashing in the opener of the home-and-home set on Thursday. Mahopac had been setting the tone in League B, but the Indians (5-1, 4-1) opened the door for the Huskers (4-2, 3-1) for a fight to the finish. Meanwhile, CARMEL, SOMERS and BREWSTER are falling short of seriously challenging, but could play a legit spoiler role should they relish the chance as Mahopac and Yorktown are done duking it out.

“I am happy for the boys that they have put themselves in a position to compete for the league title,” Mahopac Coach Tom McMahon said. “That was a goal of ours and has been a focus of ours since the start of the season, but this league is too tough to look past anyone, so we’re not even thinking about the regional tournament.”

The regional tournament breakdowns, which will be released this week by the Section 1 Executive Committee, will run from March 10-14.

Give Yorktown a ton of credit for getting off the carpet after Thursday’s 29-point debacle, in which Mahopac threw the kitchen sink at Husker junior C Eddie Brucaj, who the Indians held to seven points. The big fella’ responded in kind in the finale with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds to pace the vengeful Huskers. Yorktown’s Jared Faivre (13 points), Tony Granitto (4 points, 8 rebounds) and Jack Prybylski (7 points) were impactful. Granitto contests every shot and goes for every rebound. Give me five grunts like him.

Mahopac was paced by Miles Buckley (14 points), Ryan Reilly and John Cosentino, who each had nine. Yorktown made the adjustments it needed to make, according to McMahon.

“They made plays and shots and we didn’t,” he admitted. “Mark (Pavella) is such an excellent coach. He really had a great game plan.”

In the win over Yorktown, the Indians were led by senior G Vin Bastone (13 points), Michael Callahan (12) and Patrick McMahon (11).

Carmel had what first-year Coach Brandon Johanson hopes to be a statement win in the Rams’ 69-61 win over struggling Brewster.

“It was a solid all-around team effort for us,” Johanson said. We had four players in double figures and knocked down 11 threes in the contest. We’re heading in the right direction after four solid performances this week.”

Carmel junior swingman Trevor Cayea (12 points, 3 3’s, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) had the best game of his career. Kevin Dall (14 points, 7 rebounds), Andrew Fiore (12 points, 3 3’s, 3 rebounds), Nick DiLeo (11 points, 7 rebounds) all went for double digits. Brewster’s Steve Switzer and Griffin each scored a dozen in the loss while Kobey Hart added 11.

Somers won its second in a row behind a 60-55 win over Lakeland. Tusker sophomore Matt Fitzsimons paced Somers with 23 points while junior Bennett Leitner added 20, so the future may be bright. David Mula led Lakeland with a career-high 25 points and Aidan Welcome added 15.

Somers also took an 81-56 win over Carmel when Leitner and Fitzsimons led the scoring with 25 and 24, respectively.

LEAGUE A

FOX LANE is running off with the League A crown with very little resistance coming from defending Section 1 Class AA champion HORACE GREELEY, BYRAM HILLS or John Jay CR. The Foxes (7-0, 4-0) are clearly the team to beat, unopposed to this point.

“We are off to a nice start,” Fox Lane boss Mike Tomassi said. “The boys have been playing hard and playing team-first basketball. We are very balanced offensively and it has really helped us this season. We need to continue to improve every day, in order to put ourselves in position to win a regional championship.”

FOX LANE is the the only other unbeaten team besides Briarcliff and Haldane in The Examiner region, boasting a 7-0 record of its own with three victories last week.

The Foxes posted a 53-37 league win over visiting BYRAM HILLS on senior night last Tuesday. Byram led 12-10 after one quarter but Fox Lane gained control of the contest in the second, racing ahead to a 28-17 halftime lead behind potent perimeter shooting and strong post play from James DiBiasi.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Tomassi said. “They came out fired up and we took a couple minutes to match their intensity. It was our senior night and I think once we got into a flow on the offensive end, we began to hit some shots.”

Oliver Shevick (11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals), DiBiasi (11 points, 11 rebounds), Aidan Hicks (13 points, 5 assists), Charlie Shevick (10 points, 4 assists) and Aidan Giannelli (8 points, 7 rebounds) paced the Foxes.

“Byram is always well coached and they are a great program,” Tomassi said. “We settled down and started moving the ball and it really opened things up for us. Our defense was sound once again.”

Fox Lane then picked up two league victories over John Jay-Cross River. In a 61-48 home win on Thursday, Oliver Shevick (15 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists), Giannelli (13 points), Charlie Shevick (12 points) and Hicks (10 points) stuffed the stat sheet.

The Foxes made quick work of the Wolves in the rematch, handily defeating them by a 63-35 margin on Saturday. Charlie Shevick paced the attack with 18 points and four assists. Oliver Shevick (12 points, 4 assists, 7 rebounds), Giannelli (11 points, 5 rebounds) and DiBiasi (7 points, 7 rebounds) also chipped in.

Byram Hills (3-2) bounced back from the loss to the Foxes with a pair of league wins over HORACE GREELEY. Matteo Sinon’s 20 points along with Bobby Chicoine’s 12 points and 22 rebounds sparked the Bobcats to a 61-46 road win over the Quakers on Thursday. Brady Karp notched 11 points for Byram while Connor Melis netted a team-high 12 points for Greeley.

The league rivals met again two days later on Byram’s senior night with the Bobcats securing a 50-40 victory behind 16 points from Sinon and 14 from Karp. Melis led the Quakers again with 17 points while Owen Parsons chipped in with nine points.

Greeley (0-5) dropped a tight 52-50 contest with John Jay-Cross River on Tuesday and fell in another nail-biter, 37-35, to North Rockland the next day. Dylan Anderson sparked the Quakers with 17 points against North Rockland.

LEAGUE C

Once-beaten HEN HUD is off to one of the strongest starts in program history and can lock down the League C title by taking one of its last two league games against WALTER PANAS (2x). OSSINING, which suffered a 65-58 setback to the front-running Sailors Thursday (in what was the Pride’s first game of the season due to quarantine), and had another loss to PEEKSKILL Friday, has played just three league games and could battle fatigue with the expected backlog of games this week. Panas was in the thick of the race, but Saturday’s loss to Lakeland really hurt their chances. In the end, the Sailors control their own destiny behind junior G Nick Hiltsley, who has emerged into one of the finest guards in the section north of White Plains. Only LAKELAND and Peekskill have been eliminated from League C title contention, which could be decided by early next week (if Hen Hud knocks off Panas Monday).

Coach Jordan Hirsch’s Sailors picked a bad time for their first loss of the season, a 68-65 setback to Ossining. Nobody expected the Sailors to waltz through this league undefeated, and Ossining eighth-grader Kristian Banwareesingh — a dude to keep eyes on — made sure of that when he dropped a career-high 23 on the Sailors. The upstart swingman is making long term bones and setting a new bar at Ossining, should he stick and stay.

“Kristian has been unreal,” Ossining Coach Mike Casey said. “Our first goal is a league title but we can’t lose another game.”

Khy’leil Hawkins (20 points, 3 boards, 4 assists) and Chris Acosta (7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) were there for the Pride, who avenged an earlier loss to the Sailors, who saw Nick Hiltsely go for 24 points, Rocco Capicotti drop 18 and Dean Hiltsley add 12. Nick Hiltsley was almost unguardable in the Sailors’ win over the Pride, when he went for 32 points and dominated all facets. He also went for 28 in a 54-47 win over Lakeland.

Don’t sleep on Ossining. The Pride are behind the eight ball after a quarantine, but Banwareesingh has dropped 17, 21 and 23 in his first three games and drained 6-of-7 from downtown against Hen Hud. Plus, junior point guard Jaeden Carr returns to the lineup Tuesday against Peekskill, which is a shot in the arm for a team seeking a leader, so sleep on the Pride at your own peril as regionals creep up.

Panas (4-3 overall, 2-2 league) was awfully careless with the ball in its 55-50 loss to host Lakeland in Saturday’s Giglio Games. Poor shot selection, and inferior entry-passing by Panas allowed Lakeland its first win of the season behind senior Rob Nardelli’s team-high 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Lakeland F Aidan Welcome (11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals), G Mark Cummins (8 points) and good-looking sophomore Logan Shiland (6 points, 9 rebounds) were solid contributors.

After a really strong start, the Panthers have shown some inconsistency of late, but they did get a solid effort from sophomore G Alex Tavarez, who dazzled behind a game-high 25 points, six boards, five assists and three steals. Panas senior F Caleb Evans went for 19 points and seven rebounds.

LEAGUE D

WHITE PLAINS (3-1) played just one game last week with two of their contests cancelled. The Tigers cruised to a 73-41 win over visiting Spring Valley on Tuesday.

The Tigers jumped out to a 29-14 halftime lead and had four players in double figures in scoring. Mekhi Woodbury (19 points), Joe Carrier (17 points), Menzy Cardin (16 points) and Tymir Greene (13 points) paced the attack. White Plains was unconscious from beyond the arc, connecting on nine 3-pointers.

CONFERENCE III
CENTRAL LEAGUE

The Central League is where the action should/could remain fierce based on its history of closes contests and upsets, but BRIARCLIFF is the favorites to hold off PLEASANTVILLE, WESTLAKE, VALHALLA, Rye Neck and Blind Brook, though the Wildcats are breathing down the Bears’ necks. Briarcliff is 6-0 in league with one league game left with Westlake. Westlake is 4-1 in the league. If the Wildcats beat Rye Neck Tuesday and upset Briarcliff on Wednesday they both could end up 6-1 and share the league banner, what would be the Wildcats’ first league title divvy since 1991.

BRIARCLIFF continued to roll last week, winning four games to improve its unbeaten record to 7-0.

“Our motto this year is, ‘Today’s not cancelled,’” Briarcliff coach Nick Friedman said. “One of the silver linings of the pandemic is it reminds us how much we have to be grateful for. In turn, it makes us more willing to never take a possession off. We are grateful for every minute and the guys have certainly taken to heart not wasting what little time we get in a short season.”

Jayden Larregue paced the Bears with 13 points and the team used a dominant defensive effort to pull out a 43-24 league win over host Blind Brook last Tuesday. Briarcliff has been using its length, athleticism, defensive intensity and scoring prowess to send opponents into submission.

Briarcliff then had back-to-back league games with VALHALLA, who knocked the Bears out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals last season on their way to becoming a section finalist in Class B.

In the first meeting, Briarcliff built a 20-point halftime lead and cruised to a 73-48 victory over the visiting Vikings last Wednesday. Larregue (19 points), Elliot Jones (17 points) and Aidan Murnane (13 points) spearheaded the Bears’ offense.

“The reason we were able to build a lead in the second quarter was we strung together some stops and stuck better to our defensive principles,” Friedman said. “When we do that, we can miss a couple of shots in a row, which is going to happen, and still put up a great quarter. That was the difference between quarters one and two.”

Rashean Melvin and Mahari Davis tallied 12 points each for Valhalla. Briarcliff’s second meeting with Valhalla wasn’t nearly as easy. Briarcliff held a 41-22 lead in the third quarter but the Vikings stormed back, holding the Bears to just four points the rest of the way. The visiting Bears, however, were able to hold on in the 45-43 win on Friday.

Larregue led Briarcliff with a game-high 15 points. Luke McCann and Jones notched eight points apiece. Davis (11 points) and Melvin (9 points) sparked the Vikings.

The Bears concluded their busy week with a 64-56 victory over visiting North Salem on Saturday. Seniors Brett Lachtman (17 points), Jacob Zedzik (13 points) and Murnane (11 points) led the way.

Valhalla (3-2) started the week with a 66-39 win over Rye Neck behind 14 points from Joe O’Neil and 12 points and 12 rebounds from Melvin. Devan Cooper added 11 points.

The Vikings recorded a 51-37 senior day win over PLEASANTVILLE on Saturday. Justin Cronk led the Panthers with nine points.

Daniel Picart finished on a layup with 1.1 seconds to go to propel Pleasantville to a 42-40 win over Rye Neck last Wednesday. It was Pleasantville’s first win of the season. Picart paced the Panthers with 13 points while Cronk added 12 points.

Dom Matica (14 points), Nick Bates (12 points) and Cronk (11 points) sparked Pleasantville in a 56-35 win over Pawling the next day.

Pleasantville (3-4) won its third straight game on Friday, defeating Rye Neck 49-43 behind 14 points from Cronk and 13 from Picart. Matica added 11 points. The Panthers began their week with a 57-38 loss to WESTLAKE on Tuesday. Justin Silva and Evan O’Brien led the Wildcats with 11 points each while Carter Falkenberg netted 10 points. Picart had 11 points for Pleasantville with Massimo Stinziani notching nine points.

Behind 21 points apiece from Falkenberg and O’Brien, Westlake (5-1) defeated league opponent Blind Brook 58-47 on Wednesday.

The Wildcats matched up with Blind Brook again two nights later, cruising to a 56-33 senior night win. Silva tallied 18 points with Falkenberg adding 12 points.

“The key behind our success so far is our defensive chemistry and energy,” said Falkenberg, a senior guard. “We have a lot of seniors that have been playing together for a while and we flow together very well, especially defensively. We have barely had any practice so I think our pre-existing chemistry was really important.”

Wildcats coach Chad Charney echoed Falkenberg’s sentiments.

“The overall key to the strong start has to be veteran leadership and having many returners that know the system,” Charney said. “Our expectations and goals are the same every year, which is to win a league and sectional title. It looks like the regional format will be the goal for this year.”

Westlake capped off an impressive week with a 53-44 win over Palisade Prep on Saturday. Falkenberg led the way with 22 points and 12 boards. Jack Neglia and Hamad Azhar added nine points each.

“To put it simply, our goal is to keep winning,” Falkenberg said. “We don’t want to settle for anything less than that.”

NORTH LEAGUE

It’s not much different Conference III North League where HALDANE has already locked up a league title. The undefeated Blue Devils (9-0, 5-0) have yet to be seriously challenged in a league game by PUTNAM VALLEY, CROTON, North Salem or Pawling, much less lose a game.

Coach Joe Virgadamo’s Blue Devils have shredded the competition, including Saturday’s 69-38 rout of Pawling. Matteo Cervone (career-high 24 points), Daniel Santos (15) and Soren Holmbo (9) paced the Blue Devs.

In Haldane’s 68-47 win over Croton, Cervone (16), Holmbo (13), Ryan Irwin (12) and Santos (7) led a blanched attack. Haldane is doing all of this without junior Robert Viggiano, who will open some eyes in 2022. Haldane will get a legit test this week from reigning Class C champion Hamilton, which will tell us all we need to know about the Blue Devils actually challenging for the regional title in two weeks.

Coach Al Morales saw his PV club post its first two wins of the season last week, including an 81-37 romp of Woodlands behind 22 points apiece from junior G Cole Durocher and senior G Ethan Mournier. Junior G Doug “Knock ‘em Down” Brown added a career-high 11 for Putnam Valley. Durocher followed that effort up with a career-high 31 points in a 56-52 win over CROTON. PV also suffered a 70-59 loss to Dobbs Ferry behind a team-high 13 from Aurthur Holzman and 12 from Brown.

CHSAA

STEPINAC opened up its season with a 56-47 win over rival Iona Prep on the road on Friday night. It was the first game in a best of seven series between the teams.

Boogie Fland (13 points), Joel Baez (11 points, 5 rebounds), Sam Gibbs (9 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals) and Malcolm Chimezie (7 points, 6 rebounds) led the Crusaders to the win.

Mahopac junior F Colum Ranaghan skies for two against defense of Yorktown’s Sam Pincus in Indians’ 51-29 win over Huskers Thursday.

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