Falcons win big in opener, but fall to Eastchester in tournament title game

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Ross Joseph had 17 points in a loss to Eastchester
Ross Joseph had 17 points in a loss to Eastchester

By Skip Pearlman

After routing their opening-round opponent last Thursday in the first round of the Eastchester Tournament, the Woodlands Falcons boys basketball team got clipped, 56-55, by the host Eagles in the championship game Saturday night at Eastchester HS.

Woodlands fell to 2-1, despite 26 points from All-State senior forward Jamil Gambari, and 17 from senior guard Ross Joseph.

“We struggled at the end of the game,” Falcons coach Bob Murphy said. “Eastchester played well, they out-played us late in the game. We played well early, but they played well late.”

Eastchester’s Stefano Scarpa hit one of two free throws with 11 seconds left to give the Eagles the lead. Eastchester trailed by as many as 16 early on.

“We had a chance to win it at the end,” Murphy added of the Falcon’s final opportunity at a game-winning possession. “But we threw the ball away on an inbounds pass with 2.4 seconds. It was frustrating… because we’re a better team than we showed late. If we stayed within the system we probably would have won. But we allowed Eastchester to have confidence at the end. They were more pumped up. At the end we got out-coached, out-played and out-hustled.”

But Murphy said that some good can come from the loss.

“It wasn’t a bad loss,” the coach said. “It can allow us to step back and identify who we are.”

The Falcons had no trouble getting past Hunter College High School, posting an 87-49 victory the prior Thursday in the tournament’s opening round.

Gambari delivered 21 points, Brandon Johnson added 18, Joseph had 17, Pierre Lys scored 11, and Rashad Baker had 10.

“It was a one-sided game, we were able to control play,” Murphy said. “And all five of those guys played really well for us. Also Denzel Small played very well – he gave us all-out hustle and hard work on the floor.”

One day earlier Woodlands opened the season with a 69-51 win over Briarcliff.

Gambari led the way with 22, Johnson added 17, and Ross chipped in with 15 points.

“It was good to get the first game out of the way,” Murphy said. “We played hard and aggressive – that’s the style we want to show throughout the season.”

Woodlands travels to take on White Plains Saturday at 4:15 p.m.

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