By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
The action was fast and furious last Wednesday when league bouts tipped off all across the section and upsets – like HEN HUD’s 52-49 win over host LAKELAND – were the stunner of the day. We said in our poll last week that when they put their best foot forward the Sailors are a blue-collar bunch of bad men, and Dean ‘The Dream’ Hiltsley was a very bad man for the Hornets to deal with. The senior guard had his way at the rim and finished with a career-high 26 points.
Junior F Xavier Juarez dropped a dozen on Lakeland while junior G Michael Gagliardi went for six. Sailor sophomore Gino Wamack scored five points, the last of which was the biggest of his young career, a game-sealing trey.
“In regard to the last play, it was great execution by the whole team,” Sailor skipper Jordan Hirsch said. “Dean made a great read off the screen and Gino knocked down a really tough contested shot. I’m really happy for our guys to get some tangible results from the work they’ve been putting in.”
Down 10 points in the fourth, Lakeland looked like it would cruise to victory.
“To beat a tough and organized team like Lakeland at their place isn’t an easy thing to do,” Coach Hirsh said. “I’m really proud of the way our guys fought all game and adjusted in the second half to go on a great run. The resolve they showed in closing the gap on a 10 point deficit in the fourth was extremely fun to watch, and I’m hopeful that it gives our team some confidence and belief in each other. There were a lot of lunch-pail-type plays that may not jump off the page, but had a huge impact on the outcome of the game.”
As an analyst of local sports, nothing is better than getting it right. We told you last week that a winless SOMERS team was better than its record indicated (previously 0-6); noting that time and patience were virtues. At the time, Somers was a train wreck, and folks were dunking on the coaching staff. Lo’ and behold, Coach Chris DiCintio’s Tuskers (5-6) have gone on a five-game tear and are one win shy of .500 as they ready for a road trip to BREWSTER today.
Somers has clipped the wings on Yonkers (84-46), John Jay CR (51-49), Greeley (58–40), Tuckahoe (62-45) and Yorktown (57-51) since we implored patience. Outside of the loss to Pelham, the Tuskers have been in every game.
In the win over Yonkers, Tusker swingman Matt Fitzsimons put up 16 points and snagged four boards to pace Somers.
Bennet Leitner (14 points, 3 assists, 2 boards) and Christian McGrane (13, points 2 assists, 5 rebounds) were key contributors.
More impressive, though, was the win over John Jay, in which Fitzsimons forced overtime with a clutch buzzer-beater to tie the score at 44. Fitzsimons (13 points) followed with a key block to seal the deal. Leitner led the Tuskers with 16 points.
PANAS had a tough time stopping Pioneer G Jaysean Morgan (20 points) in Poughkeepsie’s 56-35 win over the host Panthers (6-3). Panas G Alex Tavarez had a team-high 17 points and Oliver Smith added nine for a Panther club that looked like it was still shaking off the rust of several quarantines.
“ We were dreadful in the second half,” Panas Coach Mike Auerbach admitted. “We have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it if we want to be able to play with Poughkeepsie, Lourdes, Lakeland and the top of class A. We were down our 7-9th guys due to covid protocols, but no excuses. We had our top six. Poughkeepsie was able to play at a speed that we couldn’t keep up with for 32 minutes. We needed to win a low-scoring game and gave up close to 40 in the second half.
“We have an urgency and intensity issue for the most part across the board,” the coach added. It’s obvious. It’s a problem we’re hoping to find a solution for sooner rather than later.”
More impressive was the OT triumph of John Jay, a Wolves club that had won eight of 10 going in.
MAHOPAC notched a tough road win at YORKTOWN, 60-59, when Colum Ranaghan and Patrick McMahon paced four double-digit scorers with 13 points apiece. Mike Callahan and Max Gomes each added 11, and Ryan Reilly was credited with superb defense.
Yorktown’s Billy Feeks had 22 points to lead all scorers. Justin Price had 18 points and dished seven assists for the Huskers while Eddie Brucaj had nine points and 15 rebounds.
In Mahopac’s 60-59 win over Greeley, junior G Joey Koch had a career-high 18 points for the Indians. Gomes added 16. Anthony DeMatteo’s key block in the waning seconds preserved the victory. Connor Melis led the Quakers scoring 18 points while teammate Justin Potack added 11.
CARMEL (2-2) is finally getting its basketball legs back. Winning the North Salem tournament and picking up a 62-55 victory against a strong Arlington team last Tuesday should alert opponents to the notion that Carmel is far too athletic to be ignored this season. Four seniors, who played key roles in the Rams’ NYS Class AA football championship in early December, are beginning to get in basketball shape, finding their rhythm and getting up and down the court for second-year Coach Brandon Johanson. Seniors Andrew Fiore (21 points, 5 boards), Nick DiLeo (20 points, 19 rebounds), Kevin Dall (14 points) and Randy Aboagye (7 points, 13 rebounds) were instrumental in the league win over the Admirals (5-4). The quartet missed a good portion of the pre-season due to their gridiron achievements, but they are poised to make noise in the second half of the 2022 campaign.
“We are working hard to create a culture here at Carmel led by our seniors,” Johanson said. “We just want to play; it doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter who, and it doesn’t matter where. We will compete every night, and keep building our program.”
In the first round of the North Salem tournament, Carmel saw DiLeo post a monster double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds in a 57-55 win. Fiore added 13 points and five rebounds. In the 71-58 title win over North Salem, DiLeo added to his lore with another massive double-double (27 points, 12 boards). Aboagye (12 points, 22 rebounds) may have played his finest game. Fiore (11 points), Dall (9 points) and Danny Monahan (12 points) gave the Rams five scorers with nine or better.
HALDANE is good, really good… like good enough to represent Section 1 in the 2022 state tournament good. PUTNAM VALLEY found that out last Tuesday when the visiting Tigers (1-6) suffered a 73-52 League III-E setback to the surging Blue Devils (9-1), whose only loss was to Section 9’s Washingtonville. Haldane senior G Ryan Irwin came out blazing and finished with a game-high 19 points. Senior F Soren Holmbo (14 points, 6 boards, 2 steals), junior swingman Matteo Cervone (13) and Robert Viggiano (13) all finished with double digits while senior F Arthur Holtzman had 13 to lead the Valley.
The Blue Devils were in rhythm from the first quarter on, forcing 10 turnovers, including six steals, while darting out to a double digit lead in the opening minutes. The Tigers trimmed the deficit to four points at the half, but Haldane took over in the third behind a 10-0 run, displaying a repertoire of moves and superb transition.
Haldane followed with a 70-52 win over Palisades Prep behind Cervone’s game-high 26 points. Holmbo (19 points), Irwin (9 points) and Viggiano (8 points) filled the stat sheet as well.
Putnam Valley chalked up its first win of the season Thursday, taking a 76-31 win over Pawling behind a career-high 11 points from Julian Garcia. Freshman James Apostolico added 10 points after notching a career-high 11 against Haldane. Seniors Cole Durocher, Tommy Calicchio and Holtzman all finished with eight points.
The Tigers showed no quit in a tough 68-60 loss to undefeated Bronxville Saturday.
“I thought we played very well, we came out really strong, we were hitting our shots and the game slowed down for me,” veteran G Durocher said. “Our bench players are playing some amazing defense and we were flowing great.”
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.