Just Four Teams Left Standing After Feisty 1st Round – Yorktown, Somers, Croton, Put Valley Survive, Advance to Quarters

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Somers G Matt Pires attack rack in 54-50 Class A playoff win over Peekskill.

The odds were against most of the locals going in. With so many out-bracket games to be contested — and nobody in their respective Section 1 tournaments with anything better than a No.7 seed — the chances of many teams surviving the first round of the tournament were against those teams in and about the Northern Westchester/Putnam County region.

However, four teams survived Saturday’s opening round to advance to this week’s quarterfinal round, including Class AA Yorktown (16-5), Class A Somers (12-10) and Class B’s Croton-Harmon (14-7) and Putnam Valley (11-10). It was the end of the line for Class AA’s Carmel (7-14) and Ossining (5-17) and Class A’s Peekskill (14-7), Panas (11-11), Lakeland (6-15) and Brewster (6-15).

Those left standing, though. were one win away from playing on the section’s grandest stage, the Westchester County Center and the Final 4.

G Matt Pires had 17 points and Gio Tradito added 15 for the 10th-seeded Tuskers in a 52-46 overtime triumph of No.23 Nanuet in last Thursday’s outbracket round. Somers went on to meet No.7 host Peekskill Saturday when the Tuskers advanced to the quarters behind a 54-50 victory and will travel to No.2 Tappan Zee Thursday.

Somers junior swingman Lorenzo Bicknese; he of the smooth stroke, was on fire, draining a game-high 26 points, including four 3s. If 26 points could somehow be quiet, his were. He simply kept Somers in the game with a steady, silent stroke that kept Peekskill from taking the game over.

“We knew they were going to come out and give us their best shot in the second half,” Bicknese said. “We just had to play our game and we did that. We knew we had what it takes, and we got our big man back, Nick (Gargiulo), and he was huge today with something like 15 rebounds and played amazing. We needed a big athletic body against these guys.”

Tusker guards Gio Tradito (9 points) and Matt Pires (8 points) handled Peekskill’s pressure when the Red Devs finally ramped it up in the second half, erasing a 22-14 halftime deficit to take a 40-37 fourth-quarter lead before blowing it down the stretch.

“Coach (DiCintio) told us to expect their pressure,” Tradito, a sophomore, said. “We had to slow it down and not get caught up in it, and do what we do on offense. We’ll take our chances on the road against TZ next and I wouldn’t want to do that with anybody but these guys.”

Peekskill junior swingman C.J. Redd and G Shion Darby had 15 points apiece for Peekskill, which turned around a two-win 2016 season but played a sub-par first half. The Red Devils had put themselves in position to win, having taking the game over in the third quarter with the kind of legendary defensive pressure that secured five-straight Section 1 titles from 2005-09, but Peekskill withered down the stretch and Somers’ superior athleticism prevailed.

Somers will seek its first trip back to County Center since 2015 when the Tuskers snapped a 23-year drought.

The real PANAS team showed up in the 17th-seeded Panthers’ 71-60 win over No.16 host Sleepy Hollow, which failed miserably to match up against the Panas back court. Panther guards Stephan Reyes (24 points) and Brandon Hodge (20 points, five rebounds and four assists) were too much for the Headless Horsemen to handle. Panther F Brandon Ramos added 18 points and seven boards as Panas advanced to face No.1 Byram Hills Saturday in the first-round where the defending champion and state-ranked (No.1) Bobcats made short work of the Panthers in a 71-50 season-ending rout.

No.11 HEN HUD went on a three-point bender in a 60-37 thumping of No.22 LAKELAND, which failed to contest the perimeter in the first half when the Sailors went deep nine times. Swingman Matt Mikulski scored 11 points for Lakeland, who much more was expected of. Sailor G Dylan Fraser had 18 points on six 3-pointers for the Sailors, who went on to fall against No.6 Albertus Magnus, 60-46, in Saturday’s first-round challenge.

Rob Pigat led No. 25 BREWSTER with 18 points in the Bears’ 69-60 outbracket loss at No.8 Ardsley.


CROTON HARMON, the No.8 seed, defeated No.9 Irvington, 49-36, behind Rory Parker (18 points) Charlie Goldberg (16 points) and Sean Macarchuk (10 points). Parker and Goldenberg, the seniors who seem like they’ve been around forever because they have, have left the program in good hands no matter what happens down the stretch.

“We couldn’t be prouder of this group that continues to prove everybody wrong,” first-year Croton Coach Ben Martucci said. “The vocal leadership of Goldberg and Parker has carried us, and continues to carry us. This young and inexperienced team continues to follow their lead by executing our game plans to the best of their ability, especially on the defensive end. The effort and enthusiasm are great; what a pleasure they are to coach. Very fortunate to work with a group like this.”

Croton will play at No. 1 Briarcliff in Wednesday’s 6:15 p.m. quarterfinal with an eye on their first Final 4 since 2012.

PUTNAM VALLEY, the No.10 seed, continued to impress in a 56-45 dismantling of No.7 Bronxville, which had handled the Tigers back in early December. However, a different Tiger team emerged in the post season, one with four sophomores in the starting lineup, including Darnel Shillingford (16 points), Ryan Soto (13), John Millicker (11) and defensive menace TJ Brescia, one of the most unsung two-way players in Class B this season.

“Millicker and (Kevin) Gallo hit four big 3’s between them,” fourth-year PV Coach Mike McDonnell said. “TJ Brescia, as always, anchored our defense. The whole team gave a much-needed effort on defense, including Anthony Fabiano and Marc Zadrima. This was our best team rebounding effort as everyone contributed.”

Putnam Valley will play at No. 2 Pleasantville at 5 p.m. in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. It won’t be easy, but a victory would secure the Tigers of a fifth-straight trip to the County Center Final 4. If this young unit fails to do so, it would fully expect to return and contend for the sectional title in both 2018-19. Jot that down and remember who said it first.


No.7 YORKTOWN survived and advanced against No.10 Clarkstown South, winning 55-46 behind senior F Tanner Dyslin. A healthy Dyslin is a capable Dyslin, one that can go for 25 points and six rebounds while leading the Huskers to the quarters against No. 2 host Spring Valley (4:30 Friday), which is ripe for the picking after struggling with No.17 Suffern in the opening round.

Junior G Marc Spinelli added nine points, grabbed four rebounds and dished three assists for Yorktown while senior captain Matt Severino chipped in with six points, eight rebounds and six assists in a well-rounded game. Point guard Sol Barer was solid on the dish, finding open Huskers all night.

“It was an unbelievable performance from Tanner in just 30 minutes,” Yorktown Coach Kevin Downes said. “Spinelli and Severino both played fantastic as well. I thought we played very well defensively. South is a solid team and very well coached. They made some runs and I was proud of the way we responded each time.

“This is a resilient group that continue to play well together,” the coach added. “Spring Valley will be a huge test for us. At 19-2, they are very athletic and one of the top teams in AA the last few years. We will have to play well, but I’m confident we will show up to compete.”

No.16 OSSINING trounced No.17 CARMEL, 55-36, behind a flurry of fury, jettisoning out to a 32-5 halftime lead. Ossining’s Robert Valdez had 14 points and senior G Jay Criss added 10 points and seven rebounds. Not sure what this says about the future of Carmel, but they are sure to rattle some cages after scoring just five first-half points. Ossining went on to play at No.1 Mount Vernon Saturday in a first-round game the state-ranked (No.17) Knights won with ease, 85-64. Kasheim Trotter led Ossining with 17 points.


No.1 YORKTOWN – Class AA Huskers are on the kind of roll that just might end 7-year County Center drought.

No.2 SOMERS – Class A Tuskers may not survive No.2 TZ but the Dutchies are in for a fight.

No.3 CROTON – Goldberg and Parker, plus slew of complimentary players, give the Class B Tigers a puncher’s chance vs. Briarcliff.

No.4 PUT VALLEY – I’ll put this Class B unit up against almost any team in Section 1 next two years (maybe not Mount Vernon, maybe).

No.5 PEEKSKILL – Class A Red Devils will rue that first-half effort vs. Somers

HM HEN HUD – Program has turned the corner under Coach Hirsch.

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