Mahopac Impressive in 3-0 Start; Westlake Stuns Briarcliff

Section 1 Girls Basketball
Carmel F Madelyn McMath puts a block on Mahopac’s Mia Klammer in Rams’ 70-29 loss to visiting Indians Tuesday.
Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays & Ron DiAntonio @RJD_Photos

There are certain girls’ hoops teams in the Examiner region who will have to settle for regional titles in a year when, if not for COVID-19, they should be eying nothing less than challenging for a Section 1 title.

Class AA Mahopac and Class B’s Briarcliff and Putnam Valley would undoubtedly be within the mix of sectional title contenders in a normal season, but each will be forced to set their sights on the regional playoff events that will be approved by the Section 1 Executive Committee some time this week.

Should the executive committee settle on culminating events similar to what we saw last fall, we could see a Briarcliff vs. Putnam Valley scenario in the Putnam/Northern Westchester small school regional, which would be a mouth-watering matchup for all the marbles. And don’t be shocked when Westlake makes a run down South, having upset Briarcliff Sunday.

CONFERENCE I-II
LEAGUE B

MAHOPAC has been shot out of a cannon to open the season at 3-0, sweeping rival CARMEL (0-2) and knocking off John Jay EF.

Against John Jay, the Indians had four players go for double figures in their 83-54 win over John Jay EF Saturday, including Julie DeBrocky and Lauren Beberman (14 points each), Kristina Rush (12) and Caitlin O’Boyle added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

In Mahopac’s 70-29 win over Carmel, senior G Mia Klammer dropped a game-high 16 points. Two up-and-coming guards, Lauren Beberman (13 points), a sophomore, and junior Julie DeBrocky (12 points) also went for double digits. Rookie Morgan Johnson, a player to watch, led the Rams with 12 points while Shannon Cuccia gave it up in the paint and drew three offensive fouls. 

Mahopac followed that up with a 62-19 win over Carmel on senior night when Klammer went for a game-high 12 points and added three steals. DeBrocky and Amanda Beberman each scored nine points in a balanced team effort. Carmel was led by Madelyn McMath’s eight points. 

SOMERS posted what some considered a surprise win when the youthful Tuskers knocked off a veteran BREWSTER club, 47-45. Somers sophomore Ava Guidice dropped a career-high 16 points as the Tuskers narrowly survived a 10-point fourth-quarter advantage.

Tuskers Lauren McCartin and Alexa Warycha, who will need to take on big roles this season, finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Bears missed a last-ditch attempt to win and were led by Carly DeLanoy’s 15 points.

The day prior, Brewster worked a 54-47 win over Somers The Bears were led by Grace Galgano 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. Alexis Mark and Madison Dakin added 11 points each for the Bears while Amy Lasher scored 21 to pace Somers.

Brewster did everything well Sunday. By halftime, Brewster was on pace for nearly 80 points in its 67-32 win over John Jay CR, taking a 39-11 lead into the break. The Bears worked the ball effectively behind senior F Galgano, who scored 24 points, snagged 11 rebounds and served four blocks. Alexis Mark (20 points, 10 rebounds) added a second double-double for the Bears, who improved to 2-1 on the season.

“Overall, I am very pleased with the start we have had,” Brewster Coach Mike Castaldo said. “We have a big week coming up with Mahopac and Carmel, so hopefully we can continue to play well.”

LEAGUE C

It has become evident early on that this is OSSINING’s league to win with the ultra-quick emergence of senior swing Tyler Dendy, who scored 30 points, grabbed six rebounds and four steals in the Pride’s 79-46 season-opening win over host LAKELAND. The Pride had a slew of other contributors, including Katie Marx (19 points, 5 boards), a double-double from Karen Perriott (10 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks), Kacie Scarduzio (8 points, 4 assists), Malin Turnquist (4 points), another double-double from Tamia Dimmie (3 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) and Ede Walker (7 rebounds). 

Lakeland was led by Tyler Hormazabal (14 points), Hannah Devane (13 points) and Amanda Cole (10 points). In Wednesday’s finale of the home-and-home set, Lakeland hung tough for a half behind Devane’s 16 points and Harmazabel’s 11, but the balanced Pride ran away in the third quarter for a 79-41 decision. Marx led the way (21 points, 2 rebounds) while Dendy, despite foul trouble, played a well-rounded game (15 points,8 reb, 5 asst.,6 blocks, 3 steals). Turnquist (10 points), a double-double from Walker (10 points,12 rebounds, 4 assists) and Scarduzio (6 point, 3 assists, 2 steals) were all big contributors.

In Ossining’s 85-68 win over Ardsley later in the week, Dendy scored 31 points (to go with 12 boards), and her triple at the end of the third gave the Pride a 65-56 lead and all the momentum heading into the fourth.

“I wish I had her for four years,” Ossining Coach Dan Ricci said of Dendy. “She is very, very good. She can create her own shot and she creates for others.”

Walker was a major force, adding 13 points, a career-high 21 rebounds and seven assists. 

Reigning Class A champion HEN HUD discovered that scoring will be a whole lot tougher in the post Caitlin Weimar era and lost its season opener to runnerup Harrison, 46-32. Eighth-grader Kaitlyn Raguso had a fine debut, notching a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds in the Sailor loss. Hen Hud senior Kira Varada chipped in with 10 points and six steals. 

LEAGUE A

BYRAM HILLS (2-0) began its season with a bang with wins over Pelham and FOX LANE. The Bobcats bested visiting Pelham 49-37 in their season opener. Beth Corelli (13 points), Grace Corelli (8 points), Olivia Picca (8 points) and Olivia Barry (7 points) helped fill up the stat sheet.

Byram cruised past the host Foxes, 55-37, on Friday afternoon. The high-octane Bobcats built a 34-12 halftime lead behind aggressive pressure defense, transition baskets and deadly perimeter shooting.

“We are focused on pushing the ball on fast breaks,” Byram Hills coach Tara Ryan said. “We have speed with playing four guards on the floor and want to take advantage when we get a steal or rebound.”

Bobcat Beth Corelli led the way with 19 pounds, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Picca (11 points, 8 rebounds), Grace Corelli (8 points, 3 steals, 3 assists), and Kylie Blackmar (5 points, 4 rebounds) also contributed to the win.

“Every quarter we are getting stronger as a team and learning to play with each other,” Ryan said. “We have 10 girls that can contribute and will be ready to contribute when they are called on. The Corelli sisters are defensive threats and have a special chemistry on offense that you cannot teach. Beth has the experience from playing on varsity for four years. She can shoot and drive from anywhere on the court. Her younger sister, Grace, is ready to step out and make herself known this year. We have a three-point threat from our senior Gabby Ripka. Olivia Picca is a rebound machine that can post up or hit a three. Junior Olivia Barry holds down the fort with her strong post play. We have five newcomers that are very talented and continue to fight for playing time on the court. I am excited to see how well we can jell in our short but exciting season.”

Fox Lane (1-2) dropped a tough opener to powerhouse Rye (72-31) last Tuesday but bounced back with a thrilling 59-57 win over Yorktown the following day. Natalie Pence lit up the scoreboard with 23 points on the strength of six 3-pointers to spark the Foxes to victory. She also had 10 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks.

“For as long as I’ve been coaching, back-to-back games were to be avoided at all costs,” Fox Lane coach Kris Matts said. “One of the realities of our abbreviated season is that these games are a necessity this year just to get the season in. Still, back-to-back games to start the season with no scrimmages and little practice time is tough, especially when you’ve been blown out the day before. Luckily for me, the girls just took it in stride and came out absolutely on fire.”

Nicole Picinich tallied nine points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals for the Foxes. Susannah Kimsal (8 points, 6 rebounds), Holly Ades (6 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and Quoya Schnell (6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals) chipped in for the Foxes.

HORACE GREELEY got off to a hot start with a 45-34 win over host Peekskill last Wednesday.

“It’s always good to grab a win,” Greeley coach Sarah Benischek said. “We have a long way to go which the girls know. We are young this year with a couple of freshmen, a couple of sophomores and three juniors who will get the majority of the minutes. It’s exciting to learn and grow together for our future.”

Freshman Bella Schulman paced the Quakers with 16 points in her varsity debut. Kaylin Genda added 12 points and nine rebounds. Julia Herzner had four points and seven steals.

“I expect big things from Bella and I hold her to a very high standard,” Benischek said. “Her name will be written in ink a lot over the next four years. But it will be a group effort every night. We have kids on this team that won’t have fancy stat lines that are putting in a ton of dirty work. As long as they stay together and stay hungry it should be fun the next few years.”

Behind 19 points from Emma Rose, the Quakers moved to 2-0 with a 39-38 win over Edgemont on Saturday. Rose connected on five threes while adding nine rebounds and two blocks. Ava Gusba (11 points, 5 rebounds), Schulman (5 points, 8 rebounds) and Genda (9 rebounds) were key contributors in the win.

CONFERENCE III
SOUTH LEAGUE

BRIARCLIFF began its campaign with a 62-52 win over rival PLEASANTVILLE last Wednesday. The sophomore trio of Cat Carrafiello (game-high 22 points), Caroline Barbalato (12 points) and Dylan Zednik (10) combined for 44 points. Jordan Smith, the Bears’ towering center, added 16 points.

“All three of the sophomores stepped up,” said Briarcliff Coach Don Hamlin, whose Bears avenged a late-season loss to Pleasantville last season. “Really, at times, it felt like they had three girls on Jordan. I told them you guys can drive anytime you want. They’re really loading up on Jordan, so it should open up for you and it did.”

“I think they’re going to be a big part of what we’re going to do this year,” Smith added regarding the sophomore trio.

Briarcliff was clinging to a two-point lead at halftime but erupted in the third quarter, outscoring the Panthers 20-7 to take a 48-33 lead into the final eight minutes.

“I think it had to do with our transition defense and I take responsibility for that,” Pleasantville Coach Dillon Clark said of the third quarter woes. “We had a sequence there where they made two layups and we missed two layups and that’s eight points right there.”

Jenna McAllister paced Pleasantville with 14 points. Lila Donohue and Mary Grace O’Neill added 10 points apiece.

“It’s a disappointing outcome because we’re the senior-laden team,” Clark said. “But we’ll go back to the drawing board and be ready to go. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play them again.”

 The Bears held Tina Matica, one of the Panthers’ top scorers, to just two points.

“We watched Matica yesterday and I thought she was the best player on the floor against Valhalla,” Hamlin said. “We wanted to limit her touches and we did a pretty good job of doing that.”

The Bears and Panthers are overjoyed to be playing a season that got a last second green light, starting over two months later than usual.

“I couldn’t be more excited that we’re getting to play,” Hamlin said. “I felt early on in September we were talking and I thought we were going to play. Then October went by and November went by and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God.’ And we lost December and I was thinking maybe not. We were actually doing virtual workouts but nothing with a basketball obviously. We were just trying to stay in some kind of shape. Then Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo gave us his blessing and let us play.

“I told them before the game that we’re blessed to be able to play. But whenever you do something you should do the best you can. If they try the best they can and appreciate the fact that they get to play, then that’s our goal. Just try to have some fun and no matter what you do you want to be your best.”

Carrafiello continued her scoring surge with a game-high 27 points in a 69-44 Blind Brook on Saturday. Smith (7 rebounds) and Barbalato added 14 points a piece.

“We know we lost a lot of our starters from last year,” Smith said. “I think a big thing for us is to play for each other. Most of us have been playing together since I was in the sixth grade. We’re just lucky to have a season this year so we want to make it count.”

WESTLAKE pulled off a stunning 59-45 win over host Briarcliff (2-1) on Sunday morning behind 22 points from Nicole Karaqi, who consistently attacked the basket and finished at the rim.

“It was a very big win for our team today,” Westlake coach Sean Mayer said. “We have a tough start to the season with the first three games against Pleasantville and Briarcliff. Coming off our loss yesterday there were some things we discussed that we needed to do better.  We need to make shots in all four quarters and we did that vs. Briarcliff. We played with some intense defense today that helped us keep a lead. I was very proud of the way the girls started the game and the way they kept it up.”

The Wildcats held a 28-22 lead at halftime and extended the lead to 45-32 behind a strong third quarter.

“At halftime, we discussed that it was a great first half but we needed to keep up the momentum in the second half,” Mayer said.

Julie Lyden and Allie Castellone notched 10 points apiece for the Wildcats, who had eight of nine players score. Carrafiello led the Bears with 12 points.

Pleasantville (2-1) cruised past visiting Westlake 65-49 on Saturday behind 15 points each from Matica and O’Neill. Castellone paced the Wildcats (1-1) with 16 points and Karaqi added 15.

The Panthers opened the season with a 59-32 rout of visiting VALHALLA on Tuesday. Matica (13 points) and O’Neill (10 points) sparked Pleasantville. Tvisha Sivaramakrishnan led the Vikings with eight points.

“We’re going to try to win every game that we play,” Clark said. “Not from a bragging standpoint, but we have girls that’ve been on the team for four or five years. We’ve been sort of building toward this season as a program. Our schedule is tough and we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Valhalla dropped to 0-2 with a 47-30 loss to Rye Neck on Saturday.

NORTH LEAGUE

Class C HALDANE took down Class A PEEKSKILL, 48-33, overcoming a 10-point deficit to do so. Marisa Scanga hit her first of two three pointers to swing the momentum back in Haldane’s favor, and Molly Siegel added a clutch and-one play to help reverse course. Blue Devils Maddie Chiera (20 points, 7 rebounds, 6 steals, 2 assists), Ruby Poses (8 points) and Amanda Johanson (6 rebounds) had major impacts while Bethani Overby scored a team-high 17 points for the Red Devs.

Haldane did not respond as well in a 37-30 loss toNorth Salem despite solid efforts from Chiera (10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals), Johanson (8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals), Poses (7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals) and Mairead O’Hara (4 blocks, 2 steals). 

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