By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
As my son, Tyler, likes to say about his newly-minted man cave: “It’ll be buzzing, dad!” The same will be true of SOMERS High today when the surging Tuskers – winners of eight-straight – take on visiting MAHOPAC – winners of seven of the last eight – for the top spot in League II-C.
Somers’ eighth-straight win came on the heels of six consecutive setbacks to start the season, and last Tuesday’s 71-43 win over Rye was just another step in the process as the Tuskers (8-6, 5-1) seek to attain their first league title since 1989. A loss to Mahopac today would all but ensure the Tuskers add another year to one of the longest droughts in Section 1 hoops history, so saddle up for a doozy.
Against Rye (7-8), the Tuskers went off behind the exploits of senior G Bennett Leitner (22 points), junior F Matt Fitzsimons (16 points, 8 boards) and sophomore wing Andrew Violante (8 points). Win or lose against Mahopac, Somers Coach Chris DiCintio has put his Tuskers (8-6) in a prime position to challenge after nobody in their right mind thought they could so as late as Jan.6 when Mahopac edged the Tuskers. We suspect Round 2 will go down to the wire with Tusker Nation and the Mahopac Maniacs pulling out all the stops in support.
At the same time, Mahopac (9-4, 5-0) was bolstering its approval ratings by taking down BREWSTER, 61-46, behind a balanced attack led by Colum Ranaghan (12 points), Max Gomes (11), Jake Couzens (9), Joey Koch (9) and Ryan Reilly (8). The thing about Mahopac is; it’s never one guy. It’s hard to say the same thing about Somers, which runs through Leitner and Fitz. Expect Mahopac Coach Tom McMahon to be mindful of that as the Indians attempt to take a two-game lead on the rest of the league.
The Indians then went on to claim third place Palisades Prep tourney where their string of seven-straight wins came to an end. Without the services of senior sniper Patrick McMahon, Mahopac fell behind early against Clarkstown North before falling, 59-53 in OT. Gomes (14 points) and Michael Callahan (13) led the way.
YORKTOWN, which has missed having star G Antoine Coles in the lineup the last few games, got off the schneid by beating a solid Briarcliff club, 53-36. The Huskers had lost six of seven going in, but sophomore G Justin Price had a career day, including 10 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals. Senior G Marco Jovicevic added 12 points, four rebounds and five steals while G Billy Feeks and C Eddie Brucaj added 10 points each for the Huskers (7-9), who carried that momentum into a dominant 57-42 win against visiting
CARMEL Thursday. The two solid wins have Coach Mark Pavella’s Huskers believing they can get this fixed before the postseason unfolds.
The Huskers needed a quality W and knocking off Carmel, behind a career-high 25 from Feeks, provided just that. Price (8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) continued his progression while Brucaj (8 points, 8 rebounds) was solid in the paint, giving Yorktown reason to believe.
Kevin Dall (9 points), Andrew Fiore (9 points), Nick DiLeo (6 points, 11 boards), Randy Aboagye (3 points, 9 rebounds) and Danny Monahan (14 points) paced the Rams.
LAKELAND is getting healthy again and the Hornets (7-5) snapped a three-game slide with a solid 72-58 win over visiting John Jay CR. Andrew Mendel scored six of his 10 points in the fourth to hold off a 16-13 John Jay run. Hornet junior F Logan Shiland owned the first half, dropping 18 of his 20 points, including four 3’s.
Hornet G Chris White-Luciano was hot early, sinking three 3’s and 15 of his game-high 21 points before the half when Lakeland rolled out to a 48-24 lead. David Mula and David Pinkowsky added eight more apiece for the Hornets, who might be getting hot at the right time, just as they did last year.
BREWSTER snapped its nine-game skid behind 25 points from Conner Griffin in the Bears’(4-9) 76-60 win over North Salem.
After losing to Lourdes, Put Valley and Panas, PEEKSKILL finally got back in the win column with a 54-49 road win at Port Chester.
CARMEL (8-4) is having an about-face/forward-march-type season, one that has gained traction after the Rams got their basketball legs back after winning the NYS Class AA grid title in early Dec.
In Carmel’s 81-67 win over Ramapo, the Rams (8-4) got contributions across the board, none bigger than the double-double from DiLeo (19 points, 11 boards). Fiore (23 points, 5 boards), Dall (19 points, 7 boards) and Aboagye (11 points, 16 rebounds) provided four additional prime-time contributors, who are looking to change the way people look at Carmel hoopers.
“Our goal remains the same as it did for football, we want to win the section championship,”
Fiore admitted. “Carmel has always been looked down on. We’ve had a number of losing seasons, but this team is trying to change that. We’re trying to change the Carmel basketball culture.”
In a 63-54 win over John Jay EF, Dall (8 points), Fiore (19 points, 5 rebounds), DiLeo (19 points, 8 rebounds), Aboagye (8 points, 13caroms) and Monahan (9 points) each delivered in a big way.
OSSINING is emerging as a potential quarterfinal club after a 50-33 road win at Ramapo and a 65-30 blowout of rival Sleepy Hollow. Senior G Jaeden Carr (14 points, 4 steals, 3 assists) triggered the win over Ramapo. Talented Pride sophomores Isaiah Ahlers (11 points, 4 rebounds) and Jaiden Newton (11 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) were on the rise.
Against Sleepy Hollow, Carr paced the Pride with 19 points, six boards and three steals. Vinny Bernardo (18 points, 4 rebounds), Dominique Bautista (8 points, 4 boards) and Isaiah Haye (6 points) were prominent.
After a 1-6 start, PUTNAM VALLEY is turning a hard corner, doing what it can to restore some of the luster of a program that won 102 games in six years under former Coach Mike McDonnell, who turned the Tigers into a perennial Section 1 Class B contender, reaching four final fours and two championship games in his six years (2014-19) #GloryDays.
Tuesday’s 70-63 win over Valhalla was a monster blow to the visiting Vikings, who came into the game at 8-2 with a potential top four seed in the Class B tournament. The loss set the Vikings back to a current No.5 seed and bolstered PV from No.15 to 13 after senior F Arthur Holzman dropped a career-high 24 points to lead the surging Tigers. PV freshman F Nate Shillingford added 14 points and senior G Cole Durocher went for 13.
Coach Al Morales’ rebuilding Tigers (5-8) had already opened some eyes with their 65-46 beatdown of North Salem, but Valhalla was no joke and nobody is laughing at the Valley, which has three really tough tests remaining on its schedule, including Somers, Haldane and Carmel, none of which seemed beatable just 10 days ago.
HALDANE routed Section 9 Class A rival Beacon, 53-39 behind 16 points from senior F Soren Holmbo. Ryan Irwin and Tristian Reid each dropped a dozen for the Blue Devils (14-1), who will visit Putnam Valley Friday.
The Blue Devils then outworked another Section 9 foe, Millbrook, 68-48, when Irwin went off for 19 points. Junior swingman Matteo Cervone added 16 and Robert Viggiano (12) provided a third double-digit scorer. Holmbo (9 points) and Will Bradley (7) rounded out the scoring.
Around Class A: We haven’t talked much about Pelham because, let’s face it, the Pelicans haven’t been much to mention as I recollect the last three-plus decades, but the 2022 Pelicans (14-2) are not to be overlooked as the current No.2 seed. No.1 Tappan Zee, ranked No.5 in NYS, will enter the postseason as the favorites for good reason. History tells us that and more about the vaunted Dutchmen, and on that same side of the river, No.6 Nanuet (12-4) has handed Pelham one of its two losses. No.3 Eastchester (11-3) is another club without a ton of hoop history but, nonetheless, would host a couple of playoff games if the postseason began tomorrow, which brings us to No.5 Byram Hills (10-4), a solid club with a ton of hoops history. And we haven’t even touched on perennial Dutchess powers No.7 Poughkeepsie (6-3 in Section 1, 8-5 overall) and No.10 Lourdes (9-4 in Section 1, 10-4). Point being: Class A is gonna be an unpredictable freak show, so load up and bring it, or be one-and-done!
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.