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Westlake, Briarcliff Winner Makes Final 4; Hen Hud Still Alive

By Tony Pinciaro

URI-bound Putnam Valley senior G Eva DeChent (21), the reigning NYS Class B Player of the Year, takes a whack from Valhalla junior F Tvisha Sivarama Krishnan en route to scoring two of her game-high 33 points.

MAHOPAC was welcoming a new coach, along with three freshmen to varsity, so it was understandable that the first half of the season was expected to be an adjustment period. However, Mahopac and its new varsity players did not need long to acclimate itself to first-year Coach Mairead Hynes.

Mahopac was solid during December and early January, winning five of eight. Interestingly, following a loss to 2022 Section 1 Class AA champion and league rival R.C. Ketcham, Mahopac went on a roll. As a result, Mahopac finished the regular season with a 15-4 record and earned the second seed in the Section 1 Class A Girls’ Basketball Championship.

Mahopac then opened sectionals with a 42-29 win over Somers behind 16 points, nine rebounds and four steals from senior Lauren Beberman.

John Jay-Cross River, the seventh seed, comes to Mahopac, Thursday, for a quarterfinal-round game. The winner earns a berth in the final four as it returns to the Westchester County Center. The Class A semifinals are scheduled for Wednesday, March 1. The final will be 5 p.m., Saturday, March 4.

The final four for girls and boys and all classes will be played at the County Center.

“It was us kind of getting used to playing for someone new and with three new freshmen,” said Beberman, a four-year varsity starter and the team’s leading scorer. “The first half was trial and error with different defenses and offenses. Being able to try all of these, set us up for the second half of to have so much success.”

The launching point for Mahopac was the week it played Ketcham and John Jay-East Fishkill. Ketcham defeated Mahopac, but the Indians bounced back to split the league games with a huge victory over John Jay.

Westlake senior point guard ToniAnn Mastracchio draws a crowd as she drives to the basket in the first half of the third-seeded Wildcats’ 53-25 Class B playoff rout of 14 th -seeded Edgemont.

“We lost to a great Ketcham team by eight,” said Beberman, who will attend Adelphi in September, play basketball and major in nursing. “Ketcham has been ranked No.1 this entire season. What we prepared for, it worked, but we got into foul trouble. Unfortunately, we felt we didn’t play our best basketball but still have that little of a margin in loss. We put all our anger into the next game. We beat John Jay and that turned our mindset around.”

For Beberman and fellow seniors, Piper Klammer, Brianna Ferrieri, Kristina Rush, Gianna Rispoli and Jess Sterbens, successful seasons are common.

In the Covid sports year (2020-21), Mahopac won the Northern Westchester/Large School Tournament. Last year, Mahopac lost in a Section 1 Class A semifinal to eventual champion Tappan Zee.

Mahopac has continued this success using a balanced scoring attack and a staunch defense, which allows 38 points per game along with 15 steals.

“We’re working hard every day in practice to get that number down,” said Beberman of the 38 points per game. “We have had a lot of games where our offense was struggling, but our coaches have stuck in our heads that one thing you can control is the defensive end. That has kind of been a pillar to fall back on. Any given day we can have an off day, but we know our defense is able to keep us in a game at any given time.”

State-ranked (No.14) Mahopac will turn up the defensive pressure against John Jay-Cross River.

“We want to play our game,” Beberman said. “We played them last year. They have a bunch of returning players, so we don’t want them to speed us up.”

A Mahopac win would have them playing the No.6 Panas-No.3 Pearl River winner in a semifinal at the County Center. Returning to the County Center for the final four is something Beberman and all basketball players are psyched about.

“It’s so cool because the County Center was taken away from us these past few years and you can feel it,” Beberman said. “It’s great being able to play there and we have the opportunity to do something special. It would be so exciting and something I’ve always dreamed of.”

Putnam Valley G Nai Torres flips an off-balance but successful shot over Valhalla F Tvisha Sivarama Krishnan in Tigers’ Class B playoff win.

PUTNAM VALLEY continued steamrolling its opponents as the top-seeded and state-ranked (No.4) Tigers opened the Section 1 Class B Championship with a 69-29 win over No. 16 Valhalla.

Eva DeChent surpassed 30 points yet again, finishing with a game-high 33 points to pad her season average of more than 30 PPG. Simone Gabriel added 13 points, Nai Torres scored 12 points and Brianna Foody had nine points.

Coach Don Hamlin’s reigning sectional champion Tigers, now 20-1 this season and the overwhelming favorites to repeat, host No. 8 Bronxville in a quarterfinal, Tuesday.

The Section 1 Class B semifinals will be Monday, Feb. 27. The championship game will be Friday, March 3, 5:15p.m.

Cydney Waterman led VALHALLA with 11 points as the Vikings were in it to win it up until the third quarter.

WHITE PLAINS extended its winning streak to 14 consecutive games with a 66-32 victory over No. 14 Mamaroneck in a Section 1 Class AA Championship first-round game.

The state-ranked (No.14) Tigers, now 18-3 this season, host No.6 New Rochelle, 3 p.m., Friday, in a quarterfinal. The winner advances to the semifinals, Thursday, March 2. The Class AA final is scheduled for noon, Sunday, March 5.

A White Plains’ victory would set up a semifinal against 2022 Section 1 Class AA champ R.C. Ketcham, ranked No.12 in NYS. However, senior Aliya McIver and her teammates are focused on one game.

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” said McIver, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists against Mamaroneck. “We know New Ro will come out stronger and harder this game, but that will only make us want to play stronger and harder. It’s going to be a battle, for sure, but it’s all about who is the strongest at the end of those 32 minutes.”

Should White Plains prevail, a second game with Ketcham would occur. Ketcham beat White Plains in December.

“We broke down mentally,” McIver recalled. “Towards the end we got back on track, and that’s what caused us to go on that run. It was too late though, because we ran out of time. So now, if we run into them, we know not to break down and to maintain our composure.”

Ineivi Plata led White Plains with 28 points in the round-one victory. She also added four assists and five steals. Plata is 11 points shy of 1,000 career points. India Newman added 13 points.

McIver is hoping that the Tigers can take the short trip from the high school to the County Center.

“It feels great to have an opportunity to play in the County Center because our team has never gotten that far before,” said the Rider-bound McIver. “It will definitely be a cool experience to have, especially as a senior.”

Panas G Cadence Nicholas makes her move on Yorktown’s Olivia DelGaudio in Panthers’ 46-22 Class A playoff win over Huskers Saturday.

PANAS opened the Section 1 Class A Championship with a 46-22 victory over No. 11 Yorktown. The sixth-seeded, state-ranked (No.23) Panthers, 16-4 this season, travel to No.3 Pearl River, Thursday, for a quarterfinal. The winner moves on to the final four.

The winner of this game will meet the No. 7 John Jay-Cross River-No. 2 Mahopac victor in one semifinal

“The game was won on the defensive end,” Panas Coach Matt Evangelista said. “Our pressure created some turnovers and led Yorktown to having short shock clocks when they broke the press. The team really communicated and worked through all of Yorktown’s plays and made them take tough shots. We also rebounded well.”

Cadence Nicholas and Sophia Tavarez scored 15 points apiece and Sarah Chiuli added nine points.

Panas is the 2022 Section 1 Class A runner-up, lost in the Covid year (2020-21) Northern Westchester/Putnam Small-School final and reached the final four at the County Center in 2020.

HEN HUD rode its defense to a 52-39 victory over No.8 Pelham in a Section 1 Class A Basketball Championship first-round game.

The ninth-seeded Sailors will play at No.1 Harrison, Thursday, in a quarterfinal game. The winner advances to the final four, Wednesday, March 1.

Kaitlyn Raguso scored a game-high 27 points and added seven rebounds for the Sailors (14-7). Kayla McCarthy chipped in eight points, six rebounds and four steals and Madison Porter and Hailey Pearson each had seven rebounds.

“Team defense was outstanding,” Hen Hud Coach Ken Sherman said. “We did a great job of shutting Pelham down, only giving up 13 points in the first half was a key. Forwards Hailey Pearson and Maddy Porter did a great job on the boards where they gave up a lot of size. Kayla McCarthy did a great job at the point, scoring eight points and limiting turnover, as well.”

WESTLAKE was met with little resistance in the first round of the Section 1 Class B Basketball Championship. The third-seeded Wildcats easily handled No.14 Edgemont, 53-25.

The Wildcats, 17-4 this season, host No.6 Briarcliff in a quarterfinal, Tuesday. The winner advances to the final four, beginning with the semifinals, Monday, Feb. 27.

Briarcliff’s Caroline Barbalato dribbles past Abigail Dann of Dobbs Ferry in the fourth quarter of the sixth-seeded Bears’ 57-46 Class B playoff win over 11 th -seeded Dobbs Ferry on Saturday. Barbalato finished with 16 points as the Bears earned a quarterfinal berth against third-seeded Westlake.

Westlake beat Briarcliff twice during the regular season. However, that means nothing now because it is sectionals.

“A key for us against Briarcliff will be energy and determination,” said senior Allie Castellone, who became only the second Westlake female to score 1,000 varsity points. “We have to know what we are there for. Even though we have beaten them two times, we can’t be too confident. We have to make sure we have our heads in the game and we play with good team energy.”

Sami Oswald had a team-leading 12 points against Edgemont. ToniAnn Mastracchio and Brooke Pfeiffer added nine and eight points, respectively.

BRIARCLIFF cruised to an easy win in the first round of the Section 1 Class B Basketball Championship. Cat Carrafiello scored 18 points and had five assists and Caroline Barbalato added 16 points in a 57-46 victory over No.11 Dobbs Ferry.

The Bears, seeded sixth, play at No.3 Westlake in a quarterfinal, Thursday, with the winner moving on to the final four at the Westchester County Center. The semifinals are scheduled for Monday, Feb. 27.

Adrianna Scanga contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds for the 14-7 Bears.

Yorktown’s Ava Costello sends a pass on the move in Class A out-bracket playoff win over Nanuet.

YORKTOWN, seeded 11th, began the Section 1 Class A Basketball Championships with a 51-33 victory over No.22 Nanuet in an out-bracket game, but Coach Kristi Dini’s Huskers were forced to play without two starters (in Europe with other commitments) in their 46-22 season-ending loss to No.6 Panas.

Yorktown, in its first season with Dini, completed the season with a 14-8 record.

“This was definitely not the result we had hoped for,” Dini said. “We really prepared for this game and went into it with good energy, but it felt like nothing went our way. Panas is a very good team and while it didn’t end in a win, our staff and program feel we had a great season.”

Not only was Dini and assistant coach Annie Darling new to the program, they welcomed eight new players to varsity.

“We also had a couple of season-ending injuries to key seniors,” Dini said. “We are so beyond proud of these girls, their effort, how hard they prepared and how hard they played. We will miss our seniors, who showed amazing leadership and we wish them the best of luck as they move on to their next chapter. Looking forward, we have multiple returners coming back and some young talent. We are excited for them to continue to grow and develop so that everyone sees some more quality ‘Husker basketball next year.”

Kaitlyn Judge scored a game-high 17 points against Nanuet. Olivia Lucas added 12 points and Olivia DelGaudio scored eight points.

Even with earning the 10th seed, LAKELAND still found itself having to play an out-bracket game in the Section 1 Class A Basketball Championship.

The Hornets made quick work of No.23 Gorton, 88-42, as Nichole Ljuljic scored a game-high 25 points, Ava Lugo had 21 points and eighth-grader Riley Walsh added a career-best 15 points.

The Hornets next met No. 7 and dropped a 54-44 verdict.

“The Gorton game was a great team win, and it was awesome to see the girls all having fun,” Lakeland Coach Miranda Mangan said. “The energy and intensity was there for the John Jay game. We just couldn’t make an outside shot. Overall, it was a good season with a lot of growth. We have eight out of 10 girls, with all five starters returning, so we are really looking forward to working hard in the offseason and coming back for a competitive 23-24 season.”

Lakeland finished 12-10.

HORACE GREELEY went 1-1 in the Section 1 Class A Basketball Championship to finish with its best record, 12-10, since 2015.

The Quakers, seeded 12th, beat No.21 Sleepy Hollow in an out-bracket game, 63-42, as Bella Schulman scored a season-best 25 points, including five triples. Emma Rose added 14 points. Meredith Feiner had nine points and 17 rebounds and Ava Gusba finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

Fifth-seeded Rye defeated Greeley, 51-28, in the opening roundl. Schulman and Gusba finished with eight points apiece and Feiner grabbed 14 rebounds.

“The win over Sleepy Hollow was very exciting,” Rose said. “It was my first sectional win at Greeley for basketball. I was very proud of our performance and I think we worked together. The loss to Rye was rough. It wasn’t our best game, but I think it is going to motivate the team next year. The success of this season will start to get the ball rolling for the future. This team has talent, and everyone is returning except me. I think Greeley basketball is setting a tone for the program and is starting to create a winning culture.”

Rose concluded her four-year varsity career with 153 3-pointers, including 66 this season, both among the best in program history.

“This season meant a lot,” Rose said. “This is the best we have done in my prior three years, and I feel like winning made this season a more enjoyable and fun experience. I was happy to get to be on a team that people really wanted to beat.”

BREWSTER drew the 13th seed in the Section 1 Class A Basketball Championship, forcing the Bears to play an out-bracket game.

The Bears responded with a 63-28 victory over No.20 Yonkers as Jordan Niles and Olivia Francis each had 15 points. Brewster then gave No.4 and 2022 Section 1 Class A champion Tappan Zee all it could handle in a 65-52 loss.

“It was a great team effort against Yonkers and we were able to create a lot of turnovers and generate easy baskets,” Brewster Coach Mike Castaldo said. “We played our best game of the year against Tappan Zee for 30 minutes. We were tied after one, down by two at halftime and down one entering the fourth.

“We were up four late in the third quarter against one of the best teams in the section and defending sectional champions. We were right there. It’s a tough way to end the season, but I’m so proud of the team. We just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.”

Madison Dakin led Brewster with 19 points and eighth-grader Lauren Leon contributed 13 points. The Bears received a lift from Margo Cunningham. The senior, who will attend Albany and play lacrosse, is coming off an ACL injury and missed more than half the season.

“Margo could have shut it down this winter to get ready for the spring, but she was all over the floor, gave us the life we needed and showed up big time,” Castaldao said. “Madison played like an all-section guard and Lauren was amazing. At times, Lauren was guarding Ariana Kupi, who led all scorers with 30 points. Kupi was just too much for us. She could be the best player in the section and the fact that Lauren held her, at times, is a testament to how tough Lauren is.”

Brewster concluded the season at 10-10.

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