Panas Claims Tourney Title; Westlake Nips PV in 2023 Title Rematch

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By Tony Pinciaro
Walter Panas junior G Sophia Tavarez powers her way to the rack in the defending NYS Class A champion Panthers’ 66-51 win over visiting Ardsley in the the finals of the Walter Panas Holiday Tournament.

One week into the 2023-24 Section 1 girls’ varsity basketball season and reigning NYS Class A champion WALTER PANAS is showing that it is determined and focused to make it consecutive sectional titles and then some.

The Panthers dispatched Tappan Zee (63-49), John Jay-Cross River (57-36) and Ardsley (66-51) by a combined 50 points. John Jay and Ardsley were in the Panas Tournament first round and final, respectively. The victory over Tappan Zee was meaningful because the Dutchies beat the Panthers in the 2022 Section 1 Class A title game. Tappan Zee took advantage of a nervous, young Panas team to dominate the first half on its way to victory.

Panas junior G Cadence Nicholas made sure this would not happen again as she scored a game-high 29 points. Panas junior G Sophia Tavarez, her back-court running mate, scored 16 points and handed out 10 assists and Katie Hofmann contributed 14 points.

“The keys to winning against Tappan Zee was us stopping them with our pressure up front and beating them down the court on fast breaks,” Nicholas said. “We are a fast team and we felt we could outrun them down the court in order to get quick baskets.”

Panas did not allow itself to get an inflated ego or have a letdown heading into its tournament. If there is one thing a host team wants to do, it is win its own tournament.

“We were already determined to win because we know Tappan Zee is a great team and has strong players so that made us want to win even more because we were playing in our tournament on our home court.”

Tavarez finished with 20 points, five assists and five steals and Nicholas scored 14 points against John Jay.

Panas added the exclamation point to the tournament with Tavarez scoring a game-high 28 points to go along with 11 steals and six assists to earn Most Valuable Player honors. Nicholas chimed in with 22 points and eight rebounds.

“In our win against Ardsley we were pleased with how we got several steals from our pressure,” Nicholas said. “That gave us momentum to score on offense since we are a fast team.”

Hen Hud all-tourney players Hailey Pearson, Kayla McCarthy, Elyse Smith and Coach Megan Boyle, displayed the hardware.

After winning its own tournament, highlighted by a victory over Ossining, HEN HUD made it consecutive titles. The Sailors (4-0) took home the Briarcliff Tournament trophy with a first-round win over Monroe-Woodbury (54-39) as junior G Kaitlyn Raguso finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and five steals.

Alexa Robinson added 12 points, five rebounds and four steals and Kayla McCarthy contributed six rebounds and six assists. Raguso was outstanding in the final, a 55-50 win over Horace Greeley, scoring 20 points and grabbing 19 rebounds.

Elyse Smith added nine points and nine rebounds and Robinson also scored nine points.

LAKELAND improved to 3-0 this season following a 46-37 victory over Yorktown. This was on the heels of victories over Putnam Valley and John Jay-Cross River, in week one of the season.

Lakeland’s Nichole Ljuljic attacks basket as Yorktown’s Kaitlyn Judge defends in Hornets’ 46-37 win over visiting Huskers Tuesday.

Nichole Ljuljic led Lakeland with a game-high 18 points. She filled out the stat sheet with seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. Sarah Devane had 11 pts and seven rebounds.

Through three games, Ljuljic is averaging a team-best 15.6 points per game.

“I think the most important thing that has contributed to our solid start is the fact that we have four returning seniors and our starting five has been pretty consistent,” said senior Ava Lugo. “We have also been playing solid team basketball, getting help from both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively, from multiple players. We have some more tough opponents coming up so hopefully we can continue to play good team basketball.”

Kaitlyn Judge led YORKTOWN with 15 points.

BREWSTER opened with wins over Edgemont (59-24) and Scarsdale ‘B’ (60-34, in the Brewster Tournament) before a 50-41 loss to John Jay-East Fishkill in the Brewster Tournament championship game.

Brewster coach Mike Castaldo said Scarsdale ‘B’ was a last-minute replacement for a team that dropped out. Jordan Nile led a balanced scouring effort against Edgemont, finishing with a game-high 15 points. She also grabbed five rebounds. Lauren Leon added 14 points and Olivia Francis chipped in 12 points.

Leon had the hot hand against Scarsdale ‘B’ with 16 points and Francis scored 11 points.

“I was really proud of our team’s effort against a big, physical John Jay team,” Castaldo said. “We had an open 3 that would have cut the lead to 2 with under a minute left, but it didn’t fall John Jay did a better job of taking care of the ball and it dominated the boards. They deserved the win.”

Francis and Bri Franklin, both all-tournament selections, scored 18 and 10 points, respectively.

WHITE PLAINS had a busy opening week going 3-2. However, the Tigers’ finish  to the week was not what they wanted as they lost both games in the Bastian Tournament at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Byram Hills’ Grace Corelli, who scored 12 points, is hounded by Pleasantville’s Faith Brown in Bobcats’ 44-39 win over host Panthers Wednesday.

The Tigers ran off wins over Clarkstown South, North Rockland and Mount Vernon (Harry Jefferson Showcase at White Plains), but lost to Albany and Kennedy Catholic (Somers).

Sequoia Layne netted a game-best 30 points and she also collared eight rebounds against Clarkstown South. Ineivi Plata finished with 25 points, eight assists and five steals.

Plava and Layne were the leaders against North Rockland as Plava scored a team-high 19 points and also had seven assists and six rebounds. Layne had a double-double – 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Plata earned the Player of the Game award against Mount Vernon after a 23-point, nine-assist and five-rebound performance. Layne contributed nine points and Milan Ragin scored eight points.

“We missed opportunities to score by missing some open layups and free throws, along with some turnovers that Albany took advantage of,” White Plains’ coach Benji Carter said.

Layne had 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Plata led the Tigers with 21 points and five rebounds against Kennedy Catholic while Layne had a double-double – 18 points and 10 rebounds.

WESTLAKE has weathered a difficult first four games of the season, highlighted by a win over 2023 Section 1 Class B champion Putnam Valley. The Wildcats (2-2) prevailed over the Tigers, 69-58, in the first meeting between the teams since Putnam Valley beat Westlake in the 2023 Section 1 Class B final.

Hen Hud junior G Kaitlyn Raguso takes it to high-flying Horace Greeley F Caroline Negrin en route to Raguso’s MVP effort in the Sailors’ 55-50 win over the Quakers in Saturday’s championship round of the Briarcliff Booster Club Basketball Tournament.

Brooke Pfeiffer poured in a team-high 20 points while Maggie Plotkin and Olivia Celaj each scored 15 points.

“The Putnam Valley game meant a lot to myself and my teammates as we were hoping to get the win,” Pfeiffer said. “Having it so early in the season was just what we needed to give us our confidence back again. My teammates and I, as well as our coaches, prepared us to ensure we did not fall short in this game.”

It did not get any easier for Westlake as it faced Irvington next and the result was a tough 57-55 loss.

“We worked hard in the Irvington game, but just came up short,” Pfeiffer said. “The game showed us that we still have a lot to improve on if we are going to be a championship team.

“This team is beginning to understand how to play together. We lost a lot of senior experience from last year and we are playing with a new group of girls. I am confident we have the pieces in place, now all we have to do is show the section.”

PUTNAM VALLEY was led by Jona Kabashi with a game-high 25 points and Nai Torres added 23 points.

HORACE GREELEY opened the season by going 1-3.The Quakers lost to John Jay-East Fishkill (54-52) and Mahopac (48-29) before a 62-34 win over Briarcliff in the first round of the Bears’ Tournament. Hen Hud would then defeat Greeley in the Briarcliff Tournament final, 55-50.

“The girls played hard and fought hard this week,” Greeley coach Sarah Schum said. “We have a lot to tighten things up, as everyone does in their first week of play, but collectively we are all very excited about the potential we have for this season. We have a pretty tough schedule with John Jay-East Fishkill, Mahopac and White Plains, all twice, but it will be good for us to have check-ins with great teams to see where we stack up.”

Carolina Negrin had a big game against John Jay with 20 points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots. Ava Gusba added a pair of 11s – points and rebounds.

Bella Schulman led Greeley with 16 points and four assists against Mahopac.

Georgia Sack netted a game-high 21 points against Briarcliff. Schulman added 13 points and Negrin had seven points and eight blocked shots.

BYRAM HILLS rallied in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to overcome Pleasantville, 44-39.

“Pleasantville led until 1:51 left in the fourth quarter,” Byram Hills’ Coach Tara Ryan said. “We stayed poised, executed on both ends of the floor, and made our foul shots. Grace Corelli made a huge 3-point shot for us and she was able to control the clock in the final minute. Paige Schiliro played excellent defense on their star player and the team rebounded very well in the fourth quarter.”

Corelli led the Bobcats with 12 points, followed by Riley Morris with nine points and Alana Vataj scored points.

Meghan Raefski finished with a game-high 19 points for PLEASANTVILLE and eighth-grader Maddie Beccera added eight points.

Beccera led the Panthers with 15 points in a loss to Hastings.

HALDANE sits at 2-2 after a 44-33 win over Carmel behind Camilla McDaniel’s 19 points and five rebounds. Kayla Ruggiero added 13 points, seven rebounds and five steals and Marisa Peters contributed 11 points. This followed up a second-place finish in the Rye Neck Tournament.

Haldane beat Keio, 59-28, as Ruggiero had a game-high 23 points along with seven rebounds and eight steals. Marisa Peters added 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals and McDaniel scored 11 points and snared seven rebounds.

Haldane lost to Rye Neck, 47-40, in the title game despite 18 points from McDaniel and 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals from Peters.

SOMERS beat Eastchester, 42-30, as Olivia Allegretti led all scorers with 13 points. Ashley Kuchinsky added 10 points and Lindsay McCullough scored seven points.

FOX LANE split two games – a 41-31 win over Clarkstown North and a 45-26 loss to Scarsdale. The Foxes’ defense fueled the victory as it held Clarkstown North to five points in the fourth quarter. Riley New led a balanced scoring effort with nine points. Cora Moore, Morgan Clinton and Cara Drapala scored seven points apiece. Clinton led the Foxes with eight points against Scarsdale.

PEEKSKILL went 2-0 with wins over Saunders and Yonkers (in the Elmsford Classic). Amari Murphy finished with 16 points and Azarriyah Ashley netted eight points against Saunders. Murphy scored a game-high 25 points and Ashley added 11 points against Yonkers.

OSSINING was 0-2 after losses to Clarkstown South and Ursuline. Saniya Bell scored a team-best 22 points and added six rebounds against Clarkstown South. Zoey Jowers and Kinya Green netted 10 points apiece. Bell finished with 23 points against Ursuline. Zoey Jowers contributed 17 points and Ty’asia Carver scored 10 points and added six assists.

CARMEL began the season with a dominant win over East Ramapo, 56-20, but the Rams lost to Port Chester and Haldane in the Port Chester Tournament.

Sophomore Kylie Murphy scored a career-best 30 points, including eight 3-pointers against East Ramapo. Gianna Herrera added 10 points and three blocked shots and Ashley Webber grabbed eight rebounds. Murphy had a team-high 10 points against Port Chester. Camilla McDaniels and Murphy had 19 points apiece in the 44-33 loss to Haldane.

Mahopac, Putnam Valley, Yorktown and Briarcliff did not respond to multiple requests for info.


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