Peekskill, Byram Hills Hoist Gold Balls, Advance to NYS Tourney

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Haldane Wins Class C; White Plains Ousted in AAA Semis, Yorktown Nipped in AA Semis

By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
Peekskill wins Section 1 Class AA title over No.4 Suffern at the Westchester County Center.

It sure looked the same, it weighed the same, it glistened like always, but this particular gold ball just felt a little bit different in the hands of Class AA Peekskill Coach Tyrone Searight and Class A Byram Hills Coach Ted Repa, who have a collection of gold balls and sectional titles between them.

But these gold balls were near and dear to their hearts. These gold balls, hoisted by the veteran coaches just hours apart at the Westchester County Center Saturday, were different.

Second-year Red Devil boss Searight, who won a handful of titles as the leader of the Haldane girls’ program for much of the past decade, won this gold ball for his alma mater, Peekskill, which hadn’t won it all since 2009; the last title in a stretch of five-straight gold balls.

Searight, as we’ve said often in this space, was the right man, at the right time, to lead second-seeded Peekskill out of its inexplicable 15-year malaise. Coach Searight has reignited the fire in the belly of this basketball community, and nothing, outside of his family, means more.

“It still hasn’t registered yet, but to be a gold-ball winning coach at Peekskill, which once dominated Section 1, I’m at a loss for words… there are no words,” an emotional Searight admitted after holding on for a 56-54 Section 1 Class AA title win over No.4 Suffern. “I have seven gold balls on the girls side, but this one on the boys’ side it’s remarkable. I am very, very proud of how my boys grew up and stayed the course.”

Members of the fourth-seeded Byram Hills boys’ hoops team begin to celebrate their 47-44 Section 1 Class A championship win over No.2 Rye.

Peekskill A.D. Austin Goldberg rolled the dice on Searight, and instead of crapping out, Goldberg spun a D-12, the unsung hero of the dice world, quietly stealing the spotlight with each graceful tumble during a 23-1 campaign. Nobody had Searight’s Red Devils on their bingo card when the 2024-25 season began, no one!

“He’s the best of the best,” Goldberg said of Searight. “He’s someone who truly cares about our students and community. His passion and determination is contagious and he constantly raises his own bar for himself and the team.”

Coach Repa, who won his third sectional title since turning the program around in 2011, was able to share this gold ball with his son, Tyson, the Class A tourney MVP, so, yeah, this one felt different, too.

“It’s a very special moment, hard to put into words,” said Repa, who shared the best postgame hug in history with young Tyson, the All-Section senior who dropped 17 points, including a pair of fourth-quarter 3’s to seal a 47-44 championship win by the fourth-seeded Bobcats over No.2 Rye. “It’s honestly a very humbling feeling that I get to be a part of this.”

And what a championship week it was…


Sixth-seeded Eastchester was probably hoping for some past-decade version of the Peekskill Red Devils in Wednesday’s semifinal, but second-seeded Peekskill, ranked No.13 in NYS, lived up to its mantra and #DestroyedAllExcuses, defeating Eastchester in overtime in a 61-56 win to advance to its first section final since 2009, the last of its five-peat heyday as sectional champs.

Peekskill F Amir Thames goes for an early two points in 2nd-seeded Red Devils’ 56-54 Section 1 Class AA title win over No.4 Suffern Saturday at the Westchester County Center.

Unheralded senior G Travis Brown led Peekskill throughout with some clutch buckets in the second half, most notably in the fourth quarter and in overtime to finish with a game-high 21 points, seven boards and five steals. Peekskill saw All-Section junior point forward Jaden Chavis (17 points, 5 boards and 4 assists), Marquette Webster (7 points, 12 boards) and Isaiah Crawford (7 points) all come up big, setting up Saturday’s championship tilt with No.4 Suffern, which nearly sent Peekskill packing.

Down two points, 55-53, with 5.9 to play, Mountie hotshot Jake Pampolina was fouled behind the arc, drawing three free throws and a chance for the win. The super soph made the first attempt and missed the second. Searight iced him with a timeout. Pampolina was long on the final throw, and Chavis was fouled after snagging the carom. Chavis hit one from the stripe for the final margin, and the Red Devils picked off Suffern’s last-ditch attempt to advance, touching off a madcap celebration 15 years in the making.

“It really feels amazing after all of the stuff we’ve been through as a team, from going 3-17 my first year to two years later being on the top,” Chavis said. “I really can’t put it into words, but me and my teammates are really excited that we get to compete for a state title. That really means a lot and just shows how hard work pays off.”

Peekskill needed every key point from MVP Chavis (16 points), All-tourney Crawford (15 points), Zeke Jones (13 points), All-tourney Travis Brown (7 points), Amir Thames (3 points) and Webster (2 points). Chavis came out on fire, including a wing 3 with :50 left in the first, part of a 16-11 run going into the second. The teams traded punches in the second quarter before the unranked Mounties took a 31-30 lead into the half.

Peekskill was the aggressor in the third, Chavis capping a 9-0 run for a 39-31 lead before Pampolina answered with five in a row, 39-36. Crawford and Jones fired back for a 43-36 lead with 4:18 left in the third. Sufferen responded with a 6-0 run, including four more points from the All-tourney Pampolina (22 points) to make it 43-42, and Jeph Joseph (20 points) struck from distance at the buzzer to tie the game at 45 going into the fourth.

As he’s done since Day 1 this season, Peekskill junior G Isaiah Crawford goes all out for loose ball in second-seeded Red Devils’ 56-54 Section 1 Class AA title win over No.4 Suffern Saturday at County Center.

Joseph posed some serious issues in the fourth, giving Suffern a 49-48 lead with 5:00 to play. The Mounties clung to a  53-52 lead with 1:14 to go before Crawford hit the biggest shot of his career, providing a 54-53 lead with 57.8 left. Thames, who battled foul trouble throughout, snagged a big board and hit one more at the line, 55-53.

Peekskill plays unranked Section 4 champion Binghamton (11-8) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Yorktown High School. The winner takes on the Section 9 titlist at 7 p.m. March 8 at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh.

It was Suffern who turned YORKTOWN’s dream season into a nightmarish finish in a 51-46 win over the top-seeded Huskers (20-3), who were seeking the program’s first gold ball since 1971.

State-ranked (No.10) Yorktown never found its rhythm, according to Coach Mark Pavella.

“Hats off to Suffern, they are very good defensively,” the coach said. “Our goal going into the game was to get out in transition and attack the rim. However, they played really good help defense and were able to keep us in front. We never seemed to get into any offensive flow the first three quarters of the game.

“I’m proud of this group, and we will miss our seniors,” he added. “Going to the county center back to back seasons is a huge accomplishment. Winning a sectional title isn’t easy. We will grow from this as a program, and look forward to competing again next year.”

Yorktown All-Tourney G Justin Price fires from distance in top-seeded Huskers’ 51-46 Class AA semifinal loss to No.4 Suffern Wednesday at County Center.

Yorktown junior Kaden Gonzalez (13 points) scored off an offensive rebound with 5:52 to go and get Yorktown within four points, 35-31. But Pampolina swished a 3 for the reply. Yorktown senior Tommy Costello scored off a turnover with 1:44 to play before Pampolina used the back door to deliver the gifts the Mounties needed to salt the win away.

Yorktown senior G Justin Price (11 points) was named to the all-tourney team. Brandon Montero (9 points), Billy Feeks (6), Costello (4) and Ryan Duffy (3) made modest contributions but not nearly enough to end the Huskers’ lengthy gold-ball drought.

Without question, this Husker unit will rank right up there with the best to ever play at Yorktown.


State-ranked (No.19) BYRAM HILLS had a cast of characters lead the Bobcats (17-6) to the promised land, but it was sharpshooter Chris Amenedo’s critical nine-point run that pulled the Bobcats from the jaws of defeat. Following a huge dunk by C Zach Efobi at 4:23 of the third, Amenedo swished three consecutive 3’s at 3:55, 3:00 and 2:16, bringing the Bobcats with two, 32-30, at the end of three quarters.

“Rye’s game plan was outstanding, and we needed Amenedo to get going in order to have a chance,” Coach Repa said. “He stayed confident even after some early misses, and that type of mental toughness is what makes champions.”

According to Coach Repa, Ari Drellinger was arguably the player of the game.

Dumbfounded Pearl River fans look on as Byram Hills junior C Zach Efobi dissects top-seeded Pirates for yet another monster jam in No.4 Bobcats’ 57-47 Class A semifinal win over Pirates at County Center Tuesday.

“He’s been such an awesome teammate this year, playing anywhere we ask, the entire game or just a few minutes, and regardless, the kid just keeps competing.”

Efobi’s dunk got the Bobcats going before Tyson Repa lit up the fourth quarter. Amenedo opened the fourth with yet another 3-bomb for a 33-32 Bobcat lead. Drellinger also unleashed a triple and the teams exchanged blows to open the fourth. Repa, off an Efobi hustle play, gave Byram a 41-37 lead at 5:00 before spotting up for three at the top of the key and a 44-40 lead at 4:40.

Repa added a game-sealing bomb from behind the arc for a 47-43 lead at 2:53. Max Miller made a big play on defense on Rye’s ensuing trip and the Bobcats held on from there.

“Zach’s dunk was spectacular, and Tyson just refused to let us lose down the stretch,” Coach Repa said. “You could see it in his eyes.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team and how we’ve grown so much over the year,” the coach added. “It hasn’t always been easy this season – some excruciating losses, injuries – but going through all that adversity has toughened us up. It makes it all the more special, and to have so many alumni at the game made this feel like something bigger than just a game.”

Byram Hills junior C Zach Efobi, the Dr. of Dunk, slams home yet another rim rocker in 4th-seeded Bobcats’ Section 1 Class A title win over No.2 Rye Saturday at County Center.

Amenedo finished with 17 points and was named to the All-Tournament team along with Efobi (13 rebounds).

The Bobcats also defeated top-seeded Pearl river, 57-47, in the semis behind 23 points from Repa. Amenedo (21 points), Efobi (8), Drellinger (3) and Miller (2) all scored.

When Rye’s Rocklan Boisseau hustled for a rebound with 4:40 to play and found Jake Kessner for a 3 that put the Sailors 10 down at 53-43, the writing was on the wall. HEN HUD, which came in as a feisty No.6 seed, would have to wait yet another year for the first gold ball in school history after the second-seeded Garnets pulled away for a 64-58 semifinal win before falling to Byram Hills in the finals.

All-Section senior G Gino Wamack paced the Sailors (15-8) with a game-high 30 points; perhaps his finest outing all season. Jeremy Heady (12 points), Conor Prokopiak (8) and Justin Parkes (8) kept the Sailors in it from start to finish, but Garnets, whom the Sailors knocked off earlier in the year, were bigger, thicker and stronger in the paint.

The Sailors, though, should be proud of their accomplishments as few, if any outside of their locker room, had the Sailors making a Final Four in 2024. Sailor Coach Jordan Hirsch admitted that he hasn’t had a team with the mental makeup, character and the will to win these Sailors possessed in his many seasons on the Hen Hud sideline.


WHITE PLAINS, which had climbed all the way to No.10 in the state polls, would see its season come to a screeching halt in the second-seeded Tigers’ 61-48 loss to fifth-seeded Mt. Vernon, the eventual 35-time Section 1 champion, which upended state-ranked (No.19) New Rochelle. Unranked in state polls, Mt. Vernon did its thing when it mattered most, silencing all the doubters in, perhaps, Coach Bob Cimino’s finest coaching moment #ThatsSayingSomething.

Hendrick Hudson’s Jeremy Heady tips in a putback in No.6 Sailors’ 64-58 Class A semifinal loss to No.2 Rye Tuesday.

Tigers Miles Johnson (15 points), Logan McCormick (13) and Luke Brooks (9) led an otherwise stagnant attack. A 20-2 White Plains season is nothing to sneeze at; something, in fact, to be quite proud of. Building back better in 2025 will be tough with all the Tigers lose to graduation, but the 2024 campaign was historical in terms of victories, and now venerable Coach Spencer Mayfield’s Tigers will reload and seek their first title since 1999 when the 2024-25 campaign kicks on next winter.


HALDANE, ranked No.1 in NYS, made short work of Leffelle in Sunday’s 64-49 rout at the County Center to hoist the seventh gold ball in school history. In just a three-team Class C field, the Blue Devils will surely be measured by their work in the forthcoming NYSPHSAA tournament.

Class C tournament MVP Matt Nachampkin, an All-Section talent, led the Blue Devils (18-3) with 21 points while Michael Murray (15 points) and Ross Esposito (11) were named to the all-tourney squad. Luke Bozsik (7) and Evan Giachinta (6) put up some big points for a Blue Devils squad that has its sights set on Glens Falls, home of the NYS Final 4.

“I’m beyond proud of our defense and energy,” Haldane Coach Joe Virgadamo said.

Haldane’s sub-regional vs. Section 9’s Millbrook, unranked by state pollsters, is scheduled for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Yorktown High.

Hen Hud’s Joey Abboud grabs a board in the late moments of Sailors’ 64-58 Class A semifinal loss Rye Tuesday at Westchester County Center.

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