Playoff-Like Atmospheres at Mahopac, Somers Pay Dividends

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Last Friday was the kind of day local hoops aficionados dream about, hopping from gym to gym seeking thrill and what not. It started at Mahopac where the win-starved Indians were hell-bent on beating their arch rivals from Carmel, complete with the backdrop of racial strife hovering fresh in their minds yet again. Then, it was off to Somers for a vengeful matchup with bordering Yorktown, complete with ultra-maniacal fan bases, just like it was at Mahopac.

Last Friday was everything high school sports was meant to be, complete with riveting conclusions, playoff-like atmosphere and warnings from the P.A. announcers to exit stage left while the opposing fans exit stage right. It was the kind of stuff this scribe lives for, the kind of stuff that keeps the spirit of community alive and well.

Just six days prior, state-ranked (No.19) Somers (11-1) suffered its first loss of the season. The teams met again Friday night at Somers High School where @Tusker_Nation finally had the last laugh against @THE_CROP with the host Tuskers surviving a 53-48 come-from-behind victory over the Huskers (9-4).

Somers senior G Matt Maloney was no baloney, scoring a game-high 25 points while hitting 10 of 10 from the free throw stripe. Maloney scored 13 first-quarter points as the Tuskers built a cushy 29-19 halftime lead, which the Huskers would erase late in the fourth, courtesy of senior swingman Mason Dyslin.

Dyslin was spinning and winning in the lane, dropping a team-high 24 points, but the Huskers withered down the stretch after crawling back from behind by as many as 12 points.

“Turnovers to start the game and late in the fourth were our undoing,” Husker boss Kevin Downes said. “A lot of that credit goes to Somers, but part of that was our inexperience. We have won 11 games combined the last three years, so this is the first time any of our kids have really played in a game of this magnitude. I think it took us a while to settle in and play. Once we did, I thought we played well, especially defensively. It’s hard to beat a good team on the road when you get behind big so early. Hopefully, it’s a learning experience for us and this experience helps us down the road. I was not happy with our overall execution but proud of the effort and fight we showed.”

Downes admitted that the fans were treated to quite a show with Dyslin and Maloney trading hoops and draining big shots.

“I think Mason and Maloney each put on quite a show,” Downes said. “Mason has been playing at a high level all season. Maloney is a special player and a great kid. You have to love competing against guys like that. He was on fire in the first half. We made some defensive mistakes but he also made some great plays. Our kids held him to two second half field goals, which was great, but he made some clutch free throws down the stretch.”

The playoff-like atmosphere was evident as @Tusker_Nation and @THE_CROP exchanged lively digs back and forth with the Tusker fan base desperately seeking a boys’ win over Yorktown in any sport, the Huskers having defeated Somers in football and soccer last fall. Things amped up to a feverish pitch when Maloney was at the line in the waning seconds, but he hit nothing but the bottom of the net.

“The atmosphere was great,” Maloney said. “The free throws just became routine from all the repetition during the off-season. The game meant a lot to us and a lot to the whole town of Somers. There is always a little something extra there when it’s Somers vs. Yorktown. We had a terrible feeling after we lost to them the first time. That feeling stuck we us through the whole week. To be able to bounce back the way we did without one of our best shooters in Ryan Grossman (serving a one-game suspension) says a lot about we learned from the loss.”

Both teams have learned one thing about each other: Each have serious Class A County Center aspirations and both are capable of getting there. In a perfect world, they’d meet up there. The current bracketology shows Somers as No.1 and Yorktown No.8, which would put them on quarterfinal collision course if they both took care of business.

Here’s a glimpse at an insignificant poll no one should take seriously.

Putnam/NWE Fab Five Hoops Poll

No.1 SOMERS – Coach DiCintio’s Class A Tuskers (11-1, 5-1), ranked No.19 in NYS, are pretty darn good as we know, but some could play a little smarter than they do. Technical fouls will eventually bite a team in the butt, and it nearly cost the Tuskers against Yorktown. Posturing is for posers who don’t know how to win, so act like you’ve been there, done that. Reel yourselves in and remember you play for each other.

No.2 YORKTOWN – Coach Downes’ Class A Huskers (9-4, 3-3) made some careless mistakes in the loss to Somers, but had they minimized those issues the Huskers may have gone ahead and defeated the Tuskers for the second time in a week. This club can make some playoff noise for the first time since 2009.

No.3 HALDANE – Coach Virgadamo’s defending Section 1 Class C champion Blue Devils (10-3 in NY, 4-0) are ranked No.3 in NYS, and that jumpoff with Putnam Valley was everything we suspected it would be, ending with a 58-56 Blue Devil win. Peter Hoffmann (25 points), Edmund Fitzgerald (10 points, 11 boards) and Garret Quigley (7 points, 10 boards) were particularly stellar in the Coaches vs. Cancer event that brought half the town out.

No.4 PUTNAM VALLEY – Coach McDonnell’s Class B Tigers (8-5, 1-1) fell apart during a 26-9 Haldane run in the third quarter of their two-point loss to the Blue Devils, but the Tigers battled back valiantly to turn a 56-39 deficit into a thrilling finish they nearly pulled out with a 17-2 run. G Ryan Basso scored 15 points, part of a triple-double the senior recorded.

No.5 CROTON – Coach Thom’s Class B Tigers (10-4, 5-1) have partnered with the Barry Fixler Foundation and Hope for the Warriors to host the first ever “Hoops for Heroes… Celebrating the Military”. The event will be held Friday, January 30, at Croton High, featuring varsity and junior varsity against Red Devils of Peekskill. Varsity tips off at 7pm. In Croton’s 52-51 wild win over Pleasantville, Teejay Searight (14 points, 3 3’s), Owen Ackerman (11 points, 8 rebounds), Garrett Lynch (10 points, including the game winning layup, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Chris McVeety (7 points, 7 rebounds) led the way.

No.5A HEN HUD – We said that if Coach Hirsch’s Class A Sailors (10-2, 3-1) beat Lakeland last week, we would seriously consider them for a top 5 spot, and having done do rather handily (63-49), they have become impossible to ignore any longer. Jesse Breeding scorer a career-high 26 points against the Hornets and Carson “Gronk” Jacobs had 18 in a win over Beacon. Now that you’ve cracked the Top 5, don’t go burning me by losing to Panas this week.

HM BREWSTER – Coach Nelly’s Class A Bears (6-7, 2-4) put forth a sub-par effort in a 20-point drubbing at the hands of Yorktown, so we’re going to have to knock them down a peg and drop from Top 5.

HM LAKELAND – Coach Weltman’s Class A Hornets (6-6, 3-1) were on the brink of cracking the Top 5 until they were tossed around by Hen Hud. Seriously didn’t think that could happen with Lakeland’s athleticism, but they did bounce back nicely in a 66-59 win over Peekskill, which enabled the Hornets to sweep Peekskill for the first time in history behind a career-best 31-point effort from Mike Morelli.

HM CARMEL –Coach Venditto’s Class AA Rams (4-8, 2-3) let one get away from them when they squandered a first-quarter lead in the loss to Mahopac. Unforced errors and just plain sloppy play was their own undoing, but that’s going to happen with youthful teams, which the Rams are.

HM PANAS – Coach Sully’s reigning Section 1 Class A champion Panthers (6-6, 3-1) are still in the hunt for the league title, but they’re going to need to need to take out Hen Hud this week if they are going to be legitimate challengers. Fattened up on Ossining and Beacon last week, but Sailors, Peekskill and Lakeland are up next. Brandon Collins had some game against Beacon, scoring 25 points, snagging eight boards and dishing four assists. Mike Evans had 19 points and eight rebounds against Ossining and frosh Brendan Hodge had his coming out party with nine points and five assists.

HM MAHOPAC – Coach Harter Class AA Indians (5-8, 2-3) needed that win over Carmel in a big way and some of these juniors — Christian Donahoe, Dan Foley and Aiden Hynes – are legit athletes who hate to lose, so I see them turning this thing around. This Hynes kid vas verbaled to Yale for lax, so he’s as smart as he is good. Foley and Donahoe each dropped 15 on Carmel, giving the Mahopac Maniacs something to cheer for.

HM PEEKSKILL – Coach Turner’s Class A Red Devils (3-8, 2-4) saw CJ Redd scored a team-high 17 in the loss to Lakeland, but the league title is a pipe dream after being swept by Lakeland and falling to Ossining.

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