Surging Peekskill, Mahopac Shocking Class AA Hoops Circuit

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Red Devils, Wolf Pac Strong at Halfway Point;  Fox Lane, White Plains Making Gains

By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
Peekskill senior F Zeke Jones, a slick new talent in Section 1, draws a rousing response from awed teammates Jaden Chavis (0) and Amir Thames (1) after Jones, a transfer from Cardinal Hayes, dumped one of three dunks he would pour on host Hendrick Hudson in the Red Devils’ 72-63 win over the host Sailors.

As a longtime follower of PEEKSKILL basketball – from my being on the shy side of a 104-44 drubbing in the wee 80s (when I was on the bench with a +102 fever) – with former legendary Coach John Moro barking orders, to the quintessential takeover by NYS Hall of Fame Coach Lou Panazanaro and his epic run of five NYS titles (1994, 2003-06-07-12) in 31 seasons, to a recent decade-long dearth of irrelevance, the Red Devils have been through it all.

Yes, there was a long period of time when Peekskill was second fiddle in the Section 1 pecking order to only Mount Vernon (and even that was debatable at times; see Elton Brand, Hilton Armstrong, Mookie Jones, et al.), but Panazanrro, who needs a statue erected somewhere on campus or in and around Depew Park, called it quits in 2014, the dynamics of the community altered, the culture changed and Peekskill went from cream of the crop to cream puffs for nearly a decade now. Second-year Red Devil Coach Tyrone Searight – who bleeds red and white having donned the colors back in 1988 for Coach P and watched his two sons, Ramon and Tyrone Jr. do the same – inherited a 2021-22 team coming off a 3-17 season; a program that hadn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2017.

Currently unranked by state pollsters #BigMistake, Peekskill lacked the talent and the swag it once had, but the house looked back in order during Peekskill’s 69-49 rout of visiting LAKELAND Wednesday when versatile Red Devil point forward Jaden Chavis put on a show, the kind of exhibition that conjured up images of days gone by. Chavis, a dirty junior with handles, size and sizzle, finished with 25 points and dished close to a dime with uber-talented Zeke Jones (15 points) and Travis Brown (13) being the main beneficiaries.

“We are playing well right now and we should be undefeated but we let Byram Hills get away,” second-year Peekskill Coach Tyrone Searight admitted, “but 9-1 is a good start. Getting back Zeek Jones from Cardinal Hayes really helps out, and Jaden Chavis, along with Travis Brown and Amir Thames, that’s a great combination.”

Ossining F Isaiah Ahlers takes run at Suffern defenders in Pride’s 64-56 loss to visiting Suffern Saturday.

It was close for a quarter, Peekskill taking a 22-13 lead after one quarter, but the Red Devils (11-1) took a 29-16 lead at 5:55 of the second off a trey from Chavis and a dapper dunk by Amir Thames, from Chavis, which was followed by an easy layup for a 33-16 lead. Hornet Grady Leonard’s 3 cuts deficit 35-22 with less than 4:00 before half, before Jones ended the half with an emphatic slam from, who else, Chavis, and the Red Devils took a commanding 39-24 lead into the break.

It was 41-24 within seconds of the second half before Chavis knocked down another trey for a 44-24 lead, game over. Chavis displayed some additional parts of his repertoire at 3:55 off a strong drive for a 51-29 lead. A Jones 3 made it 56-34 at 2:20 of the third. With 48.6 left in the third, a trey by Chavis extended the lead to 59-37.

Peekskill’s defense was as stiff as it had been in a decade more, stifling Lakeland (6-6) through three quarters, the Red Devs leading 59-37 at the end of three. Peekskill extended early in the fourth, taking a 65-37 lead before a Lakeland trey stopped the bleeding at 6:05 of the fourth, but the rout was officially on by then.

Peekskill then took a brief trip down Welcher Avenue where it went on to defeat neighboring rival HEN HUD, 72-63, in Thursday’s featured matchup. It was an elite start for the Red Devils as Jones flushed home a pair of early jams for an 8-5 Red Devil lead. Brown scored from distance and Chavis followed for two and the Red Devils held a 19-16 lead going into the second.

Jones and Chavis hit from downtown for a 28-22 lead at 5:25 of the second before Sailor sniper Gino Wamack began his assault, including a halftime buzzer beater, which was preceded by Sailors Jeremy Heady’s trey and a deep response from Chavis for three. The half ended with the Red Devils holding a 37-33 lead.

The third quarter began with a flurry: Chavis out of the break for a 39-33 lead. Heady the answer, 39-35. Marquette for two, 41-36, before Joey Abboud scored his third point of the quarter, 41-38 at 6:04 of the third.

The Sailors did all they could to mount a fourth-quarter comeback behind Heady (20 points, 10 boards) and Wamack (28 points, 5 boards, 5 assists) but Searight’s sea-dawgs would have none of it.

Pleasantville’s Peter Choundas (35) and Aidan Picart (0) mix it up with Panas G Cory Williams in host P’Ville’s 64-54 loss to Panthers Tuesday.

The Sailors went on to knock off rival PANAS, 64-58, behind a stellar outing from Wamack (27 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists) and Heady (17  points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals) to offset Panther stud Tyler Greene (27 points).

MAHOPAC has been your basic “grind and find” team in Section 1 this season; they grind from start to finish and find ways to win, just as the undefeated, state-ranked (No.19) Wolf Pac (10-0) did in Friday’s 63-59 overtime win over league rival Arlington. Trailing 41-30 late in the third, Mahopac torqued up the pressure and turned to guards Danny Koch and John Kearney (game-high 19 points) for a prime-time fourth quarter explosion. As brutal as Mahopac’s third quarter was, the final stanza was brilliant.

“To start the game we weren’t playing to the standards we were used to,” Kearney said. “A couple of missed layups on our end and allowing fast break points off turnovers got us in a hole early. We knew we’d have to clean it up on the offensive end and trust our defense if we were going to come back and that’s what we did. Danny controlled the game and contributed to most of the points our team had in the second half, whether it was scoring himself, assisting a bucket or drawing the help defense to get others great looks. Jalen Jones and Matt Reilly gave us awesome minutes off the bench. We knew what we had to do to come back and we executed at a very high level.”

Mahopac senior F Liam Scanlon tries to get some separation as he fires shot in Wolf Pac’s 68-52 thrashing of host John Jay EF Thursday.

However, it took a village, and the Wold Pac got contributions across the board as they stopped a Mike Rescigno-led charge by the Admirals. It was a Rescigno 3-bomb that provided the Admirals a 37-24 lead with 4:40 left in the third. Suddenly, though, Mahopac began to turn the tide. Mahopac G Connor Ferrieri (15 points) hit a big three at 4:19 in response, and was clutch down the stretch, nailing five points in the final 2:41 of the fourth, but few, if any were clutcher than Pac F Daniel Dedvukaj (11 points), who grabbed an errant free throw and put back two clutch points in the waning seconds to grant the Wolf Pac a 4-0 start in league play against the rival Admirals.

That’s the thing about Mahopac basketball this season; know your role, be unselfish and step up when needed, like Jalen Jones did off the bench and Liam Scanlon (12 points) did throughout. Speedy G Danny Koch scored six points bridging the third and fourth quarters to spark a pivotal run. Scanlon hit a reverse layup at 7:05 to trim the deficit to six, 42-36. After Arlington went back up 45-36, Kearney had seen enough and triggered an 8-0 Wolf Pac run, scoring six of the eight between 6:50 and 4:44 of the fourth to make it 45-44 Admirals. After Rescigno provided a 47-44 Arlington lead, Ferrieri scored at 3:02, 47-46, and Scanlon followed with two for Mahopac’s first lead of the night, 48-47 with 2:37 left. Mahopac went to the line and Kearney spotted the Pac a four-point lead, 51-47, with 1:31 to go.

But the Cortland-bound Rescigno, who “dabbles” in football as an All-NYS first-team quarterback, struck again with :56 left. Mahopac lost possession and Rescigno went coast to coast to force overtime. The turning point of the game came when Arlington was called for what appeared to be a double-technical foul call after the initial foul, which gave Mahopac six free throws and possession with 1:01 left. Scanlon hit 3-of-6 at the stripe for a 58-53 lead. Ferrieri hit two more at the stripe after Arlington did likewise. The Ad’s nailed a three to make it 60-58 before Ferrieri went to the line, hit the first, missed the second, but the cagey Dedvukaj scammed the rebound and went put-back for the final margin in a wild finish.

“ I didn’t love the way we played much of the game, kind of stuck in mud a bit, and Arlington did a good job,” Mahopac Coach Matt Calabro admitted. “I thought we started getting stops when we needed them and it opened some things up offensively to give us a big fourth quarter. We have a tough, resilient group and they are a dream to coach.”

Mahopac defeated John Jay EF earlier in the week, 68-52, behind 17 from Dedvukaj, 15 from Scanlon, 10 from Ferrieri and seven apiece from Koch, Jones and Kearney.

Westlake’s Marcus Jackette sails to the basket for two of his game-high 18 points in Saturday afternoon’s 74-33 rout of visiting Keio.

With state-ranked (No.21) YORKTOWN putting up 61 points Wednesday, host John Jay never had a chance, going for just 39 against a stingy Cornhusker (9-2) defense. Yorktown’s Billy Feeks (15 points), Brandon Montero’s double-double (12 points, 11 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals) and Tommy Costello (9 points, 3 steals) were superb on both ends of the floor.

The Huskers were true to form in their 55-28 thrashing of visiting Brewster Friday when Justin Price (7 points, 6 assists, 5 steals, 4 rebounds), Ryan Duffy (6 points, 9 rebounds) and Costello (4 points, 5 steals) paced the Huskers, who also teamed with Somers for the inaugural @Able_Athletics clinic Sunday when the two rival programs locked arm-in-arm for youngsters with diverse abilities.

Just know one thing: People are coming together for great causes in our communities, and to see the Tuskers and Huskers – rivals in every facet of sports – unite was something to behold and something both districts should be proud of under coaches James Loughran and Mark Pavella, respectively.

BREWSTER found out how hard it is to play in Yorktown, one of the nicest facilities in the state but we need to see more of the fabled “Crop” at these home games.

“Yorktown is an extremely tough playing environment,” Brewster Assistant Coach Jason Weltman admitted. “We demonstrated another excellent game defensively. However, we could not get anything going on the offensive end.”

Lucas Cabiati led the Bears with 11 points on a night when points were tough to come by.

The hardwood will be a rockin’ Wednesday when the Huskers visit rival SOMERS where an early jump on the league title will be on the line when the Tuskers (8-3) and Huskers rekindle one of the section’s top rivalries.

The Tuskers were quick to travel down I-684 to settle a score with host BYRAM HILLS in a 61-46 Tusker triumph. Andrew Violante (19 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals), Nate Cohen (18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and Brady Leitner (17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) – one of the most versatile three-man backcourts in the section – each had their way against the Class A Bobcats (6-3).

Somers finished the week with a 72-60 win over host Roosevelt where Violante (21 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists), Letiner (15 points), Cohen (11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) and Matt D’Ippolito (8 point, 5 boards) paced the Tuskers, winners of six in a row.

Fox Lane sophomore guard Arthur Shevick rises toward the basket as Nick Triolo of White Plains tries to draw a charging foul in the first quarter of Thursday’s game hosted by the Foxes.

FOX  LANE posted its biggest win of the season, taking out league rival OSSINING, 49-40. Fox Lane Coach Mike Tomassi had to be  thrilled with the win over Ossining, but in particular the offense of Kevin New (25 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds) and the total team effort on defense. When you hold the Pride to 40, that is a major accomplishment.

“Kevin New has been fantastic all year,” Tomassi said. “He’s been a three-year varsity player and has slowly waited for his opportunity. His time is now, and he has taken full advantage of the opportunity. Our defense has been a work in progress. We have been working hard to improve and be leaders in Section One. We have always relied on our defense, so this year will be no different.

“We are young and we will continue to work hard and be a tough team come playoff time,” he said of the 5-3 Foxes. “I was very happy with the effort against Ossining. Kids played well and competed. Last time we won at Ossining was in 2020, according to my records. It’s a tough place to play and they are very good.”

Foxes Arthur Shevick (16 points), 5 boards, 5 assists) and James Minotti (2 points, 8 caroms) put up some big numbers as well against the Pride (6-3) who were led by Franklin Santos (14 points, 6 rebounds) and Sebastian DaCosta (11 points, 4 rebounds).

“Fox Lane came out on fire and knocked down 11 3s,” Ossining boss Mike Casey said. “Conversely, we could not get anything to fall.”

Ossining was without star swingman Kris Singh, who is nursing a bone bruise that has plagued him this season.

“It hadn’t gotten better, so we decided to shut him down for a couple weeks,” Casey said.

Singh returned in Saturday’s 64-56 loss to Suffern but the Pride fell for the third time in five tries.

“We need to pick ourselves up going into this stretch of the season,” Coach Casey admitted. “We’ve hit some hard times. The team is battling some injuries and need to get healthy quickly.”

Key Pride scorer Singh has been out and returned against Suffern but his minutes were limited. He scored nine points for the Pride, who were led by Sebastian DaCosta (16 points).

Ossining began the week with an 84-38 thrashing of Lincoln behind four scorers in double figures, including Asher Cort (16), Franklin Santos (15), Isaiah Ahlers (10 points, 9 steals) and Sebastian DaCosta (10).

CARMEL posted one of its best wins in quite some time Thursday, knocking off Poughkeepsie, 68-63, behind the torrid shooting of junior G  Aiden White, who went for a game-high 29 points. King Mercer (17) and Joey Loughlin (11) were pivotal to the Rams’ (4-8) success.

“We played our best game in a long time,” Carmel Coach Doug Hill said. “White controlled the game finishing 8-16 from the floor and 8-9 from the line. We are a dangerous team when we are shooting well, we shot 8-14 from deep. Another key to the victory was that we competed as well as we had on the glass, led by nine rebounds from Mercer to go along with his 17 points.”

As good as the Rams played against the Pioneers, they came out flat in a 59-57 loss to Blind Brook in the opening round of the North Salem Tournament Friday. Carmel had its chances down the stretch but missed several open 3’s for the lead and then allowed an essentially uncontested Euro move in the lane with 3.2 ticks left for the game-winning hoop. The final half court heave at the buzzer by White came off an awful inbound play, whether by design or execution #Sorry.


State-ranked (No.19) WHITE PLAINS got a bit of a first-half scare from Class AA HORACE GREELEY in a 51-42 Tiger win before Miles Johnson started swishing and dishing to the tune of  18 points and eight assists to go with four steals. Senior swingman Logan McCormick posted a double-double (12 points, 11 boards, 3 assists) and Daniel Herzner provided a third double-digit scorer (10 points, 7 boards, 3 assists) to offset Quakers Zach Boyriven (14 points, 5 steals) and Benji Ricardo (11 points). The Tigers are sitting pretty at 11-1 with tuneups against Port Chester and Lincoln before the degree of difficulty goes crazy wild against Ossining (2X) state-ranked (No.22) Mount Vernon, Greeley and Fox Lane. Are Coach Spencer Mayfield’s boys up for the test?

Greeley defeated Port Chester, 82-45, earlier in the week when Quakers Boyriven (17 points), Nicky Tasso 14 (points) and Jake Sheehy (11) had their way. The Quakers (8-3) have a vicious stretch upcoming with games against Ossining, Fox Lane (2X) and Yorktown on tap. We’ll know a heck of a lot more about Greeley by the end of the month.


BYRAM HILLS (No.9 in NYS) has faced some tougher Class AA clubs in recent days, including Somers, Pelham and Yorktown, and suffered losses in three of the last four, including a fall-short effort against Pelham, 55-49, a game in which the Bobcats fought back to tie it a 48 before coming undone down the stretch. Chris Amenedo led Byram with 20 points while Zach Efobi (10 points, 13 boards) did his typical double-double thing. Nobody in Bobcat Nation is remotely close to pushing the panic button despite the rough patch.

The battle that never gets old renewed when PLEASANTVILLE clipped rival BRIARCLIFF, 48-42, behind a monster effort from C Etai Nunberg, who dropped 25 points to go with double-digit boards. Panther Dermot McSpedon added 10 points for the Panthers (4-5), winners of three in a row. P’Ville, after losing to Panas, 64-54, to open the week, reeled off consecutive wins against the Bears, CROTON-HARMON (64-54) and VALHALLA (55-43). With no Daniel Picart in the lineup this winter, Aidan Picart has stepped up his game, providing stellar two-way play.

In the win over the Vikings, Nunberg had another superb outing, scoring 17 points to go with nine rebounds after dropping a career-high 34 points on Croton, which was led by 24 points from hotshot Orlando Gomez on a night when the Tigers honored the memory of dearly departed Steve “Iggy” Aguado, a longtime booster of Croton and Section 1 sports.

Pleasantville didn’t have enough in the tank to knock off PANAS to begin the week as the Panthers (5-6) saw its big man, Logan Tolbert, go for 25 points and 16 rebounds in an impressive display. Panas swingman Tyler Greene went for 25 points while Isaiah Wallace 11 points and three assists. Nunberg had 16 in a losing effort.

PUTNAM VALLEY is slowly making a name for itself. The youthful Tigers (4-6) won their second in a row, waxing visiting Pawling, 57-22, behind James Apostolico (15 points), Jack Moriarty (12) and Fred Magriz (8). The Tigers won’t play again until a Jan. 16 tuneup with North Salem before what should be a telling three-game series against three other Putnam County clubs, including league rival Haldane, Brewster and Carmel.


WESTLAKE suffered a tremendous hit when the Bobcats learned that point guard Anthony Marzziotti has a torn ACL and will be out for the year. His loss was felt in Wednesday’s 40-32 setback at the hands of host Rye Neck. Versatile sophomore Marcus Jackette, who will need to pick up even more slack now, led the Wildcats with 19 points while Nick Castellano added seven, but the Wildcats (9-3) know a 32 combined points isn’t going to cut the mustard at this level, especially when you only score three in the fourth quarter and squander a 30-23 lead.

Coach Chad Charney admitted it will take some time for players to adjust to the loss of Marzziotti.

“It’s a big loss for the team,” the coach said. “We weren’t a very deep team to begin with, so losing your starting point guard is tough.”

Surging Westlake, which has won five of its last six, started the week in fine fashion, taking out CROTON-HARMON, 51-37. Castellano (18 points), Jackette (9 points) and Michael Pagan (8) led the way before Westlake ended things with a 74-33 lambasting of Keio. Eleven Wildcats hit the stat sheet, including Jackette (18 points), Castellano (12), Gjorge Krasnici (11 points) and Nick Stratigakis (4 points).

Gomez led the Tigers with 17 points in Croton’s 42-41 loss to North Salem as the Tigers (4-7) have fallen on hard times with five straight losses.

In HALDANE’s 75-45 beatdown of Sleepy Hollow Matt Nachamkin (17 points), Mike Murray (15), Ross Esposito (9), Erik Stubblefield (6), Fallou Faye (6) and Nate Stickle (6) paced the state-ranked (No.4) Blue Devils (7-1), who will tune up with Pawling on Jan. 16 before visiting Put Valley on the 16th in a big league battle #ShouldBeADoozy.

Julian Amarosa (19 points) and Mikaele Martinez (15) paced the Vikings in VALHALLA’s 67-63 loss to Blind Brook, and the Vikings (5-7) have now lost three of the last four and have a very difficult slate ahead of them, including Westlake (2X), Somers, Pearl River, Rye Neck and Blind Brook (a combined 41-14) #Whoa!

BRIARCLIFF is really struggling this season, falling to 1-8, the lone win coming over a good Haldane club, so maybe the Bears find their way in the second half.





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