Tigers’ Big Upset Bid Falls Just Short at Roy C. Ketcham

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By Andy Jacobs
White Plains point guard Shane Washington sails through the lane for a fourth-quarter basket in Saturday’s 64-63 Class AA playoff loss to fourth-seeded Ketcham.

There’s no telling what might’ve happened differently in the final moments of Saturday’s opening-round playoff game had star guard Menzy Carden not been sitting on the White Plains bench.

Carden, the Tigers’ talented junior, had torched the Roy C. Ketcham defense for 30 points, but he was whistled for his fifth foul with 2:30 remaining and was just a spectator as the dramatic last seconds ticked off the clock.

“Yeah, it was a tough call, what’re you gonna do?” said disappointed White Plains head coach Spencer Mayfield afterward about the offensive foul that sent his best player to the sideline with the Tigers trailing by a point.

Without their go-to scorer on the floor, the 13th-seeded Tigers wound up falling 64-63 to fourth-seeded Ketcham in a dramatic and tension-filled Class AA sectional game. The host Indians, who had routed White Plains by 23 points back in early December, got the game-winning basket with 14 seconds remaining from Gabe Bristow, then barely hung on to advance to a quarterfinal matchup against Arlington.

“I thought it was a great effort,” said Mayfield. “We did a lot of things right, but we just didn’t do quite enough.”

The Tigers arrived up in Wappingers Falls with just six wins in the regular season after dropping five of their last six games. But behind the scoring skills of Carden, they served notice right from the start against the Indians that they were a team to be reckoned with. Carden scored the first nine points for White Plains and finished the first quarter with 14 points, helping the Tigers grab a 20-16 lead after the first eight minutes.

“He’s grown tremendously,” said Mayfield about the sweet-shooting Carden. “He’s done a lot. He’s one of the best players in the section and he’s only gonna get better.”

The Tigers’ Daniel Herzner dribbles across midcourt in the second half of Saturday’s first-round playoff thriller at Roy C. Ketcham.

White Plains closed the first quarter on a 9-2 run and took the lead on a Carden 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining. Elijah Pierre then made a steal and went coast to coast for a layup that just beat the buzzer, leaving Ketcham, 14-6 coming in, facing a four-point deficit.

The second quarter began with a put-back basket by the Tigers’ Malik Dawson. RCK moved within a point before Shane Washington drove the lane to spin a shot off glass into the basket. Then Logan McCormick followed with a right-corner 3-pointer and a 17-foot pullup jumper that gave White Plains its largest lead of the afternoon at 29-21.

A short jumper from the left baseline by Bristow, who led Ketcham with 24 points, ended the first-half scoring and brought the Indians to within 33-28. When play resumed, a couple of buckets by Carden in the first 90 seconds helped restore the Tigers’ eight-point advantage. But RCK responded with an 11-2 burst, tying the score on a 3-point shot from Bristow.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Vinny Iuele 35 seconds apart gave Ketcham a 48-44 lead, but then Carden stepped up to answer with two treys of his own. As the clock was ticking down to end the third quarter, Carden passed ahead to McCormick, who hit a buzzer-beating shot high off the backboard that sent the teams to the final period even at 52-apiece.  

Just 45 seconds into the fourth quarter, Carden provided the highlight of the day for the Tigers, rising in the lane for a two-handed put-back dunk after teammate David Debernardo’s lefty layup try rolled off the rim. But with 6:24 still remaining, Carden picked up his fourth foul, and his fifth was soon to come.

He was called for it with two and a half minutes left, pushing off as he dribbled near the foul line with the Tigers trailing 60-59. Still, White Plains managed to retake the lead 40 seconds later when Washington, using a high screen from Pierre, drove into the lane to score on a scoop shot.

Logan McCormick of White Plains tries to get past Ketcham’s Thomas Gambichler on the last play of Saturday’s dramatic playoff game.

After RCK went ahead on Liam Cassidy’s only basket of the game, with 1:25 remaining, the Tigers grabbed their final lead of the contest with 1:05 on the clock as Daniel Herzner, who scored all five of his points down the stretch, connected on a short pop from the right baseline. A Ketcham turnover then gave White Plains a chance to extend its narrow lead, but both Herzner and Pierre each missed shots close to the basket.

The Indians’ Bristow, scoreless in the fourth quarter, rose to the occasion by driving to the hoop, hesitating for a moment, then shooting over a pair of Tigers for the inside basket with 14 seconds on the clock that gave Ketcham its winning margin.

With one final chance, the Tigers inbounded the ball after a couple of timeouts and it wound up in the hands of McCormick, who dribbled toward the right baseline before sending up an off-balanced shot that fell short of the basket. The buzzer sounded with both teams battling for the rebound.

“We just felt like we let one get away,” said Mayfield after his team had its season come to a frustrating finish. “We played well enough to win. A couple plays here and there, we would’ve pulled it out. But we just couldn’t make those tough plays at the end.”

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