Walter Panas, Putnam Valley Cop Regional Crowns

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Section 1 Champions Will Represent in NYSPHSAA Final 4’s

By Tony Pinciaro

There is literally five miles separating Walter Panas High School from Putnam Valley, but the two districts will travel about 115 miles north to Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY, this weekend for the second-straight year to compete in the state Final 4.

Put Valley players and coaches bask in the glory of the Tigers’ Region 1 championship win over Long Island champion Carle Place Saturday at Yorktown High.

PUTNAM VALLEY went into the half trailing by eight points against Section 8 champ Carle Place in its New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B regional final.

The Tigers were fresh off an uncharacteristically cold shooting performance. Despite this situation, there was no panic because the Tigers had experienced this same scenario, recently, against Croton in a Section 1 Class B semifinal.

“We had been in this position before,” said Jona Kobashi of the Croton game where her team was facing a 13-5 deficit at halftime. “We made a comeback in that game and we knew we could do it in this game. We kept our composure and that helped us to win.”

Kobashi was a pivotal factor in the second half, scoring a game-high 19 points as Putnam Valley charged by Long Island champion Carle Place, 44-36 at Yorktown High School Saturday.

The Tigers (18-7), who have won 16 of their last 17 games, advance to their third consecutive state final four. They will play Notre Dame of Utica (Section 3) in a semifinal, 10:45 a.m., Friday, at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. The other semifinal is Albany Academy (Section 2) vs. Southwestern (Section 6). The semifinal winners will play for the state title, Saturday, 5:15 p.m.

Putnam Valley senior G Nai Torres takes on three Highland defenders in Tigers’ NYS Class B sub-regional win Wednesday at Yorktown High.

Kobashi and her teammates realized what the issue was offensively in the first half, Carle Place’s aggressive zone and Putnam Valley rushing shots. Putnam Valley Coach Harrison Deegan addressed both at halftime.

“Carle Place started in a high 1-2-2 zone,” Kobashi explained. “They were speeding us up so we were rushing our offense and not getting good looks. We felt pressure and that’s why our shots were not falling for us in the first half.

“Coach told us to keep our heads up because we were still in the game. He told us we needed to run our plays, not rush and get better looks on offense.”

Putnam Valley came out confident in the second half. Ava Harman began penetrating to the middle of the Carle Place’s zone and passing to open teammates, resulting in the Tigers heating up from the perimeter. This forced Carle Place to play man-to-man and Kobashi took over.

“Ava gave us a boost,” Kobashi said. “When they went to man, I had to take advantage of that. I began getting more physical, posting up and looking for the ball. I was also getting more offensive rebounds.”

Walter Panas junior G Sophia Tavarez eyes up the 1,000 point of her magical career in Panthers’ 63-30 NYS Class A rout of Section 9 champion Red Hook Wednesday.

While Kobashi and the offense came alive, Putnam Valley’s defense held Carle Place to 15 points in the second half.

“We came out in the second half with the same intensity, causing turnovers in the third quarter,” Kobashi said. “We got them frazzled with our defense and it turned to offense.”
Deegan has seen his team struggle offensively in two of its last four games, only to respond emphatically in the second half.

“I am so impressed with the way our team has responded to adversity in this past game and the entire playoff run,” Deegan said. “We have stayed composed when opposing teams have gone on runs and continued to compete the entire game. This team has grown so much from the start of the year and it alludes to our amazing leadership of our veteran players as well as our younger girls willing to listen.”

In Putnam Valley’s previous two trips to the state final four, Waterloo bested the Tigers in a semi (2022) and the final (2023).

Kobashi and her teammates are planning to complete the next step forward.

“It’s very exciting for all of us as we feel we have unfinished business,” Kobashi said. “We’re kind of playing with a chip on our shoulder in that we have that extra determination and motivation to play for our seniors and give it our all.”

Panthers Jillian Cinquina and Cadence Nicholas apply that vaunted Panas pressure on Red Hook in Panthers’ NYS Class A sub-regional rout Wednesday at Yorktown High.

PANAS leading scorer Cadence Nicholas found herself in an unfamiliar situation.

The junior was held scoreless in the first quarter by Section 4 champion Johnson City in a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class A regional final.

As a result, Johnson City held a four-point lead after one.

“They were playing really good defense and after that first quarter I knew I needed to start scoring in order to help my team win,” Nicholas said.

Nicholas erupted over the next three quarters, scoring a career-high 41 points, leading defending NYS Class A champion Panas to an 81-57 victory at Visions Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton.

The 2023 Section 1 and New York State Class A champions will play Kings Park (Section 11) in a semifinal, 2:15 p.m., Friday, at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. The other semifinal is Catholic Central (Section 2)-Aquinas Institute (Section 5). The semifinal winners will play for the state title, Sunday, 7 p.m.

Panas overwhelmed Red Hook (Section 9), 63-30, in a state regional semifinal.

Following the first quarter, Panas pressed the issue with Johnson City.

“We changed our press to make it more aggressive and that led us to steals and more fast points,” Nicholas said. “We also changed into man-to-man defense.”

Panas F Arleta Rraci eyes up rim in Panthers’ 63-30 NYS Class A sub-regional win over Section 9 champ Red Hook Wednesday at Yorktown High.

Panas (23-3) outscored Johnson City, 50-26, in the second and third quarters, to establish a 20-point lead.

“At halftime, we knew we needed to pull through since one of our starters was hurt,” Nicholas said. “We had to step up, go on a run, play great defense and get the momentum.”

Junior Kiara Williams deserved the game ball for her defensive work on Johnson City 6-foot-3 center Marisa Smith, who has signed to attend Binghamton University and also play basketball. Williams held Smith to a season-low nine points.

“Without Kiara’s defense we definitely would not have won the game,” Nicholas said. “Kiara was staying with her, full court, the whole time. She played great defense and it led to many of our steals.”

Nicholas is psyched for a return trip to Troy and the ultimate goal.

“I am so excited and can’t wait to travel with the team again,” Nicholas said. “I’m extremely excited and hopefully we can go back-to-back.”


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