Inside the Opening Round: Valhalla wins thriller, North Salem makes statement, more from Class B

Kendrick Tchoua and North Salem announced their presence in the postseason on Thursday night. A season that began with lofty expectations and was littered with inconsistent play and off-the-court issues, the Tigers sure looked like a team poised to make a postseason statement.

“They’ve really dealt with a lot of adversity,” North Salem coach Henry Sassone said. “These kids have had to get to know one another. We had some off the court stuff early. And partly the pressure being called the No. 1 team in the preseason may have got to them. But right now we are playing pretty tough.”

Check out highlights of North Salem’s win over Woodlands above

SCOREBOARD: Section 1 Boys and Girls Basketball Results, Schedules (KDJMedia)

BRACKET CENTRAL: Section 1 Boys and Girls Basketball Brackets (PDF and Interactive)

Tchoua was terrific. The 6-foot-6 junior, a serious candidate for Mr. Basketball and First-Team LHBCA, had 36 points and 16 rebounds, owning the interior on both ends of the floor. Austin Waldron, Mike Ryan and Ryan Donovan all chipped in with baskets while Tchoua stole most of the spotlight.

Meanwhile, senior Chris Alterio, the MVP of last year’s Class C championship squad, added seven points and 12 rebounds in the win.

What has impressed me most about the Tigers, specifically Alterio, is the way he’s adapted his game with all of the new talent on this North Salem roster. He’s a 1,000-point scorer and was one of the most prominent returning players this season. But he’s willingly given up being the focal point of the offense for Tchoua and Donovan, who transferred into the school this season after leaving Kennedy Catholic.

“Chris had knee surgery this summer and then twisted his ankle, and he’s just getting back into game shape right now,” Sassone said. “He’s clearly OK with sacrificing. He and Kendrick get along really well. I think now Chris has his legs back under him and you’re going to see the Chris Alterio you’ve always known.”

Next: No. 6 North Salem (13-7) at No. 3 Briarcliff (17-4). The marquee game of the quarterfinal could end up being where the champion of the bracket comes from. They did not meet in the regular season.


The Vikings ended a playoff victory drought and did so in dramatic fashion. Jordan Rush scored a basket at the buzzer as Valhalla forced overtime before hanging on in the final minute to advance to the quarterfinals.

“We had been in a somewhat similar game back in January when we played Briarcliff. We were down 10 with five minutes to go, tied the game, and won in overtime,” first-year Valhalla coach Rich Clinchy said. “I gave them the same message tonight as we began overtime as I did in the Briarcliff game — play without fear and don’t be timid with your shots. Don’t play to not lose; make plays to win.”

Orlando Clarke had 18 points for Valhalla, which was without its best player in Ethan Bartlett because of an ankle injury.

“He severely sprained his ankle in the last 10 minutes of practice,” Clinchy said “He was in a boot and on crutches today, so we had a thirty minute practice before tonight’s game to reorganize and put people in different positions than they are used to playing.”

Overcome the adversity is something Clinchy hopes serves his team well in the next round when the Vikings travel to No. 2 Irvington.

“I was really proud of the team that they never seemed to put their heads down and feel sorry for themselves with Ethan being out,” Clinchy said. “They just got more determined.”

Next: No. 7 Valhalla (13-8) at No. 2 Irvington (18-3), Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. Irvington beat Valhalla 58-42 on Feb. 3.


Another team that ended an even longer playoff victory drought on Thursday was Westlake. The win for the eight-seeded Wildcats was the program’s first since 2000 — a fact coach Chad Charney somewhat regrets telling his team before tip-off.

“We played really poorly and I think it was all nerves,” Charney said. “I probably shouldn’t have told them about 2000. I thought it would motivate them. But we will take whatever we can as long as it’s a win.”

Westlake junior Tyler Tsiakaros scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the win.

“Tsiakaros took over in the second half offensively,” Charney said. “He hit a big 3 when we were up by 2 at the time with 2 minutes to go. He really stepped up.”

The pressure should be off now when Westlake goes on the road in the quarterfinals against top-seeded Putnam Valley.

Next: No. 8 Westlake (13-8) at No. 1 Putnam Valley (16-4), Wednesday. The teams did not meet in the regular season.


The Trojans turned in another stellar defensive effort for their ninth win in 10 games, overwhelming Croton on both ends of the floor.

“Our defense was outstanding,” Blind Brook coach Mike Welsh said. “We knew coming in that Croton was really fundamentally sound and had a couple of good shooters. Our senior guards controlled the tempo of the game and made big shots when it mattered.”

Mike Bucci led Blind Brook with 18 and Jake DiGiansante added 13.

Next: No. 5 Dobbs Ferry (16-5) at No. 4 Blind Brook (16-4), Wednesday. These teams did not meet in the regular season


It’s never easy to beat your rival three times in the span of 10 days. But Briarcliff sure made it look that way.

The Bears blew past the defending Section 1 Class B champions for the third time in four games. It was the ninth straight win for Briarcliff, which hosts North Salem in the quarters

“We are playing with a hunger to conquer that challenge in front of us,” Bears coach Cody Moffett said. “This next one will be quite the task. But we have been preparing all year for it.”

Great job in the video above by the Briarcliff student production and announcer Eli Karp

Next: No. 6 North Salem (13-7) at No. 3 Briarcliff (17-4), Wednesday. The marquee game of the quarterfinal could end up being where the champion of the bracket comes from. They did not meet in the regular season.


Perhaps the most underappreciated 16-win team in Section 1 is Dobbs Ferry. The Eagles opened the year in early December with a pair of losses and have been beaten only by Irvington (twice) and Valhalla since.

They opened the postseason with a resilient effort against Bronxville, overcoming the hot shooting of Broncos star Alston Tarry.

“I feel like the guys did a good job of staying composed with Bronxville made some runs and chipped away at our lead,” Dobbs Ferry coach Scott Patrillo said. “Jack Baglieri and Tev Holness hit some big outside shots when we needed it.”

Baglieri led the Eagles with 16 points and Holness added 12. Fraser contributed 11 points and nine rebounds.

“Much of the season it’s a different combination every night with eight guys scoring,” Patrillo said. “Bronxvilled played hard and Alston Tarry was a stud. He dropped 30 points with threes from NBA range. It was a hard fought game and I’m glad to move on.”

Next: No. 5 Dobbs Ferry (16-5) at No. 4 Blind Brook (16-4), Wednesday. These teams did not meet in the regular season.


There probably hasn’t been enough title talk around Irvington these days. Briarcliff was the popular pre-tournament pick. Putnam Valley is the No. 1 seed. North Salem is the team most feel is the most dangerous.

Irvington certainly impressed on Thursday night, blowing past Rye Neck in the opening round. Sidney Thybulle led the way with 22 points and six rebounds while James Rhodes and Colby Martins each added nine. Chris Friedlanders added six assists and four points.

The Bulldogs had 15 assists as a team.

“We share the ball really well,” said Irvington coach Scott Brennen, who was recently voted the Conference 3 Coach of the Year. “We got Sidney going early in the first quarter with 13 points.

“Our defensive intensity led to easy baskets. We pushed the tempo and got out in transition before Rye Neck could set into its zone defense.”

Next: No. 7 Valhalla (13-8) at No. 2 Irvington (18-3), Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. Irvington beat Valhalla 58-42 on Feb. 3.

Follow the Section 1 Basketball Tournament on KDJMedia.com and on Twitter: @KDJMedia1

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