Inside the Opening Round: Hen Hud storms, Ardsley escapes, more from Class A

Photo by Kyle Gardner (@RyeBball)

Zeke Blauner slumped his shoulders and shook his head. The Ardsley point guard knew he was probably two feet away from victory on Friday night when his own two feet got him in trouble.

With the Panthers leading Somers by 1 point and under a minute to play, Blauner came up with a steal and had a clear lane to the basket when he was whistled for a travel as he went up for the layup.

“All that was on my mind,” Blauner said, “was getting another steal and get the bucket so the game could be over.”

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Eight seconds later, Blauner did force that turnover and went down the floor for a basket, before later hitting a free throw to seal a thrilling 56-50 win over Somers in the Section 1 Class A opening round.

No. 8 Ardsley advanced to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Rye. The league rivals split their regular season meetings.

Blauner continues to come into his own as a playmaker and did it on his biggest stage on Friday. The junior posted 17 points and six rebounds while Julian McGarvey added 16 points, six assists and five rebounds. Danny Hewitt chipped in with 10 points.

Somers led by 11 points in the first quarter before Blauner and McGarvey ignited a comeback. Ardsley was up four at the half and 10 with three minutes left in the third before Somers scored nine straight.

It was a one possession game throughout the fourth quarter as Lorenzo Bicknese (18 points) and Jack Gilroy (12 points, six rebounds) carried the Tuskers back. It was a 51-50 game and Somers got the ball off an Ardsley turnover when Blauner came up with his steals.

“It was about staying calm and collected, playing team basketball and having faith in each other,” Blauner said. “That was the key to the last two minutes of the game.”

Next: No. 8 Ardsley (14-7) at No. 1 Rye (18-3). Ardsley beat Rye 57-48 on Feb. 6. Rye won the first meeting 60-42 on Jan. 19


There’s a certain burden with being a No. 1 seed. Rye was reminded on Thursday that nothing ever comes easy in the playoffs.

Pearl River got hot from the perimeter and nearly mounted a large third-quarter comeback before the Garnets held strong down the stretch. Quinn Kelly had 14 points, Matt Tepedino 12 and Max Samberg scored 11 in the win.

It was the 100th career victory for Rye head coach John Aguilar.

“They hit eight 3-pointers in the second half and we missed a lot of shots in the paint and at the free throw line,” Aguilar said. “But we played well. We led the entire game. It was more of a credit to them than anything we did wrong.”

Next: No. 8 Ardsley (14-7) at No. 1 Rye (18-3). Ardsley beat Rye 57-48 on Feb. 6. Rye won the first meeting 60-42 on Jan. 19.


Sean Bresnan may have had a game worth forgetting. But the evening was still one to remember.

The Blue Devils senior eclipsed 1,000 points in his career in the Blue Devils’ win over Albertus Magnus. The senior guard overcame a slow start but still managed 19 points after entering the game needing four for the century mark.

“I thought Sean took some I’ll advised shots trying to reach 1000,” Saunders coach Anthony Nicodemo said. “It’s a big milestone and can play in a kids head. I’m so proud of him and what he’s accomplished. He’s one of the greatest kids I’ve ever been around and he’s still just scratching the surface.”

Keyshawn Miller scored 19 points and Tyleek Mack and Jacob Vasquez Mena each had 15 for the Blue Devils.

Third-seeded Saunders seemed out of sync in the first quarter, especially defensively. The game was tied 20-20 after the first. Saunders allowed just 25 points the rest of the way.

I thought we were undisciplined defensively. We were leaving our feet, not closing out hard. Once we settled in we did a nice job of playing our game.

Next: No. 6 Tappan Zee (17-4) at No. 3 Saunders (17-4). The teams did not meet in the regular season.


Panas entered the opening round as the hottest team in Class A. Harrison, based on recent history, went in as possibly the scariest.

But the Panthers again answered the challenge on Friday night. They matched the physicality of No. 15 Harrison, neutralized it with strong early 3-point shooting from Joe Staino and came away with a 14-point win over a Harrison team that was a bracket buster in the postseason last year.

Brandon Hodge scored 24 points and Brandon Ramos added 20 as the dynamic tandem again guided the Panthers, this time to a 14th straight win.

“Hodge was excellent to start the second half,” Panas coach Mike Auerbach said. “He hit a couple big threes that gave us some breathing room after being up 10 at the half. And Ramos was what he’s been all year; big baskets and clutch free throw shooting.”

Joe Staino got the Panas offense started by knocking down four 3-pointers. Harrison, playing without star guard Luke McCarthy, couldn’t keep pace.

“We definitely knew they would play us tough. Even without McCarthy we thought they moved the ball really well against Lincoln, they’re tough and physical inside and Siapanides is a really good player. Plus playing in that league is great prep for the sectionals

Next: No. 7 Poughkeepsie (14-7) at No. 2 Panas (17-4). The teams did not play in the regular season


Hen Hud and Beacon split their two meetings in the regular season. Both games came down to the final minute.

The difference in Round 3, however, was a simple adjustment that proved to pay major dividends for the Sailors.

“Feed the big dog,” Hen Hud coach Jordan Hirsch said.

Hen Hud’s big dog on Friday was Kyle James. After leading by four at the half, the Sailors ran their offense through the 6-foot-4 senior and he dominated the post. James finished with 29 points.

“Kyle’s biggest strength is his mental toughness,” Hirsch said. “He’s works tirelessly and it’s been so rewarding to see him grow as a player. He’s an awesome kid. I don’t know one person in our school that doesn’t love being around him; he was raised right.”

Dylan Fraser added 13 points. including three 3-pointers, as Hen Hud advanced to the quarterfinals back at home.

Next: No. 5 Byram Hills (15-6) at No. 4 Hen Hud (17-4). The teams did not meet in the regular season.


Four minutes. That’s all Byram Hills had its three best players on the court together this season. Ben Leff returned from an preseason injury in early January, played four minutes alongside Skylar Sinon and Willy Samsen before Samsen suffered a broken wrist.

The talented trio was back on the floor together on Friday night and showed glimpses of the title favorite many believed they could be.

Sinon delivered 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Leff had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Samsen chipped in with 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.

“It’s great having Willy back,” Byram Hills coach Ted Repa said. “He’s not only a great player that helps in every facet of the game, but also an emotional leader that lifts the rest of the team up. This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

Nyack, a team that also was finally healthy in the postseason, stayed closed early before Byram broke away before the half.

Next: No. 5 Byram Hills (15-6) at No. 4 Hen Hud (17-4). The teams did not meet in the regular season.


Tappan Zee managed to rebound off a heartbreaking loss last Saturday night at Scarsdale, putting together fourth terrific quarters of defense to advance.

Oziah Deloatch scored 25 points and Sean Peterson added 21 in the win.

Next: No. 6 Tappan Zee (17-4) at No. 3 Saunders (17-4). The teams did not meet in the regular season.


This was probably not the margin many would have expected, especially on the road at Poughkeepsie.

The Pioneers over a 21-13 Jay lead after the first quarter assumed control in the third. The Indians hung in the game before Poughkeepsie pulled away down the stretch.

Next: No. 7 Poughkeepsie (14-7) at No. 2 Panas (17-4). The teams did not play in the regular season

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