Gold Ball: Haldane vs. Hamilton for C boys title, KDJ pick
The second and third Gold Balls of the 2018 season will be handed out on Saturday night at Pace University. After Martin Luther King defeated Clark Academy, 76-60, for the Class D boys crown on Friday night, the Class C boys and girls finals are hours away.
Both of the Haldane basketball programs are vying for Section 1 titles on Saturday. The top-seeded girls face No. 2 Keio at 5 p.m. The second-seeded Haldane boys — fresh off an incredible comeback win in OT over Tuckahoe on Tuesday — face No. 1 Hamilton at 7 p.m.
If you can’t make it to Pace on Saturday night, you can watch both Section 1 title games LIVE on PaceUAthletics.com. The direct link to the viewer can be found here.
Here are my predictions for today’s championships:
Section 1 Class C Boys Championship
7 p.m. at Pace University
Head coach: Hamilton — Keith Wright. Haldane — Joe Virgadamo.
Last title: Hamilton — 2007. Haldane — 2016.
Players to Watch: Hamilton — Chris Green, Sr., G; Mike Napoli, Jr., G/F; David Cousin, Sr., G; Kemron Frederick, Sr., F. Haldane — Nick DiPalo, Sr., PG; Alex Kubick, Soph., G; Daniel Rotando, Sr., G; Aidan Seigel, Sr., G; Liam Irwin, Sr., F; Matt Champlin, Soph., F.
Regular season meetings: They did not meet
How they got here: Hamilton in the fourth quarter to beat Solomon Schechter, 54-46. Hamilton scored 23 of the game’s final 27 points. Haldane got a last-second basket in regulation from Liam Irwin to force overtime before defeated Tuckahoe, 63-54, in the final.
Scouting report: Hamilton and Haldane meet in the final for the second time in three seasons with the Red Raiders out to avenge a heartbreaking defeat in 2016. That title was the third in a row for the Blue Devils, who enter this matchup a confident group following Tuesday’s wild win. Hamilton is a little bit deeper and has the ability to push the tempo at a Haldane doesn’t want to play. The key for the Red Raiders will be cashing in on second chances and protecting the basketball. Haldane was fortunate Tuckahoe failed to do both of those things in the fourth quarter and they took advantage. Haldane has to be more efficient down the stretch and control the pace when this game is inevitably tight in the final minutes. The team that handles the pressure best late will survive.
KDJ’s Pick: Hamilton 54, Haldane 52. As long as Haldane doesn’t shoot lights out from 3 — and Hamilton keeps its composure if things get tense late — the Red Raiders are in position to claim that elusive Gold Ball.