Ramapo won six games in the regular season. They barely made the playoffs.
Now the 18th-seeded Gryphons are a win away from playing for a Section 1 championship in one of the most dramatic and unthinkable playoff runs in tournament history.
“We told you guys that in order to learn how to win, you had to learn how to lose,” Ramapo assistant coach John Boykin told the players on Friday night. “We got the losing thing down.”
And Ramapo (9-14) has discovered how to win, too. The Gryphons followed up two losses to Clarkstown North in the regular season with a steady and resilient 68-65 victory over the 10th-seeded Rams.
Highlights: Ramapo 68, Clarkstown North 65 (2/23/18):
Anthony Simon dropped 32 points, Brian Aldeus 14 and Franc Wilson and Elijah Fenton each scored 10 for Ramapo, which will take on No. 3 Mamaroneck at the Westchester County Center on Wednesday in the Class AA semifinals. It Ramapo’s first County Center appearance since 1997.
Ramapo lost by 17 to Mamaroneck on Jan. 20. But, at this point, who cares?
“We started the season really sluggish and didn’t have much going for us,” Aldeus said. “It was about getting one win at a time and we’ve really been able to change the culture here.”
Aldeus hit a pair of free throws with 3.9 seconds left to put Ramapo ahead by three.
Nick Ovchinnikoff had 26 points for Clarkstown North but had a 3-pointer at the buzzer fall short.
Ramapo coach Steve Loscher gathered his team in the locker room and addressed the emotion and expectation of his squad.
“We are the Cinderella story. Everyone of the section is rooting for us,” Loscher said. “We’ve got to ride this momentum. You’re not settling on getting to the final four. The next step is getting to the the final.”