Greeley an unlikely party crasher in Class AA boys
Mamaroneck hasn’t played a postseason game at the Westchester County Center in 46 years, a drought finally ended on Friday night. Ramapo is headed there despite being a No. 18 seed.
But in some ways, Horace Greeley is Section 1’s surprise team of 2018 in Class AA. With a first-year coach taking over just before the season, and a County Center drought of their own, the Quakers are on a level few could have expected before the year began.
Fourth-seeded Horace Greeley earned a spot in Wednesday’s semifinals with a commanding 55-41 win over No. 12 Suffern. The Quakers, who went 10-10 last season, face defending state champion Mount Vernon in the semis at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday in their first playoff game at the County Center since 2004.
“I’d dreamed about playing at County Center ever since I️ was a kid,” Quakers coach Felix Nicodemo said. “I️ would go down with my father and watch all the games. I️ never had the opportunity to make it as a player. Now, to make it as a first-year coach at Greeley, makes it so special.”
Brandon Gecaj scored a team-high 16 points on Friday while sophomore star Chris Melis added 15 points and 10 boards.
Greg Karr added 10 points and Jeremy Block scored 9 in the victory, the 17th of the season.
“This team consists of such a hardworking and intelligent group of players,” Nicodemo said. “They’re well balanced and unselfish. This team prides themselves on never getting outworked and having a defensive intensity.”
Greeley locked up Suffern in the second quarter on Friday, holding the Mounties — who upset No. 5 New Rochelle in the first round — to just 3 points in the frame. The Quakers never let Suffern get the deficit to single digits the rest of the way.
“We prepared all week for Suffern and were able to carry out the game plan,” Nicodemo said. “Our defensive pressure limited them to 13 points at the half. And we were able to control the boards against a very big and athletic Suffern team.”
Mount Vernon, however, is far bigger and far more athletic than Suffern. The Knights (20-2) are aiming for back to back Section 1 title. They’ve won 14 of the past 17 Gold Balls. Greeley won its only section championship in 1980 (B).