Playoff Preview: Underdogs reign in Class A boys, favorites in girls, KDJ’s picks

BrandonHodgeThey’ve been playing basketball at the Westchester County Center for 80 years because of days like this one.

Class A will host its boys semifinals at the area on Tuesday night with a pair of enticing matchups featuring four programs starving for a title.

Hen Hud and Ardsley are both making their first playoff visit to the County Center this century while Tappan Zee and Panas are searching for another championship in this decade.

Photo by Hudson Valley Sports Photos (find more galleries here)

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

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

ALL Section 1 Championship games will be streamed lived by the Pace Sports Network. CLICK here for viewing details and links

Before you check out the previews and picks below, watch my video of what the County Center means to the 12 boys teams traveling there this week:

Here is my look at the Class A semifinals on Tuesday:

Section 1 Class A Boys Semifinals
Tuesday, February 27
at Westchester County Center

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No. 2 Panas (18-4) vs. No. 6 Tappan Zee (18-4)
Time: 6:30 p.m.
How they got here: Panas defeated No. 15 Harrison 66-52 in the first round and beat No. 7 Poughkeepsie 73-66 in the quarters. Tappan Zee beat No. 11 Pelham 66-40 in the first round and upset No. 3 Saunders 66-61 in the quarters.
Regular season meetings: Panas beat Tappan Zee 45-41 on Jan. 31 at TZ.
Players to Watch: Panas — Brandon Hodge, 5-10, Sr., G; Brandon Ramos, 6-2, Sr., G/F; Peter Anderson, 6-3, Sr., F; Joe Staino, 6-1, Sr., G. Tappan Zee — Aidan Cunney, 6-5, Jr., F; Oziah DeLoatch, 5-11, Jr., G; Sean Peterson, 5-10, Sr., G; Danny Linehan, 6-0, Soph., G.
Scouting report: No team is hotter than Panas and no team is riding the level of emotion of Tappan Zee, making this the Game of the Week at the County Center. The
KDJ’s Pick: Tappan Zee 56, Panas 54. Despite what happened in the regular season and the tear that the Panthers are on right now, it’s so tough to bet against the Dutchmen after what they showed in the quarterfinal. This team has finally hit its stride. Unless TZ is dismal from behind the arc (which they were in the first meeting), they’ll match the physicality of Panas enough to get a win and a third straight appearance in the final.

Highlights: Panas 66, Poughkeepsie 52 (by HVNN.com)

Highlights: Tappan Zee 66, Saunders 61 (KDJ Media)

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No. 4 Hen Hud (18-4) vs. No. 8 Ardsley (16-7)
Time: 3 p.m.
How they got here: Hen Hud knocked off No. 13 Beacon 64-44 in the first round and No. 5 Byram Hills 59-53 in the quarters. Ardsley
Regular season meetings: Did not meet
Players to Watch: Hen Hud —Kyle James, 6-3, Jr., F; Austin Fraser; Mekhi Gray, 6-3, Jr., G; Dylan Fraser, 6-1, Sr., PG; Michael Fasolino, 6-0, Jr., F. Ardsley — Julian McGarvey, Sr., G/F; Zeke Blauner, Jr., G; Sean Casey, Jr. F.
Scouting report: Hen Hud roars into the County Center for the first time since 1991 and has a real shot at capping the week with a Gold Ball. First, they have to get by an Ardsley team that’s locked in defensively of late and allowed 23, 50 and 42 points in three postseason contests. This, though, is a different matchup for the Panthers. Kyle James may be the most valuable player in the postseason in Class A, following up a dominant effort against Beacon with a stellar one against Byram. Ardsley has struggled against teams with top post players and James is as good as they come right now. Hen Hud needs to stick with what’s worked and that’s running the offense through James and opening up the lanes for Gray and the Frasers.
KDJ’s Pick: Hen Hud 53, Ardsley 50. This is going to be a grind-it-out game for the Sailors. A big factor here will be how the Hen Hud guards handled the pressure of Zeke Blauner, who has created havoc all season. As long as the Sailors protect the basketball and change the pace, they’ll find their way to Pace for the final.

NEXT: The winners advance to the Section 1 Class A title game on Saturday at Pace University at 7:30 p.m.

Section 1 Class A Girls Semifinals
Tuesday, February 27
at Westchester County Center

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No. 1 John Jay-Cross River (19-3) vs. No. 4 Harrison (16-6)
Time: 8:15 p.m.
How they got here: John Jay beat No. 16 Byram Hills 67-44 and No. 8 Brewster 60-36. Harrison knocked off No. 13 Pelham 54-50 and No. 21 Nanuet 57-37.
Regular season meetings: Did not meet.
Scouting report: The Indians reached the County Center for the first time since 2000 and have been eyeing a title since beating defending champion Somers late in the season. They face a prolific scorer in Harrison senior Avery LaBarbera, a Canisius commit, and a very underrated supporting cast. Ashley Stagg has had a breakout season for the Huskies. Jay is a terrific defensive team that brings an incredible amount of pressure and intensity. Adjusting to the big floor of the County Center might be difficult.
KDJ’s Pick: John Jay-CR 48, Harrison 45. This one is just a gut. The Indians will do everything possible to contain LaBarbera but it won’t be enough to win. Look for the role players on this John Jay team to take them to the Section 1 final.

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No. 2 Somers (16-6) vs. No. 3 Rye (17-5)
Time: 3 p.m.
How they got here: Somers beat No. 15 Lakeland 51-25 and No. 10 Panas 60-45. Rye beat league rival No. 14 Eastchester 50-39 in the opening round and blew by No. 6 Hen Hud 47-29 in the quarterfinals.
Regular season meetings: Did not meet.
Scouting report: The defending champions face a Rye team that has won 9 of 10 games and continues to gain confidence in the postseason. Sophomore star Teaghan Flaherty has really come into her own this season. Somers has championship pedigree with Hannah Angelini, Livy Lipski and Dani DiCintio returning. But the Tuskers have been inconsistent late in the year, even in victories. Can they flip the switch on the big stage?
KDJ’s Pick: Rye 48, Somers 47. Rye was my pre-tournament pick in what I thought would be a bracket rife with upsets. But the top four seeds are here and advanced in convincing fashion. This has a chance to be a nail-biter down to the wire.

NEXT: The winners advance to the Section 1 Class A title game on Saturday at Pace University at 5:30 p.m.

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

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