Championship Breakdown: Section 1 Class B finals; KDJ’s picks
FRIDAY’S SECTION 1 CLASS B CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES HAVE BEEN POSTPONED BY WEATHER. UPDATED SCHEDULE AND TIMES ARE BELOW
Briarcliff High School is technically a seven minute drive from Pace University’s Goldstein Center. But if you know your way through the woods, you could probably walk there in five.
Either way, it’s going to be an extremely short trip for Briarcliff fans to travel to Pace on Sunday for the Section 1 Class B championships. And, with both the boys and girls teams represented, it will likely be standing-room only inside the gymnasium.
The cozy confines of Pace University host on Sunday the last two of six Section 1 title games this weekend. If you haven’t been following, check out all of our coverage so far:
KDJ Show (Ep 7) Podcast (2/27/18)
Watch all Section 1 Basketball championships this weekend on the Pace Sports Network. Click here for details
Section 1 Class B Girls Championship
No. 1 Irvington (21-1) vs. No. 2 Briarcliff (21-1)
Time: Sunday, 12 p.m.
How they got here Irvington had a bye in the first round, beat No. 9 Hastings 70-38 in the quarterfinals and knocked off No. 4 Valhalla 72-36 in the semis. Briarcliff had a bye in the opening round, knocked off No. 7 Dobbs Ferry in the quarterfinals 70-57 and beat No. 3 Putnam Valley 44-34 in the semis.
Regular season meetings: Irvington beat Briarcliff, 58-54, on Dec. 21
Players to Watch: Irvington — Olivia Valdes, Sr., G; Kelly Degnan, Sr., F; Heather Hall, Sr., G; Abby Conklin, Soph., G; Mary Brereton, Sr., F. Briarcliff — Maddie Plank, 5-10. Jr., G/F; Kacey Hamlin, 5-8, Jr., G; Alana Lombardi, 5-10, Soph., G/F; Jordan Smith, 6-2, Fr., F.
Scouting Report: The two programs that have seperated themselves from the rest of Class B in Section 1 will meet in the final for the second year in a row. Irvington, which has captured the past three section titles, and Briarcliff may actually be the second and third best public school teams in the regular. In which order will be determined on Friday night in an extremely even matchup. Grace Thybulle, a 6-1 freshman, had 15 points in Irvington’s Dec. 21 win at Briarcliff. But Thybulle is out with a foot injury, which is an area that the taller, deeper Bears will try to exploit. The game will ultimately be decided by whether Irvington will be able to turn up the pressure and go on its usual torrid scoring pace — and if Briarcliff can keep up. The Bulldogs have run teams out of the gym in the first four minutes in countless games this. If Briarcliff can weather the story early and dictate the tempo, they may finally unseat the perennial powers.
KDJ’s Pick: Briarcliff 56, Irvington 55. While Thybulle played for Irvington in the first meeting, Maddie Plank didn’t for Briarcliff. And that’s going to be the difference in Round 2. Plank, a recent Princeton commit, must have the offense run through her and the Bears will be hoisting a Gold Ball.
Section 1 Class B Boys Championship
No. 3 Briarcliff (19-4) vs. No. 4 Blind Brook (18-5)
Time: Sunday, 2 p.m.
How they got here: Briarcliff topped No. 14 Pleasantville 52-25 in the first round, No. 6 North Salem 80-34 in the quarters and No. 2 Irvington 55-43 in the semis. Blind Brook defeated Croton-Harmon 52-33 in the first round, No. 5 Dobbs Ferry 48-40 in the quarters and No. 1 Putnam Valley 55-47 in the semis.
Regular season meetings: Did not meet
Players to Watch: Briarcliff — Jack Ryan, 6-1, Sr., G; Spencer McCann, 6-5, Sr., F; A.J. Panarese, 5-10, Soph., G; Miles Jones, 6-1, Jr., PG; Jackson Gonseth, 6-5, Sr., F. Blind Brook — Jake DiGiansante, 5-11, Sr., G; Mike Bucci, 5-10, Sr., G; Alex Feuerstein, 6-0, Sr., G; Hudson Powell, 6-5, Sr., C; Ryan Aiello, 5-11, Soph., G
Scouting Report: It’s not coincidence that these two veteran, disciplined and defensive-minded teams are meeting for the Class B title. Briarcliff has allowed 34 points per contest in the postseason. Blind Brook is allowing just 40 per game. Both locked in during the second half of their semifinal victories on Monday at the County Center and the experienced players — Jack Ryan for Briarcliff and Jake DiGiansante for Blind Brook — made the big shots late to advance. This game will come down to which unit handles the moment best. While these teams are so evenly matched, the difference will be how Briarcliff shoots against the Trojans zone and if Blind Brook big man Hudson Powell can avoid foul trouble. The more he’s on the floor, the better Blind Brook’s chances at an upset. Alex Feuerstein, one of the section’s best 1 on 1 defenders, will likely shadow Jack Ryan. Briarcliff needs Miles Jones and A.J. Panarese to hit shots.
KDJ’s Pick: Briarcliff 54, Blind Brook 50. In their fourth consecutive finals appearance, the Bears take home their second title in three seasons. And it will be a complete team effort against a rigid Blind Brook defense. The Bears are just a little deeper, especially on the front line, and should use that to their advantage.