The History of Long-Shot Section 1 Basketball Champions
No. 18 seed Ramapo takes on defending state champion Mount Vernon for the Section 1 Class AA boys title on Saturday morning at Pace University. The Gryphons aren’t just trying to pull off another stunning postseason upset for 2018 — but easily the greatest of all time.
While there’s a long history of championship upsets, nothing would be remotely close to Ramapo. Below is a look at the highest seeds to win a Gold Ball in Section 1. Many of which you probably witnessed. Some are long before you were born.
Watch all Section 1 Basketball championships this weekend on the Pace Sports Network. Click here for details
Let’s take an in-depth look at these. Please, if you have more stories, stats or even photos to share of any of the teams and players below, email me: KDJMedia1@gmail.com
I’ll back until 1974, which is when the state tournament really first started. Information prior to that is very difficult to come by. Enjoy this trip down memory lane:
THE GREAT UPSET RUNS IN SECTION 1
BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
No. 5 seeds and higher that won Gold Balls (since 1965)
2017: No. 5 Our Lady of Lourdes
MVP: James Anozie
Road to Gold: The Warriors upsets No. 4 Saunders in the quarterfinals 58-57 in a last-second thriller before a stunning upset of top-seed Byram Hills in the semis. Lourdes then defeated Tappan Zee 42-39.
What happened next: Lourdes went on to beat Poughkeepsie in the regional final and advnaced to the state championship game with a thrilling 70-67 win over Southampton in the semis. The Warriors fell to Irondequoit in the title game.
2014: No. 6 Woodlands
MVP: Jamil Gambari
Road to Gold: This was a young team on the rise that arrived a year ahead of schedule. With a junior nucleus of Jamil Gambari, Brandon Johnson and Ross Joseph, the Falcons beat third-seed Palisade Prep in the quarters before a 51-44 win over No. 7 Rye Neck in the semis. In the title game, Woodlands rallied in the second half for a 55-51 win over No. 4 Putnam Valley.
What happened next: The Falcons blew past Spackenkill and Southampton in regionals before falling to Olean in the Class B state semis in Glens Falls. Woodlands reached Glens Falls the following year as a heavy favorite in Section 1 but lost in the title game to Westhill.
2013: No. 9 New Rochelle
MVP: Joe Clarke
Road to Gold: You might remember this one. New Rochelle roller-coastered through the regular season despite featuring the area’s best player in Joe Clarke. But they beat top seed Spring Valley in the quarters and No. 4 Mahopac in the semis, setting up an epic showdown with Mount Vernon. They were a split second away from losing to the Knights when Khalil Edney released the greatest shot in Section 1 tournament history.
What happened next: New Ro won another classic in the regional final, beating Kingston on Joe Clarke’s late basket and defeated Northport in the state semis in Glens Falls. The Huguenots eventually lost in the state final to a stacked Bishop Kearney team from Rochester, 45-39.
2011: No. 5 Byram Hills
MVP: Jeff Lynch
Road to Gold: This was a championship run nobody really saw coming. The Bobcats went 13-5 in the regular season and needed a one-point victory on a last-second shot to defeat Pelham in the quarterfinals. They filled the County Center for their showdown with top-seeded Kennedy Catholic and pulled off an unthinkable 59-57 win. They then put together a stellar defensive effort against second-seeded Pearl River and star Luke Houston, coming away with a 47-39 win.
What happened next: Byram Hills advanced to the state final four and lost to Harborfields (LI).
2010: No. 7 Tappan Zee
MVP: Pat Peterson
Road to Gold: This was the start of the TZ Dynasty. Pat Peterson, just a sophomore then, took the Dutchmen on a ride of a lifetime in the Section 1 playoffs. They were twice down double-digits to Panas in the opening round before winning 75-63. They then stuffed a late layup and held on for a 53-49 win over No. 2 Rye in the quarters. In the semis, they unseated five-time champion Peekskill in what was regarded as the biggest win in school history to that point and a defining moment in the program. And in the all-Rockland County final, TZ defeated Spring Valley 44-39.
What happened next: The hangover from winning the Gold Ball resulted in a first-round exit by Red Hook in the regional semis.
2009: No. 5 Lincoln Hall
MVP: Sir Aaron Taylor
Road to Gold: It’s tough to beat a team three times. How about four? Pleasantville had to try and do that in 2009 against Lincoln Hall. After the fifth-seeded United upset No. 1 Albertus Magnus in the semis, they faced nemesis No. 7 Pleasantville in the final. Lincoln Hall won on a last-second basket by Tysean Saigo, who scored seven of the points in the United 12-3 stretch to close the game for a 41-39 victory.
What happened next: Lincoln Hall lost in the next game to Section 9 champion Burke Catholic
2007: No. 6 Alexander Hamilton
MVP: Jamal Lightbourne
Road to Gold: The last championship Hamilton won before last week saw the Red Raiders get hot in the playoffs after a 10-10 regular season. But they defeated Blind Brook in the quarters and knocked off Tuckahoe 59-54 in the semis. In the title game, Hamilton beat No. 4 Biondi 52-48 as Jamal Lightbourne scored 25 points.
What happened next: Hamilton had a quick exit in the state tournament, losing handily to Section 9 champion Tri-Valley.
2006: No. 5 Mount Vernon
MVP: Jonathan Mitchell
Road to Gold: This was hardly a Cinderella story. The Knights, led by the tandem of Jonathan Mitchell and Michael Coburn, were nationally ranked but lost regular season games against Fairfax (Cal.), Arlington Country Day (Fla.), King (Mil.), De La Salle (Cal.) and a Kemba Walker-led Rice team. Mount Vernon blew past Spring Valley and Suffern in the final four, on their way to a state and Federation title.
What happened next: Mount Vernon Niagara Falls, led by Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris, in the title game, and beat Lance Stephenson and Lincoln in the Federtion title game 62-60.
2003: No. 5 Tuckahoe
MVP: Jamal Webb
Road to Gold: This was back when Class C was loaded with quality teams. Tuckahoe lost four games in the regular season and dropped to a No. 5 seed with top seed and undefeated Hastings. Tuckahoe was blown out by Hastings in the regular season but avenged that defeat behind Section 1’s Mr. Basketball that season, Jamal Webb. They won 59-44 before defeating North Salem 69-49 in the title game.
What happened next: Tuckahoe gave away a huge second-half lead and lost in the regional semifinals at Section 9 champion Fallsburg.
2001: No. 6 Mount Vernon
MVP: Ben Gordon
Road to Gold: Mount Vernon winning a Gold Ball is never a Cinderella story, especially not when it had future NBA player Ben Gordon on it. But this team played a grueling regular season schedule and lost six times before the playoffs. Gordon then powered them to win over Mamaroneck, Poughkeepsie, Spring Valley and a 22-1 White Plains team in the title game by a 63-55 margin.
What happened next: Mount Vernon won one of the most epic state tournament games ever by a Section 1 school, beating Binghamton 61-58 on Will Cherry’s 3-pointer at the buzzer in the regional final. The Knights were then beaten in the state semis by Hempstead, 68-66.
1992: No. 5 Scarsdale
Road to Gold: Scarsdale in the Jack Kaminer era were a crafty bunch. They pulled out a dramatic 47-45 win over No. 4 New Rochelle in the quarterfinals before upsetting No. 1 seed Spring Valley in the semis, 63-49. Then came one of the most talked about games in Section 1 playoff history: vs. Mount Vernon and the “Four Corners Game.” In the pre-shot clock era, the Raiders took possession and held the ball for extended periods, resulting in a memorable 32-17 victory over mighty Mount Vernon.
What happened next: Scarsdale beat Washingtonville in the state regionals before losing to Ithaca in the regional championship, 49-47.
1991: No. 6 Pleasantville
MVP: Otis Hill
Road to Gold: Among the greats to ever come out of Westchester County was Otis Hill. In his junior season, he took the Panthers on a postseason run that included a 65-62 win over Hastings in the semis and an unforgettable 46-43 win over top-seeded Irvington in the title game.
What happened next: Pleasantville was beaten handily by O’Neill in the regional semifinals. Hill, who later played at Syracuse, led the Panthers to a section title the following season, as well, and a berth in the regional final.
1989: No. 5 Rye
MVP: Greg Draddy
Road to Gold: This wasn’t a huge upset given the quality of talent on the Rye roster headlined by Greg Draddy, Bob Latkany, Steve Riebling and Sean McNally. But it was an impressive run, nonetheless. Rye knocked off Poughkeepsie in the section semifinals 82-80 in a game the Garnets trailed by 18 at the half and retook the lead with a minute left. They then upset Albertus Magnus 53-49 in the title game. Neither of those games, however, were played at the Westchester County Center due to renovations. Rye beat Poughkeepsie at Carmel High School (neutral site) and then captured the title at SUNY Purchase.
What happened next: The Garnets went on to Elmira, Marlboro and Lackawanna in the state tournament, setting up a matchup perennial Long Island superpower East Hampton in the Class B state final. Rye was beaten 57-53.
1988: No. 5 Scarsdale
Road to Gold: Scarsdale beat Lincoln and Ramapo to reach the County Center before knocking off rival and No. 8 seed White Plains, 59-54 in the semis. The Raiders then downed Roosevelt 72-57 in the title game.
What happened next: Scarsdale lost in the regional final to Saratoga, 86-80.
1982: No. 6 Newburgh
MVP: Maurice Ware
Road to Gold: This was back before Newburgh joined Section 9, the Goldbacks blew past FDR-Roosevelt in the quarters before playing Mount Vernon ine one of the most memorable games in County Center history. NFA defeated Maurice Ware and the Knights 99-94 in overtime before upsetting No. 1 seed Yonkers 67-66 in the title game.
What happened next: Oddly enough, Newburgh represented Section 1 and was beaten by Spring Valley — the Section 9 champion — 89-73. Spring Valley went on to win the state title.
1982: No. 6 Poughkeepsie
MVP: Carl Ross.
Road to Gold: This was a loaded Poughkeepsie team that played a difficult regular season schedule and bumped down the seeding in an 18-team field. Poughkeepsie, led by Carl Ross, Troy Elting and Ken Herring, defeated Port Chester 55-51 in the sectional semis before knocking off a top-seeded and Rob Tilford-led Woodlands squad in the title game, 47-45.
What happened next: Poughkeepsie beat Long Island power Malverne in the regional final and reached the state semifinal, losing 73-62 to Catskill in the semis.
1978: No. 7 Byram Hills
MVP: Bill Kelly
Road to Gold: The Bobcats emerged from a crowded field of contender in 1978, beating the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds to capture a title. They beat No. 2 Blessed Sacrament in the Section 1 quarters 60-47 and knocked off No. 3 Peekskill handily in the semis. Byram then defeated top-seeded Westlake 68-56 in the final.
What happened next: Byram won a pair of state tournament games, including a regional championship over Section 9 champ Albertus Magnus, before falling in the state semis to Elmira Notre Dame, the eventual champ.
1974: No. 5 Peekskill
Road to Gold: Peekskill, as the article in the 1974 Patent Trader above explains, was no considered a championship threat before the tournament began. But legendary coach John Moro and the Red Devils beat rival Hen Hud in the quarters before defeating No. 9 seed Eastchester 82-40 in the semis. That set up a championship showdown with Beacon and its star Rodney Paulin, which Peekskill won 80-77 in overtime.
What happened next: This was pre-state tournament era for anything outside of the largest schools. But Peekskill did play Oakwood, the Section 1 Class C champion, at the County Center and won 59-58.