Championship Preview: An unlikely pairing in Class A boys, a rivaly renewed in girls; KDJ’s picks
Since 1965, only 12 teams in Section 1 boys basketball history have won a championship seeded 6 or lower. Only Saturday at Pace University, a 13th will join the group.
No. 6 Tappan Zee and No. 8 Ardsley convene for the Class A boys championship at 4:30 p.m. at Pace University’s Goldstein Center. The Class A girls final features bitter rivals Rye and Harrison. They tip at 7 p.m.
Watch all Section 1 Basketball championships this weekend on the Pace Sports Network. Click here for details
Check out my video on Ramapo’s unforgettable run to the Section 1 Class AA title game with this video here:
Section 1 Class A Boys Championship
No. 6 Tappan Zee (19-4) vs. No 8 Ardsley (17-7)
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Place: Pace University’s Goldstein Center
How they got here: Tappan Zee beat No. 11 Pelham 66-40 in the first round and upset No. 3 Saunders 66-61 in the quarters. TZ then beat Panas in the semifinals, 61-54. Ardsley beat No. 25 Nanuet in the outbracket round, 42-23, No. 9 Somers in the opening round, 56-50 and No. 1 Rye in the quarters, 53-42. Ardsley knocked off No. 4 Hen Hud in the semifinals at the County Center, 48-43.
Regular season meetings: Did not meet.
Players to Watch: 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. Ardsley — Julian McGarvey, Sr., G/F; Zeke Blauner, Jr., G; Sean Casey, Jr. F; Frank Belarge, G; Danny Hewitt, F.
Scouting report: The depth and balance of Class A in Section 1 this season is evident by these two teams reaching the title game. But they have a common thread between: young, up-and-coming squads that have locked in defensively and simply outworked all of their playoff opponents to this point. TZ’s emotional road win over Saunders in the quarters carried into the County Center this week as Sean Peterson bombed 3’s early and the Dutchmen reached a third final in a row. Ardsley, meanwhile, hit a midseason lull before Zeke Blauner, an elite on-the-ball defender, really took the reigns of the offense and the Panthers have now won 8 in a row. This game will hinge on whether Ardsley’s zone can force TZ strictly to the perimeter and if the shots are falling or not. The Dutchmen are a streaky 3-point shooting team but have seen Oziah DeLoatch emerged as dynamic playmaker driving to the rim. Ardsley must shut that down and limit the second chances TZ creates from outworking opponents down low.
KDJ’s Pick: Tappan Zee 60, Ardsley 56. The run of championship losses ends for the Dutchmen as they reclaim the Gold Ball for the first time in four years. Don’t be shocked if TZ struggles to shoot early. While Ardsley has been playing solid, disciplined basketball in the postseason, it’s hard to bet against the emotional ride this TZ team is on.
What’s next: The winner advances to the NYSPHSAA Regional Semifinal on Tuesday in the Binghamton region.
Section 1 Class A Girls Championship
No. 3 Rye (18-5) vs. No. 4 Harrison (17-6)
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Pace University’s Goldstein Center
Regular season meetings: Harrison beat Rye 52-48 on Jan. 11 and then again 49-46 on Jan. 29.
How they got here: Harrison knocked off No. 13 Pelham 54-50 and No. 21 Nanuet 57-37. The Huskies then beat No. 1 seed John Jay-CR in the semifinal at the County Center. 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.
Players to Watch: Rye — Teaghan Flaherty, Soph., Amanda Latkany, Fr., G/F; Ellie Dailey, Sr., F; Niamh Carty, Hannah Mullaly. Harrison — Avery LaBarbera, 5-7, Sr., G; Ashley Stagg, Sr., G; Victoria Lendino, Soph., G.
Scouting Report: My pre-tournament pick of Rye to win the championship was looking shaky in the final seconds of its semifinal against Somers. But the young Garnets pulled out the best game of the week at the Westchester County Center, a 51-50 victory over the defending champions on a buzzer-beating shot by Amanda Latkany. Momentum should serve Rye well as they face their bitter rival in the final. All of the pressure, however, is on the Huskies. They have the conference’s top player in Canisius-bound star Avery LaBarbera and own two regular-season wins over the Garnets in league play. An interesting note, however, is that while LaBarbera went off for 28 in the first meeting, she was limited to 16 in Round 2. If LaBarbera goes for 25 or more, which is the norm at this point of her illustrious career, Harrison will claim the Gold Ball. It will be pivotal for Rye to do what it did against Somers — cut down on turnovers and never let LaBarbera get into any sort of rhythm. This could be another game that is decided by late-game poise.
KDJ’s Pick: Rye 51, Harrison 50. I’m not going to change now, but this somewhat goes against my traditional tendency of picking the team with the best overall player to win. But as great as LaBarbera has been, Rye is a team rising quickly and playing with confidence beyond their years. Either way, get ready for a classic championship with a twist of the area’s most heated rivalry.
What’s next: The winner advances to the NYSPHSAA Regional Semifinal on Wednesday, March 7 in the Binghamton region.