Championship Week: Top 50 Games of the 2010s – Nos. 40-31

The next installment of the Top 50 Championship Week Games of the 2010s is here. Thank you to all who checked out the first 10. If you missed it, find it here:

Top 50 Games of the 2010s

The next 10 are below. We get a heavy dose of Mount Vernon and Tappan Zee wins, as well two games from the 2016 Class A girls tournament.

Here’s the schedule of releases:
Feb. 19: Nos. 50-41
Feb 23: Nos. 40-31
Feb. 26: Nos. 30-21
Feb. 29: Nos. 20-11
March 3: Nos. 10-1



Date: March 3, 2010
Site: Westchester County Center

Game Recap: Mount Vernon came the breakout performance of an Ossining freshman by the name of Saniya Chong, who was somewhat unknown in mainstream Section 1 until she poured in 38 points. Chong knocked down a series of shots in the fourth quarter to pull Ossining within striking distance before Mount Vernon pulled away late. Tatiana Lewin had 23 while Carece Moore and Taylor Palmer each scored 11. Ossining had no answer on the glass for Shanyce Stewart, the 6-1 forward who grabbed 21 rebounds.

The Hero: Tatiana Lewin. The senior standout scored 23 points on 9 of 12 shooting with 11 rebounds.

Why it’s Top 50: This game is loaded with significance. First, it was the second straight title for Mount Vernon under coach Patrice Wallace-Moore, who returned he program the program to prominence. The tide, however, would change the following year. The Ossining dynasty was about to begin and it started in this game.

Lasting image: While Mount Vernon joyously hoisted the Gold Ball, everybody in attendance walked away talking about Chong. She made her 38 points look effortless and she also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out four assists.


Date: February 27, 2014
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights by MSG Varsity:

Game Recap: Mahopac had a lead through the first three quarters — by as many as nine — before future Mr. Basketball winner Noah Morgan, then a freshman, drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie it entering the fourth. Mount Vernon took a five-point lead in the final two minutes before R.J. Martinez and Dan Foley scored to inch closer. Martinez had a shot at the basket in the final seconds but missed. Ryan Simone, a rugged multi-year starter for the Indians, had nine points and 15 boards.

The Hero: Brandon Martin. In a game that was only suited for the toughest, Martin muscled his way to a nine-point, eight-rebounds effort that felt like so much more. He defended well in the paint and managed to avoid foul trouble.

Why it’s Top 50: Where do we begin? The game itself was phenomenal, albeit a bit ugly at times. These were two of the most physical teams that season and they engaged in a bruising four quarters in a game that escalated way out of control in the stands after. A brawl in the stands, tension around the arena that spilled into the parking lots, and then weeks of controversy on social media. But the game itself should not be overshadowed. Mahopac had Mount Vernon on the ropes, got a great look to tie in the final seconds and came up just short for a Knights squad went on to reclaim the Section 1 title.

Lasting image: Unfortunately, the night doesn’t elicit the best memories, but the game should. Mahopac nearly pulled off one of the great upsets.


Date: March 5, 2012
Site: Westchester County Center
Video highlights by MSG Varsity:

Game Recap: The Dutchmen captured their second title in three years against a Poughkeepsie squad that was a year away from a title of their own. The undefeated Dutchmen went up 10 at the half before Poughkeepsie stormed out in the third to tie it. But TZ did what veteran teams do, locking in defensively and staving off the Pioneers in the fourth. Brian McLaughlin scored 13 points, Billy O’Shea had 12 and Pat Peterson scored 11.

The Hero: Eric Casey. O’Shea was rightfully the MVP of the tournament but you cannot understate the importance of the 6-7 Casey, who stepped into the lineup with Brendan Donahue out with an injury and gave TZ the big man presence. Casey was strong on the glass and on defensive for a Dutchmen squad that reached the state final.

Why it’s Top 50: This group won a section title as underclassmen two years earlier but came up short the next season. With the emergence of O’Shea, the Dutchmen zeroed in on a larger prize and stormed through Section 1 play undefeated. And as great as this game was, nothing can compare to their effort in the Class A state semifinal when they stunned Jamesville-DeWitt in arguably the best game overall of the decade.

Lasting image: The mohawks. TZ made a team-wide promise that if they made the County Center undefeated, coach George Gaine would get a mohawk. That display solidified what many were realizing to be true: Gaine wasn’t just a coach riding a wave of talent. He proved he was investing everything he had in himself to build the Tappan Zee program for many years to come.


Date: February 25, 2016
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights by News 12 Varsity:

Game Recap: The first of two memorable games for this Ursuline squad at the County Center in 2016, this was the high point. Albertus led 31-23 at the half and held a nine-point advantage midway through the third. Katie McLoughlin single-handedly carried Ursuline back, scoring 20 of the teams points in a row at one stretch through the second half. She had the go-ahead basket with 2:31 to play. Albertus had the ball in the final seconds but missed on a 3 at the buzzer.

The Hero: Katie McLoughlin. The junior put on one of the great individual efforts of the decade in girls basketball. She had 31 points and 22 rebounds in the victory.

Why it’s Top 50: The game had everything; a giant comeback, a masterful individual performance and late-second drama. McLoughlin was spectacular against an Albertus Magnus team loaded with sophomores that would carry them to prominence in several sports during their time with the Falcons.

Lasting image: The stone cold look on McLoughlin’s face the entire game. She was in a zone the entire way and overcame whatever defensive look the Falcons threw at her.


Date: March 2, 2019
Site: Pace University

Watch the game replay from LocalLive by clicking here

Game Recap: Mount Vernon captured its eighth Gold Ball of the decade in one of their gutsiest efforts. The game featured 17 lead changes as South’s guard-play was phenomenal throughout. The Vikings had a four-point lead in the fourth quarter before Troy Hupstead overcame his foul trouble and carried the Knights. South trailed by eight in the fourth quarter but rallied to within two and possession. Twice South had shots that could have either tied or given them the lead in the final minute.

The Hero: Charles Lovett. The tournament MVP had 23 points, including four 3-pointers in the win. He and Hupstead (16 points) were terrific, as was Orlando Dawkins in the time Hupstead missed for foul trouble.

Why it’s Top 50: Alas, we have our first non-County Center game of the Top 50. This championship was one of eight in the decade for Mount Vernon, who entered the game as significant favorites. South had just upset Suffern in the semis and featured a deep group of rugged, physical guards.

Lasting image: You felt for this veteran South squad at the final buzzer. The Vikings had their chances late, and you had to admire what Ryan Giordano, Tony Hastings, Frank Tucek and Co. did that season after a nightmare loss as a No. 2 seed in the first round the previous year. They were inches away from writing a fairy tale ending.


Date: March 4, 2017
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights by MSG Varsity:

Game Recap: After losing twice to arch-rival Briarcliff in the regular season, Pleasantville ended a championship drought with a commanding effort from its talented senior duo of Mike Manley and Quentin Lupo. Manley, a four-year starter, scored 18 points while Lupo scored 15. Both connected on three 3-pointers while Lupo grabbed 10 rebounds and Manley dished out five assists. Jeremy Stone scored 10 for Pleasantville, which used a huge third quarter before holding on in the fourth.

The Hero: Mike Manley. The veteran developed from a solid outside shooter early in his career to an all-around talent with that winning edge. Manley struggled with his shot early in this game but never lost confidence. The performance was a springboard for Manley (21.2 ppg), who earned All-LHBCA first-team honors.

Why it’s Top 50: While it was not the most dramatic game, it was an important night for the Pleasantville program, which had suffered some crushing defeats at the County Center in recent years. This group had been building towards this moment for three years and, despite a pair of setbacks to Briarcliff, they would not be denied of their destiny.

Lasting image: This game had an incredible amount of emotion. But it’s also impossible not to watch the video and be saddened by the images of Quentino Lupo. The senior was tragically killed six weeks later by self-inflicted gun wounds. Lupo was named all-tournament and averaged 13.3 points and 9.6 rebounds for the season.


Date: February 28, 2016
Site: Westchester County Center
Video highlights by News 12 Varsity:

Game Recap: Rye shocked the top-seeded Koalas, keyed by a 25-4 third quarter, and captured their second Section 1 title in history. Katie Popp (27 points) and senior Maddie Eck (14 points and 11 rebounds). led the way as they had all season. The star-studded game also featured Ursuline’s Katie McLoughlin, who now plays at Fordham, and Korina Guerra, who plays at Dominican. McLoughlin had 19 points and nine rebounds and Guerra scored 13.

The Hero: Katie Popp. The junior was sensational, scoring 27 points, including the 1000th of her career. Popp also had seven rebounds and five assists.

Why it’s Top 50: No drama. Just a colossal upset. This was expected to be Ursuline’s championship because of the talented senior class the Koalas boasted but also the circumstances that led them to Class A for one year. Ursuline had been a Class AA school for nearly a decade in girls basketball, being placed there by the section because of the success of the program. But they dropped below the cutoff for A in all sports and Section 1 neglected to file the paperwork to keep them in AA for basketball. Rye, however, pulled off the stunning upset for the first of two Section 1 titles in three seasons under head coach Dennis Hurlie.

Lasting image: One of my favorite moments from this game was in the fourth quarter when Popp went to the free throw line. The game was tight at the time and Popp sank a free throw, giving her 1,000 career points. Her teammates on the bench, knowing she was 1 point away, began to storm the court to celebrate. A stunned Hurlie had to run out and prevent them from advancing too far and getting a technical foul. The game was eventually stopped, and Popp was given a commemorative ball.


Date: March 2, 2014
Site: Westchester County Center
Video highlights by MSG Varsity:

Game Recap: This game had a ton of buildup given the young talent Spring Valley boasted and the pressure on Mount Vernon to reclaim the title. This was one of the best defensive efforts by Mount Vernon as they held Spring Valley’s starting guards to just one field goal. It was still a two-point game with three minutes to go — and Spring Valley had two shots miss that could have tied it — before Akeem Krubally carried the Knights down the stretch.

The Hero: Akeem Krubally. Not exactly a household name during the Mount Vernon dynasty but he has an MVP to his credit. Krubally elevated his game at the County Center, recording 19 points, five assists and four steals in the final.

Why it’s Top 50: Considering what happened the previous year at the County Center at the hands of Khalil Edney and New Rochelle, this one was sweet for Mount Vernon. The Knights reclaimed the Gold Ball by knocking off a Spring Valley squad that went on to win a Class A Gold Ball 12 months later.

Lasting image: Devonte Banner was the Mount Vernon player who in 2013 intercepted the inbounds at halfcourt and prematurely threw it up into the air. The rest was history. But not for Banner. He returned this season and went out a champion. You had to feel good for the senior, who went on to play at Norfolk State and graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Electrical Engineering.


Date: March 1, 2014
Site: Westchester County Center
Video highlights by MSG Varsity:

Game Recap: The seventh-seeded Falcons were a team that built all season to make a Cinderella push for the Gold Ball. Woodlands trailed by 11 at halftime as Alyssa Chipelo scored 11 of her 17 before the break. Tilford and seventh-grade phenom Teisha Hyman scored all 12 of her points after the break. Dobbs Ferry had several good looks at the basket in the final seconds, including one at the buzzer that rolled off to set off a raucous Woodlands celebration.

The Hero: Imani Tilford. The senior star helped the program finally capture the Gold Ball, scoring 26 points, including the game-winning basket with 16 seconds left. Tilford willed her team back in the second half and wouldn’t be denied on her final possession.

Why it’s Top 50: Your heart was in your throat. The final seconds of this game was agonizing to watch before it looked like Dobbs Ferry had scored the winning basket three times before the ball rattled out.

Lasting image: “She’s in seventh grade?” It was a question that buzzed around the County Center for hours after that game regarding Teisha Hyman. She ended up graduating a 2,000-point scorer and one of the most accomplished players in history. Hyman now plays at Syracuse.


Date: March 2, 2010
Site: Westchester County Center

Game recap: The seventh-seeded Dutchmen finished off one of the most remarkable postseason runs with a victory in the all-Rockland championship. After upsetting five-time champion Peekskill in the semis, TZ grinded Spring Valley’s uptempo style to a halt. Pat Peterson broke a 37-37 tie with 1:24 to play, then came up with a key rebound and game clinching free throws with 1.8 seconds to go.

The Hero: Pat Peterson. The plays down the stretch secured him the MVP on a team that was as balanced and cohesive as you’ll ever see. Peterson finished with 21 points and four steals.

Why it’s Top 50: It was history. The first ever all-Rockland County championship delivered Tappan Zee its first Section 1 championship. TZ had only one senior on the roster, James Lampone, and started two juniors in Ryan O’Rourke and Tahj Vines, two sophomores in Peterson and Brendan Donohue, and a freshman in Joe Letizia.

Lasting image: I remember interviewing George Gaine and thinking “This was a Cinderella story… and it will probably never happen again.” And little did I know what the Tappan Zee program would become.

In researching I found the original article I wrote about the game from MSG Varsity. This quote from coach George Gaine really stuck out:

“In my first season, I went to a coaches meeting. I didn’t know anybody, nobody talked to me and I just sat in the corner by myself. I started looking through the Section 1 book where it had the list of all the champions back to 1932. I looked at all the teams and I told myself ‘We’re going to get in here one day. We’re going to get in here.’ We did it.”

Check back soon for the next installment of Kevin Devaney Jr.’s Top 50 Championship Week Games of the Decade.

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