Championship Week: Top 50 Games of the 2010s – Nos. 30-21

The Top 50 rankings of games during Championship Week of the 2010s (semifinals and finals only, whether they’re at the County Center or not) has been an overwhelming success. And it’s been unbelievably fun to retell the stories and reshare all of the video highlights and full games.

Below are the next 10 best games. There’s one word to describe this installment: Atmosphere. Many of the games listed below featured some of the largest and rowdiest crowds of the decade.

And after reading, you’ll appreciate just how great the Top 20 games will be.

Here’s the schedule of release for the Top 50:
Feb. 19: Nos. 50-41 – READ HERE
Feb 23: Nos. 40-31 – READ HERE
Feb. 25: Nos. 30-21
Feb. 27: Nos. 20-11
March 1: Nos. 10-1



Date: March 3, 2018
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights from LoHud here

Game recap: Rye captured its second Gold Ball in three years by knocking off its rivals in heart-stopping fashion. The third-seeded Garnets lost twice in the regular season to Harrison but locked in defensively on star Avery LaBarbera. The game was tied 16-16 at half and Rye went into the fourth ahead by 5. LaBarbera carried Harrison in the fourth as she and Ashley Stagg hit back to back 3s to the game at 36-36 with 3:27 left. Harrison then took a lead with under 2 minutes to go on a LaBarbera pass for a layup. Teaghan Flaherty, then a sophomore, responded with a go-ahead 3 with 1:03 to go and then made it a 43-40 game with a layup. Harrison was down 1 with 2 seconds left when Niamh Carty hit two free throws for Rye. LaBarbera’s halfcourt shot the buzzer missed as Rye celebrated the win.

The Hero: Teaghan Flaherty. The sophomore had missed almost all of her freshman season but came back with a vengeance in 2017-18. She averaged over 20 points per game and dropped 17 in the final to earn MVP honors. Her play down the stretch in this game was jaw-dropping.

Why it’s Top 50: What more can you say here than Rye-Harrison in a championship; it doesn’t matter the sport. This game was a nail-biter from the opening tip. Avery LaBarbera was phenomenal in the fourth despite heavy defensive pressure from Rye. And her shot at the buzzer sent the arena completely silent because, with her, you felt it had a chance to fall.

Lasting image: This game at Pace University followed the McGarvey Miracle. I remember the fans from both teams coming in and standing around the top of the gym, watching the final seconds in total disbelief. Then this game failed to disappoint. These teams will now open the decade back at the County Center with a semifinal matchup next week.


Date: February 26, 2014
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights from MSG Varsity:

Game recap: It was clear early on that this game would ultimately come down to a final play — and it sure did. TZ and Panas matched hustle and wits for four quarters. The game was deadlocked at the half and entering the fourth quarter. The Dutchmen seemed to pull away a minute into the final period, going up by five before Timmy McCauley carried the Panthers back. Luke McLaughlin’s 3-pointer with under 3 minutes to play gave TZ the one-point lead before Ryan McWilliams scored to put TZ up 37-34 with two minutes to go. Again, McCauley answered with an and-one to tie. Tappan Zee had a basket taken away by a jump ball and then a missed a shot at the buzzer to win it

The Hero: Tim McCauley. The senior point guard struggled to get shots in the first half before rising to the occasion in the second. He had 14 of his 16 points at the break and also grabbed seven rebounds. He also hit the winning basket in the final minute.

Why it’s Top 50: Panas was probably the least respected No. 2 seed in the decade. Many predicted they’d get upset before the County Center and nobody gave them a chance against a seasoned Tappan Zee squad. But this Panas group proved to be deep, athletic and poised behind McCauley, the catalyst on both ends of the floor. The composure in the late-game pressure was impressive.  

Lasting image: The empty stands. Tappan Zee had its entire student section removed in the third quarter for chanting offensive language (it wasn’t that bad if you ask me). It probably didn’t change the outcome of the game. But it certainly created a strange environment for a team accustomed to having a rowdy crowd in support.


Date: March 1, 2013
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights from MSG Varsity:

Game recap: New Rochelle was dreadful offensively in the first half of this game and found itself in an 11-point deficit in the second quarter. Derek Dorn (15 points) carried the Huguenots in the first half before Joe Clarke took control in the third. His long 3-pointer late in the third to cut Mahopac’s deficit to three. Playing with star guard Brendan Hynes in foul trouble, Mahopac couldn’t hold Clarke and Co. late, hitting his final four free throws to seal the win.

The Hero: Joe Clarke. Nobody delivered in big games in the 2010s in football or basketball better than Clarke did in 2012-13. Clarke finished this contest with 20 points, seven blocks and seven rebounds and beat a Mahopac team that had won 15 games in a row.

Why it’s Top 50: This was the game before “the game” at the County Center. New Rochelle was a No. 9 seed that went .500 in the regular season, albeit against a grueling schedule. But the Huguenots were being prepared to be considered underachievers before knocking off No. 1 seed Spring Valley convincingly in the quarters.

Lasting image: Khalil Edney was our MSG Varsity Football Player of the Year that fall. He wasn’t a consistent contributor that season despite being the team’s second leading scorer. Edney missed this game because of an injury. Afterwards I found him in the hallway at the County Center. “I’m playing in the championship. I’m definitely playing.” And I remember thinking that, against Mount Vernon, it probably won’t matter.


Date: March 2, 2019
Site: Pace University

Video game replay from LocalLive

Game recap: Tappan Zee captured their first championship in heart-stopping fashion. Kaleigh Beirne snapped the tie with a free throw with 3.6 seconds to play as the Dutchies overcame a five-point deficit in the final two minutes. Somers had the ball with the game tied on the previous possession but turned it over on a shot clock violation with 20 seconds left.

The Hero: Beirne. She not only hit the winning free throw, she finished the night with 15 points and 11 boards to earn tournament MVP honors.

Why it’s Top 50: Tappan Zee trailed almost the entire game, going down by as many as 8 at the half, before the final run to close it out. Somers got a heroic effort of its own from Dani DiCintio, who twice came back from what looked like painful injuries and limped around to score 22 points, including five 3-pointers. TZ won despite shooting 3 of 27 from 3-point range.

Lasting image: Tappan Zee coach Riley Chevrier entered rarified air by winning a Gold Ball as both a player and a coach. And she did it in the same decade after leading Irvington to a 2010 Section 1 crown, as well as a state and Federation championship. And best of all, she won it while 7 months pregnant (as the coach, not the player).


Date: March 6, 2011
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights from MSG Varsity:

Game recap: Two future Division I players in Jabarie Hinds and Nate Gause squared off as these programs again renewed their big game rivalry. Mount Vernon again came away with the Gold Ball in a game that saw several lead changes and ties in the third quarter. Poughkeepsie trailed by a point entering the fourth but went over five minutes without scoring. Gause (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Elijah McLaurin provided some fireworks late with 3-pointers but it wasn’t enough as Mount Vernon walked away with its sixth straight title.

The Hero: Jamell Walker. The senior won MVP honors with 15 points and 10 rebounds in the final. Hinds managed just nine points and seven rebounds.

Why it’s Top 50: There was some serious talent on both sides of this game. Mount Vernon didn’t get the best performance from their star Hinds, who went on to play at West Virginia and UMass. But they overcame it with stellar defense.

Lasting image: The dunk. Jabarie Hinds went on a break in the second quarter and threw down a posterizing dunk on a defender, getting fouled in the process and listening to the County Center explode around him. “I remember he was going down the court,” Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino said, “And he was looking back at the defender. He knew he was going to throw it down on him.”


Date: February 26, 2014
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights from MSG Varsity:

Game recap: These were the two best teams these programs had in this decade and maybe any year dating back to the early 1980s. Jack Daly moved the Eagles to within a victory of their first title since 1955 with a 14-point performance. He hit three free throws in the final minute and Nick Campana (14 points) iced it with a basket to close it out. Andrew Schultz added 12 in the win. Nick Esposito led Harrison with 14 and Matt Stein scored 10.

The Hero: Jack Daly. The four-year starter for the Eagles filled the stat sheet as he did so often in his career; 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while also playing terrific defense. He was clutch, as well, with the go-ahead free throws with 27.9 seconds to go.

Why it’s Top 50: You’ll often see some photos a capacity-packed County Center on Twitter. I promise you those pictures were taken before this game. One of the greatest pregame atmospheres of the decade, the fans on both sides never let up. Harrison took a 19-2 Eastchester squad down to the wire after losing twice in the regular season behind a veteran group. The Huskies got behind by seven after one quarter and trailed 34-25 at the half before a third quarter run. A tense fourth quarter and an insanely loud arena

Lasting image: As an Eastchester High School graduate, we never came close in my time to reaching the County Center. I remember walking across the stage before tipoff and stopping in my tracks to marvel at the capacity crowd. I snapped a photo that has been shared on Twitter countless times since then.


Date: March 2, 2011
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights from MSG Varsity:

Game recap: If you want atmosphere, you certainly got it with this game – before, during and after. The bitter Rockland County rivals engaged in a heart-pounding contest that was downright deafening at times. After splitting in the regular season, Pearl River staked a 26-18 lead at halftime. TZ closed it to a one-possession game in the third before the Pirates found some breathing room again, going into the fourth up 8. Luke Houston (20 points) and Anthony Calise were there to hold off the defending section champs down the stretch and lead the Pirates into the final.

The Hero: Luke Houston. The senior star ran the show as he did throughout his brilliant senior season. He had 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and made all six of his free throws down the stretch despite reinjuring his ankle early.

Why it’s Top 50: Rivalry games at the County Center tend to be the best environments and this game proved why. Fans filled the arena on what might have been the best night of semifinals in the decade (Byram Hills-Kennedy was before it). Calise provided some serious fireworks in the third quarter with his clutch 3-pointer to stave off a TZ run, and Houston was the closer you expected him to be in this type of game.

Lasting image: The Pearl River community rallied so passionately behind the Houston family. Luke lost his mother to cancer two years earlier and he was among the most popular athletes in his community that I’ve ever seen. After winning the game, we interviewed Luke on camera and the fans came over and put him up on their shoulders. An unforgettable moment.


Date: February 28, 2014
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights courtesy of MSG Varsity:

Game recap: Another showdown of Rockland County rivals, Clarkstown South and Spring Valley split their regular season matchups. This game was very rarely more than 1-2 possessions the entire game despite the fact the Tigers were consistently ahead. South tied the game in the fourth quarter before just could never get over the hump, largely in part due to foul trouble. Joe Zayer dropped 24 for South and Kevin Martinez added 17 and eight rebounds. South made a few shots in the final minute to put a scare into the Tigers but time ran out on the comeback bid.

The Hero: Rickey McGill. The two-time all-state pick began to build his resume as a big-game performer in this contest. McGill posted 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists and knocked down clutch late free throws to secure the victory.

Why it’s Top 50: After losing as the No. 1 seed the year before in the quarters to eventual champion New Rochelle, Spring Valley took another step towards a title with this momentous win. McGill played so confident and Kai Mitchell (14 points, 14 rebounds) showed great poise after foul trouble forced him to the bench in the first half. Spring Valley went on to lose to Mount Vernon in the final before breaking through the following season.

Lasting image: There was so much pressure on Spring Valley after the previous season to at least get to a championship game. What I realized this game was that all the hype around Rickey McGill was being proven real. McGill came back the next year and became the school’s all-time leading score, won a section title and earned a Division I scholarship. He continued to blossom at the next level, leading the Gaels to four MAAC titles and NCAA Tournament berths and he’s now playing professionally overseas. To me, this game was when he matured into the man.


Date: February 27, 2018
Site: Westchester County Center

Video highlights of the final play here:

Game recap: We love buzzer-beaters. And if this was a championship, it would be higher on the list. But then-freshman Amanda Latkany provided one of the most memorable moments of the decade when she banked in a shot as time expired to lift Rye to unthinkable win over defending champion Somers. Rye had a good on the possession prior but back a missed shot. Teaghan Flaherty started the wild final minute with a four-point play with just over a minute left to get Rye within two. Latkany tied the game in the final minute with a pair of free throws. Somers led by a point with 7.8 seconds to go when Hannah Angelini sank a free throw to make it 49-48. That led to the final possession where Rye pulled off the dramatics.

The Hero: Amanda Latkany. Flaherty scored a team-high 24 points but it was Latkany off the bench who put the Garnets over the top. She scored 15 points, knocking down 7 of 8 from the line. Rye went on to win the section title.

Why it’s Top 50: You don’t argue with buzzer beaters. This one, according to then head coach Dennis Hurlie, a County Center vet, was among the most exciting finishes he’d ever been a part of or seen in person.

Lasting image: There was as much disbelief on the Rye bench as there was on the Somers side. The Tuskers players were rightfully devastated by the defeat. But when the 3-pointer in the closing seconds, there was a moment of disappointment on the Rye side. Then Latkany came in and saved the day.

UPDATE: It’s scary how similar this game was to the Section 1 Class A quarterfinal last night, which was streamed on LocalLive.tv. Watch the final sequence here:


Date: February 29, 2019
Site: Tappan Zee High School

Watch the game highlights on LoHud

Game recap: An epic showdown was built as a bit of blood war leading in. This game was expected to be played at the Westchester County Center before top seed Tappan Zee opted to host it in their gym, which was their right — although it was widely criticized. The game itself delivered some of the most dramatic moments of the season before a sell-out crowd. Greeley trailed by 10 in the second half before storming back. The Quakers momentarily thought they had won it when Michael Salore hit a 3 but it was ruled after the buzzer. In overtime, Connor Maloney stole the ball for TZ at halfcourt and made a layup to put the Dutchmen ahead with 20 seconds to go. But Christopher Melis beat the buzzer to force a second OT. Tappan Zee pulled away then as Danny Linehan scored 6 of his 25 points in the second OT. Melis scored 25 with 15 rebounds.

The Hero: Danny Linehan and Charlie Garrison. They accounted for 11 points combined in the second OT and clamped down defensively to hold Greeley to just two.

Why it’s Top 50: If this game was played anywhere else but at the home venue, it would have been Top 10, maybe Top 5. Those around Greeley still lament a year later having to go to the hostile TZ gym, which is understandable. What might have happened on a neutral floor will never be known.

Lasting image: There’s no better high school gym in this area than Tappan Zee. So if you got one of the 1,200 tickets available, you were very fortunate to watch one of the truly great basketball games of the decade.

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

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