I’ve written three or four-hundred stories each of the last eight years, but I can promise you Moses never found his way into any of those. Until now.
As they got set to tip last night, a student dressed as Moses ran into the Tappan Zee High School gym and over to the student section, a sea of Dutchmen supporters dressed in red. Moses “parted” the crowd and raced through them to the top of the bleachers. When he turned back toward the court and the crowd cheered, the game finally began. (There’s a picture of Moses with TZ coach George Gaine. I also posted a video of Moses “parting the Red Sea” on Twitter.)
It started well for Albertus Magnus, but the second half was a different story. Led by Billy O’Shea’s (pictured bottom right) defensive work on Tyler Sayre, Tappan Zee took over in the type of dominant second half we’ve come to expect. O’Shea — along with solid help defense in the paint — limited Sayre to just two second half points and the Dutchmen went on to win 54-41, as you can read in today’s story.
They had actually trailed 30-22 at the break but ramped up their defensive intensity in the second half. Their shots didn’t start falling until late in the third quarter when Brian McLaughlin hit a pullup from 15 feet to tie the score 37-37 with about 35 seconds remaining. O’Shea then scored a basket in the first minute of the fourth and TZ never trailed again.
The Dutchmen didn’t only limit Sayre in the second half. They actually held the Falcons to just four points — and one field goal — in the fourth quarter. Pat McGuinness, who played very well, had seven of his 17 points in the third, but was held scoreless in the fourth. Albertus’ third and fourth options Jack Sullivan and Arnell Dandridge were both held scoreless in the second half altogether.
Pat Peterson’s shot was off, but he once again proved he’s a better all-around player than many give him credit for. The senior had 20 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. O’Shea added 16 points and seven rebounds, and received plenty of help in the paint from Brendan Donohue, who both O’Shea and Peterson credited for playing strong help defense on Sayre’s forays to the hoop.
The way I see it, last night’s win leaves Tappan Zee, at 14-0, with just one more obstacle to an unbeaten season. That’ll come next Saturday at New Rochelle against Byram Hills in a matchup of the last two Class A champions. Byram is obviously well-coached and can really execute, much like Albertus. The Bobcats will have to run for some easy baskets because they won’t outwork TZ. No one does.
TZ also doesn’t get credit for its physicality. Joe Letizia sets the example up front, but it’s there at every position. The Dutchmen are bigger and stronger than they’ve been each of the last two seasons. Right now, I think this is their best team of the three.
Here’s a link to my colleague Yaron Weitzman’s story about Sayre, who was named this week’s Rockland County Scholar-Athlete of the Week. Sayre is closing in on the program’s all-time scoring record, which is currently held by Antoine Duvert. The 1994 grad is believed to have scored 1,080 points — a number that is well within Sayre’s reach.