This will be my first of many editions of playoff picks. Yesterday, you saw my overall selections for the Section 1 tournament, but I plan on picking each and every game as they pop up.
I hope some of you will pick along with me. Now let’s get it started…
THE SCHEDULE —
Wednesday, Feb. 15
Class AA outbracket round
No. 17 Scarsdale at No. 16 Clarkstown North, 4:15 p.m.
No. 18 Gorton at No. 15 Suffern, 4:30 p.m.
No. 19 Lincoln at No. 14 Ossining, 4:30 p.m.
Class A outbracket round
No. 25 Yonkers at No. 8 Pearl River, 4:30 p.m.
No. 24 Nyack at No. 9 Riverside, 4:30 p.m.
No. 19 Harrison at No. 14 Panas, 4:30 p.m.
No. 18 John Jay at No. 15 Somers, 6 p.m.
No. 17 Lakeland at No. 16 Spring Valley, 6 p.m.
No. 22 Hen Hud at No. 11 Poughkeepsie, 6 p.m.
No. 21 Ardsley at No. 12 Rye, 6:15 p.m.
No. 20 Our Lady of Lourdes at No. 13 Beacon, 6:15 p.m.
No. 23 Sleepy Hollow at No. 10 Brewster, 7 p.m.
THE PICKS —
Scarsdale 55, Clarkstown North 47. The teams did not play and had no common opponents outside of Clarkstown South, which was rather inhospitable to both. What they also shared was a similar fate against league competition. But Scarsdale finished a respectable 4-4 outside its league, which, as you know, is traditionally among the toughest in the state, and lost its four games to White Plains and Mamaroneck by an average of just 6.0 PPG. The Raiders are somewhat underrated. If they can contend North’s speed, they should advance.
Gorton 51, Suffern 45. This is another wild draw. Suffern has not played a team east of the Hudson River. Gorton has ventured further north than Sleepy Hollow, let alone cross the bridge. I’ll go with this: Earlier this season, when I saw Gorton at Mount Vernon, I left really impressed with Dane Williamson. He can play, and he’s fearless. He attacked Mount Vernon like he’d never heard of them and didn’t care to. As a team, Gorton will need that attitude against Suffern, which will be determined to control the pace and drag the Wolves into a defensive struggle. That might work, but Gorton, with Williamson in command, can score enough baskets to win.
Ossining 66, Lincoln 50. Had Ossining not slipped up last week against Westlake, it would’ve nabbed a share of the league title. We would’ve heart at least some chatter that this was a hot team heading into the playoffs. I won’t be too swayed. Ossining has the better resumé and is the pick.
Pearl River 66, Yonkers 42. Pearl River may be the best team in the outbracket round. The Pirates beat the No. 3, 4 and 7 seeds in the Class AA draw (Mahopac, South and North Rockland, respectively), but saw their record sullied by an 0-4 mark against TZ and Albertus. It starts with the recent play of Joe Clinton, who has raised his game late in his senior season. He’s going to steer Pearl River right into a Friday matchup that looks equally favorable.
Nyack 49, Riverside 46. Clearly, Nyack played a tougher schedule, but the Indians had far less success than Riverside. Eight fewer wins, to be exact. But the teams are much closer than that when you examine their schedules. Expect it to be close either way. Riverside beat Hen Hud 56-54, and that’s probably a fair comparable to Nyack. But the Indians have improved lately under new coach Ethan Smith.
Panas 66, Harrison 60. I’d expect this to be one of the more competitive, well-played outbracket games. There will be plenty of good, young talent on the floor with guys like Panas’ Vaughn Dweck and Harrison’s Coby Lefkowitz. In fact, I probably plan on catching some of it myself. I’d like Panas, a talented team on its home floor, to survive in a close one.
Somers 55, John Jay 50. These league rivals sit just a few minutes apart on Route 35 in Northern Westchester and should have the best atmosphere of all today’s games. John Jay won the first time, at home, but Somers bounced back with a 52-40 win in the regular season finale at home. The Tuskers have the homecourt, plus the size advantage and a red-hot John Decker.
Lakeland 57, Spring Valley 51. After a good stretch in mid-January, Spring Valley dropped three straight and then needed to hang on to beat Nyack by a point in its finale. Lakeland has probably played some of its best ball late in the season, most notably its revenge victory against rival Panas. As long as the Hornets aren’t intimidated playing on the road, they have the talent to advance here.
Poughkeepsie 66, Hen Hud 51. I picked Poughkeepsie to reach the County Center. In fact, the Pioneers are the only ones playing today I see doing so. Their depth and speed should fare well against a Hen Hud team that hasn’t met an opponent quite at this level all season.
Rye 64, Ardsley 54. You cannot fault our Ardsley friends for their confidence during Monday’s live chat, but Rye is ready. The Garnets were burdened with a difficult schedule and appear to have surfaced from a morass of tough challenges a better team. Don’t forget: Rye was above .500 in Section 1, including two wins over Byram. This team is pretty good.
Beacon 70, Our Lady of Lourdes 66. Beacon won 70-67 back on Jan. 10 at home. Lourdes returned the favor at home, winning 75-70 on Feb. 1. Expect two things: 1. A high-scoring game. 2. A close final score. I’ll side with Beacon on its home floor and because it has the better overall regular season.
Brewster 55, Sleepy Hollow 38. Brewster sits with Pearl River and Poughkeepsie as the “haves” of outbracket Wednesday. The Bears have a legitimate chance to reach the County Center, but they must start here. They’ll have to keep a sizzling Harley Falasca at bay. If so, Brewster just has too much scoring for Sleepy.