Below are links to today’s game stories from all four of Tuesday’s Class AA quarterfinals, but I’ll start with something that seemed to catch your attention.
After his team’s suffered its third loss this season to Mount Vernon, New Rochelle coach Bill Murphy expressed his frustration with Section 1’s seeding system, explaining that it gives teams the same amount of bonus points for playing an elite Class C team as it gives for an elite Class AA opponents. His example was North Rockland, the No. 7 seed, earning two bonus points for losing to Class C Tuckahoe, while New Rochelle earned the same amount for each of its losses to Class AA Mount Vernon.
Murphy wasn’t upset that his team played Mount Vernon for a third time. He was upset where they played. He believed his team was among the best in Class AA and deserved to at least reach the County Center, but the Huguenots fell short of that goal with Tuesday’s loss.
“If you’re on one side of it, it’s great. But if you’re on our side, it (stinks). We’re a really good basketball team right now. We should’ve at least gotten to play them at the County Center. It just isn’t right.”
I can see both sides of the argument. Section 1 tried a number of solutions to the problem of properly reward teams for playing difficult schedules. If you remember, Mount Vernon, for example, began falling lower and lower in the seedings because it began playing challenging games out-of-state. There have been a number of systems in place to counter that type of inequality in recent years.
The last two solutions tried to directly credit teams for their strength of schedule. The problem has been how. First, teams were credited with a bonus point for each class that separated it from its opponents. So…under that system, Tuckahoe would earn seven points (the regular four for a win, plus three for playing a team three classes above) for beating North Rockland. The problem with that was high-quality small schools like the Haldane girls could earn seven points for beating inferior Class AA teams.
After that was scrapped, Section 1 came up with the current solution. Is it perfect? No. But in this case, you’d rather a team earned bonus points against a team like Tuckahoe than a 2-16 Class AA team, right?
Objectively, that’s hard to argue.
Where I agree with Murphy is from a complete subjective standpoint. Right now, I believe what he does, although he didn’t say it in so many words: New Rochelle is the second-best team in Class AA. I don’t think any team has improved as much from December until now. The Huguenots looked terrific the last two games. They played Mount Vernon extremely tough yesterday, not letting the game slip away despite widespread foul trouble.
Case in point: New Ro fell behind by double-digits at halftime yesterday and its five starters had 11 fouls combined. Throw in the return of Isaiah Cousins and Jarrel Marshall for the second half and another blowout seemed inevitable. Still, the Huguenots played Mount Vernon even the rest of the game. It was a terrific effort.
However, even in the current playoff seeding system, New Rochelle hurt its own cause by losing to Mamaroneck. The Huguenots would’ve been seeded fifth had they won that game. It would’ve moved them ahead of Carmel, Arlington AND North Rockland and into a quarterfinal game at Clarkstown South. They only have themselves — and a strong effort by Mamaroneck — to thank for that.
Without that loss to Mamaroneck, New Ro would had four justifiable in-state losses — Mount Vernon (2x), St. Mary’s and Kingston — and a better reason to gripe.
On to the links…
MOUNT VERNON 74, NEW ROCHELLE 59. When Mount Vernon eventually did enough to win in the end, the leading scorers looked all too familiar: Isaiah Cousins, Jarrel Marshall and Qwadere Lovell were the only players in double-digits. But the Knights entire margin of victory can be traced to a four-plus minute span to end the first half while Cousins and Marshall were on the bench. They outscored New Ro 19-2 to end the half thanks in large part to contributions of unheralded seniors Givvion Jones and Jamel Knott. Jones finished the game with eight points, nine boards and three blocks and Knott had eight points. But those two keyed that pivotal run along with junior Josh Doughty, who provided a spark off the bench.
FOX LANE 52, NORTH ROCKLAND 39. Last night, I called it the most famous Fox Lane dunk since Taj Finger put the exclamation point on a 2004 Class A championship with his long-armed tomahawk at the County Center. It has to be right? Here’s the situation: Fox Lane hadn’t scored in nearly six minutes and its offense was stuck. An 11-point lead had been trimmed to 44-39. Will Trawick had the ball on the right wing and faced a double team. He looked up and saw just seven seconds on the shot clock. A second later, Trawick faked a pass and saw the two defenders react. He quickly split them, drove and threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk (pictured left mid-flight) to release all the pressure. Fox Lane went on to score the game’s final eight points and secure its first County Center berth since Finger and co. in 2004.
MAHOPAC 76, ARLINGTON 75 (2 OT). You can’t face much more of a hole than Mahopac did an expect to rally. Down 15 at half and 18 at a point in the second half, Brendan Hynes, Zach Ankier and a never-say-die home crowd led the Indians back from a seat on the offseason doorstep to a trip to the County Center. After the comeback sent the game to overtime, Ankier had the Bird-esque moment in the first OT, stealing the ball from Arlington when all seemed lost and finding DJ…er, Mark Vaccaro…for the tying basket. It was all Hynes in double overtime. The junior was fresh after sitting much of the first half in foul trouble. He also proved to be the perfect symbol for just how much of a surprise it is Mahopac’s has returned to White Plains. Hynes wasn’t even on the roster last year; now, he’s the team’s go-to guy. Obviously, it’s a whole different year.
CLARKSTOWN SOUTH 63, CARMEL 58. With its first trip ever to the County Center on the line, South received a spark from freshman Connor McGuinness, who hit a big 3-pointer to end the third quarter and put his team within a point. It was all Vikings in the fourth quarter, and McGuinness helped put his team in a very familiar position. The last South team to advance this far was the 1978 squad. Connor’s dad, Joe, the Albertus Magnus AD and former Albertus and Tappan Zee coach, was the point guard. Jeff Brown was the leading scorer. Now — after 27 points on Tuesday — Mike McCahey chases Brown’s scoring record. The senior is just 34 points shy of matching it. And who did Brown score his final point against? You guessed it: Mount Vernon.