Wednesday might just be the best day of Championship Week. Here’s hoping the weather allows us to enjoy it.
Section 1 boys basketball chairman Roman Catalino said the section will make a decision around 10:30 Wednesday morning. If one game is postponed in a certain class, both games from that class will be postponed. For example, if Croton can’t play, Dobbs-Blind Brook will be wiped out, too. Same for Class A. Weather woes in Poughkeepsie and/or Peekskill could force the postponement of that game as well as Tappan Zee and Byram Hills.
I’ll check back in the morning with an update.
As for the games, I do not expect to go 4-0 this round. There are simply too many close matchups. I expect two or three to be decided in the final minutes; I can even envision an overtime.
Here’s my breakdown of the Class A and B semis…
THE SCHEDULE —
Playoff record: 42-11
Last round: 2-0
Wednesday, February 29
Class B semifinals
No. 2 Albertus Magnus vs. No. 6 Croton-Harmon, 3 p.m.
No. 1 Dobbs Ferry vs. No. 5 Blind Brook, 4:45 p.m.
Class A semifinals
No. 2 Peekskill vs. No. 11 Poughkeepsie, 6:30 p.m.
No. 1 Tappan Zee vs. No. 5 Byram Hills, 8:15 p.m.
THE PICKS —
Class B semifinals
Albertus 64, Croton 54. As you may have seen Monday night, Croton will welcome the return of PG Aaron Thompson, who practiced Monday after missing last week’s quarterfinal win at Woodlands with a high ankle sprain. The Tigers will need him against the defending Class B champ. In fact, they’ll need everyone. Albertus has had one of the best seasons of any team in the section regardless of class. The Falcons boast two of the section’s top players, and one of its top starting 5s. A key player, I think, will be Arnell Dandridge, who I expect to spend some time on Ian Thom. Dandridge is probably Albertus’ No. 4 guy when it comes to shooting, but he’s the team’s top defensive player and will be well-suited chasing Thom. If Croton wins, it will likely be because of superior depth. Albertus is not the deepest team and could struggle if Tyler Sayre gets into foul trouble. Either way, this won’t be a walkover, but I can’t pick against Albertus.
Dobbs 61, Blind Brook 50. Dobbs is a big, strong team, which will help account for what it lacks in height when compared to the Trojans. Still, the Eagles may experience a few tough moments against arguably Class B’s top defensive team. But they should also enjoy a major edge in this game on offense. Nearly every player on the floor can score. I can imagine Blind Brook matching up with Eric Paschall or Thomas Fleming, but both? That’s a lot to ask. Blind Brook does have good health going for it. The Trojans played their best game in months to beat Pleasantville last week, but will need to play even better to unseat Dobbs. If they pull that off, it will be the upset of the day no matter what else happens.
Class A semifinals
Peekskill 71, Poughkeepsie 62. It appears Poughkeepsie has taken vast strides since it last played at the County Center, but will it be enough? Consider this: Poughkeepsie really struggled just three weeks ago against Kennedy, a team that was roughed up at home by Peekskill. The Red Devils are not always that team, but they are always capable or returning to that level. If they do — if they play their best — it could be a wider margin of victory than I predicted. But Poughkeepsie will make Peekskill work. These programs may not be neighbors, but they are rivals all the same. I just favor Peekskill because of its experience and what I consider a tougher road to the County Center.
Tappan Zee 49, Byram Hills 47. If you’re expecting a low-scoring, white-knuckle game, this is probably the one. TZ beat Byram 50-46 at New Rochelle on Feb. 4 in what was a pretty strange game. TZ’s leading scorer was Joe Letizia, which is not the norm. Byram Hills lost by just four despite Jeff Lynch not playing the final half of the fourth quarter. In fact, if Letizia isn’t as hot from 3 and Lynch is stronger after a week of rest, why shouldn’t Byram be the favorite? Well, I still point to the first and third quarters of that same game. TZ led 14-4, then Byram tied it. Then TZ led again by 41-29 before Byram rallied late. I think the Dutchmen are capable of duplicating the type of basketball that gave them those leads. Byram is just so mentally strong and will not fade, but I don’t know if it can withstand the physical toll against a team that’s bigger and stronger at every position.