I stopped by Iona Prep’s practice on Tuesday at Mount St. Vincent in the Bronx and watched the Gaels discuss their game plan against Harborfields, the team that beat Tappan Zee on Sunday to win the state championship. No matter who you talked to in maroon or gold, they agreed on this: Tonight will be their toughest game of the season.
They key will be to play a slow, disciplined game, to protect the ball and to excel on defense. These teams thrive playing decidedly different styles of basketball. Iona knows that much.
Here’s the story that ran in today’s paper. I’ve also included a scouting report on the game:
Class A state Federation semifinal
Who: Iona Prep (24-3) vs. Section 11’s Harborfields (23-2)
When: Friday, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Times Union Center, Albany
Key players: Iona Prep — Felix Abongo (6-3), Sr., F; Tim McCarthy (6-5), Sr., F; Luke Wooters (5-7), Sr., G; Isiah Ice (5-11), So., G; Kevin Conroy (6-1), Sr., G. Harborfields — Lucas Woodhouse (6-0), Sr., G; Justin Ringen (6-4), Sr., G/F; John Pathon (6-3), Sr., F; David Ba (6-3), Sr., G.
How they got here: Iona Prep beat St. Edmund’s to win its second CHSAA A title in four years. It earned a bye in the state tournament and beat St. John the Baptist 64-51 in the state final on March 10. Harborfields won the first state championship in program history last Sunday when it beat Section 1 champ Tappan Zee 67-58.
Outlook: Iona Prep is known best for its defense, but even the stingy Gaels will face a stiff challenge against one of the state’s top point guards, Woodhouse, and his cadre of outside shooters. The Tornadoes burned Tappan Zee Sunday by making an almost unheard of 74 percent of their shots. Ringen is their top outside threat, but Pathon and Ba are athletic, strong and skilled at both ends of the floor. Iona Prep’s offense is more modestly constructed. If the Gaels win, it will be because of smart, productive offensive possessions and strong defense. “If we can keep the game in the 40s or 50s, we feel that we can win,” Wooters said.
Next up: The winner will meet either PSAL champ Scholars Academy or independent-schools rep and defending champ Long Island Lutheran Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at the Times Union Center for the Federation championship.