With sophomores Kai Mitchell and Rickey McGill and a host of athletic players around them, conventional wisdom was that Spring Valley would be much better this season. Well, it didn’t take the Tigers long to prove it. They beat Tappan Zee 53-52 tonight.
In the process, Spring Valley’s opening statement also meant an end to Tappan Zee’s home winning streak. The Dutchmen, the reigning Class A champ, hadn’t lost on their own floor since a 66-60 loss to North Rockland on Jan. 10, 2011.
The main reason was Mitchell, a 6-foot-5 big man with great hands and feet and a soft shooting touch. He had 21 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks despite sitting most of the second quarter with foul trouble.
Mitchell’s absence and additional foul trouble to key players like McGill and Devonte O’Neal proved costly to the Tigers. They jumped out to a 25-8 lead after one quarter and seemed poised to run away with it. Instead, foul trouble and TZ’s switch to a zone defense conspired to close the gap quickly. The lead went from 17 to nine by halftime and was trimmed to six through three.
Luke McLaughlin played a major part in the comeback for TZ. The sophomore had 17 points and nine rebounds and made a number of key steals and deflections on defense. Eventually, his pullup jumper with 4:39 to play tied the score, 46-46, drawing TZ even for the first – and only time – all game. But Jason Woodbine answered less than a minute later. He hit a corner 3 that produced his only points of the night yet they were critical nonetheless.
“That was a real confidence booster,” Mitchell said. “That hyped everybody up. It got us back in the game.”
Spring Valley actually extended its lead to six late, but it committed a few costly mistakes that helped give TZ a chance. McLaughlin was fouled by O’Neal on a 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining. McLaughlin made all three. TZ then stole the inbound. Tim Ehardt missed a quick layup try and a mad scramble ensued. Brendan Hauser came out with it and scored, but it came at the buzzer. The Dutchmen were a point short.
Hauser and Joe Letizia finished with 12 apiece. Eric Casey had eight points and six rebounds but sat much of the second half with foul trouble.
Spring Valley had much better balance. Eight players scored. O’Neill had nine points and seven boards. McGill added six. Spring Valley also had 11 offensive rebounds, seven of them by the dominant Mitchell. One came on an incredible feat of athleticism. He grabbed the rebound with his right hand and slapped backboard to sink a layup, all in one motion.
George Gaine had a long, passionate talk with his team afterward to deliver this message: Last season is over. Things won’t come so easy for this team.
“We came out so flat and that really messed us up,” McLaughlin said. “I think that cost us the game. If we didn’t come out so flat, maybe things would’ve been different.”
I’ve included other results from tonight below. I also included other late scores from Saturday and those from Sunday that never made it onto the blog.
Scarsdale 53, Yonkers 26: At Scarsdale, Alex Squadron had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Matt Katz scored 10 points and Jon Cohen scored eight. Felix Gyabach scored 17 points for the Bulldogs.
Irvington 76, Roosevelt 42: At Roosevelt, Kevin Tierney led all scorers with 23 points and had seven rebounds. Ryan O’Donnell contributed 13 points and six assists. Marvin Bates had 14 points for the Indians.
Woodlands 57, Ramapo 51: At Woodlands, D’Andre Tilford and Da’Sean Downey each scored 14 points. Abdoulaye Sow scored 11 points. Tommy Salu and Mezuzah Agwa scored 10 points each for the Gryphons.
New York School for the Deaf 64, Harvey 59, OT: At the New York School for the Deaf, Dennis Williams had 27 points and Michael Bowling 14 for the Golden Tornado. Jake Cohn had 22 points and Rickey Hicks, who tied the game with a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in regulation, had 18 for the Cavaliers.
Dobbs Ferry 70, Riverside 61: At Dobbs Ferry, Eric Paschall scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Nick Kost scored 20 points and David Rhee scored 10. Josh Smith had 10 rebounds.
Stepinac B 39, Iona Prep B 27: At Stepinac, Justin Thomas scored eight points and Sterling Lovelock scored six. James Colucci scored 14 points for the Crusaders.
Sacred Heart 54, Salesian 45: In the third place game of the eight-team Brother Arnold Tournament at Monsignor McClancy, junior captain Arjon Bequiri scored 29 points for Sacred Heart. Bakaari Denton scored 15 points for Salesian and teammate Kyle Williams added 13 points.
Stepinac 63, St. Peter’s 54: At St. Peter’s Sunday, Josh James scored 20 points for the Crusaders. Teammates Andrew Murray added 15 points and James Decker had 13 points.
Briarcliff 65, Fieldston 56: In the championship game of the Briarcliff Booster Club Tournament Saturday, Brian Daniels had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears. Ryan Huegel added 12 points and seven assists, and Jared Jones had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Masters 55, Hackley 31: In the championship game of the Hackley tournament Saturday, Mike Jurzynski had 13 points and nine boards as Masters improved to 3-0. Tim Reitzenstein, Isaiah Hayden and Josh Bunch each added 11 points. Jurzynski was named tournament MVP and Reitzenstein was named to the all-tournament team.
Rye Country Day 52, Horace Mann 51: In the championship game of the Peg Duggan Memorial Tournament at Horace Mann Saturday, tournament MVP Tyler Fernandez scored 32 points for the Wildcats. Salim Green and James McPhail were also named to the all-tournament team.
Somers 62, Ardsley 44: In the consolation game of the Ardsley Holiday Tournament at Ardsley Saturday, John Decker scored 22 points and teammate Matt Moros added 20 points. Tommy Foley had 15 points for the Panthers and teammate Andrew Saklad scored 11 points.