Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you are healthy and happy in 2013. Thanks for a great 2012 here on the blog. Here’s to more of the same in the New Year.
Before I dive into the rankings, remember to send me (@LoHudInsider) and Dan (@LoHud_DeFran) your suggestions for Player of the Week on Twitter, hashtag #POTW. I will announce our picks either later tonight or tomorrow morning. You can also send us suggestions for your Games of the Week, hashtag #GOTW. As always, only results from the previous seven days count for #POTW and only games through this Sunday will be consider #GOTW material.
Now, here are my latest rankings:
THE TOP 10
1. MOUNT VERNON (3-1) - The Knights were outclassed in their last game against Bishop Loughlin, but their story is long from written. Brandon Martin will be back when they return to the court Sunday at West Point. They keep the top spot — but the gap appeared to have narrowed considerably this season.
2. STEPINAC (9-1) - The Crusaders are right there in contention as the area’s top team. The addition of Naim Thomas has taken them to another level. Both Stepinac and Mount Vernon have some common opponents upcoming — Loughlin (for Stepinac) and New Ro (for Mount Vernon) — that could ultimately determine who’s No. 1.
3. NORTH ROCKLAND (7-0) - The top spot in Rockland will be determined on Friday at unbeaten South, but I think the Red Raiders are the clear No. 1. They can control the glass, have a strong inside game, depth and good shooters. It’s a pretty complete team.
4. NEW ROCHELLE (2-5) - This is about as high as you can put a 2-5 team, but don’t be surprised if the Huguenots challenge for the top spot. Their physicality will weigh on teams. Their skills will improve once the rust wears off and players continue to get comfortable under their new coach. Right now, I can’t put them any lower because I think they’re better than the rest.
5. BYRAM HILLS (6-0) - The schedule was pretty light for the Bobcats over the first month, but they should be the healthiest they’ve been in two years heading into the New Year. They have a rematch with a tough Fox Lane team on Friday.
6. PEEKSKILL (3-1) - Yes, the Red Devils were nearly run off the floor on Sunday, but they also showed flashes that they are a contender. The speed and quickness in the backcourt, the outside shooting and some strength inside give them a pretty complete team. I almost bumped them ahead of Byram but I need to see some consistency first.
7. POUGHKEEPSIE (3-1) - The Pioneers have bounced back to win three straight after their opening loss to Peekskill. Expect the winning to continue with five of their next six against Dutchess County opponents. Right now, I project Class A as a three-team race.
8. CLARKSTOWN SOUTH (6-0) - The Vikings had a couple close ones recently against Nanuet and Monroe-Woodbury, two teams you’d expect them to fare better against considering they are an unbeaten Class AA school. They’ll need to play at a higher level to beat North Rockland Friday.
9. IONA PREP (5-4) - Outside of John Decker and Conor Cousin going off at the County Center, the Gaels have done what was expected of them. They get credit for wins against St. Ray’s and New Ro — enough to not earn too much of a demerit for the loss to Somers. The key going forward will be playing better in the fourth quarter. They’ve really struggled in the clutch against Xaverian, Stepinac, New Ro and Somers.
10. ALBERTUS MAGNUS (6-2) — I don’t know if I expected Albertus to rise this quickly, but Jack Sullivan has been great so far and his supporting cast has improved in a hurry. The Falcons are 6-1 since a season opening loss to South with their only blemish coming to North Rockland in double OT.
The bubble: Spring Valley (5-1), Mahopac (3-3), Briarcliff (5-0).
Below are my Rockland, Small School, and Class rankings. They will start off as Top 5s but will expand later in the season.
1. North Rockland
2. Clarkstown South
3. Albertus Magnus
4. Spring Valley
5. Clarkstown North
2. Putnam Valley
3. Our Lady of Lourdes
1. Mount Vernon
2. North Rockland
3. New Rochelle
4. Clarkstown South
5. Spring Valley
1. Byram Hills
4. Albertus Magnus
Class B At 6-1 and as the runner-up in Dutchess County tourney, Lourdes is on the rise and could become the favorite.
2. Putnam Valley
3. Our Lady of Lourdes
Class C/D Don’t be surprised is Children’s Village is a Class D state final four contender.
2. Children’s Village
4. Palisade Prep
5. Martin Luther King
CHSAA/Privates I was impressed by Sacred Heart. Expect the Irish to gain momentum once their league schedule starts this week.
2. Iona Prep
3. Sacred Heart
5. Rye Country Day