For the first time, I took in the annual Putnam Challenge, which has continued to grow now in its sixth edition. It’s a great event thrown by the Putnam County basketball officials with a little help from their Westchester brethren. Other than a few issues with the scoreboard and an OT game that lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours, everything ran without a glitch.
I watched three of the games and have info on the others. Here are today’s Putnam Challenge recap, including photo galleries by Frank Becerra:
MAHOPAC 72, WHITE PLAINS 70 (OT) w/photo gallery
Less than 24 hours removed from a win over Brewster and deep into the fourth quarter of another physical game, Brendan Hynes found himself trapped in the left corner. The shot clock ticked away and Hynes appeared stuck, except he spun free to bank in a sharp-angled jumper for two.
Despite a long, foul-ridden afternoon at the end of a back-to-back, Hynes’ energy remained at its usual level: relentless. The 6-foot-3 senior delivered early, late and often, dropping 37 points and 10 rebounds in Mahopac’s 72-70 overtime victory over White Plains in the main event of Saturday’s sixth annual Putnam Challenge at Brewster High School.
“Coming off a tough game yesterday, I was a little tired and it was a tough turnaround,” Hynes (pictured above) said. “But, at shootaround, I felt good and I felt like I was going to have a good game today.”
“It was off the charts,” coach Kevin Downes said. “That’s what he does. He likes the big moment against quality teams. He carried us.”
Hynes dragged the Indians (5-3) through heights and depths in a long game stocked with both. It lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours and slogged through 51 combined fouls. Mahopac maintained the lead almost throughout until White Plains’ Chris Jordan hit three 3-pointers to help give his team its first cushion late in the third quarter.
Hynes’ bank shot with a shade under four minutes remaining in regulation lifted the Indians to a 57-50 lead, but the Tigers capped an 8-0 run on Mike DeMello’s baseline fallaway with 38 seconds remaining. Anthony Lenahan then hit a free throw to tie it 58-58 and Downes utilized three remaining team fouls to foil the Tigers’ final possession.
They eventually threw the ball away with 3.7 to go, although, after a Mahopac turnover, Jordan had a shot from just inside halfcourt at the buzzer.
The Indians lived at the free throw line in overtime. They attempted 15 in the extra session and finished the game 29 for 41. That dwarfed White Plains, which received 22 points from DeMello and 18 from Devon Thomas but went only 12 for 18 from the line.
“They basically took more in the overtime than we took in the game,” Tigers coach Spencer Mayfield said. “Those are staggering numbers.”
Hynes alone finished 14 for 18 from the line. He was also an efficient 10 for 15 from the field and played with a purpose.
Mahopac knew White Plains was hungry for a win, but it was, too. The Indians won their third straight and were determined to continue their recent momentum.
“As big of a game as I thought this was for them, I thought it was equally important for us,” Downes said. “We had to keep our momentum going and keep ourselves headed in the right direction.”
“The way we came out early, we didn’t want to let this one go,” Hynes said. “We knew if we did, it would hurt at the end of the year.”
PUTNAM VALLEY 56, JOHN JAY 45 w/photo gallery
Just halfway through the regular season, the Putnam Valley boys basketball team has already recorded the most wins in the program’s 10-year history.
“When we came out for the season, we knew it was our goal to get the record,” said 6-foot-4 junior Jelani Bell-Isaac (pictured left, No. 33 in white), who was named the game’s MVP. “Now we got it, but we’re trying to get way more.”
Putnam Valley improved to 8-1 behind Bell-Isaac’s 18 points and 11 rebounds. Zach Coleman and Ryan Basso each scored 13 points and Andres Soto added eight points and seven assists.
“We don’t take a backseat to anybody,” Putnam Valley coach Ed Wallach said. “We’re not going to get intimidated. These kids don’t get intimidated.
“We started last year to build this program and I think we’ve built it. Now we just have to continue it.”
Nick Kiger had 18 points to lead John Jay. Joe Kells added 15, including six in the fourth, but his team was outscored 21-11 in the period.
MAMARONECK 47, DOBBS FERRY 43 w/photo gallery
Ben Kalish (pictured right, No. 42 in white) scored six points but was named the game’s MVP. He and the Tigers’ defense held Dobbs Ferry star Eric Paschall (pictured right in blue) to a season-low 11 points. He had just five in the first three quarters before making three baskets down the stretch.
“We saw them on film a little bit and he seemed like a player who got easily frustrated,” Kalish said. “We wanted to stay in front of him so he couldn’t get the ball, stay in his face and not let him get any easy looks. It got him frustrated and it worked.”
Kalish and Matt Bernstein spent the majority of the game guarding Paschall. The Tigers started in a man-to-man defense but also played triangle-and-two against Paschall and teammate Nick Kost.
Alex Lanni led Mamaroneck with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Alex Orgielewicz added 13.
“A win is a win,” Kalish said. “Coming off a loss to one of our rivals, Scarsdale, we really needed this. We worked really hard for it.”
Kost scored 15 points to lead the Eagles on five 3-pointers in the first half. He was held scoreless in the second half.
“We talked about just denying him the basketball,” Mamaroneck coach Tyrone Carver said. “We didn’t want him to get any touches. Those guys did a great job playing defense.”
CROTON-HARMON 69, PAWLING 46
Ian Thom had 23 points, six rebounds and eight assists to earn MVP honors as his dad, Croton coach Bill Thom, earned career win No. 350.
Ben Goldberg and Jason Howald each added 12 points for the Tigers, who won their third straight.
NORTH SALEM 75, HALDANE 49
Thomas Bond had 20 points, six assists and four rebounds and was named MVP of the game. Umar Singh had 18 points and nine rebounds. Joey Tunas added 18 points.
Peter Hoffmann had 15 points for the Blue Devils.
ARLINGTON 66, BREWSTER 50
Arlington received balanced scoring and was led by Gio Rodriguez, who had 12 points. Errico Feaster added 10 points and earned game MVP honors.
Brian McNeill led the host Bears with 20 points and nine rebounds.