So, I’m back to work today after two weeks away to spend time with my wife and Miss Varsity Insider. Both of them feel great, although Miss VI is quite demanding when she’s hungry. In fact, don’t fret if you find some spit-up in your rankings from now on.
Before I move on, I just want to thank this of you who sent well-wishes, whether they were comments here, texts to my phone, e-mails, etc. I truly appreciate them. I passed along your support to the fam.
It’s been a few weeks since I posted a set of rankings. These were incredibly hard — as they always are this time of year. So many teams knock one another off that it becomes more difficult to get a handle on who’s better than who. Just take a peek at Class AA. New Ro beats the likes of Middletown and St. Mary’s. Scarsdale beats New Ro. North Rockland sweeps through Rockland, but loses to Spring Valley by double-digits. Spring Valley needs every second to escape the likes of Clarkstown South and Ramapo. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Also, before I dive into the rankings, a quick announcement: Dan and I will release our midseason all-stars tomorrow morning on the blog. They will include four teams of players, our MVPs, coaches of the year and most improved players. Send us your suggestions for who you think belongs. Remember you can find me (@LoHudInsider) and Dan (@LoHud_DeFran)
Now, here are my latest rankings:
THE TOP 10
1. MOUNT VERNON (10-1) – Think of this: If New Rochelle and Scarsdale are final four contenders — or at least strong candidates to reach the quarterfinals — in Class AA, Mount Vernon must be a major, major favorite. Just consider that the Knights routed those two by a combined 48 points.
2. STEPINAC (12-3) – Other than one second half slip-up to Mount, the Crusaders have done exactly what they could’ve hoped. Their 78-72 win at Archbishop Molloy looks especially impressive now. Stepinac controlled the game throughout; Molloy routed Bishop Loughlin just a week later.
3. POUGHKEEPSIE (8-2) – I considered the Pioneers the favorite in Class A before the season and I think they’ve just about regained that spot. Even Sunday’s loss to Kingston is understandable; Kingston could win Class AA in Section 9. The best part if you’re a Poughkeepsie fan is that the team seems to be getting better and better.
4. BYRAM HILLS (11-1) – There are a handful of Class AA programs that you’ll argue should be ahead of the Bobcats, but not in my rankings. They are consistent, well-coached and really know how to finish games strong. Right now, I think that’s more than you can say about teams 5-10.
5. NEW ROCHELLE (6-7) – Man, this team is tough to figure. Considering it’s already late January, I think the Huguenots could prove to be an enigma all season long. They will be a terrifying low seed. They’ll also be on the road throughout the playoffs. Remember this about the record: New Ro has lost just twice inside the section, one of them by two points at Scarsdale. I can’t judge them by their record.
6. SPRING VALLEY (10-1) – As I said above and below, I don’t know that this is the best team in Rockland, but it has the best credentials, narrowly edging out Albertus and North Rockland. Those three will compete for the mythical County title until the bitter end, but Spring Valley should be here to stay. By now, its young roster is young in grade only.
7. ALBERTUS MAGNUS (11-2) – Since the season opener, this team has lost just once and it was in double OT at North Rockland in a game it very well could have won. Jack Sullivan has been fantastic, but the Falcons have thrived because the players around him can all contribute.
8. NORTH ROCKLAND (12-1) – After seeing all three, plus South, TZ and Pearl River, I still think North Rockland has more potential than any team in Rockland County. But the facts are what they are: Spring Valley beat the Red Raiders and Albertus beat Spring Valley. Yes, North Rockland beat Albertus, but that was by far the closest game of the three.
9. MAHOPAC (9-3) – As expected, the Indians were bound to return to the Top 10 and they have. Their early losses to Arlington and Kingston don’t look so bad now and they have been on a winning streak since losing to Stepinac in the Slam Dunk. Brendan Hynes may not be the most talented player in the section, but he is Mr. Production and plays on a Top 10 team. To me, that makes him one of the best there is.
10. PEEKSKILL (9-2) – Panas, Eastchester and Somers fans won’t be happy to see this, but I’d still peg Peekskill as the No. 3 or 4 team in Class A. Yes, the Red Devils lost fair-and-square, but they’ve rebounded well since the loss and their overall resume remains strong. I just can’t drop them from the Top 10.
The bubble: Eastchester (12-1), Scarsdale (10-2), Arlington (11-2).
Below are my Rockland, Small School, and Class rankings. They will start off as Top 5s but will expand later in the season.
Rockland Man, is this tough after the Top 3. I went with TZ as No. 4 because its recent resume (wins over Pearl River, Pleasantville, South) is the strongest. North, South, Nyack all have been inconsistent.
1. Spring Valley
2. Albertus Magnus
3. North Rockland
4. Tappan Zee
5. Clarkstown North
Small Schools I don’t think any of the Class C and D teams are in this class at the moment.
2. Our Lady of Lourdes
4. Putnam Valley
Class AA Wins over South and North Rockland give Spring Valley the No. 2 spot, but I’d still take New Ro and North Rockland first when it counted. That will be an interesting story to watch. Mahopac and Scarsdale are also very hot. Both are in the conversation for County Center berths. Right now, I think those are the Top 6, with Arlington and South on the periphery.
1. Mount Vernon
2. New Rochelle
3. Spring Valley
4. North Rockland
Class A I still have to give Peekskill the edge based on the strength of its resume, but Panas has definitely joined the conversation.
2. Byram Hills
3. Albertus Magnus
Class B The Top 3 from the previous rankings (Briarcliff, Lourdes and Put Valley) all dropped some games since, but Pawling is clearly a team on the rise, especially after last week’s win over Put Valley.
2. Our Lady of Lourdes
4. Putnam Valley
Class C/D Palisade Prep lost twice last week but actually jumped in the rankings because of its win over Children’s Village. And despite a bunch of losses to Class A and B schools, I still can’t move Tuckahoe off No. 1 yet.
2. Palisade Prep
3. Children’s Village
5. Solomon Schechter
CHSAA/Privates No changes to these rankings, which seem pretty solid. There’s a clear delineation between each spot in my mind.
2. Iona Prep
3. Sacred Heart
5. Rye Country Day