WEST NYACK With their schedules stocked with local opponents, Rockland County teams typically wait until the postseason to prove themselves across the Hudson River. This year, Saturday’s Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off Classic provided them a rare early opportunity and they didn’t waste it.
Albertus Magnus, Tappan Zee and North Rockland all beat their Westchester County foes by double digits in the third-annual event, which was hosted at Clarkstown South High School by the Lower Hudson Basketball Coaches Association.
Only Scarsdale salvaged a win, beating South 65-57 on its home floor on the strength of 19 points and 15 rebounds from game MVP Jack Hewitt (pictured left). The Raiders’ 12th win doubled their win total from a season ago.
Still, North Rockland stamped the strong afternoon for Rockland schools by running away from New Rochelle 61-47. The Red Raiders (12-1) led throughout thanks to 20 points by Charles Nardone (pictured above) and 16 points and five assists from MVP Alex Ramirez.
“New Rochelle has always been a great program,” Ramirez said. “The fact that we were able to beat them is a great win for us.”
And it wasn’t particularly close. North Rockland built a 25-15 lead by halftime and expanded it to 19 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Like North Rockland, both Tappan Zee (10-5) and Albertus Magnus (12-2) — the defending Classes A and B Section 1 champs — earned control by halftime and maintained it. Tappan Zee was propelled by senior Joe Letizia, who scored a career-high 28 points and won MVP honors.
The fifth-year varsity player’s previous best was 20. In Saturday’s 66-44 win over Saunders, the 5-foot-8 point guard already had 17 after one quarter and 22 by halftime, a needed boost with 6-5 Eric Casey (ankle) inactive for a second straight game.
“I was feeling it in the beginning,” Letizia said. “Our big man was out with a sprained ankle. We keep telling each other we have to step up for him. That’s what we did.”
Tappan Zee received a lift from role players Tommy Morales, Dan McGann and Brendan Hauser. For Albertus, the names were different but the result was similar. Senior star Jack Sullivan had 15 points, but MVP Tommy McConnell had 14 points and nine rebounds and Matt Dale scored 16.
The Falcons beat Croton-Harmon 60-40 despite trailing 22-18 early in the second quarter. They have now won eight straight.
All proceeds from the event went toward the Coaches vs. Cancer cause. It raised $2,337 for an increase of approximately $700 from last year at Croton.