Miss Varsity Insider spent Monday night at my in-laws, which gave me ample time to tackle the latest set of power rankings. Some of you might be surprised to hear that a nine-pound, four-week-old baby who sleeps 20 hours a day can chew up the majority of your time. The rest of you are parents.
Anyway, in my eyes, the last two weeks have started to settle the little matter of who’s-better-than-who. The Top 4 has expanded into a strong Top 7. I think they are the best teams in the area. A few others ranked Nos. 8-10 and on the bubble can still challenge them, but the Top 7 all have great resumes and seem to be playing their best ball in recent weeks.
Some of you probably disagree. That’s fine. Let’s have at it. Here are my latest rankings:
THE TOP 10
1. MOUNT VERNON (14-1) – Somehow, the gap between the Knights and the rest of Section 1 has continued to grow despite losing all five starters, including “Mr. Basketball.” Scarsdale is a legit County Center contender in Class AA and Mount Vernon has dismantled the Raiders twice, once without two starters. What the Knights lack in height they make up for in braun.
2. STEPINAC (15-5) – The Crusaders’ worst stretch of the season came in the last couple weeks and happened against some darn good competition. But they quickly erased losses to Mount and St. Ray’s with solid wins. Once Walter King returns to full strength, Stepinac should get even better.
3. POUGHKEEPSIE (13-2) – With games against Ketcham and Lourdes remaining, Poughkeepsie should move into the Class A playoffs on a roll. But the Pioneers could easily play a dangerous team in the quarterfinals and perhaps even the opening round. The Class A playoffs will be a grind.
4. BYRAM HILLS (15-1) – Byram will play defending Class A state champ Harborfields Saturday at 2 at the College of New Rochelle. The teams met in the state semifinals two years ago, but Harborfields isn’t at the same level without PG Lucas Woodhouse. Still, it will be a good test.
5. NORTH ROCKLAND (15-1) – Well, maybe North Rockland was 15 points (or close) better than Spring Valley? The Red Raiders clearly played better Monday night and the result proved it. Their frontline of Elijah Tillman, Charles Nardone, Omar Idolar and Malvin Rosario might be the best in the section.
6. SPRING VALLEY (14-2) – Spring Valley has bought into the importance of defense and has the depth to apply pressure. But the Tigers aren’t big after Kai Mitchell and senior leader Davonte O’Neill. They need those two to stay out of foul trouble and stay on the court to win in the playoffs. Both have a steadying hand on Class AA’s youngest team.
7. MAHOPAC (14-3) – Mahopac has won 12 straight, another league title and a lot of confidence. A possible playoff rematch with Arlington would provide all sorts of drama. The Indians won a white-knuckler in OT last year for a berth in the County Center. No doubt, they’d also like revenge after suffering a season-opening loss to the Admirals.
8. PEEKSKILL (12-4) – The Red Devils haven’t seen many set plays they like, but they can fly and finish. They have fallen in love with the 3, but they are very dangerous when those shots are falling.
9. NEW ROCHELLE (8-8) – New Ro just can’t seem to find any rhythm. Even its wins don’t come easy. But the Huguenots still have one of the area’s best players. They are tested. They can play at a high level. I still think they’re dangerous — even if I’m running out of reasons why.
10. EASTCHESTER (15-1) – The Eagles won’t win a beauty contest from a skill standpoint, but they are fun to watch. They play fast and sub readily. They can shoot. And Jack Daly can do it all. This team has improved dramatically, mostly based on its style of play, which can cause all sorts of problems. Fred DiCarlo really honed in on what he wanted to do in the offseason. He’s a legit Section 1 coach of the year candidate.
The bubble: Tappan Zee (11-5), Albertus Magnus (13-4), Scarsdale (12-5), Arlington (13-3), Iona Prep (9-9).
Below are my Rockland, Small School, and Class rankings.
1. North Rockland
2. Spring Valley
3. Tappan Zee
4. Albertus Magnus
5. Pearl River
Small Schools The small schools have been a revolving door this year. Even Briarcliff has had a couple of close calls lately, but the Bears remain on top.
2. Our Lady of Lourdes
3. Putnam Valley
5. North Salem
Class AA Just like North Rockland had a chance to prove it had an off-game against Spring Valley in their first meeting, New Ro has the same opportunity vs. Scarsdale on Friday.
1. Mount Vernon
2. North Rockland
3. Spring Valley
5. New Rochelle
Class A Albertus has dropped two straight, so they fall out. Tappan Zee, Panas and Somers are right there, too, but surging Nyack and Gorton are among a deep group of dangerous teams in Section 1’s deepest class. I’ll go with TZ, which has won seven of eight.
2. Byram Hills
5. Tappan Zee
Class B Dobbs Ferry seemed ready to make some noise before Monday’s loss to Edgemont. Instead, North Salem moves into the Top 5 based on its recent surge, which includes two wins of Carmel and one apiece of John Jay and Somers in its last five.
2. Our Lady of Lourdes
3. Putnam Valley
5. North Salem
Class C/D Children’s Village won the rematch, thus moving up to No. 2 over Palisade Prep.
2. Children’s Village
3. Palisade Prep
T5. Solomon Schechter
T5. Martin Luther King
2. Iona Prep
3. Sacred Heart
5. Rye Country Day