My story on Tappan Zee, which looked pretty much vintage TZ considering this was the season opener:
THIELLS George Gaine wasn’t sure what to think. He just hoped his team could play hard, make shots and have a chance to win. Instead, Tappan Zee looked much better than even its coach expected, especially in the fourth quarter.
The Dutchmen closed strong to beat North Rockland 61-50 on Thursday in both teams’ season opener. One of four new starters, senior Ryan McWilliams, led all scorers with 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The only returner with serious experience, junior Luke McLaughlin, had 19 points and 11 rebounds in a typically sound Tappan Zee effort.
“They want to keep the culture of playing hard and playing together going,” Gaine said. “It means a lot to them. The names might change, but they’re holding themselves to a really high standard.”
North Rockland, a Class AA semifinalist last season, had five new starters and played like it late as Tappan Zee gradually pulled away. The Dutchmen led by two at the break, but pushed their lead to double digits early in the fourth.
“I think we could’ve come out with more energy, but in the second half we did great,” said McLaughlin, who finished 12 for 18 from the line. “We followed the game plan.”
Red Raider big man Mike Earlington, a football star on this year’s sectional finalist, suffered a dislocated finger just 30 seconds into the game and did not return. His replacement was junior Elvy Davis, who had 18 points and 10 boards, including six on the offensive glass.
Tappan Zee expects to be fortified in the paint at some point this season by the return of senior Tommy Morales, who suffered a fracture in his leg in the week leading up to his team’s Class A semifinal against Rye.
The team will also adjust to a matchup zone that Gaine has implemented.
“It’s a little bit different this year,” McWilliams said. “We’ve never run it before, but we’ve tried to perfect it every day in practice and make it our own. It worked out pretty well today.”
McWilliams keyed the strong play of Tappan Zee’s four new starters. Guards Phil Powers and Kyle Peterson each scored nine points and combined to sink five 3-pointers and forward Dan McGann contributed eight rebounds.
“These guys might be new. And they didn’t get a lot of experience, but we’ve played together since we were young,” said McLaughlin, the only returning starter. “We have a lot of chemistry and we’re having a lot of fun.”
North Rockland graduated all of its starters from a Class AA semifinalist, including first-team all-county center Elijah Tillman. The Red Raiders started three sophomores who were playing their first varsity game (Michael Arias, Jesse DeGraft and Levance Jackson) and lost one of their most experienced players, Earlington, on the second possession of the game.
Arias finished with eight points, three assists and three steals. Drew Valsaint had seven points, three rebounds and three assists off the bench.
NYACK 67, PLEASANTVILLE 19
Now, here’s Dan’s story on Nyack’s dominant performance against Pleasantville:
BRONXVILLE Perfection isn’t a word that can often be used in terms of athletics.
That’s exactly what Nyack junior guard Jordan Williams was Thursday, though.
Williams was perfect from the field in the first half as he netted 19 points to help the Indians cruise to a 67-19 win over Pleasantville in the first round of the Bill Green Holiday Tournament at Bronxville.
Coming off the bench, Williams was 7 for 7 from the field and 5 for 5 from behind the arc as he helped Nyack take a 38-8 lead into halftime.
“Just keep shooting,” said Williams, who finished with 19 points and only one missed field goal, of his great start. “If I’m open I’m going to take the shot. That’s about it.”
Indians’ coach Ethan Smith said Williams was the spark that got his team going after a slow start initially. While Williams’ teammates weren’t quite as hot, they certainly didn’t struggle. Nyack shot 58-percent from the field for the game.
“(Williams) making shots just got us in a groove,” Smith said. “He got the energy going, and we just fed off of that.”
The Indians’ defense was also on point. Nyack played without high intensity throughout the four quarters.
“We try to preach that no matter what the score is you play from beginning to end,” Smith said. “You play hard. You never know who your next opponent is. Teams like (Pleasantville) can get hot at any moment. If you give them momentum they can get back in a game.”
Indians’ junior guard Ethan Smith Jr. had 10 points, three rebounds and two steals. Teammate Max Baroni had nine points and four blocks.
Chris Maloney led the Panthers with 11 points and three rebounds.
Best of the rest: Taylor Miccio had 17 points in Green Meadow Waldorf’s 55-21 win against visiting Collegiate. Lukas Chin and Isaiah Thron each added eight points. … Pearl River’s Kevin Degnan had 21 points and 13 rebounds in the Pirates’ 52-38 win against visiting Ramapo. … Panas’ Tim McCauley had 23 points in the Panthers’ 72-55 win against Roosevelt in the first round of the Eastchester tournament. Teammate Tom Parish added 12 points. … Clarkstown North’s Sal Barbetto had 17 points in the Rams’ 66-54 win at Nanuet. The Golden Knights’ Mike Mulligan had 20 points.
Tappan Zee 61, North Rockland 50
Clarkstown North 66, Nanuet 54
Green Meadow 55, Collegiate School 21
Pearl River 52, Ramapo 38
Haldane 73, Greenburgh Academy 49
Terrence Wright Tournament at Beacon
Monroe-Woodbury 69, John Jay-East Fishkill 60
Beacon 47, Carmel 39
Bill Green Holiday Tournament at Bronxville:
Nyack 67, Pleasantville 19
Panas 72, Early College 55
Fox Lane 64, Lincoln 33