Here is my story and video on Spring Valley’s win over Pearl River.
SPRING VALLEY Spring Valley will not be able to fly under the radar this season.
The Tigers seemingly came out of nowhere last season to finish the regular season 16-2 and earn the No. 1 seed in the Class AA playoffs.
With a majority of its players back, including two of the area’s best in juniors Rickey McGill and Kai Mitchell, every team in Section 1 will look to give Spring Valley its best game.
That was the case Wednesday as visiting Pearl River played the Tigers tough throughout before falling, 71-65.
“We’ve just got to step it up and play hard every time we come out on the court,” said Mitchell, who finished with 13 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and two blocks. “We already know that teams are going to be gunning for us, so we just need to come out and play the best we can.”
McGill finished with a game-high 21 points and four rebounds while Jamar Joseph added 13 points and six rebounds.
Spring Valley coach Willie Worsley said he’s fine with playing tough games throughout the season as long as his team can build upon them.
“We want to improve as we go along,” Worsley said. “We don’t want to peak before we get into league games or sectionals.”
Worsley used New Rochelle, a team that lost nine games last season before making a run to the state final, as an example of a team he would like emulate.
“We are going to lose some games,” Worsley said. “But as long as we are taking two steps forward and no steps back I’m happy.”
The Tigers (2-1) jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but the Pirates (2-3) were able to stay within striking distance throughout. Jack McKeever (18 points) hit a 3 with five minutes left in the game to cut Spring Valley’s lead to 53-51. The Tigers’ stars stepped up down the stretch, though. McGill had eight points in the final quarter while Mitchell added six points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Pearl River big man Kevin Degnan finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks despite missing a portions of the second half due to foul trouble.
“It mentally prepares us,” said Mitchell of getting every team’s best game. “It brings out our best game. It will bring more out of us and keep us from playing too nonchalant, lackadaisical.”