Anyway, I hope everyone had a great Christmas. We hosted 14 people, so I’m still digging out of the mess this morning. But I’ll be in the building this afternoon for a great doubleheader of boys action.
In our latest Games-of-the-Week installment, I picked up another game on Dan thanks to picking White Plains over Peekskill in the Harrison tournament. Rye Neck also proved itself last Thursday (and proved us both wrong), edging Irvington in a great game between serious County Center contenders.
Now, let’s have a peek at our predictions for the week. We’re going to focus exclusively on the Slam Dunk. Our picks include a few fun bonus picks where we predict who will win the tournaments and who will take home the individual hardware.
Josh: 9-1 (4-1 last week)
Dan: 7-3 (3-2 last week)
Thursday, at the County Center
Spring Valley vs. Bedford Academy, 5 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Spring Valley, 83-75. Bedford Academy is a perennial final four contenders in the PSAL’s A division, but Spring Valley probably beat a better team last week in WHEELS Academy.
Dan’s pick: Spring Valley, 72-66. Big, strong and fast. The Tigers can seemingly do it all. I’ll give them the nod over the boys from Brooklyn.
Eastchester vs. Iona Prep, 7 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Iona Prep, 74-65. The County Center is probably not the perfect venue for the Gaels, who will try to make 3’s in a building not known for giving them up. Still, their guard-oriented game should have the answer for Eastchester, which doesn’t have the size inside to make Iona pay for its weakness on the glass.
Dan’s pick: Iona Prep, 65-60. Last year’s Slam Dunk tournament didn’t exactly go according to plan for Iona Prep. The Gaels lost on a Conor Cousin buzzer beater in a challenge game. Expect a better effort this time around as the Gaels have a backcourt that will be able to handle the Eagles’ pressure and quickness.
Friday, at the County Center
Poughkeepsie vs. Sleepy Hollow, 10 a.m. —
Josh’s pick: Poughkeepsie, 57-41. The Pioneers are a young, inexperienced team with almost no County Center experience despite the fact they won Class A last season. But their ability to get to the rim will prove to be the difference.
Dan’s pick: Poughkeepsie, 55-50. I think this Poughkeepsie team will continue to get better as the season goes on. While it might seem like a bit of a down year for the Pioneers, I like them to get the win over Sleepy Hollow.
Putnam Valley vs. Yorktown, 4 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Putnam Valley, 57-55. I expect this to be a close matchup. Yorktown might be a year away while that time is now for Put Valley. Expect a hungry effort from the Tigers after a disappointing loss at home to Woodlands.
Dan’s pick: Putnam Valley, 52-50. Much like Iona Prep, Putnam Valley’s last trip to the County Center did not necessarily go as planned for the Tigers. Putnam Valley seems to have built on last season’s sectional final loss to Lourdes. It’ll be close, but balanced scoring will get them the win against the Huskers.
Consolation (projected): Bedford Academy vs. Eastchester, 2 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Bedford Academy, 74-70. Eastchester has a very solid team, but the Eagles aren’t quite at full strength.
Dan’s pick: Eastchester, 68-61. The Eagles bounce back after a hard-fought game against Iona Prep to win the consolation game.
Championship (projected): Iona Prep vs. Spring Valley, 8 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Iona Prep, 76-70. It’s be fun to see these teams matchup again. Hopefully, we’d see fewer fouls and more action. I still think Iona has a slight edge, but the Gaels will have to lure Spring Valley into shooting from the outside like it did two weeks ago. (MVP: Isaiah Ice)
Dan’s pick: Iona Prep, 77-75. Not even two weeks removed from their last meeting, two of the best teams in the area get to meet up again with the Slam Dunk tournament title on the line. I like the Gaels getting it done as Matt Ryan makes a statement on the big stage. (MVP: Matt Ryan)
Saturday, at the County Center
Showcase: Stepinac vs. Fox Lane, 11 a.m. —
Josh’s pick: Stepinac, 83-75. This would be a fascinating game between very different teams, but I’d favor Stepinac because of its guard play. The big court should help the Crusaders open it up.
Dan’s pick: Stepinac, 72-67. The Foxes proved they could hang with some of Section 1’s best as they gave White Plains all it could handle in the Harrison tournament final. Still, I really like this Crusader team despite their slow start. I think it’s more a matter of “when” and not “if” in terms of their breakthrough.
White Plains vs. Spellman, 5 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: White Plains, 68-65. Spellman is one of the top contenders in the CHSAA’s A division. If the Tigers are complacent at all after their strong start, Spellman is good enough to threaten. I think White Plains has too much.
Dan’s pick: White Plains, 63-54. Tigers’ fans have to be happy with what they’ve seen from their squad so far this season. White Plains has won some hard-fought games against tough opponents already this season, something the Tigers struggled with last season.
Saunders vs. Middletown, 7 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Middletown, 80-64. This will be a nice moment for the Saunders program, which has improved in recent years and is challenging itself against one of the region’s better Class AA programs. But Middletown is rising. Aaron Ray is one of Section 9’s biggest stars. His team already has wins over Burke Catholic and lost a three-point game to Newburgh, which beat New Ro. This is a tall order for the Blue Devils.
Dan’s pick: Middletown, 60-50. What looked to be a tough season for Middletown with the loss of five returners to prep school ended up showing just how deep of a program the Middies have. Middletown lost to Newburgh 62-59 last Thursday despite having only one player with true experience at the varsity level. It’s a tough draw for a Saunders team that continues to make strides.
Sunday, at the County Center
Showcase: Dobbs Ferry vs. Pearl River, 3 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Pearl River, 66-55. Although the matchup of two of the area’s best seniors never came to fruition, Dobbs has started the season playing well. Well enough to beat Pearl River? Probably not. Just don’t expect a lopsided game.
Dan’s pick: Pearl River, 62-53. Would have been a great matchup of two of the area’s top seniors in Eric Paschall and Kevin Degnan had Paschall stayed at Dobbs. No sense looking in the past, though. I think the Pirates get the win with a big game from their big man Degnan.
Consolation (projected): Saunders vs. Spellman, 1 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Spellman, 68-60. This Slam Dunk is about building toward the future for Saunders. If it can earn a win here and finish 1-1, the tourney will have been a success.
Dan’s pick: Spellman, 54-45. This is another tough draw for Saunders. Spellman is a quality opponent.
Championship (projected): White Plains vs. Middletown, 7 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Middletown, 78-75. This should be a great matchup. I don’t know who will win, but if the players can stay out of foul trouble and on the floor, it should be fun. A slight edge to Middletown. (MVP: Aaron Ray)
Dan’s pick: White Plains, 65-55. Probably the best team the Tigers have faced yet this season. State tournament preview? (Settle down Mount Vernon fans. It was a joke…sort of.) I’ll give the edge to White Plains, who has the edge in experience with boatloads of seniors. (MVP: Mike DeMello)