We tied at the Slam Dunk with both of us finishing 10-2. Fox Lane stuck us both with a loss; I also picked Middletown to beat White Plains, while Dan picked Eastchester to win the consolation of its tourney.
Here’s a look at how we’ve done so far and who we like this week:
Josh: 19-3 (10-2 last week)
Dan: 17-5 (10-2 last week)
Clarkstown South at New Rochelle, 1 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: New Rochelle, 72-65. South’s improvement since last season has been clear. Outside of Pearl River — a team they had to rally to beat — the Vikings have been basically perfect. But the next nine days will say plenty about them (New Ro Thursday, Spring Valley on Jan. 10). Right now, I’m going to stick with the Huguenots, who have been in every game they’ve played despite some serious competition. I think they’ll return from the break ready to play at a high level.
Dan’s pick: New Rochelle, 66-63. A pair of talented backcourts do battle in this one (CS-Conor McGuinness and Joe Zayer; NR-Derek Dorn and Antoine Lewis). New Rochelle is coming off a three-game tournament in Binghamton against some talented competition. The Vikings have had a bit of a hiatus, playing only one game in almost two weeks. I think the layoff might hurt Clarkstown South.
Children’s Village at Palisade Prep, 4:15 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Palisade Prep, 71-58. While Children’s Village could be in the mix for a sectional championship, Palisade Prep is a couple levels up right now. Sure, they played for last year’s Class C title, but the Phoenix have taken on challenges in moving up to Class B. They’ve already played Class AA Mamaroneck and Class A Eastchester, Riverside and Saunders. They’ll be more than ready for this one.
Dan’s pick: Palisade Prep, 62-53. You’d be hard pressed to find a more talented player than the Phoenix’s Isaiah Ward in the small-school ranks. Ward, Brandon Tate and Kevin Sabino-Pena make up a dynamic trio that has Palisade Prep eyeing another sectional title despite bumping up to Class B. The Phoenix will look to make a statement in a rematch of last season’s Class C sectional final.
Byram Hills at Harrison, 6:15 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Byram, 55-50. This could be one of those turning points for Harrison. Heck, the Huskies may’ve already had one when they beat Peekskill, but this is a little different. This is a league game against an opponent that doesn’t know much else other than winning. Byram will expect to go into Harrison and win. If Harrison can take it, it will say a lot about a program striving for consistency at a higher level.
Dan’s pick: Harrison, 66-64. Very interesting Class A matchup. Matt Stein and Coby Leftkowitz have been lights out for the Huskies this season. Byram Hills’ Andrew Groll really seems to be coming into his own this season as well. Harrison’s win against Peekskill is the kind you can use as a springboard to a successful season. The game should draw a huge Huskie crowd as well.
Ramapo at Spring Valley, 6:15 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Spring Valley, 82-71. As Dan said, Ramapo has made good strides already this season. The Gryphons have been a doormat in Rockland in recent years, but no more. They lost to Tappan Zee by just three and have three straight solid wins over Yorktown, Albertus and Nanuet. This is certainly a step up in class. Although I don’t expect Ramapo to win, it will say a lot if it can keep the game competitive into the final four minutes of fourth quarter.
Dan’s pick: Spring Valley, 76-63. Ramapo has already grown by leaps and bounds this season, but competing with one of the top teams in the area is still a ways away. The fact these two teams are rivals adds an interesting twist, but the Tigers are just too talented to let this one get away.
Putnam Valley at Peekskill, 7 p.m. —
Josh’s pick: Peekskill, 66-60. This is about as must-win as it gets for the first week in January. Peekskill’s disastrous finish to December (0-3 in 48 hours) will be debilitating to its quest for a high playoff seed and its psyche. Put Valley almost beat the Red Devils last year and should be even tougher now. If Peekskill can put its foot down, it can start to put the end of 2013 behind it. I think that happens here, although Put Valley will be right there.
Dan’s pick: Peekskill, 67-57. The Red Devils got an early Christmas present with those consecutive losses to White Plains, Beacon and Harrison. Peekskill had the entire holiday break to revaluate what they were doing wrong and how to correct it. I think they look to prove they should still be considered a contender in Class A against the frontrunner for the Class B crown.