The snow might have ruined what was set to be a fantastic day of hoops, but we here at the Varsity Insider blog have figured out a way to fill that void left by Hercules.
Earlier in the season, Josh and I had thrown around the idea of making predictions on all of the leagues in Section 1. While some teams have already played some league games, things really get into full swing next week. We decided today would be a great day to post our predictions on how we think things will shake out.
Below you’ll find our predictions on how each league will end up. We’ve also included our pick for each league’s MVP. In addition to ranking the teams in each league, we also each included a few sentences on our thoughts on the league.
As you’ll see, there were plenty of close calls. In fact, Josh and I had ties atop several of the leagues because we felt it was just too close to pick.
CONFERENCE 1 —
T1. Our Lady of Lourdes
5. John Jay-East Fishkill
MVP: Kyle Santoro, Lourdes
• Josh’s take: This is a three, four or even five-team race. John Jay’s win over Beacon proved that. I still think Poughkeepsie will be dangerous by season’s end, so teams best challenge the Pioneers in January.
• Dan’s take: The most parity of any of the leagues. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Poughkeepsie, Beacon or Lourdes take home the title. In my eyes, the Warriors get the slightest of edges because they have the best player in the league in Kyle Santoro.
• Josh’s take: I think the best question is who finishes Nos. 2 through 5. Mahopac seems like a strong favorite now, but I don’t see a real strong case for No. 2 yet. All four teams have their strengths and weaknesses.
• Dan’s take: Mahopac once again enters league play as the favorite despite losing several key players from last season to graduation. Ryan Simone has proved early on to be a dominant force inside. The Bears take the number two spot thanks to a large senior class. Carmel comes in at the number three spot.
2. Putnam Valley
MVP: Neorck Brown, Peekskill and Zach Coleman, Putnam Valley
• Josh’s take: Peekskill and Putnam Valley look like strong favorites, although Peekskill has shown a propensity already to play to the level of its opponent. My question is, can Put Valley run the table in a league filled with much larger schools? I think Peekskill gets the Tigers at least once and goes 6-0 in the others to take it.
• Dan’s take: This is Peekskill’s league to lose. The Red Devils size will make them a tough matchup for the rest of the field. The Putnam Valley quartet of Zach Coleman, Jelani Bell-Isaac, Zack Nolan and Ryan Basso put the Tigers in the two spot. Panas is a dark horse, but will likely need Peekskill and Putnam Valley to split with each other.
T1. Hen Hud
3. North Salem
MVP: Peter Hoffmann, Haldane
• Josh’s take: Hen Hud is a young team with a new coach, but one that has shown signs of improvement so far. Still, Haldane is not your typical Class C team. I think the Blue Devils can earn a split and the share of the league title.
• Dan’s take: Hen Hud and Haldane are the two favorites thanks to a balanced attack. The Blue Devils don’t lack in size despite being a small school with four players at 6-foot-4.
CONFERENCE 2 —
1. Palisade Prep
2. Children’s Village
4. Solomon Schechter
5. Martin Luther King
6. Greenburgh Academy
7. Yonkers Montessori
MVP: Isaiah Ward, Palisade Prep
• Josh’s take: When you look at some of the teams, Palisade Prep has already played and beat, it is a strong favorite. Watch out of MLK if Raijen Griffen gets going.
• Dan’s take: Palisade Prep looks to be the favorite, taking the top spot ahead of Children’s Village, who the Phoenix beat for the Class C sectional title last season. Palisade Prep’s Isaiah Ward should really shine in league play with the help of Brandon Tate and Kevin Sabino.
1. Mount Vernon
2. White Plains
3. New Rochelle
MVP: Devonte Banner, Mount Vernon
• Josh’s take: I personally think New Rochelle is the better matchup for Mount Vernon even though White Plains has the better team as of now. Frankly, I don’t think either will be able to beat the Knights, making the races for second and fourth the tightest.
• Dan’s take: As good as White Plains has looked early on, this is still Mount Vernon’s league. I think the Tigers might be able to steal one from the Knights, but I still give Mount Vernon the edge. New Rochelle won’t be an easy draw either, but at the end of the day the Knights have a point to prove this season.
4. Sleepy Hollow
MVP: Jack Daly, Eastchester
• Josh’s take: Woodlands has already proved its a force to be reckoned with by beating Putnam Valley and Pearl River on the road and nearly knocking off Peekskill. Still, I favor Eastchester
• Dan’s take: Eastchester is the frontrunner thanks to a talented backcourt of Jack Daly and Benny Dimirco. Don’t let the Class B tag fool you: Woodlands is a very talented squad that will give the Eagles a pair of tough games.
T2. Dobbs Ferry
MVP: Kevin Tierney, Irvington
• Josh’s take: Spots No. 2 through 6 are muddled, and I think one team could give Irvington at least one blemish. Still, don’t expect many home-and-home sweeps in this league.
• Dan’s take: Irvington looks like it will lead the pack in the league thanks to a plethora of scoring options that is headlined by Kevin Tierney. Dobbs Ferry, Hastings and Tuckahoe all are neck and neck to fill in the next three spots.
T3. Early College
MVP: Rashan McKay, Gorton
• Josh’s take: Gorton has the league’s best player, but Riverside and Saunders are more well-rounded teams. This should be a topsy-turvy league where just about every game is up for grabs. This will be another one where sweeps are a rarity.
• Dan’s take: Riverside takes a portion of the top spot in the Yonkers’ league after placing second in the Yonkers City Tournament (Palisade Prep, who is in League II-A, won the tournament). Saunders also looks to be a heavy favorite as the Blue Devils continue to develop with each game. Gorton is a dark horse pick with our prediction for the league’s MVP in Rashan McKay.
CONFERENCE 3 —
1. Fox Lane
T2. Byram Hills
5. Horace Greeley
MVP: James Morales, Fox Lane
• Josh’s take: Fox Lane should be at the head of the pack and has already earned a key league win over Harrison. The Huskies could challenge for the top spot now that they’re at full strength, but Byram’s pedigree will make it a tough out, too.
• Dan’s take: A very deep league that has three legitimate contenders. Fox Lane looks to be the favorite after its early success and deep senior class. Byram Hills, who is led by one of the section’s best big men in junior Andrew Groll, and Harrison, who has played well early in the season, are also in the mix.
T1. Blind Brook
MVP: Jeff Visoky, Blind Brook and Patrick Gallagher, Croton-Harmon
• Josh’s take: The race for the league’s top player will be just as tight as the race for first. Frankly, both should be so close that there isn’t just one winner.
• Dan’s take: Another league that seems to be wide open. Briarcliff, Croton-Harmon and Blind Brook all make a good case for why they should be considered the favorite.
1. Rye Neck
3. Port Chester
6. Hawthorne Cedar Knolls
MVP: Matt Franks, Rye Neck
• Josh’s take: Rye Neck seems like a strong favorite and Valhalla a strong favorite for second. The rest should sort itself out, although I don’t expect any of the bottom four teams to beat either of the top two.
• Dan’s take: Matt Franks has led Rye Neck to a great start as the Panthers look to not only win their league, but a sectional title as well. Valhalla and Port Chester fall into the two and three spots, respectively.
1. Spring Valley
2. Clarkstown South
T4. North Rockland
6. Clarkstown North
MVP: Kai Mitchell, Spring Valley
• Josh’s take: Spring Valley might have to beat South twice to earn an outright league title. Those teams seem to have a considerable edge against the other four teams. Next Friday night will say a lot about who’s the favorite for first.
• Dan’s take: In my eyes Spring Valley has the slight edge over Clarkstown South thanks to the star power of Rickey McGill and Kai Mitchell. The Vikings could certainly split with the Tigers, though, making Ramapo an extremely interesting team. While I don’t think the Gryphons will vie for the league title, they could certainly pull an upset that would shake up the standings.
T1. Pearl River
T1. Tappan Zee
4. Albertus Magnus
MVP: Kevin Degnan, Pearl River
• Josh’s take: Again, this could come down to the home-and-home with TZ and Pearl River, which seems to be one of the section’s most even rivalries. But Nyack, Albertus and Nanuet are not doormats. Not only could they finish in any order, they are close enough to the top two that they could pull off an upset.
• Dan’s take: Pearl River and Tappan Zee seem to be a bit ahead of everyone else in the league. Should be two great games between the two rivals. Nyack is a bit of a dark horse pick as they come in at the number three spot.