The second day of the CYP tournament gets underway today, and while there are locals sprinkled throughout the nine teams, there appears to be one team that is thick with local talent. Below you’ll find my story on the New York Falcons, a team comprised of the best players in Rockland.
PORT CHESTER As soon as Pat Buckley found out he’d secured a spot in the annual CYP tournament, he knew what had to be done.
The Albertus Magnus girls basketball coach immediately got on the phone, looking to convince the best boys basketball players in Rockland County to stick together and play on his team, the New York Falcons.
“I tried to get on them early last year,” Buckley said. “I said, ‘Listen, this could be a great thing for Rockland if we could get all you guys to play together.’”
Months later, Buckley’s dreams came to fruition, as the county’s top players have joined forces to play in the 68th edition of the tournament held at Our Lady of Mercy in Port Chester. On Monday, the Falcons will play WC/The City at 8:30 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
While most teams tend to be a combination of players from throughout the tri-state area, the Falcons are composed almost entirely of players from or with ties to Rockland.
Pearl River’s Kevin Degnan, Spring Valley’s Kai Mitchell and Rickey McGill — all of whom were named to the Lower Hudson Basketball Coaches Association first team last week — and Paul Jorgensen, a New City resident who plays at Don Bosco Prep, headline the group. Degnan (Fairfield), McGill (Manhattan) and Jorgensen (George Washington) have all committed to Division I programs, while Mitchell continues to field offers.
“It’s the only Rockland team, and it’s nice going against Westchester kids,” said Degnan, who was named Section 1’s “Mr. Basketball” on Tuesday. “Every time we get together, we have lots of success, so it’s going to be lots of fun.”
Clarkstown South’s Conor McGuinness and Tappan Zee’s Luke McLaughlin, both all-conference honorees this season as juniors, are also on the squad. McLaughlin’s cousin Troy McLaughlin, who plays for Old Tappan in Bergen County, N.J., will also play with the Falcons along with Cardinal Spellman’s Dom Arena, whose father, Larry, works in Nanuet.
Buckley said this team is the best he’s coached in his six years involved in the CYP tournament.
“I’m excited that they’re all together,” Buckley said. “I think this is going to be a fun thing.”
With a court half the size of what one would find in most high school gyms and fans so close to the sideline they rub shoulders with players making inbounds passes, the CYP tournament is different from anything players are used to in the AAU circuit.
“It’s definitely different from a regular game,” Degnan said. “It’s definitely unique. It’s fun.”