In my quest to pick every game in this year’s Section 1 tournament, below is a look at my predictions for this week’s Class AA, A and B quarterfinals.
My predictions from last week’s first round resulted in a 19-5 record. I was 7 for 8 in both Classes AA and A, but Class B was much more challenging. Two lower seeds, Ardsley and Bronxville, won on the road. I also misfired on my upset pick of Westlake over Palisade Prep, which advanced to the quarterfinals again.
I definitely considered flipping a couple of my pre-tournament picks, but did I follow through with it? You’ll have to read below to find out…
Tuesday, Feb. 17
Class A quarterfinals
No. 9 Yorktown at No. 1 Spring Valley, 5:30 p.m.
The key: Yorktown’s shooting. To even think upset, the Huskers must have an ’85 Villanova-type day. They just don’t match up with Spring Valley position-by-position.
The pick: Spring Valley 77, Yorktown 61. The Tigers aren’t just too much, they’re also red hot.
No. 5 Tappan Zee at No. 4 Harrison, 6:15 p.m.
The key: Foul trouble, pace, etc. Basically anything that determines whether or not depth is a factor. Harrison has it, Tappan Zee doesn’t, but TZ is stronger in its starting five.
The pick: Tappan Zee 65, Harrison 60. TZ won its second game — Harrison’s first — at Harrison back in December. That game doesn’t really have much bearing on this one it was so long ago. But I like TZ’s size and strength in the paint, and the Dutchmen do an excellent job of playing with a limited bench in big games. I can’t seem them succumbing to foul trouble, not in this spot.
No. 11 Hen Hud at No. 3 Byram Hills, 7 p.m.
The key: Staying in the moment. This is the deep end of the pool for Hen Hud, which hadn’t won a playoff game since 1999. The Sailors can’t let the moment get to them. To be fair, they played unafraid when it counted against Lourdes, which should be great experience for Byram Hills.
The pick: Byram Hills 51, Hen Hud 40. Hen Hud has played great late in the season, but a healthy Byram Hills is a long way from a depleted Lourdes. I think Byram’s rebounding and defense lead it back to the County Center.
No. 10 Pelham at No. 2 Somers, 7 p.m.
The key: Defensive intensity. Both teams like to shoot jumpshots, but both have the length to give opposing offenses fits. With so much on the line, and in front of a rowdy crowd, the jumpshots might fall. The team that defends better will emerge.
The pick: Somers 52, Pelham 50. If this game was on a neutral court or at Pelham, I would pick the Pelicans. But I think Somers rides Tusker Nation to a tight victory.
Wednesday, Feb. 18
Class AA quarterfinals
No. 5 Clarkstown South at No. 4 Fox Lane, 5 p.m.
The key: Justin Rivera and co. in the paint. Fox Lane would seemingly have an edge inside, so Rivera and his fellow forwards must do what they can to even out the battle in the paint.
The pick: Fox Lane 66, Clarkstown South 60. South’s toughness and execution has always been key in big games, but I like the variety of options on Fox Lane. Homecourt helps, too.
No. 6 Horace Greeley at No. 3 Saunders, 5 p.m.
The key: Tempo. In its close games recently (White Plains, Yonkers), Saunders hasn’t played at its preferred tempo. The Blue Devils don’t want to play Greeley in a game in the 40s or 50s.
The pick: Saunders 68, Greeley 59. After a first-round scare, Saunders might actually have a more favorable matchup. That remains to be seen, but if the Blue Devils push the pace and force Greeley into mistakes, they win.
No. 10 Suffern at No. 2 Mount Vernon, 5 p.m.
The key: Rebounding. As usual, Mount Vernon is tremendous on the glass. This year, the Knights have length to pair with their strength. Suffern can really shoot, but it can’t let Mount Vernon control the offensive glass or it will be curtains.
The pick: Mount Vernon 77, Suffern 58. Expect Suffern to keep it close for a half, but the Knights have been terrific in the third quarter. Their size and depth just wears teams down.
No. 8 Mamaroneck at No. 1 Arlington, 5:30 p.m.
The key: The play of Miles Haughton and Dean DeLucia. The Tigers are strong and know how to defend. What can make them special is when Haughton, their most talented player, and DeLucia, their best shooter, can get going offensively.
The pick: Arlington 55, Mamaroneck 48. For Mamaroneck — fresh off its first playoff win in 38 years — going to Dutchess County and beating a 19-0 team is a tall order. The Tigers will need to play even better than last week against Ramapo. It’s possible no team is hungrier for a trip to the County Center than Arlington, which has been oh-so-close in recent years.
Class B quarterfinals
No. 7 Croton-Harmon at No. 2 Briarcliff, 5 p.m.
The key: Balance. When Briarcliff plays the way it is capable of, the Bears are the better team. They lost by one at Croton when Sean Crowley was the whole offense, but they bounced back a few days later at home behind a much more balanced effort.
The pick: Croton 49, Briarcliff 48. If there’s an upset, I like it to be this one. Croton has made a habit of winning tight quarterfinal matchups to get to the County Center.
No. 9 Bronxville at No. 1 Woodlands, 6 p.m.
The key: Protecting the ball. What has made Woodlands upset-proof the last two seasons is its defense. Even when the Falcons aren’t shooting it well, which is rare, they force mistakes and get out in transition. Bronxville will have to play a clean game and hope it can disrupt Woodlands offense in the process.
The pick: Woodlands 67, Bronxville 51. The Falcons remain a major favorite. They are on a different level than the competition.
No. 6 Palisade Prep at No. 3 Irvington, 6:15 p.m.
The key: Defense, defense, defense…and rebounding. Irvington games have been a grind, particularly against quality opponents. That doesn’t cater to Palisade Prep’s game, but the Phoenix can’t let Irvington limit its good first looks and number of second-chance points.
The pick: Irvington 49, Palisade Prep 42. I think Irvington’s game is well-suited for the moment. The Bulldogs also have great senior leadership and will play with confidence at home.
No. 13 Ardsley at No. 5 Putnam Valley, 7 p.m.
The key: Ardsley playing consistent from start to finish. Putnam Valley is a team of spurts. Ardsley isn’t a high-scoring team and must guard against the type of run that could prove decisive.
The pick: Putnam Valley 61, Ardsley 49. The Tigers can be potent, especially at home in front of their fans. They’ll be very tough to beat unless it’s an off night.