Great games and great crowds tonight, and the Class A semifinals are all set. They will be held Wednesday, Feb. 25 at the County Center. Somers will play Byram Hills at 6:30 and Tappan Zee will play Spring Valley at 8:15.
Here’s our coverage from tonight:
TAPPAN ZEE 67, HARRISON 59. Story by Josh Thomson.
HARRISON – When Robert McWilliams came home to Tappan Zee, this was, of course, the moment he envisioned. A crowd too nervous to sit, a berth to the County Center at stake, the offense running through his capable hands.
The junior transfer from Bergen Catholic delivered in the clutch Tuesday night, scoring 20 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as No. 5 Tappan Zee won its Class A quarterfinal at No. 4 Harrison, 67-59.
McWilliams’ monster fourth quarter earned the Dutchmen (15-5) a fifth trip to the County Center in six seasons — a fact that would’ve seemed unthinkable before their upset-fueled run to the 2010 championship. The only large-school program with more semifinal appearances in that time span is Mount Vernon.
“I tell them, culture does graduate if you allow it to,” said Tappan Zee coach George Gaine, whose team will play for its third gold ball in six years. “It does graduate if you don’t work hard in the offseason, if you don’t love each other. This game was won off the court.”
On it, the Dutchmen needed to regroup despite building a 36-22 halftime lead behind 14 points from senior Luke McLaughlin. Harrison’s pressure forced mistakes and the trio of Justin Stagg (15 points), Jack Hochman (15) and Zack Evans (13) led the Huskies to within two points, 43-41, heading to the fourth quarter.
That’s when McWilliams caught fire. Tappan Zee switched McWilliams into McLaughlin’s position on offense and ran him through the same plays that worked for McLaughlin in the first half. He scored six straight to open the fourth, added a pair of three-point plays and hit his final eight free throw attempts.
The Dutchmen also received 10 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks from junior Victor Clervil and six points from Dylan Kane, who drew the defensive assignment on Stagg, Harrison’s top outside shooter.
“The first half Luke gave us so much. The second half, I knew I had to help him out,” McWilliams said. “That’s what I tried to do and it worked out.”
Tappan Zee will play top-seeded Spring Valley at 8:15 on Feb. 25 in the semifinals, thinking upset again. The Dutchmen lost both head-to-head meetings during the regular season, although one was in overtime at Spring Valley.
“It’s going to be fun. It’s fun every time we play them,” said McLaughlin, who had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. “They have such great players. Hopefully, the third time’s a charm and we can get that upset.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Photos by Seth Harrison.
SOMERS 43, PELHAM 36. Story by Vince Mercogliano.
SOMERS – With a low-scoring first half in the books, Somers was need of an offensive spark in its Class A quarterfinal against No. 10 Pelham on Tuesday.
The second-seeded Tuskers needed someone to get the shots falling, and Anthony Maestri was just the man for the job.
“Everyone always tells me that I’m the most confident kid on the team, so I shoot whenever I have a wide open shot,” Maestri said. “I have a shooter’s mentality.”
Maestri hit back-to-back 3s early in the third quarter to give Somers a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish on the way to a 43-36 win, sending the Tuskers to the County Center for the first time since 1992.
They’ll play No. 3 Byram Hills in the semifinals next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
“In the first half, we weren’t hitting any shots. I came out (in the second half) and hit both of those 3s, and we really rode that momentum,” Maestri said. “We started hitting some shots and broke away right there.”
The Pelicans led 12-7 after the first quarter, but neither team was able to muster much offense in the first half, which led to a 15-15 tie at the half.
“We’re a defensive team. We know that defense wins championships, so we came out here, played our best defense and got it done,” Somers’ Ryan Grossman said. “We have a bunch of athletes and we’re long, so we like to use that to our advantage — get steals, get out in front, and that’s what we did.”
The Tuskers were effective with their full court press and went on a 15-4 run for a stretch in the third quarter. Grossman led the way with 11 points, but the Tuskers relied on spreading the ball out, with six players scoring at least four points.
“We realized this is our court, we’re the No. 2 seed, and we just relaxed,” Grossman said. “The third quarter is usually where we fall off, so we had to make a statement that, ‘We’re going to have a good third quarter and take this game.'”
Brendan Roche led Pelham with 12 points and nine rebounds, including a 3 that cut Somers’ lead to 36-32 with 1:45 to play. But the four-point deficit was as close as the Pelicans would get, as the Tuskers continued their run despite having five new starters this season.
“It really shows that, as a squad, we have great chemistry,” Maestri said. “We’ve been playing together our whole lives, and now it’s finally our turn. We’re going to ride it all of the way to the section championship.”
Other Class A quarterfinals
Byram Hills 50, Hen Hud 49: In a Class A quarterfinal at No. 3 Byram Hills, Matt Groll (6 points) scored the winning basket off an offensive rebound with 11 seconds left. Skylar Sinon (12 points, 7 rebounds) then blocked Hen Hud’s final shot attempt by Dylan Fraser.
Fraser’s shot came off an inbound play from underneath Hen Hud’s basket with 5.6 seconds remaining. Byram had four fouls to give and had committed one of the fouls to force Hen Hud to reset.
“I didn’t want to call timeout because I didn’t want them to draw up a play,” Byram Hills coach Ted Repa said. “I wanted them to foul, but we weren’t able to and that’s when Skylar blocked the shot.”
The Bobcats were in that position despite leading 47-40 with less than three minutes remaining after a 7-0 run. The Sailors answered with three 3-pointers in the final 2:25, including two by Jeremy Morris in the final 1:08 after Morris hadn’t played all game. Morris’ second 3 gave Hen Hud a 49-48 lead prior to Groll’s winning basket.
The Bobcats will play No. 2 Somers at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25 in the semifinals at the County Center.
Spring Valley 67, Yorktown 45: In a Class A quarterfinal at No. 1 Spring Valley, Rickey McGill had 23 points and five assists and Marc Dorsainvil added 14 points and five steals. Kai Mitchell chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds and Jamarr Joseph had nine and seven.
The Tigers, last year’s Class AA runner-up, led just 24-20 before extending their lead to 10 with two 3-pointers just before halftime. They then opened the second half on a 7-0 run and built a 51-29 lead through three.
Mason Dyslin led Yorktown with 16 points and Nick DeGennaro added 10.
Spring Valley will play No. 5 Tappan Zee at 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25 in the semifinals at the County Center. The teams met twice during the regular season. Spring Valley won both games — 77-71 in OT on Jan. 14 at Spring Valley and 75-65 on Feb. 3 at Tappan Zee.