So we’re now at 32-8 this postseason after posting a 3-1 mark on Monday night. I have to admit, Tuckahoe really, really surprised me, so it was not shocking the Tigers let it known that they read my prediction on the game.
“I read an article (on the Varsity Insider Blog) that said we were going to lose 59-44,” Tuckahoe sophomore Jamon Murray said. “I took that to heart.”
Well, OK then.
This time, I gave you, the reader, a chance to vote on who you like in today’s games. Here are the results. As of 9:15, you like Irvington, Putnam Valley, Somers and Spring Valley.
Your picks are certainly interesting, but my goal today, as always, is to nail all four picks. That’s highly unlikely. This could be the best night of basketball all week with two semifinals in Class A and B. The only pick I feel strongly about is Woodlands. Outside of a Putnam Valley win, I wouldn’t consider any other result an upset.
So establishing that point, let’s dive into tonight’s predictions:
Class B semifinals
No. 2 Briarcliff vs. No. 3 Irvington, 3 p.m.
The key: Converting opportunities. I really think the final score will ultimately tell a lot about this game. I’d be surprised if Irvington won a game in the high 50s or 60s, and maybe a little surprised if Briarcliff prevailed if the game was in the 40s. That won’t be determined as much by the pace of the game as it is by things like second-chance points, hitting open shots, taking care of the ball. The team that wins the gray areas will have the edge in a close, physical game.
The pick: Briarcliff 56, Irvington 53. Expect a grind. Both teams are solid, well-coached and have experienced players. Briarcliff has a little more depth, and a little more offensive punch. That will be just enough in a game that should be tight throughout.
Your pick: Irvington, 53.7 percent.
No. 1 Woodlands vs. No. 5 Putnam Valley, 4:45 p.m.
The key: Handling Woodlands’ pressure. Putnam Valley will have to do several things right to win — shoot well, rebound, have multiple contributors. But it all starts with the Tigers’ ability to handle Woodlands pressure. If they can’t, it could be a long night.
The pick: Woodlands 70, Putnam Valley 55. If Woodlands won last year’s game against the best team in Put Valley history, I don’t see this one being that close. The Tigers have some real strengths, but, this year in Class B Woodlands is playing on its own level.
Your pick: Putnam Valley, 52.6 percent.
Class A semifinals
No. 2 Somers vs. No. 3 Byram Hills, 6:30 p.m.
The key: Shooting, foul trouble. I’ll give you two. First, both teams will take their share of 3-pointers, but shooting is especially key for Somers, which predicates its game on shooting from deep, making a high percentage and using its size to chase the misses. I’m not sure the second part will be effective with the Groll brothers on the floor, so Somers will need to make some shots. However, as many of you have pointed out this week, Byram Hills needs Andrew Groll on the floor. He’s a four-year varsity player who is the section’s best rebounder. But his size can only be a factor if he’s on the floor.
The pick: Byram Hills 48, Somers 47. I’m not sure anyone will lead by more than five points all night. But with Ross Weinfeld due back, and Skylar Sinon able to play off the ball, I think Byram will have what it takes to deliver down the stretch of a very tight game.
Your pick: Somers, 56.4 percent.
No. 1 Spring Valley vs. No. 5 Tappan Zee, 8:15 p.m.
The key: Defense and rebounding. Both things were deficient in their second meeting, and that’s where you need to start. TZ played great in the first meeting — an OT loss — but the Spring Valley team that won easily at TZ is the team that’s coming to the County Center. TZ played zone and it was a disaster — the defense was picked apart and the Dutchmen couldn’t rebound. Expect them to pack it in today to protect the glass, but that’s easier said than done against the section’s best team. If TZ doesn’t play its best defensive game of the season, it can’t win.
The pick: Spring Valley 69, Tappan Zee 57. This might surprise many of you, but I like Spring Valley to win convincingly. TZ is the second best team in Class A, but I think there’s a gap there. I have all the respect for Tappan Zee’s program, but Spring Valley is just a more talented and deeper team. I also think the Tigers have shown maturity in the second half of the season, especially Rickey McGill, who has developed into a real leader. He plays hard, and he and the seniors won’t let TZ outwork his team.
Your pick: Spring Valley, 63.1 percent.