Larry Brooks held a team practice Wednesday night.
And even before he gathered his John Jay High School girls basketball team, the coach knew they were going to arrive with plenty of energy on the eve of the Section 1 outbracket round.
“We’re excited to go in. We have a young team, and we’re trying to compete to get ourselves into the sectionals,” said Brooks, whose team finished the regular season 5-15. “We’ve come a long way, and our kids are excited to have this opportunity.”
The Patriots are among seven area girls basketball teams setting sights on a Gold Ball — the glossy prize awarded to each Section 1 champion. John Jay, Beacon and Arlington will play outbracket games Thursday, while Our Lady of Lourdes and Roy C. Ketcham have already gained entry to the first round, which begins Saturday.
The Class C tournament, which features Haldane and Pawling, starts next week.
No. 19 John Jay at No. 14 Scarsdale at 5 p.m. Thursday
Brooks has been pleased lately with the play of Sam Baragas, Natalie Young, Annamarie Rosanio, and Taylor Scarpelli, who have provided leadership that the younger players have fed off. The coach has also taken notice of his team’s progression.
“We’re starting to get better offensively,” Brooks said. “Things are starting to click. They’re happy they have this opportunity and a win would be real big for us right now.”
Should the Patriots win, they will visit third-seeded Albertus Magnus on Saturday.
No. 18 Mamaroneck at No. 15 Arlington at 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Led by the footwork of 5-foot-9 center Crystal Miller, the Admirals played to a 10-10 record this year. Arlington beat the likes of Spackenkill, Carmel and Wallkill among other teams.
A year ago, Arlington finished the regular season 14-6 and was ousted by Mahopac in the tournament’s first round.
If the Admirals win, they will face No. 2 Ursuline Saturday.
No. 13 Mahopac at No. 4 Our Lady of Lourdes Saturday, time TBA
Warriors junior guard Maddie Siegrist made the proclamation earlier this season: her team would be in the section finals.
And while Lourdes still maintains that confidence, it is well aware winning won’t come easy, as Class AA boasts several strong teams. Among the powerhouses are four-time defending New York State champion Ossining, the top seed, No. 3 Albertus Magnus and No. 2 Ursuline.
“We know Class AA is going to be very tough. There are a lot of good teams, and it’s going to be very competitive,” said Warriors coach Al Viani, whose team finished the regular season 18-2. “It’s going to be a tough road, but we expected that right from the beginning.”
Siegrist, Rebecca Townes and Abby Weeks have been three of Lourdes’ top players this year. Viani said “they know what to expect,” as his team “won’t overlook anybody.”
“We know what we’re up against,” he added. “We’ve seen the other teams, for the most part. We just have to play our best every time we go out.”
No. 11 Mount Vernon vs. No. 6 Ketcham Saturday, time TBA
The Indians have been led this year by versatile scorers Katie Wall and Jykayla Elting, and finished 18-2. At one point, Ketcham had ripped off 14 straight wins.
Thus, it was almost difficult for coach Pat Mealy to accept his team’s placement as the number six seed.
Yet like Viani, the Ketcham coach knows full well the class is decorated with talent.
“(Class) AA is loaded. There are no breathers,” Mealy said. “In some regards, we’re disappointed that we finished 18-2 and got the six seed. But if you look at the quality of teams, it’s understandable.”
No. 19 Sleepy Hollow at No. 14 Beacon at 5:15 p.m. Thursday
Bulldogs coach Christina Dahl said her team’s mindset is positive.
Beacon has reason to be, given that it swept Sleepy Hollow during the regular season. And although she admitted her girls have gone through confidence lapses, she insists they are ready.
“I really believe we can play with everyone in the section,” said Dahl, whose team finished 9-11. “When we have contributions from all players, we’re a team that can compete.”
Lauren Schetter was the Bulldogs’ leader this year, receiving backup from Brianna Dembo, Gabby DeMaria and Raven Encarnacion.
“Lauren is obviously incredible,” Dahl said. “Brianna is a silent weapon, Gabby has stepped up and given us great minutes in the second half. Raven plays under control and helps run things from the point.”
Should Beacon win, it will play third-seeded Hendrick Hudson on Saturday.
No. 5 Keio at No. 4 Pawling, Feb. 22, time TBA
The winner of this quarterfinal game will take on No. 1 Haldane in the Westchester County Center on Feb. 28. Haldane finished the season 15-5 and is seeking its fourth-straight Class C title.
It’s been a bit different compared to years past, Blue Devils coach Tyrone Searight admitted, calling the season “up and down.” However, Haldane continued to receive stellar play from Allison Chiera, Missy Lisikatos and Abby Stowell.
Winning another section title, Searight said, would be a “great accomplishment,” considering Haldane competed against Class B schools.
“We played a tough schedule for a Class C school,” Searight said. “That gives us a lot of confidence, but we have much respect for our opponents. Anything can happen at the (Westchester) County Center.”
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports