Boys basketball: Postseason preview

After a regular season disrupted by weather, Section 1’s boys and girls basketball tournaments have already followed suit. And before they even started.

Section 1 finalized its boys and girls basketball tournaments on Tuesday night. The section was quickly forced to reshuffle its plans Wednesday, moving all Class AA and A outbracket games to Friday and all first-round games in Classes AA, A and B to Saturday after schools closed for the day today when the tournament was originally scheduled to begin.

Depending on the severity of Thursday’s storm, the games could be pushed to the weekend entirely. In fact, if any school involved in the Class AA and A outbracket games cancels on Friday, the complete slate of games will be played Saturday, bumping the first-round games to Sunday.

At some point, the weather will subside and allow the tournament to open. Just remember: Championship Week is slated for the County Center from Feb. 24-March 2.

Class AA

Favorite: Mount Vernon. It hasn’t always been artistic, but the Knights are perfect in Section 1 and state play. Their physical strength and depth makes up for what they lack in skill. Inside the section, that might be more than enough.

Challengers: White Plains and Spring Valley. The winner of a potential quarterfinal game between these two has the best shot to upset Mount Vernon in the final. Their ceilings exceed that of any other team in the draw.

Best first-round game: No. 9 New Rochelle at No. 8 Mamaroneck. The teams split during the regular season. More importantly, Mamaroneck kept both games at its pace with neither team scoring over 46 points in either game.

Upset special: No. 12 Suffern at No. 5 Mahopac. The Indians should still win, but Suffern is a tricky team that nearly upset No. 2 Clarkstown South and has plenty of young talent. If the upset alert isn’t blaring, it’s at least plugged in.

X-factor: Mount Vernon’s shooting. If the Knights can get into any sort of offensive rhythm, their defense and rebounding will be too much to overcome.

County Center-bound: Mount Vernon, Clarkstown South, White Plains, Fox Lane.

Championship: Mount Vernon over White Plains.

MVP candidates: Devonte Banner, Mount Vernon; Mike DeMello, White Plains; Brandon Martin, Mount Vernon; Kai Mitchell, Spring Valley; Rickey McGill, Spring Valley; James Morales, Fox Lane; Jordan Tucker, White Plains; Joe Zayer, Clarkstown South.

Class A

Favorite: Eastchester. Two of their best players (Benny DiMirco, Mike Milo) are nursing injuries, but the Eagles are the class of Class A. They proved it with wins over defending Class AA champs New Rochelle and Kingston.

Challengers: Panas, Beacon, Pearl River. At their best, these three teams probably have the best chance to beat Eastchester.

Best first-round game: No. 10 Pearl River at No. 7 Beacon. The best player in the draw (Kevin Degnan) going against maybe its most-talented team (Beacon).

Upset special: Beacon-Pearl River winner at Panas. For a team that was in a tiebreaker for the No. 2 and 3 seed with Lourdes, Panas might’ve been worse off drawing the higher seed. Both Beacon and Pearl River can win the gold ball.

X-factor: Injuries. Unfortunately, balky ankles and shoulders and the like often decide big sporting events. Eastchester is a solid favorite, but it must be at full-strength.

County Center-bound: Eastchester, Harrison, Tappan Zee, Beacon.

Championship: Eastchester over Beacon.

MVP candidates: Jack Daly, Eastchester; Kevin Degnan, Pearl River; Elijah Hughes, Beacon; Coby Lefkowitz, Harrison; Tim McCauley, Panas; Luke McLaughlin, Tappan Zee; Kyle Santoro, Lourdes.

Class B

Favorites: Woodlands and Putnam Valley. These two have seemingly been bound on a collision course since Woodlands won in Putnam Valley’s gym in December.

Challengers: Irvington,Blind Brook, Palisade Prep, Croton-Harmon, Rye Neck. This is a very deep group of contenders. Any of them could hoist the gold ball and it wouldn’t be a major shock.

Best first-round game: No. 10 North Salem at No. 7 Rye Neck. North Salem has a history of playoff upsets under coach Henry Sassone. Remember: Last year, the Tigers beat top-seeded Briarcliff to reach the County Center.

Upset alert: No. 3 Palisade Prep vs. No. 6 Woodlands. Although Woodlands is the pre-tournament favorite, it has a relatively inexperienced lineup. Meanwhile, Palisade Prep’s top three players were stars on last year’s Class C champion. They know what it takes to win.

X-factor: Nerves. Outside of Palisade Prep and Putnam Valley, the top eight seeds have little or no playoff experience at the County Center. Teams that can learn to best manage that will be rewarded.

County County-bound: Irvington, Blind Brook, Putnam Valley, Woodlands.

Championship: Woodlands over Putnam Valley.

MVP candidates: Jelani Bell-Isaac, Putnam Valley; Zach Coleman, Putnam Valley; Matt Franks, Rye Neck; Jamil Gambari, Woodlands; Mike Macchia, Irvington; Kevin Sabino, Palisade Prep; Abdoulye Sow, Woodlands; Kevin Tierney, Irvington; Jeff Visoky, Blind Brook; Isaiah Ward, Palisade Prep.

Class C

Favorite: Hamilton. It’s a close call between the top three seeds, but Hamilton played its best ball at the end of the regular season.

Challenger: Haldane. The Blue Devils surged early and have faced a very different schedule than the rest of the field. They’re something of an unknown, but they might have the highest ceiling in the field.

X-factor: The stars. In the Class C tournament, superstars can often take over and lead their teams to championships. Buckle up.

County County-bound: MLK, Hamilton, Haldane, Tuckahoe.

Championship: Hamilton over MLK.

MVP candidates: Peter Hoffmann, Haldane; Deshawn Johnson, MLK; Max Pearce, Tuckahoe; Eli Sierra, Hamilton.

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