As Woodlands built its lead to double figures, coach Bob Murphy reminded his players about what they’d been through. Three times they blew a double-digit lead, most recently in the fourth quarter of their regular-season finale against Class A favorite Eastchester.
“We kind of went back to the fact that we had three really good clubs down 14, 15 points and couldn’t put them away,” Murphy said.
Ironically, those experiences served the Falcons well in Monday’s Class B quarterfinals. They survived an 11-point run on the road and finished strong in a 58-38 victory over No. 3 Palisade Prep, the defending Class C champs.
Woodlands (15-5), the No. 6 seed, advanced to play No. 7 Rye Neck on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in the semifinals at the County Center.
Junior Ross Joseph led a typically balanced effort with 22 points and seven rebounds, but Abdoulaye Sow and Jamil Gambari had 14 points apiece and Brandon Johnson grabbed 13 boards.
“We have a lot of players who can get their own shots off, create shots for others and really help make an impact on this team,” Joseph said. “I think that’s what really separates us from the rest of Class B.”
Case in points: The Falcons had the better of Section 1’s only team with two 1,000-point scorers. They frustrated senior Isaiah Ward into four quick fouls, including a technical, and held senior Kevin Sabino to a quiet nine points.
Palisade Prep (16-4) was whistled for three technicals in the first half alone.
“Woodlands is a very disciplined team and we looked very undisciplined in the first half,” said Phoenix coach Sean Stahn, whose team lost its first home game since opening the gym last season. “We were able to hang with them, but we couldn’t match their intensity.
Palisade Prep fell behind 34-19 before an 11-0 run cut that deficit to four behind Ward (11 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists) and senior Brandon Tate (12 points) early in the fourth quarter.
Sow hit a corner 3-pointer on the next possession off a feed from Joseph. That sparked a 24-8 closing response and sent Woodlands back to the final four after a two-year absence.
“It means a lot,” Johnson said. “We really thought a lot about going to the County Center. And now we are.”
Tuckahoe 59, Children’s Village 58: In a Class C quarterfinal at No. 4 Children’s Village, Max Pearce had 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to help the fifth-seeded Tigers rally from a 13-point deficit with three minutes remaining. Rami Higgins added 18 points for Tuckahoe, which will play No. 1 Martin Luther King Jr. at the County Center on Monday at 4:45 p.m. in the Class C semifinals.
Putnam Valley 55, Croton-Harmon 45: In a Class B quarterfinal at No. 4 Putnam Valley, Jelani Bell-Isaac had 18 points. Zach Coleman added 16 points. Teejay Searight had 15 points for No. 5 Croton Harmon. Putnam Valley will play No. 1 Irvington Monday at 8:15 p.m. in the Class B semifinals.
Irvington 58, Briarcliff 34: In a Class B quarterfinal at No. 1 Irvington, Kevin Tierney had 15 points. Malik White had nine points for the No. 9 Bears. The Bulldogs will play No. 4 Putnam Valley Monday at 8:15 p.m. in the Class B semifinals.
Cardinal Hayes 70, Iona Prep 64, OT: In a CHSAA AA Archdiocesan semifinal at Mount St. Michael, Ty Jerome (23 points) hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for No. 4 Iona Prep to send the game to overtime. The Gaels trailed Hayes, the No. 1 seed, 66-63 when they turned the ball over with 15 seconds remaining. Tom Capuano added 22 points for Iona. Isaiah Ice had 17.
Sacred Heart 58, St. John’s Prep 55: At Sacred Heart, Alonzo Rose scored a career-high 39 points to lead the host Irish.