BEDFORD HILLS – Trailing by 10 at halftime, Clarkstown South’s mission was to trim its deficit by the end of the third quarter. If lucky, maybe the Vikings could even tie it, or so they hoped.
Unbeknownst to everyone in the gym, Justin Rivera had another idea. In fact, the senior forward needed just 2:16 seconds of the third quarter to give his team a lead.
“He turned the game around singlehandedly,” teammate Conor McGuinness said.
Indeed, Rivera scored 12 straight points to open the second half and No. 5 Clarkstown South rolled from there, beating No. 4 Fox Lane 59-47 in the Class AA quarterfinals.
Rivera scored 14 of his 24 points in the third. McGuinness, a fellow senior, closed the game strong and finished with 19 points. Their Vikings (15-5) outscored Fox Lane by 22 points in the second half.
“They were really focused on Conor. He’s a great player, but he can do a lot of other things,” said Rivera, who also had five rebounds. “He can pass the ball and he got it to me in transition. Once I started hitting shots, the game started coming to me.”
Rivera’s tear took South from a 30-20 halftime deficit to a 32-30 lead when he swished a 3-pointer with 5:44 left in the third quarter. The shellshocked Foxes (14-6) stumbled from there and faltered further when their top defender, Owen Azrak, fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.
Junior Alex Olsen had 15 points and 14 rebounds to lead Fox Lane.
“At halftime, I harped on the fact that the first four minutes of the fourth quarter were important, not to extend the lead, but to maintain it,” coach Mike Tomassi said. “They just came out and punched us in the mouth.”
The Vikings will play unbeaten Arlington (20-0) at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27 in the Class AA semifinals. It will mark their third trip to the County Center in four years and second straight despite McGuinness and Rivera being the only returners who played major minutes.
Mount Vernon 75, Suffern 41: In a Class AA quarterfinal at No. 2 Mount Vernon, Marlon Taylor had 20 points, Eric Monroe added 12 and Noah Morgan had seven rebounds and six assists. The Knights, who have now made the County Center in all 21 of Bob Cimmino’s seasons as head coach, will play No. 3 Saunders at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27 in the semifinals.
Arlington 45, Mamaroneck 34: In a Class AA quarterfinal at No. 1 Arlington, Miles Haughton had nine points and six rebounds the the eighth-seeded Tigers, who held the unbeaten Admirals 20 points under their season average.
Briarcliff 73, Croton-Harmon 63: In a Class B quarterfinal at No. 2 Briarcliff, Sean Crowley had 18 points, Jack Reish had 14 and Alquan Phillip added 13 for the Bears. Lucas Curran had 14 points and Teejay Searight had 13 for No. 7 Croton. Briarcliff will play No. 3 Irvington at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25 in the semifinals at the County Center.
Irvington 57, Palisade Prep 44: In a Class B quarterfinal at No. 3 Irvington, Andrew Brennan had 18 points, Kevin Tierney had 14 and Justin Martins added 11.
Putnam Valley 49, Ardsley 41: In a Class B quarterfinal at No. 5 Putnam Valley, Anders Spittal had all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter to help the Tigers rally from 30-29 deficit after three. Ryan Basso and Harrison Deegan each led Putnam Valley with 11. Jon Getz and Zach Saklad each had 12 for No. 13 Ardsley. The Tigers will play No. 1 Woodlands at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25 in the semifinals at the County Center. It will be a rematch of last year’s Class B final, which was won by Woodlands.
Woodlands 74, Bronxville 49: In a Class B quarterfinal at No. 1 Woodlands, Pierre Lys had 22 points, Brandon Johnson had 16 and Ross Joseph had 13 for the Falcons. Charlie Tarry had 16 points to lead No. 9 Bronxville.
Fordham Prep 48, Kennedy 46: At Fordham Prep, junior Dominick Cristiano scored his 1,000th career point in the first quarter, but Kennedy (23-1) suffered its first loss of the season on a shot at the buzzer by Fordham’s Cameron Pinn.