SPRING VALLEY – Even Spring Valley would admit, adversity had not been its friend. The Tigers had played their best from from ahead, but they never had that luxury Wednesday night against Tappan Zee.
In fact, Spring Valley trailed every second of the second half and by as many as 13 points. Still, the Tigers didn’t fade. Instead, they forced overtime and thrived amid a playoff-like home atmosphere, winning 77-71 in a matchup of two of the Top 10-ranked Class A teams in the state.
“This is the hardest game we’ve ever played,” said senior Rickey McGill, who had 23 points and nine assists. “Usually when we’re down, we keep our heads down and get blown out by 20. This game, we came out in the second half, went at them and got the win.”
The Tigers (8-1) had trailed 42-30 at halftime after the Dutchmen closed on a 20-4 run. Tappan Zee (9-2) tacked on a point to start the third quarter when Spring Valley’s bench was assessed a technical during intermission.
A 15-3 run cut the deficit to one, but the Tigers were hit with another technical late in the third. It resulted in a six-point swing that was capped by Robert McWilliams’ three-point play.
A Jamarr Joseph 3-pointer tied it 55-55, but Tappan Zee pushed ahead by five again. Finally, Devan Lawson hit a pair of free throws with 1:08 remaining to tie it again, 66-66.
Finally, in overtime, the Tigers grabbed a lead on Rob McGill’s 3. McGill and Jy’Quan Boykin — in after two teammates fouled out — each had steals in the final minute, one of which resulted in a clinching dunk by Kai Mitchell.
“This was really good for us,” said Mitchell, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds. “It will keep our team level-headed and let us know not to get our heads down. We can come back from anything.”
Both teams left with reason to be upbeat. Coach George Gaine said McWilliams (38 points), Luke McLaughlin (24) and and his Dutchmen gave their best effort of the season.
“I was upset after games we won this year, but I wasn’t upset about this one,” Gaine said. “I think we competed. There’s nothing to be upset about.”
Spring Valley’s Rickey McGill splits the Tappan Zee defense as he drives to the basket during a varsity basketball game at Spring Valley High School Jan. 14, 2015. McGill finished with a 23 points as Spring Valley defeated Tappan Zee 77-71 in overtime.
The teams meet again on Feb. 3 at Tappan Zee.
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