WHITE PLAINS – It’s not as if Haldane senior Will Zuvic needs any reminders about his keys to success on the basketball court. But a little reinforcement never hurt anyone.
Before the third-seeded Blue Devils took on No. 2 Tuckahoe in a Class C semifinal at the County Center on Wednesday, the 6-foot-5 forward broke out his Sharpie.
“No fouls and rebounding — that’s what is always in my head,” Zuvic said, holding up his arm to reveal his inscription. “I wrote it on my hand.”
Zuvic heeded his own message and the Haldane defense gave the Tigers fits on the way to a convincing 44-34 win. The Blue Devils will try for their third straight Class C title on Saturday at 5 p.m. against top-seeded Hamilton.
“We were the third seed, so we weren’t even supposed to win this game,” senior guard Tucker Beachak said. “We just played hard and gave it all we’ve got. Tuckahoe is a very good team, but we just killed them on the boards. Will had a great game and he dominated.”
Haldane held a slim 21-19 lead at halftime, but after the Tigers tied it with a basket to open the third quarter, the Blue Devils went on a 20-0 run to put the game out of reach.
“We had a little bit of trouble in the first half with turnovers, but we cut that out and calmed down,” Zuvic said. “We were a little nervous when we came out to start, and I think that affected us and made it a close game in the beginning.”
Player of the game: Will Zuvic, Haldane — Haldane outrebounded Tuckahoe 36-23, with Zuvic grabbing a game-high 20 boards to go along with 12 points. The Tigers simply had no answer for him in the paint.
“No one in the league can match up with Will,” Beachak said. “He’s the best big man in the league.”
Turning point: Undoubtedly, it was the third quarter. The Blue Devils outscored Tuckahoe 13-2 in the third, which carried into the fourth quarter and became a 20-0 run. The Tigers went from the opening minute in the third quarter until there were less than three minutes left in the fourth without scoring.
“That was the game right there,” Zuvic said. “That was deciding factor.”
Stat line: Haldane (12-9) — Zuvic had 12 points, 20 rebounds and three assists, while Beachak had a game-high 20 points. Blaine Fitzgerald added 10 points and six rebounds. Tuckahoe (11-10) — Alexander Williams led the way with 15 points and Dishon Wise had nine points and nine rebounds.
Quotable: “I know this group has what it takes,” Zuvic said. “We have a lot of potential, we just don’t have a lot of experience. This year, it was mainly about getting the younger guys experience and getting them to learn how to play in our system.”