BRIARCLIFF MANOR – For years, Haldane has been overlooked and under-appreciated on the high school sports scene.
Despite dominating on a local and state level in several sports, the school with less than 300 students is often easily dismissed because of its size (or lack thereof).
Blue Devils players and team representatives are used to it, and other teams know it happens, but the Haldane girls basketball team has been proving this year that it deserves — and have earned — more respect than it has gotten in the past.
Haldane plays in the smallest classification in almost every sport due to its enrollment numbers, but it’s not uncommon for some of its programs — like the girls basketball team — to beat larger schools with regularity. Still, being in Class C casts a cloud over talented programs at the school.
“I think it’s kind of stupid, but that’s my opinion,” Haldane senior guard Hannah Monteleone said, chuckling. “We’re doing all of this and working hard and we’re beating these big schools like (Class) As and AAs and we’re not getting as much recognition.”
Haldane (11-3), a preseason favorite to win the Section 1 Class C championship for the fourth straight season, has beaten Class B schools Valhalla, Putnam Valley, and Westlake, which boast a combined record of 28-12 this year.
The Blue Devils’ only losses have come at the hands of Irvington and Briarcliff, both of which are favored to reach the Class B section final, and Panas, a Class A team in the midst of a breakout season. The combined records of those three teams? 34-8.
“If you look at our schedule, I think it’s one of the toughest schedules in Section 1 right now compared to any of these other teams besides Ossining,” Blue Devils head coach Tyrone Searight said. “For a ‘C’ school — Haldane, I think we’re holding our own.”
It’s not just Haldane team members who feel that way.
Briarcliff head coach Don Hamlin had nothing but praise for the Blue Devils after escaping last week with a 66-61 win.
“The level of intensity in this game is the type of intensity that they’re going to face when they play sectionals,” he said he relayed to his team.
Bears guard Kacey Hamlin echoed her father’s remarks and adamantly lobbied for Haldane to get more credit. The sophomore standout said teams like Haldane are “completely” overlooked because of their classification.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Well, you’re a small school. All you gotta do is work hard,’ but that coach right there —,” she said, looking over at Searight, who was on a phone call, “He is a great coach, and I think that people overlook them.”
Mike Zacchio writes for The Journal News.