Final stretch: KDJ's Class B basketball forecast
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There's still one month remaining in the boys basketball season in Section 1 but the playoff brackets are falling into place.
MSG Varsity basketball expert Kevin Devaney Jr. gives an in-depth look at everything you need to know about the final month — and beyond.
In the season ended today…
No. 18 *Ardsley at No. 15 *Bronxville
No. 17 *Westlake at No. 16 *Irvington
* - Denotes teams that have yet to qualified for playoffs
Irvington-Westlake winner at No. 1 Putnam Valley
No. 9 Valhalla at No. 8 Edgemont
No. 12 Pawling at No. 5 Pleasantville
No. 13 Hastings at No. 4 Croton-Harmon
No. 14 North Salem at No. 3 Lourdes
No. 11 Rye Neck at No. 6 Dobbs Ferry
No. 10 Blind Brook at No. 7 Woodlands
Bronxville-Ardsley winner at No. 2 Briarcliff
Forecasting the Bracket
Gold Ball favorite
Undecided: Take your pick between Briarcliff and Putnam Valley as the favorite. But when you could also make a case for 4-5 other teams in the conference. This year’s Class B title will come down to whichever team is playing its best in a month.
Briarcliff: The Bears entered the season a slight favorite to reclaim the Gold Ball. They have a stellar nucleus of seniors in Brian Daniels, Ryan Huegel, Spencer Seabrook and Jared Jones. They’ve played well in close games and should be hardened by their lone loss, a last-minute defeat at Nyack.
Putnam Valley: Where did these guys come from? Well, the Tigers have been building for this for a few seasons. And despite featuring a core of underclassmen stars, they’re poised to compete for their first ever Section 1 championship this winter.
Lourdes: Dropping down from Class A, the Warriors figured they could be in the mix. But they’ve definitely turned heads, partially because they only had eight players (seven active) in December yet competed with the AA and A schools in Dutchess County. Mike Donnelly and Justin Rhynders have been the catalyst.
North Salem: The Tigers have one of the toughest schedules remaining in Class B, with all nine of their games against Class AA and A teams. But regardless of where they fall in the brackets, they’re a team you don’t want to meet. Umar Singh, who recently scored his 1,000th career point, is a force inside and a difficult matchup for any team in the conference.
Woodlands: The Falcons got a nice boost in the playoff standings when they had a loss to Section 2’s Watervliet reversed to a win because Watervliet used an ineligible player. Woodlands, though, has seven of eight games left against Class AA and A schools. With the depth and athleticism on this roster, they’re a scary opponent.
Fighting for respect
Dobbs Ferry: Have the Eagles turned a corner? It looks like it. Since an ugly loss to Mamaroneck in the Putnam Challenge on Jan. 5, Dobbs has won three straight. Not surprising, star Eric Paschall has played his best basketball in that span.
Blind Brook: It’s been a turbulent year for the Trojans. But they’re going to be a tough out in the playoffs with senior point guard Sam Adler, who’s carried the load on a young team. They need big games out of 6-foot-6 center Brennan Schaenman to compete.
Valhalla: The pieces are there for the Vikings and they have one of the conference’s most explosive players in Terrence Tribble. Consistency, though, has been the issue. Valhalla has six very winnable games remaining and could vie for a Top 6 seed.
Five MVP candidates:
Brian Daniels, Briarcliff: Watch Daniels this season and you’ll see a player who’s put serious time into his game. His post moves are becoming more polished and he’s learning to blend his quickness and power together. He’s averaging 18.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.
Jelani Bell-Isaac, Putnam Valley: The best player on arguably the best team in the conference, Bell-Isaac is a superior athlete. On a balanced roster, the 6-foot-3 junior forward is averaging 11.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.
Eric Paschall, Dobbs Ferry: The most talented player in Section 1 has been off the charts in the past 10 days as the Eagles are surging again. He had 35 points and 10 rebounds against Irvington in front of Penn State coach Pat Chambers. His stock is rising again.
Ian Thom, Croton-Harmon: Few players ever in Westchester can claim to be the school’s all-time leading scorer and all-time leader in assists, which Thom is about to accomplish. He’s been terrific this season, carrying the Tigers to a 5-3 start.
Jack Eisenberg, Pleasantville: The Panthers have rollercoastered through the first month but Eisenberg was a calming force throughout. His scoring ability at the point guard position makes him so valuable. Behind Eisenberg, Pleasantville could be a team poised for a second-half surge.
Three breakout stars:
Zach Coleman, Putnam Valley: You can really include every Putnam Valley starter in this category. Coleman, a 6-foot junior point guard, is the engine to this team and leads the way with 14.4 points per game.
Jared Jones, Briarcliff: The Bears needed to find a perimeter threat to take the pressure off Daniels inside and Jones has been just that. The 6-foot-2 senior has averaged 12.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and been so consistent all year.
Nick Kost, Dobbs Ferry: Don’t assume all of the Eagles’ offense comes from Paschall. Kost, a 6-foot-2 wing, has been more than a steady complement. His 3-point shooting ability and rebounding has been key to Dobbs Ferry’s turnaround.
KDJ’s Playoff Predictions:
County Center bound
Putnam Valley, Briarcliff, Pleasantville and Dobbs Ferry
Putnam Valley over Briarcliff
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MSGVarsityKDJ