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SECTION 1 CLASS AA QUARTERFINALS
No. 1 Tappan Zee (19-0) vs. No. 8 Pearl River (13-6)
When/where: Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Tappan Zee
Head-to-head: Tappan Zee defeated Pearl River 68-33 on Dec. 16 and 53-46 on Dec. 20.
Key matchup: TZ's Billy O’Shea vs. PR's Austin O’Toole
Tappan Zee wins if: The Dutchmen must play physical in the paint and on the perimeter. It’s been the identity of the team this season. TZ has made opposing big men earn everything in the paint and prevented opposing guards from creating off the dribble. Pearl River struggled with that style the first two meetings. And the Dutchmen have only gotten better since then.
Pearl River wins if: The Pirates have to “out shoot” TZ from 3-point range. Both teams love to fire from behind the arc, and nobody may be better from long range than the Dutchmen. On Wednesday, Pearl River has to be in order to win. That burden will fall on O’Toole, Joe Clinton and Kevin Degnan. They’re capable.
Devaney’s pick: Tappan Zee 58, Pearl River 50. Like all rivalry games in the postseason, this is a scary match for Tappan Zee. They’re undefeated and in the drivers seat for a second championship in three years. But this group of seniors can handle this sort of pressure. Look for big games out of Pat Peterson and crew and a 20 th TZ win.
No. 2 Peekskill (15-3) vs. No. 10 Brewster (12-7)
When/where: Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Peekskill
Key matchup: Peekskill's Chandler Pierce vs. Brewster's Jack Dignan
Peekskill wins if: Rebound and run. Brewster was severely outrebounded by Saunders in the opening round despite the Bears being bigger at every position, and they did it by simply hustling. Peekskill should follow suit and do what Saunders couldn’t – get out in transition. If the Red Devils can run and use their depth, they should be able to wear down Brewster.
Brewster wins if: Make this a halfcourt game. While Peekskill wants to get out and run, the Bears Bears were at their best against Saunders when they slowed down the pace, ran sets on offense and played their zone on defense. Peekskill has a tendency to be erratic, turning the ball over and going through scoring droughts. Brewster has to take advantage of those opportunities.
Devaney’s pick: Peekskill 67, Brewster 57. The Red Devils are facing a Brewster team that, before the Saunders win, hadn’t played nearly as well on the road as it had at home. There isn’t a better homecourt advantage than at Peekskill. While the Bears are playing well, the Red Devils won’t lose a home playoff game.
No. 3 Eastchester (15-4) vs. No. 11 Poughkeepsie (12-7)
When/where: Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Eastchester
Key matchup: Eastchester's Dave Solano vs. Poughkeepsie's Jemar Dancy
Eastchester wins if: Don’t make this game any bigger than it really is. Yes, Poughkeepsie is one of the most accomplished programs in the section of the last two decades. But this year’s team has had its bouts with consistency and needed a comeback to beat a Pelham squad missing its top scorer. The Eagles have one of the Section 1’s most dynamic scoring tandems in Solano and Jack Daly. Talent-wise, Eastchester is the better team. As long as they don’t let the emotion of this game get to them, they should win.
Poughkeepsie wins if: Put all the pressure on Eastchester. It is, really. This season has long been a “transition year” for the Pioneers. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t played well enough at times to get to the final four. It seems they play better when they’re least expected to win. If they come out and set the tempo defensively and keep this game within reach to the fourth quarter, they just may pull the upset.
Devaney’s pick: Eastchester 55, Poughkeepsie 52. It’s Eastchester’s time. The program has very little history to speak of and, with a trip to the County Center on the line, you can conceivable say this is the biggest game in school history. This group can handle it. Look for Solano and Daly to lead the Eagles to where so many talented teams of the past couldn’t.
No. 4 Kennedy Catholic (14-5) vs. No. 5 Byram Hills (13-6)
When/where: Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Kennedy
Key matchup: Byram Hills' Andrew Groll vs. Kennedy's Thiago Randazzo
Kennedy Catholic wins if: Slow down Ryan Golden. Jeff Lynch is on the mend after a foot injury cost him so much time this season, and Andrew Maloney is as complete a player as you’ll find in the conference. But when Byram is at its best, Golden is typically in the center of it. He can create off the dribble, shoot from deep and is deceptively good on the boards. Kennedy must keep a body on him and make him work for his touches.
Byram Hills wins if: Don’t let Randazzo beat you. While the senior big man cannot be defended one-on-one, there may not be a better defensive game-planner in Section 1 right now than Bobcats coach Ted Repa. He’ll have a plan against Randazzo. Stop him and the Gaels are very beatable.
Devaney’s pick: Byram Hills 58, Kennedy Catholic 56. Before the tournament I picked Kennedy to get the final four. That’s before, however, I watched Jeff Lynch — who’s been injured all season — play against Rye in the opening round.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org