WESTCHESTER, N.Y. – Croton High School boys basketball coach Bill Thom and his counterpart, Ossining girls coach Dan Ricci, enjoyed heart-stopping victories over the recent weekend when their respective Hudson Valley teams won titles Sunday at the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Summer Hoops Festival in upstate Johnson City.
"We were considered maybe the fourth best team in the boys tournament but the guys all took turns making big plays and they all played great defense," said Thom. "The games were exciting and there were some very good players from around the state, so we're pleased with the outcome."
Umar Singh of North Salem nailed the tournament-winning basketball on a layup off a pass from Mahopac's Brendan Hynes with 1.5 seconds in the title game as the Section 1 Hudson Valley topped a team of all-stars from the Adirondack section of the state 67-65.
On the girls side, Ossining’s Destini Walker made two free throws with no time remaining on the clock to lift Hudson Valley to 91-90 win over Central in title game as Ricci's girls completed the tournament sweep.
Briarcliff Manor’s Brian Daniels, who scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, was named tournament Most Valuable Player, but Thom said the Hudson Valley boys were determined throughout, defeating teams from Suffolk (Long Island), Mid-Hudson, Rochester and eventually Adirondack.
"Daniels had a big game scoring, Mike DeMello (Kennedy High) scored 15 to lead us in a game and the defense had a bunch of stars who stopped big scorers on the opposing teams," Thom said.
Rockland County star Kevin Degnan led Hudson Valley past Mid Hudson 78-69 in the semifinals win with 24 points, 15 rebounds and five steals. DeMello contributed 18 points. Croton's Ian Thom led the team in assists and Eastchester's Jack Daly was a leader on offense along with Somers' John Decker.
Thom's roster also included Vaughn Dweck (Walter Panas), Jack Eisenberg (Pleasantville) and Stephen Espinoza-Hunter (Ossining).
Walker, who scored 28 points in the girls title game victory, led the way as the Hudson Valley girls went unbeaten in the tournament. Alexander Hamilton’s Maia Hood had 25 points and Ossining’s Saniya Chong, who was named Most Valuable Player, scored 23 points.
Ricci's squad also included Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Danielle Gervacio of Ossining, Toni Pila (Ardsley), Brittni Lai and Lexi Martins (Irvington), Calli Balfour (John Jay-East Fishkill), Jasmine Robinson (Hamilton) and Kristin McLoughlin (Tappan Zee).