Semifinals action continues at the Westchester County Center on Thursday, March 1, with Class AA headlining what is sure to be an incredibly competitive, action-packed day of girls basketball.
No. 10 Carmel (15-5) vs. No. 1 Lourdes (17-3), 3 p.m.:
How both teams got here: Carmel beat Clarkstown South 65-55 in the first round and Arlington 52-46 in the quarterfinals.Lourdes defeated Suffern 51-25 in the first round and beat New Rochelle 57-29 in the quarterfinals.
Statistics: Carmel: 50.7 points per game, 40.3 points against per game.
Star Watch: Carmel is led by Seniors Sabrina Diaz and Alyssa D’Apice. Diaz scored 12.3 points per game this season and D’Apice averaged 11.5. D’Apice also hit two 3-pointers a game. Both are also good rebounders. Lourdes is led by its three perimeter players, Paige Decker Emily Ferreri and Kelly Kubala. Decker, though, is the one to watch.
Potential Difference Makers
Carmel’s Height: Carmel is small, which means it plays with more guards on the floor. This makes the Rams quick, gives them open looks and fast break points, and enables them to take care of the ball (they had 12 assists and just 13 turnovers against Arlington). Obviouslly, lack of size can also create issues. It will be interesting to see if Lourdes can take advantage of them
Experience: Carmel is experienced (Carmel made the semifinals two years ago and the quaterfinals last year); Lourdes is not. Again, I’m not sure whether this matters or not, but it’s definitely something worth paying attention to. (Note: I know the common opinions seems to be that experience matters, but here’s what I mean when I ask this question: Obviouslly, “expereince” helps, for the simple reason that a high school senior is probably going to be a more talented basketball player than a high school junior. High school kids usually get better year to year. When I ask whether experience matters, what I want to know is whether a senior is less likely to get nervous on a big stage than a junior is.)
Prediction: Carmel over Lourdes. (I can’t go with “chalk” everywhere.)
No. 4 John Jay-East Fishkill (16-4) vs. No. 1 Ossining (20-0), 4:45 p.m.:
Ossining enters the Final Four undefeated this season and doesn’t have plans of slowing down.
How both teams got here: As the top-seed in the Section 1 tournament, Ossining ran through No. 16 Mahopac in a 73-34 win and then defeated Horace Greeley with an 82-47 win. This has been the type of season the Pride have had all year. Even with Ossining coach Dan Ricci adjusting his schedule to make it more challenging for his girls, the Pride have still been able to blowout teams in convincing fashion.
John Jay-East Fishkill took care of Scarsdale easily enough, but ran into some trouble against a solid Ursuline team, narrowly escaping with a 59-55 overtime victory.
Will John Jay-EF be able to slow down Chong?: Saniya Chong holds the key to Ossining’s success. She’s such an impressive talent that it’s hard to not pick Ossining to win the Gold Ball. She’s capable of scoring in bunches and has all of the tools necessary to completely take over a game. While she can beat you in so many different ways (3-pointer, slashing to the hoop, hitting an easy jumper), she’s also shown that she doesn’t have to score 30+ points in order for Ossining to be victorious. She’s passing the ball more and more and her teammates are stepping up around her.
Ossining depth: John Jay-East Fishkill has a nice scoring duo of Kally Balfour and Brittany Gullo, who both turned in 17-point games against Ursuline, but they will need more than that to matchup with the Pride’s depth. After Chong, Ossining has Destini Walker and Jalay Knowles, who are two very strong and young athletes who are wise beyond their playing years. Both freshmen, Walker and Knowles combine with Chong to make Ossining virtually unbeatable. The Pride also get nice contributions from guard Danielle Gervacio and seventh grader Andra Espinoza-Hunter.
Prediction: Another Ossining blowout.