WEST NYACK — The last time I saw Clarkstown South in action was the season opener against Nanuet. The team I saw on Monday looked completely different… for the better.
Vikings senior Laura Castaldo was her usual self, notching 25 points and 11 rebounds in the win, showcasing some very impressive moves in the first half of the game. We’re still at about the halfway point in the season, but I think it’s clear that Castaldo is the top player in Rockland, if not the section, and that most other players on this side of the river are miles behind her.
Castaldo has played as a forward or center during her high school career mostly because, she has to. South has never had a true big, inside presence, and with Castaldo’s smart, aggressive style, she allows herself to appear larger than her 5-foot-9 frame. Most “aggressive” high school athletes are bruisers — they’re big, bad and are almost willing to hurt you. Castaldo isn’t like that; she boxes out well, she wants the ball and she knows how to move with and without the rock.
She’ll be a guard at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County next year, which isn’t really a surprise. She’s worked on her jumper over the years and it really seems to be coming along. Even after the game, while everyone was packing up and/or leaving, Castaldo was back on the court shooting free throws with assistant coach Becky Miller. It just speaks to her work ethic.
Back to the game itself.
This was my first-ever look at Dobbs Ferry. Phil Terrigno did the majority of the Westchester/Putnam coverage last year, so I never saw the Eagles in action. Overall, I was impressed.
There were times the game got out of hand, with Clarkstown South getting a 17- or 18-point lead, but the Eagles were in it for most of the game. Senior Alyssa Chipelo was spectacular, drawing “oohs” and “ahhs” from some of the Vikings fans. Eagles head coach Erik Bartell (pictured below) said that she’s still at about 75-80 percent in recovering from a stress fracture in her left shin, which only makes me wonder how good she can be at full strength.
Chipelo has some very nice moves to the hoop, and showed no real hesitation on driving the lane with her recovering leg. The Eagles are also expected to get 5-foot-11 junior forward Bridget Sheridan back on Saturday, as well. (For those of you wondering, I asked Bartell about him being allowed to coach the game after getting thrown out of a game earlier this year; Section 1 executive director Jen Simmons overturned the decision because the official apparently told her he gave Bartell a technical early in the game, and then later, which was not the case, according to Bartell. Hopefully that answers your curiosities.)
Both teams move the ball very well. I particularly like the play of Vikings guard Kayla Tucek (pictured below). She handles the ball exceptionally well and is really the glue that holds Clarkstown South’s offense together. Vikings coach Brian Metcalf admitted that the defense was spotty at times, which was definitely a fair assessment.
I think Dobbs Ferry should definitely return to the County Center this year, where I’m sure it would like to avenge a loss to Irvington. The Eagles have some good pieces to their squad and are only getting healthier. Bartell did not seem worried about the team’s up-and-down play through the first half, saying they’ll be fine in February.
I actually got to the game like right at 6 p.m., so I thought I was going to miss the tip, but there was still about four and a half minutes left of the JV game. Dobbs Ferry won that one, but what was really eye-popping is that the Eagles had three seventh graders and an eighth grader on the floor, many of whom Bartell said would be on varsity likely by next year. Looks like Dobbs is set for a dynastic run in a couple of years… look out.