Friday, January 17, 2014

A Look Inside: Scalding Panas A Barometer For Huskers

Tonight's home matchup against rival Walter Panas will be a serious test of Yorktown's manhood.


OK, maybe it's not that serious.

Still, defensive-minded Panas enters the hostile, CROP-dotted Yorktown High tonight. A budding rivalry between the two schools will be renewed. You can bet your bottom buck the folks at Panas want to exact some revenge from the season-opening football game, which saw senior hammer Conor Vercruysse bulldoze his way to 107 yards as Yorktown rolled to a 21-7 victory.

Neither team has much of affinity for each other.

 There will be no hugs, no outward signs of respect, no "hit me up on Facebook" in the handshakes following the game.

This is about bragging rights.

This is not Week One of summer camp at Five Star, nobody is here to make friends.

Yorktown has been thirsting for a signature victory since putting Putnam Valley on the ropes for 23 straight minutes last week.

Head coach Chris Caputi, a disciple of Tom Nelligan, is looking to resuscitate the basketball pulse in this local lacrosse oasis.

Tonight a matchup certain to gauge the growing Huskers before they trek to hapless Hastings (1-10) next week.
The Panthers are coming off a pulsating 61-59 win over Peekskill, a resume win dictated by the first-to-last minute defensive pressure enforced by the Panthers.

 Tim McCauley wore the tag of Savior in this dizzying battle, popping the buzzer-beating game-winning floater.

Did the shot actually beat the buzzer?

This controversial buzzer beater counted, yet it has suddenly become analyzed, dissected, and discussed throughout Section I circles.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more controversial issue circling the regal basketball real estate of Peekskill, where the tradition-rich Red Devils are determined to slay demons of the past with a revitalized 2014.

Peekskill’s players, fans, and loyalists/Red Devil lifers were incensed that McCauley’s floater wasn't waved off.

 Apparently released after the clock had expired, McCauley's game winner has elicited reactions all across the social media landscape.

 Peekskill players and fans have posted pictures of the ball still within McCauley’s grasp, as the dreaded 00:00 is pictured on the shot clock.


Should the shot have counted or been waved off?


“In the pre-social media era this wouldn’t even be a discussion,” said MSG Varsity’s Kevin Devaney Jr., a Section I basketball guru and on-air talent.

“The fact is this: Peekskill caught a bad break and lost the game. It’s happened many times. Usually they’re on the receiving end of good breaks.”


McCauley, staking his claim as perhaps Panas’ best three-sport athlete, was a veritable beast. He scored 24 points, dished out five assists, and emerged with four steals.


It was McCauley’s late-game poise (he knocked back the go-ahead free throws, prior to sealing it with the buzzer beater) that lifted Panas. The Panthers (9-2) ripped off a 15-6 fourth quarter surge, as an 11-point deficit evaporated. The team's are beginning to hear the Panthers' determined footsteps.

Those loud thuds and constant stomping you hear is the Panthers' footsteps, chasing a Gold Ball they haven't entertained thoughts of attaining in quite some time.

Yorktown’s point guard Nick DeGennaro and off guard Luis Cartagena, both sophomores, handled Peekskill’s pressure with minimal difficulty during the Huskers’ washout loss to the Red Devils last week. There was a search warrant, however, for the Huskers' offense.


 The backcourt should expect much of the same against Panas.

The Panthers are likely to apply the same aggression as Peekskill, the same suffocating shoulder-to-shoulder defense, the same eruption of swarming hands, and the same swipes at an unprotected Spalding.

Ball control could be a vital factor in this one.


The Huskers must take advantage of a thinner Panas frontline.

 For eons, the Panthers have been buoyed by gritty guard play from guys like Zack Preuss, Pedro Reynoso, and Chuck Grant, to rattle off a few.

Panas does not have a behemoth of Andrew Groll (the 6-foot-7 Byram center who torched the Huskers for 23 points and routine trips to the free throw line in the fourth) or Jelani Bell-Isaac's caliber.  

Ricky Corrado, who has developed a dependable mid-range game, has been a workhorse for the Huskers. Corrado, who scored 20 points during the second half in a win against Carmel, has had help from Cartegena, who scored 16 and 13 in the two games against Putnam Valley.

Anthony Coutsouros, a 6-foot-5 forward, was immense during the previous loss against Putnam Valley. The kid they call “AC” had a key 3-point play, as well as a corner 3-pointer that ignited the CROP during the second half.


 A game of this magnitude, before a vivacious crowd, could help the Huskers clear early season speed bumps.

Various times this season, Caputi has shown he can hurl any one player into immediate meaningful minutes.

Tonight, production must emanate from the forward slots, where junior Nick Delbene and athletic senior scrapper Luke Palmadesso have put the lacrosse stick on ice for the winter.

The key, for the Huskers, is sustaining the effort through 32 minutes. Nothing is more critical, however, than containing McCauley and opening up the post.