Carmel/Mahopac hasn’t lost a trace of its luster.
One of the fiercest, storied and stellar rivalries in Section I history, the renewed blood feud between the Indians and the Rams intensified this week.
Mahopac won two games over the upset-minded Rams in five days, easily the toughest wins earned during the Indians’ promising 13-1 season.
There was never a dull moment.
The border town rivals renewed hostilities and always-entertaining animosity in the most popping, cut throat, pressure-cooking basketball environment witnessed in Section 1 this season.
There were jam-packed gyms, no seating room and barely seeing room.
There were Maniacs, figuratively and literally.
Loud chants permeated the walls, with the decibel levels ratcheting to ear-splitting crescendo during tense moments of the fourth quarter.
Folks knew from the jump this rivalry was authentic, old-school, and as heated as they come.
The long-lasting beef between these two teams has never dwindled, and the back-to-back games were proof of this.
There are no encouraging or friendly text messages shared between any Indians player and Rams player prior to or following the game.
There is no friendly banter. There are no “hit me up on Facebook” exchanges after the game, no outward signs of appreciation or anything of the sort.
There is no vow to play together on the AAU circuit in the off-season. There are few buddy circles formed from Mahopac to Carmel, very few.
The beef is real. The beef is cooking any time these two teams meet in any competition, ranging from football to basketball to lacrosse to baseball to track to water polo to Brazilian Jujitsu.
Ryan Simone powered his way to a game-best 29 points, but it was senior point guard Glenn Janik who deposited the game-winning dagger.
Thirsting to rediscover his touch, Janik splashed a go-ahead, game-sealing 3-pointer from the wing with 20 seconds remaining.
The shot heard around the Section, Janik’s 3-pointer supplied Mahopac with a one-point lead, ultimately propelling the Indians to a 61-58 victory.
The play was originally intended for the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Simone, who has feasted on frontlines across Section 1 this season.
Then, with the momentum sky-rocketing and the Rams scattering to seal off the interior, Janik emerged as the deliverer.
“Ryan was a beast in the paint all game and on the last play we were trying to get it inside to him but they were packing it in,” as Janik explained.
“Daniel Foley found me on the wing for the (game-winning) three.”
Mahopac found itself gutting out another tough and physical battle, again snapping out of a deficit.
During the first game, a 68-51 pummeling of the Rams, Mahopac was mired in a first half funk.
The play of Quinn William and Ryan Train, as it during the first half of the game on Saturday, gave the Indians fits.
After carving into the lane and scoring at the free throw line to create the first half lead on Saturday, the offensive production ensued.
Train scored 18 points and William’s 3-point shooting sparked a second half surge.
Ray Dorrite, an athletic 6-foot-2 forward, provided a presence in the paint.
Dorrite scored nine points, tore down eight rebounds and dealt out a pair of assists to pace the Rams.
Mahopac was able to close the door on free throws by sophomore guard Aiden Hynes, whose steal and transition leak-out drew a foul.
In the first game, RJ Martinez was the alpha dog who ripped through Carmel’s defense for 23 points on the full bag of five three-pointers, slashes, and shots around the key.
Martinez ran off screens ready to pop.
He ran out to the perimeter and stuck momentum-bolstering treys. He even ran the floor, operating the offense fresh off the rebound.
It was the second time Martinez ran out on Carmel.
Over the summer, Martinez transferred from Carmel to Mahopac, where he spent much of his days as a youth.
It was an unprecedented move, adding a layer of intrigue to this rivalry. Martinez has been on both sides of this war.
During the game at Carmel, an unusual homecoming, Martinez scored 12 points.
If Martinez had any nostalgia or Carmel memories floating around his head prior to the game Saturday, his teammates made sure they didn’t affect him.
“We told (Martinez), Mahopac is your town, this is where you belong,” said Simone, who pulled down seven boards in addition to his game and career-high 29 points in Wednesday’s victory.
“We basically told him to go off and show these kids this is where you belong. And, to his credit, he did go off.”
Janik, serenaded with loud boos and taunts by the Carmel faithful throughout Wednesday’s thrilling seesaw game, answered with his game-winning snipe.
The veteran point guard’s composure during crunch time even earned plaudits from his biggest on-the-court enemy.
The physical Dorrite, who doubles as a quarterback, was slapped with a flagrant foul on Janik during the first game.
It was a rough foul during an ultra-physical, black-and-blue marked game with plenty of extra-curricular activity
“ (Dorrite) actually came up to me after the game and was like, ‘nice shot bro.’ I was surprised.”
The competition ratchets up, the tensions soar, but the mutual respect always stays the same. That’s life in one of the state’s most heated rivalries.