Friday, January 10, 2014

Simone Bags MVP Honors, Indians Cruise

The Putnam Challenge proved to be the Day of The Big Man last Saturday.

In the earlier game, Byram Hills’ 6-foot-7 Center Andrew Groll decimated the smaller Yorktown frontline, scoring 23 points en route to game MVP honors.

In the Putnam Valley’s wild win over Somers, all eyes were on hops-heavy Tigers forward Jelani Bell-Isaac and Somers’ towering 6-foot-9 center Max Parks. It was a big proving ground for the big men, all of whom play big roles on their respective teams.

In Mahopac’s 65-47 dismantling of Dobbs Ferry, Ryan Simone scored a game-best 22 points and tore down nine rebounds.

Dobbs Ferry tried to counter the dieseled-up 6-foot-4 senior with another big body. They threw in Tim Soave, a widebody and one of the Section’s best fullbacks, to front him. They tried to collapse down on Simone, but were never there in time.

Simone, a veritable walking double-double, continued his streak of frontcourt supremacy. Recognized initially for football, where as a tight end Simone garnered interest from Division-I programs such as Maine and Albany, a basketball jones has emerged.

Simone spent the summer refining his post moves and playing heated games of one-on-one against his older brother Mike, a former Indians forward, in the driveway. The physicality of those games intensified, rivaling the basket-brawl New York Knicks teams of the 1990s. There was a “no blood, no foul” rule installed and Simone’s evolution as one of the county’s top scorers has been an unsung story of Section I this season.

RJ Martinez turned in 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Carmel transfer has provided constant, stat sheet stuffing performances while forming a high-low game with Simone.

The two have been so efficient, they’ve drawn comparisons to Mike DePaoli and Chris Morley, memorable inside-outside tandem at North Salem in the early 2000s. DePoaoli, of course, was the centerpiece of that offense, a trigger-happy guard who eclipsed the 1,000 point plateau.

The Indians have shed any notions of a two-man wrecking crew.

Dan Foley displayed a feathery mid-range jumper during the first half, helping Mahopac build a double-digit lead. Glenn Janik operated the offense, scoring 10 points dishing out six assists. Janik added six boards.

Mahopac registered its depth presence in the first half.

Jarret Rooney popped off the bench to bury a 16-footer. Aiden Hynes applied steady on-the-ball pressure.

Despite a five-day layoff, Mahopac showed no ill effects early on.

Chris Eserino sparked the half-court offense with long-range shooting. Eserino, a key piece to bang with Simone and Foley down low, has become arguably the best set shooter on the team.

The defense that Downes preaches with an iron fist was never more evident in the first half. Aiden Hynes pickpocketed a Dobbs guard and fed Janik, who led the a 2-on-1 fast break and dished to Simone for a layup and a 29-18 lead.

“The third quarter was once again the key for us,” explained Indians coach Kevin Downes.

“We really picked it up defensively and we were very balanced offensively (in the third quarter) with Ryan scoring seven points, R.J. scoring six and Glenn scoring five points. Overall, I thought we played well despite the layoff. Dan Foley continues to play well and Ethan Ryan gave a great effort off the bench.”

Dobbs is still feeling the lingering effects of not only Fordham-bound Eric Paschall’s departure, but also shooter Nick Kost (claimed by 2013 graduation).

The Eagles, a County Center Finalist in Class B last season, were competitive early on.

The Eagles faltered during the third quarter, when the Indians began kicking in the extra pass and locking up with a new fervor.