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Promising Start: Mahopac Shows Resilience in Tourney

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Kenny Perna goes up for a shot in the paint. Credits: Rob DiAntonio
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MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Matt Simone had a big smile on his face following a loss to Yorktown in the championship game of the Inaugural Mahopac Tip-Off Classic.

Despite the setback, the second-year coach knows he has something on his hands with his young team.

After a slow start, Mahopac showed resilience against the veteran Huskers, but fell 70-58 on Saturday, Dec. 3. In the opening round, the Indians defeated rival Carmel 39-34 the previous night.

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Noelle Hall finished with 17 points to lead the Indians in the finals. All-tournament selection Andrew Ryan had 14 points and Kenny Perna added 12 points.

Yorktown jumped out to a 13-3 lead against Mahopac, but the Indians quickly battled back. Hall and Augie Djerdjaj hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 16-9 after one quarter.

Perna started the second quarter with a three-point play. Hall hit a fadeaway shot, Ryan made two free throws, Perna sunk a shot, Shane Loos converted and Perna knocked down another basket during the Indians’ 10-0 run which gave them a 32-30 lead.

“I was extremely impressed with how hard we played and how resilient we were,” Simone said. “We started off the game in a pretty big hole. Our guys never gave up. We’ve really only have one guy in Andrew Ryan, who really has game experience. It was the second varsity game for a lot of these guys. The played tough and played their hearts out.”

Yorktown’s Tanner Dyslin, who finished with 30 points and was named tourney MVP, made a layup to send a wild first half into the break tied at 32-32.

Mahopac came out with vigor to start the third quarter and went up 39-33 after a Ryan 3-pointer. Yorktown clawed back and after two Dyslin 3-pointers, the game was tied at 44-44 late in the third.

“We made a lot of big plays, but Yorktown’s a very tough, talented team,” Simone said. “They made some veteran plays. Tanner Dyslin made some huge shots. Their players made some big plays down the stretch.”

Marc Spinelli converted a shot in the paint to give the Huskers a 48-45 lead after three quarters.

Hall knocked down a three and converted a three-point play to cut the deficit to 56-54 midway through the fourth, but that was as close as Mahopac would get.

A 3-pointer by Husker Sol Barer gave Yorktown a 61-54 lead with three minutes remaining.

Several players contributed for Mahopac, displaying its depth.

“We have a lot of good players,” Simone said. “We had a very good JV team last year and they’re coming up and a lot of them are getting minutes this year. We have a lot of guards. Guys are ready. We’ve talked a lot about being ready. We’re going to play a lot of guys; guys are going to get opportunities and when they get the opportunity they’ve got to step up and cherish it. I think guys are starting to do that early in the season.”

Simone also cherished the opportunity of coaching against Yorktown’s Kevin Downes, the former Mahopac coach. Downes, who led Mahopac to numerous league titles and appearances at the Westchester County Center, gave Simone his first coaching gig.

“He gave me my first job when he was varsity coach here,” Simone said. “He gave me my job as a freshman coach. I learned a lot under him and he’s a great coach. Part of the benefit I guess I had is that he runs a lot of the same stuff. Coming into this game, I kind of knew what defense he was running. I kind of had a little extra time to prepare for it because I knew exactly what they were going to do.”

In a typical, physical Mahopac-Carmel game, the Indians were able to prevail behind the efforts of Ryan (16 points, 6 assists) and Perna (11 points, 3 steals).

“We talked about effort and toughness,” Simone said. “We knew both teams had a lot of inexperience. It was almost more like a football game out there. It was very physical and low scoring. From pregame I said, ‘I guarantee that the team who plays harder will win the game.’ In both games, I’m extremely proud of our effort. For not having too many big guys, the toughness our guards are showing being scrappy and diving on the floor and still getting rebounds is a key we’re going to preach all year.”

Perna knocked down a 3-pointer to break a 34-34 tie late in the game.

Brewster won the tournament’s consolation game by defeating Carmel 43-42. The tournament was sponsored by Halston Media.

The Indians (1-1) will compete in the Walter Panas tournament this weekend.

“I’m very impressed with how we played this early,” Simone said. “From our scrimmages we made strides. We had three preseason scrimmages and in each one we got better and better. These kids compete. In practice, they go extremely hard. With the depth we have, they’re going against good players in practice. I think it prepares them for the games with how hard we practice.”

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