SPRING VALLEY, N.Y.— It wasn’t easy but it never is when you are attempting to earn a coveted berth to the Westchester County Center in White Plains.
No. 7-seeded Yorktown’s boys basketball squad was attempting to do just that when it traveled to second-seeded Spring Valley in a Section 1 Class AA quarterfinal contest on Feb. 24.
Led by a well-balanced effort from Tanner Dyslin (18 points, 5 rebounds), Marc Spinelli (16 points, 4 rebounds) and Matt Severino (8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 charge), Yorktown pulled off a huge upset, nipping Spring Valley 59-58 to earn its first postseason trip to the County Center since 2009, when it battled tough before losing to Mount Vernon.
“It means a lot,” Dyslin said. “This program hasn’t been to the County Center since 2009, and to get back there defeating Spring Valley is something we will all remember. They’ve gotten the better of us in the playoffs before, and to finally win is big for the entire program.”
The win puts Yorktown in the semifinals against No. 3 Scarsdale on Friday, March 3, at 6:45 p.m. at the County Center.
Yorktown coach Kevin Downes was ecstatic for his squad, which ended Spring Valley’s 12-game winning streak.
“You are really happy for the kids,” said Downes, who took Mahopac to the County Center four times. “They have been a great group all year and for them to win this game and get to the County Center, I am just so happy and proud of them.”
Downes said it was a great accomplishment for his players.
“They are such a resilient group,” Downes said. “They play hard, they work hard, they are unselfish and I wanted it so bad for them. Any time you get to the County Center it’s very special.”
The game was a hotly contested back-and-forth contest played in as loud and intense an atmosphere as the Huskers have competed in all year.
Two free throws by Spinelli with 8.8 seconds remaining in the opening half put the Huskers up 24-23 at halftime.
The wild affair continued deep into the second half with a hoop by Severino putting Yorktown up by one before two made Spring Valley free throws gave the host a 39-38 advantage going into the final quarter.
Yorktown took the lead for good when Dyslin, set up by a crucial Severino steal, converted on a three-point play, which put the Huskers up 55-52 with 1:12 left in the game.
“I had gotten the ball at the top of the key and saw my defender was forcing me to my left, so I just took it that way and was able to score the basket,” Dyslin said. “It came at a big time and luckily we were able to close the game out.”
A Dyslin layup off a perfect inbounds play put Yorktown up 57-54 with 15 seconds left.
Spinelli converted two free throws to give Yorktown a 59-56 lead with 4.4 seconds left. The Huskers then intercepted a Spring Valley pass but threw it into the rafters, giving the Tigers the ball back.
Yorktown (17-5) called a timeout it didn’t have, leading to a technical foul and two made Spring Valley free throws with one second left but the Tigers turned the ball over on the inbound play at half-court with a chance to win it, all but sealing the program-defining win for the Huskers.
Downes said that the adversity his team went through this season really helped against Spring Valley.
“We experienced a tough stretch at one time during the season,” Downes said. “Tanner was injured and we lost two heartbreaking games and lost three in a row. I think that experience really helped us and the kids stayed together. They continued to support each other and work hard and now they get the special feeling of reaching the County Center. I really couldn’t be happier for a group of kids.”