WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Byram Hills and Tappan Zee certainly had a tough act to follow.
Friday’s first Class A semifinal game between Peekskill and Poughkeepsie was a nail-biter that came down to the final possession. Ramon Searight’s high-arcing three-pointer missed at the buzzer, and No. 11 Poughkeepsie upset No. 2 Peekskill, 56-55, to advance to the finals and face the winner of Byram Hills-Tappan Zee.
Peekskill refused to go away quietly. Robert Lyles hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 56-55 with about 14 seconds left. Poughkeepsie could not inbound the ball and called timeout with 8.4 seconds left, but the referees did not blow the whistle for a five second violation.
Jahleel Carter went to the line for Poughkeepsie and badly missed both free throws with 6.3 seconds left. Peekskill, which was out of timeouts, rebounded the ball and rushed down court. The ball made its way to an open Searight in the corner, but his three-pointer fell short. Peekskill rebounded the miss but time expired.
“The shot at the end, the three, maybe I would have like to have seen them drive that, but (Searight’s) a good three point shooter, that’s what he does,” said Peekskill coach Lou Panzanaro. “I can’t knock him for taking it.”
Peekskill played from behind for the majority of the game. Poughkeepsie led, 29-22, at the half but Peekskill trimmed it to 36-35 at the end of the third quarter.
Poughkeepsie led by eight as late as the 2:30 mark, but Peekskill continued to slice into the lead. Chandler Pierce, who fouled out with 21 points and 10 rebounds, took over the game for the Red Devils in the fourth quarter and hit a huge three-pointer with 1:13 left that cut the lead to 53-49.
Both teams were abysmal from the free throw line down the stretch, and both teams missed several chances to put the ball in the hoop, even on fast breaks.
“We were just atrocious from the foul line,” Panzanaro said. “The other night we won a game because we were 15-of-18 in the fourth quarter. Tonight we couldn’t put one in the basket.”
Despite the season-ending loss, Panzanaro spoke optimistically after the game.
“I always think we’re going to win the sectional championship,” Panzanaro said. “I’ve been telling them from the first day of practice. That’s our goal and I would never say anything differently than that. There’s good competition out there but I honestly thought our team was as good as any team on the floor, in our class. And I still think we’re right there. We didn’t win tonight but we’re still a good basketball team.”