March Madness, the climactic tournament period that defines college basketball each year, is weeks away, but locally, high school winter sports postseason in Westchester County could be defined as “Frantic February.”
Westchester County high schools will compete in Section 1 tournament ice hockey, boys and girls basketball, indoor track and field, swimming, bowling, wrestling and gymnastics in a flurry of events that fill the February calendar that includes a helpful Leap Year 29th day this year.
Section 1, which includes schools from Westchester, Putnam and Rockland counties and already held indoor track and gymnastics championships, will set the upcoming tournament schedule for its team sports by revealing seedings in basketball and hockey this week.
Wrestling qualifiers got under way this Saturday and Sunday. The first day of the large-school tournament will be held at Clarkstown South High School. The first day of the small-school tournament was hosted by Croton with tournaments continuing Sunday at the Goldstein Center on the campus of Pace University in Pleasantville with championship finals.
The goal for all Westchester area basketball teams is to reach the Section 1 Final Four and a visit to the Westchester County Center and a shot at winning the coveted Gold Ball trophy as Section 1 class champion. Opening round games begin later this week.
Girls basketball teams, led by Irvington’s two-time defending Class B state champion, Ossining’s Class AA powerhouse squad, the Alexander Hamilton and the defending Class AA state champion Mount Vernon girls, will be tested by the fast and furious playoff schedule.
Mount Vernon’s perennial Section 1 champion boys team is favored to win in Class AA and unbeaten Tuckahoe looks to repeat as Section 1 Class C champion. Defending Class A state champion Peekskill, Dobbs Ferry, Kennedy, Croton, Byram Hills, Woodlands, Pleasantville and several other contenders will stake claims to a title in their respective classes.
Pelham and Rye are the class of local ice hockey, each ranked in the state’s Top 10 Division II programs by the New York State Sportswriter Association. Teams with five or more wins will be seeded for the Section 1 tournament Thursday.
“Frantic February” heats up this week, fueled by the hopes and dreams of hundreds of high school athletes and their coaches, filling the calendar with big games.