Tappan Zee dominates Panas to claim Class A basketball title
Tappan Zee defeated Walter Panas 59-40 to win the Division 1 Class A Basketball Championship at Yorktown High School on March 6, 2021.
Seth Harrison, Seth Harrison/lohud
There was initially some reluctance to play the lead role, but Dana Phelan had the best acting face.
And experience. And the game.
“I knew she had it in her,” said Tappan Zee trainer Riley Chevrier. “I knew Dana had the skills to be that kind of player. It was a matter of her being comfortable with it and me asking her to do it. There was a game at the start of the season where I asked him to be more selfish. I thought she was spending too much time and giving up too many opportunities. She almost didn’t want to.
The Dutch were arguably the best side in Section 1 this season and Phelan wasn’t the only talented player in the roster.
Her personality set her apart though.
“I don’t like losing at all,” Phelan said. “I’m very competitive, so if something doesn’t go my way, I push for it to go my way.”
And that’s what Tappan Zee needed.
Phelan went on to average 16 points per game in a balanced formation. She struck 71 times from behind the arc and was a high intensity defender. Phelan also contributed five rebounds and three assists per game.
She is the Rockland Journal News Player of the Year.
“It was really tough at first,” the main guard said of his transition. “At first, I didn’t expect us to be so good. As the season went on, we all got better and everyone contributed, even the bench. I didn’t want to upset that, so it was good to have my team behind me.
The Dutch got a taste of their potential in a 70-37 win over Ursuline in January.
“We came out so strong and we were like, ‘Wow, if we beat the No. 1 team in the section like that, we could really be that good,'” Phelan said. undefeated because everyone was shooting at us and wanting to beat us when we were the #1 team. It was really stressful, especially going into the Ursulines game. It was tough losing that one, but we bounced back. Our defense wasn’t great that game, so we went into practice the next day, worked on everything we needed to and improved for the next game.
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Tappan Zee smothered his opponents and won the Section 1 Class A Championship.
Phelan was a force in the final month of the season and the Dutch got into the NYSPHSAA title match. Averill Park was a tough game, but she hit five 3s to rally her team, but the comeback eventually lost steam. Tappan Zee finished with a 25-2 record.
“Before this season, I didn’t really have much confidence in myself and held back in everything I did,” the College of Staten Island official said. “This year I wanted to win everything and I realized that I had to push myself to do better and not just shoot the ball, but play good defense, drive to the basket, make good passes and make us work as a team. “
There have been recalls throughout the season.
Ariana Kupi, Kellie Linehan, Kristen Phelan and Brooke Comito have all had big matches along the way, but all have fed off of Phelan.
“Dana loves the game and she loves winning and she never wants to sit on the bench,” Chevrier said. “Anything she has to do to play and win the game, she will do. Dana can score and she’s generally done a bit of everything for us, but more importantly she set the tone for how all our team was going to unfold throughout the game. It was something that clicked midway through the year. I had to say to him, ‘I don’t think you understand how much this team is following you.’ It’s something I leaned on her for.
There was raw emotion in the state final four, both winning and losing. It was a demonstration of the investment Phelan has made in this team and this season.
“It’s rare to have what we had,” she added. “We had a lot of athletes on our team, not everyone was a basketball player, but the chemistry was really good. We didn’t play like a high school team. We played like a good AAU team or a college team. We were so well surrounded. I will especially remember my team. Winning the Ballon d’Or, winning regionals and going up to Troy was crazy for us. Everything about this trip is something I will remember all my life.
The rest of the first team
Allie Falesto, Albertus Magnus: The second-year guard immediately became the Falcons’ primary ball handler. She was a stubborn defender and kept the ground balanced with her shooting ability. Falesto averaged 12.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and shot 43% from behind the arc.
Ariana Kupi, Tappan Zee: The junior striker may have been the county’s most improved player. She was tough to keep in the position with her concise under-the-rim footwork and new midrange game. Kupi averaged 12 points and 9.5 rebounds and protected the paint on the other end.
Kellie Linehan, Tappan Zee: The senior striker has been told to guard the best player in the opposing team, regardless of size or position. She was tireless defensively and a threat in transition. Linehan, who goes to American University to play lacrosse, averaged 8.5 rebounds per game.
Sierra Linnin, Albertus Magnus: The senior guard changed their approach, picked up their intensity and became a lethal scorer this season. Linnin, who signed a letter of intent to play at LeMoyne next season, averaged 18.6 points, four rebounds and two steals. She made 77 attempts from behind the arc and shot 88% from the line.
Coach of the year
Riley Chevrier, Tappan Zee: She entered the season with a talented and motivated group that needed a lot of guidance while adjusting to new and bigger roles. The Dutch went 25-2, cruising to a second Class A title and enjoying a playoff tear that didn’t lose momentum until the NYSPHSAA Championship Game.
Karly Fischer, Jr., C, Albertus Magnus
Sarai Gurley, So., G, North Rockland
Grace Mallozzi, Sr., F, North Rockland
Magic McGrane, Sr., G, Pearl River
Kristen Phelan, Fr., G, Tappan Zee
Brooke Comito, Sr., F, Tappan Zee; Aila Dervisevic, Jr., G, Clarkstown North; Neive Fausel, Sr., F, North Rockland; Desire George, Jr., G, East Ramapo; Marissa Graziano, Jr., F, Pearl River; Addison Lennon, Sr., G, Nanuet; Gianna Longo, So., G, Nyack; Adriana McMillian, Fr., F, Suffern; Jackie Zodda, Sr., C, Clarkstown South; Maeve Woods, Sr., F, Pearl River.
Mike Dougherty covers men’s soccer, men’s lacrosse, women’s basketball and golf for The Journal News/lohud.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @hoopsmbd, @lohudlacrosse, @lohudhoopsmbd and @lohudgolf.