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Dobbs Ferry Loses Heartbreaker in Class B Semifinals

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February 25, 2024

By Tom Pedulla—

The Dobbs Ferry boys’ basketball team had come so far, going from five wins two years ago to double-digits in victories last season to a glistening 16-5 mark this year that included a post-season victory against Valhalla.

And now the third-seeded Eagles were exactly where they wanted to be on Feb. 24, at the Westchester County Center facing 17-4 Alexander Hamilton in the Class B semifinals and giving the second-seeded Red Raiders everything they could handle.

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Dobbs Ferry trailed 62-59 after senior Josahn Savage cooly buried two foul shots with 29.2 seconds left for Alexander Hamilton. Anthony Ficarrotta, a precocious sophomore with a huge future, countered with a layup for the Eagles. Then Christian Davis, another clutch senior for the Red Raiders, was sent to the foul line for two shots. His first barely rolled off. He made no mistake with the second.

Alexander Hamilton led 63-61 with 13.6 seconds remaining. There was still a shot as Dobbs Ferry came out of its final timeout. Actually, there would be two shots.

Coach Scott Patrillo said of the instructions given during the timeout, “We drew something up that we got multiple options off of. There have got to be at least three options off of that play. We told the guys if somebody got a wide-open look for the three, feel free to take it. If not, get the ball to the hole. We’ll force them to play defense, we’ll send it to overtime and we’ll try there.”

The 6-2 Ficarrotta pounded inside but could not connect. Jerel Outlaw, a senior desperate to extend his career, pulled down a huge rebound. He, too, had his shot bounce off the rim as the buzzer sounded on an agonizing 63-61 defeat.

“It happens. It’s part of sports,” Patrillo said. “You don’t get to win them all.”

If there was any solace for the Eagles, it came from knowing they left everything they had on the court of their dreams against a perennial power that rose to the occasion time and again for coach Keith Wright.

“We played our hearts out,” said Ficarrotta, who paced all scorers with 29 points. Outlaw added 11.

Patrillo emphasized that the defeat should not be blamed on those misses in the waning seconds. All tight games in all sports have multiple turning points.

“It doesn’t come down to the one thing. It doesn’t come down to one missed look at the very end,” the veteran coach said. “It comes down to we missed defensive stops we should have been making. We let them get to the basket too much and they were finishing and that was a problem.”

Dobbs Ferry was unable to connect on many good scoring opportunities in the opening half. “It took us a little bit to get going,” Ficarrotta said, “and that hurt us.”

The Eagles appeared to be tight at the outset and found themselves with the pressure of playing from behind against an opponent that thrives on a frenetic pace. They trailed 14-13 after the opening quarter, 25-22 at halftime. They were still behind 40-39 after three quarters when Hamilton buried a seemingly impossible three-pointer as the quarter ended.

“Our offense picked up in the second half, which we knew it would,” Patrillo said. “We started making more shots in the second half. We started seeing the rim better. We started finishing plays off. We just didn’t get the defensive stops we needed down the stretch.”

Patrillo praised the senior leadership provided by Outlaw, spunky point guard Drexel Lewis III and Luke Arone. “The seniors led this team. They were great leaders,” he said. “Hopefully, they are going to pass that torch down to Anthony (Ficarrotta), to Colin (Dubilier), to Mateus (Hertz-Bird) and they are going to take the lessons they learned from these seniors and carry them forward.”

In time, members of the Eagles will appreciate how far they came individually and as a team and the anguish associated with the abrupt end to this season will diminish. Undoubtedly, Patrillo will help them understand that.

“How could you not feel good about the season?” he said. “When you play basketball in Westchester County, getting to the County Center is a massive goal. We told the kids that getting to the County Center is like getting to base camp at (Mount) Everest. You get to base camp, but you’ve still got to get to the peak. Well, we got to base camp, we just didn’t get to the peak. We didn’t make it this time. Hopefully, we’ll get another opportunity soon.”

With continued development from Ficarrotta and other underclassmen, there is every reason to believe that can happen.

 

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