WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Struggling to score points in the first half with elimination staring them in the face, the unbeaten Tuckahoe Tigers used a smothering defense in the second half to race past Pine Plains 62-44 in the New York State Class C boys regional semifinals at the Westchester County Center.
Defense is always the first focus, Tigers guard and defensive standout Shyheim Nixon said. We werent playing well on defense in the first half, so the score was tied at halftime and we had to step it up. We are in top shape from all the running we do, so if we play good defense, it gets the offense going.
Tuckahoe (22-0), the Section 1 champion, will face Section 8s East Rockaway, the Long Island champion, in the state regional final on Saturday at SUNY New Paltz at 2:45 p.m. The winner will earn a spot in next weeks New York State Public Schools Final Four.
While Nixon was keying the defense, Sky Williams led the offense, scoring 17 of his game-high 35 points in the first half to keep Tuckahoe even with Pine Plains in a low-scoring half that ended in a 28-28 tie.
Williams finished the Tigers fast break that took over in the fourth quarter, adding 18 second-half points as the Tigers outscored Pine Plains 34-16 in the second half.
Pine Plains used its superior size and a tight zone defense to stay in the game early, changing Tuckahoes game plan and deflecting the Tigers inside game. The Section 9 champion continued to play well in the second half to help forge a 34-28 lead after the first two minutes before Tuckahoe went on a 20-6 run to take over the game.
Their size wasnt the big problem, Williams said. We didnt make our shots and Mark (Raymond) has foul trouble. Mark is our big guy inside and he makes things easier for us on both ends.
Raymond, who had three fouls at halftime, helped key the defense in the second half, blocking three shots, grabbing six rebounds and helping key the fast break that eventually helped the Tigers build a 38-34 after three quarters.
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