WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The Tuckahoe Tigers are not used to slow starts, but they shook off a lackluster first quarter-and-a-half against Haldane on Monday.
Shyheim Nixon hit a pair of three-pointers late in the second quarter to spark Tuckahoe’s offense and helped the Tigers stay undefeated. Tuckahoe beat Haldane, 70-44, in the Class C semifinals. The Tigers will face Children’s Village in the championship game on Saturday at 2 p.m.
“I just knew that I had to step up because our best player, Sky Williams, he was in a little bit of a sluggish mood,” Nixon said. “I just knew I had to step up.”
Williams certainly appreciated the help from his teammate.
“It helps us so much when the defense all crashes on me and Shyheim’s able to make shots. That’s big,” Williams said. “It stops the whole defense’s momentum and just picks up our momentum. Helps me score more, too.”
Williams had nine points in the first half but Nixon led the team with 11 at the break.
The box-and-one defense that Haldane ran gave Tuckahoe a bit of trouble in the early part of the game. The Tigers and Blue Devils were tied at 12 at the end of the first quarter, but Tuckahoe opened up a 33-20 lead at halftime. Haldane cut the lead to 37-31 with 3:26 to play in the third quarter, but the Tigers widened the gap to 45-37 at the end of the third.
Tuckahoe then outscored Haldane 25-7 in the fourth to earn a trip to the finals.
Foul trouble plagued Haldane all night, as three Blue Devils fouled out in the second half. Henry Heintzman fouled out in the third quarter just as the Blue Devils started to build momentum and cut into Tuckahoe’s lead.
Will Hoffman followed suit early in the fourth quarter after he had already scored 18 points for Haldane. Elias Lopez fouled out with less than four minutes to go in the quarter.
Tuckahoe coach Al Visconti said the poor start could serve as a bit of a wake-up call for his team.
“I didn’t expect that we’d have some jitters, but I guess that’s normal when you play at the County Center,” Visconti said. “You need to exhale and you need to get hit a couple of times. It’s kind of like being in a fight and you say, ‘Oh wow, yeah. This is big boy basketball. We’ve got to go forward.’”
Tuckahoe beat Children’s Village, 86-48, on Jan. 31. The rematch serves as a chance for Visconti and the Tigers to become section champions in consecutive years.
“Our goal all week was to play basketball in March, and we get a chance to maybe go back-to-back,” Visconti said. “So we’re looking forward to the challenge on Saturday.”
Follow Andrew Meola on Twitter @andrewmeola for live scores, updates and analysis from all the Section 1 Playoff action.