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Tappan Zee Dominates Sleepy Hollow in Semifinals

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – During the first quarter of Thursday’s Class A semifinal, Sleepy Hollow coach Nick Romeo addressed his players in the huddle during a timeout and repeated, “We’re better than this.”

But Tappan Zee turned out to be the better team and routed the Horsemen, 83-45, to reach the girls Class A finals. They will face the winner of the Pearl River-Albertus Magnus matchup.

Sleepy Hollow never got close on the scoreboard, and the gap widened as the game progressed. Tappan Zee led 21-4 after the first quarter, 40-12 at halftime and 65-26 at the end of the third quarter.

“We told them (at halftime) that we can’t play much worse than we did in the first half,” Romeo said. “We knew what to do, we just for whatever reason weren’t doing it.”

Tappan Zee’s size and physicality overwhelmed Sleepy Hollow throughout the night. Centers Devona Paul and Val Dimuro clogged the paint and dominated the interior for the Dutchmen.

Romeo offered the possible explanation that the experience of playing at the Westchester County Center may have overwhelmed his team.

“It’s our first time (at the county center) and if you look back to last year, last year was the first time we made the playoffs and had a home game. We got nervous in the first quarter. We were down big, kind of similar to today. We told them not to try to worry about that, but it’s inevitable. Big crowd like this, two levels, county center, all the hype and everything.”

Romeo praised the play of senior guard Jamie Bucci, particularly in the second half.

“She went out with a bang,” Romeo said.

Sleepy Hollow has only two seniors on the roster, Bucci and Barbara Good, both of whom have been with the team since seventh-grade. Most of the current players will have a chance to get back to the county center.

Bucci and Good will not, but Romeo said he is grateful to have had them on his team.

“I thanked them when they came off the court. I thanked them for everything that they’ve done for, not just me, but for Sleepy Hollow basketball,” Romeo said. “Because without them, this rebuild could never have taken us to the Westchester County Center.”

Follow Andrew Meola on Twitter @andrewmeola for live scores, updates and analysis from all the Section 1 Playoff action.

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