align="center">By Kevin Devaney Jr.
The Journal News
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0 High School Sports
(Original publication: February 11, 2007)
The 2006-07 regular season saw more than its share of great games, thrilling finishes and outstanding performances.
With the playoffs beginning this week, let's look back on the best the season had to offer:
Best game: White Plains 75, Mount Vernon 70. The area's top two teams waged a classic showdown last Monday. The Tigers followed up a 23-point drubbing at Mount Vernon last month with a near-perfect effort, scoring 29 fourth-quarter points in the comeback victory. Other top games: Stepinac vs. Peekskill, Dec. 27; White Plains vs. Mater Dei (Calif.), Jan. 6; .
Best individual performance: Michael Coburn vs. White Plains, Jan. 12. Mount Vernon's senior guard completely stole the show in the first meeting, scoring 34 points (15-for-20 shooting) with seven assists. Melquan Bolding's all-around effort against Mount St. Michael two weeks ago was awesome. And the 45 points George Johnson scored for Hawthorne Cedar Knolls last week was eye-popping.
Best passer: Tony Taylor, Stepinac. Few players see the floor and can anticipate as well as the junior point guard. Taylor can be flashy, but what's more impressive than his ability to set up teammates and run the offense is how careful he is with the ball. Coburn is good for 3-4 head-spinning assists per game. Also, Matt Bernstein of Byram Hills doesn't get enough credit for the plays he makes.
Best shooter: Mark Courtien, Pelham. It's hard to argue with 61 3-pointers or the fact that he's led the area in the category the last two seasons. Courtien has such a smooth release and can hit from anywhere. Coburn is probably the best shooter in the clutch. Kevin Jones has the best touch. Iona Prep's Andre Pope hits anything when he's open. And Mookie Jones of Peekskill is the best off the dribble. Jason Mendell of Byram Hills and Mickey Abbatiello of Eastchester also deserve mention.
Best leader: Coburn. You could debate all of these awards - except this one. This is indisputable. He's a fifth-year player, a captain for three years and is without question the most respected players the area has ever seen. Larry Grant of Woodlands and Kenny Horton of Ossining are also worth noting.
Most improved player: Max Strand, Horace Greeley. After quietly leading the team in scoring last season, Strand had a breakout season, averaging 17.4 points per game for the 17-3 Quakers. Kevin Jones is flourishing in a spotlight role, and Rashad James has come up big for White Plains.
All-defense team: Spencer Smith, White Plains; Brendon Mitchell, Briarcliff; Brian Riley, Mount St. Michael; Richie Schmidt, Stepinac; Rory McDermott, Hackley.
All-underrated team: Jamie Cirocco, Mahopac; Rob Loughran, Carmel; Nicky Ivezic, Putnam Valley; Mike Zee, Ardsley; Edil Lacayo, Salesian.
All-rookie team: Brandon Sileck, So., Croton-Harmon; Odayne Clarke, So., Mount Vernon; Jon Calarco, So., Pelham; Dequann Brickhouse, Fr., Peekskill; Andre Pope, So., Iona Prep.
MVP: The Fab Five from the preseason - Coburn, Kilpatrick, Bolding, Kevin Jones and Mookie Jones - have all had outstanding seasons, and Horton has gotten himself in the mix, too. But right now, Coburn is the best around. There's still time left for somebody to steal the award.
Power rankings: The last of the season.
1. White Plains (18-2): Have to stick with who's hot.
2. Mount Vernon (16-3): Loss to White Plains was a shock.
3. Stepinac (14-7): Closes season this week.
4. Mount St. Michael (18-2): Rebounded from Stepinac loss with two wins.
5. Peekskill (16-4): Great record considering schedule
On the brink: Ossining (14-5); New Rochelle (14-6); Woodlands (17-3); Horace Greeley (17-3).