Midnight Madness to usher in a new era at RCC

The administration at Rockland Community College apparently is making a new commitment to its men’s and women’s basketball programs, with new coaches having been appointed and by introducing something that has been commonplace at the Division I level across the nation.

In other words, “Midnight Madness,” for the first-time ever is coming to the RCC field house in Suffern (145 College Road), the big event scheduled for October 6, which also coincides with the first official day of practice.

The men’s team is now principally in the hands of Yonkers native Grant Valentine III while Spring Valley HS alum Kevin Philius will head the women’s program.

Valentine led Palisades Prep in Yonkers to its first city title in 2016, after having served as an assistant at Woodlands HS and John Jay College.

Valentine, whose father is an RCC trustee, resides in Spring Valley and also coaches various AAU programs in Rockland County.

Philius, an RCC graduate who was a part of Rockland’s 2009 Region championship team, played for two years at John Jay, then served as an assistant coach under Valentine at Palisades Prep and on the AAU circuit.

“We’re in the community,” Philius said in a press release. “Players’ parents know us on a first-name basis.”

Rakym Chase, another former RCC player, will be Valentine’s assistant coach while Vaughn Heyliger has been tabbed to assist Philius on the women’s side.

Chase, who was graduated from Ramapo HS, also played at Westfield State and has coached AAU and high school teams. Meantime, Amanda Vitacco, yet another RCC graduate, will serve as the program’s academic advisor and handle administrative duties.

This coaching quartet, besides being involved in AAU basketball, also share a workplace in common at St. Dominic’s School in Blauvelt, a school for children with social and emotional needs, neurological impairments and learning disabilities.

“We want our players to graduate and transfer to other schools,” Philus said, adding that establishing a reputation for developing student-athletes will help in the recruitment process.

Valentine III is replacing Billy Kurisko; Philius is replacing Rich Jacobson.


Highlight game of the week

       Rivalries such as Archbishop Stepinac vs. White Plains each Thanksgiving Day have gone by the boards, but the Orange Bowl remains to give scholastic football fans a dose of what local rivalries are all about: bragging rights.

This Saturday on the grounds of Pearl River HS, with kickoff set at 1:30 p.m., once-beaten and powerful Tappan Zee (2-1) tries to repeat last year’s success against the winless Pirates (0-2).

Judging only by one common opponent, Sleepy Hollow, another victory by the Orangetown-based Dutchmen is nearly a given.

The Dutchmen, under the leadership of first-year head coach Ralph Iannuzzi, longtime assistant to retired Andy DiDomenico, trounced the host Headless Horsemen, 31-15, in their second game of the season; the Pirates, under the leadership of veteran Mike Oliva, lost their season opener to the same Headless Horseman, 34-21.

Tappan Zee tamed the Brewster Bears, 27-7, to open its season but is coming off a tough one-point loss to Walter Panas, 21-20, in Cortlandt Manor.

Pearl River is coming off a loss at home to a very impressive Our Lady of Lourdes team, 34-7.

To repeat, kickoff Saturday is set for 1:30 p.m.


TZ upends Lady Pirates

All good things must come to an end, including Pearl River High School’s record winning streak in girls cross country.

The end came after 221 victories, which is a state record and perhaps a national mark, as Tappan Zee prevailed 27-30. The streak had started on Sept. 18, 1990 but, according to MileSplit(NY), it does not stand alone in Pirates history.

Following a dual meet loss to Albertus Magnus on April 8th, 1986 — it is written on MileSplit — the Lady Pirates, led by legendary coach Dan Doherty, went on to win 193 consecutive dual meets in spring track.

In the loss to Tappan Zee, Mary Borkoski of Pearl River led the way with a time of 17:17.8 in the 2.5-mile run.

Tappan Zee’s Alexandra Thomas (15:24.8), Tori Fears (16:03.9) and Maddy Roth (16:08.1) were next across the line to pace the way for the stunning triumph.



       LUKE KERN of Stony Point began his senior season at starting strong safety as The Catholic University of America football team lost its season opener to McDaniel, 30-10. Kern, an alum of Albertus Magnus HS, had 11 tackles and forced two fumbles for the Cardinals, who rebounded in their home opener in Washington, D.C, defeating Utica 16-10. Kern had another strong effort, leading all players with 10 solo stops and also forcing a fumble at the goal line to stall a Utica drive. The Cardinals are home on September 23 to meet MIT at noon, and then challenge Coast Guard in New London, Conn., on September 30.

       NYACK HS ALUMS Kayode Tyler, a senior defenseman, and freshman forward Eslam Ellisy are competing on the men’s soccer team at Purchase College. The Panthers will be in Poultney, Vt., on September 23 to challenge Green Mountain College, and then travel to Danbury, Conn., on September 27 to meet Western Connecticut State University. Purchase returns home on September 30 to host Old Westbury College in a Skyline Conference contest at 2 p.m. Tyler helped Purchase post its second straight shutout victory, 3-0 over visiting John Jay College, scoring his second goal of the season on a penalty kick as the host took a 2-0 lead at intermission.
       DEJA SMITH of Suffern is a senior middle hitter on the volleyball team at SUNY Cortland, which will be in Fredonia September 22-23 to meet Oneonta, Fredonia and Oswego.

       SARAH ADLER of Suffern, a junior, is running cross country at Northeastern. The Huskies compete in the Coast to Coast Battle in Beantown in Boston on September 22, and will be in Charlottesville, Va., on September 23 for the Virginia Panorama Farms Invitational.

       LAC VAN of New City, a graduate of Clarkstown North HS, is a senior defenseman on the men’s soccer team at SUNY Delhi while Sydney Tuysuzian of Suffern is a sophomore rearguard on the women’s team. Both Broncos teams challenge SUNY ESF on September 23, and then travel to Rutland, Vt., on September 24 to take on the College of St. Joseph.

       TYLER HARTFIELD of Suffern, a freshman lineman, and freshman back Chris Robillard of Spring Valley are playing football at Utica College, which visits The College of Brockport on September 23 at 4 p.m. for an Empire 8 contest.

TANEISHA CANTAVE of New City, a standout in volleyball and track and field at Suffern HS, has been hired to coach women’s volleyball at Westchester Community College in Valhalla. Cantave , who also was a two-sport athlete at Sacred Heart University, was the girls volleyball coach at Woodlands HS where she was nominated as Coach of the Year in Section 1. She has also served as an assistant at Nyack College, among other schools, and has been a program supervisor at the Mental Health Association of Rockland in Valley Cottage since 2009.

       JESSICA WARREN of Stony Point, an alumna of North Rockland HS, is a junior forward on the Purchase College women’s soccer team. The Panthers visit York College in Brooklyn on September 23 for a game at noon, and then return home to challenge Sarah Lawrence College at 7 p.m. on September 27.



       The 16th Pearl River HS Hall of Fame induction dinner will be held October 14 at The Pearl River Elks Club in Nanuet. Among the honorees is Bruce Miller, a teacher and coach who posted 344 career wins in baseball. The Tom & Priscilla Lans Community Service Award will go to Helen D’Agostino. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. with the cocktail hour. For information contact the Pearl River HS athletic office at 845-620-3943 or Tom Doherty at 551-427-2951.

       The Ed Bouton Memorial Golf Tournament, which is scheduled September 28 at Blue Hill Golf Course in Orangeburg, benefits the Rotary Scholarship Foundation of Pearl River and the Pearl River Rotary Charitable Fund. To register access:

       THE TAPPAN ZEE HS girls basketball team will have a new head coach this winter following the retirement of Tom Cromer.

DOM DELPONTE of Tappan, just 15, led all competitors to win the men’s division USATF 5K run at the 10th Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for the Cure at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Delponte, 15, was clocked in 21 minutes and 1 second as more than 2,000 people turned out for the annual fundraiser, which has raised more than $600,000 for the fight against breast cancer,

       RESOLVE will defend his title in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot on Saturday afternoon, October 14, at Empire City Casino. Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt, who steered the American flag-carrier to last year’s world-record victory over Yonkers Raceway’s historic strip, accepted the invitation to the 1-¼ mile global classic on behalf of owner Hans Enggren.

       MANHATTAN COLLEGE in Riverdale, a NCAA Division I institution and member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), seeks an assistant director of sports communication. Access:


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