WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The Croton-Harmon High School boys’ basketball team defeated North Salem, 61-56, in a challenge game Friday at the Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center.
Ian Thom poured in 33 points in the victory and earned MVP honors for the second year in a row.
“It’s definitely meaningful,” Thom said of the win and his award. “It’s one of the biggest arenas in Westchester. Every player in Section 1 wants to come here and do something special.”
Croton (3-2) led for much of the game but North Salem continued to battle back in the latter part of the fourth quarter. The Tigers trailed, 54-50, with 3:20 remaining but tied it up at 54 with 1:55 left. Tomas Salaverria then gave North Salem its second and final lead of the game with a bucket at the 1:35 mark.
Croton quickly tied it up and Thom banked one off the glass with 40 seconds left to put Croton back on top and give the Tigers the lead for good. After Thom’s bank shot, North Salem lost the ball on its next possession and never scored again.
Thom’s father and Croton head coach William Thom said he designed the play to screen his son and then jump the cutter. He praised his star player’s performance, particularly in light of the opposing defense.
“He put the team on his back today,” Thom said. “(North Salem) coach (Henry) Sassone is a master of the junk defense. He’s been doing different stuff. He showed man the whole game. There were so many wrinkles. He ran Ian out of the man. It was a good game for him.”
Umar Singh led North Salem with 21 points and 13 rebounds
Croton next faces Pawling in the one-day Putnam Officials Challenge before its league schedule begins at Briarcliff on Monday, Jan. 7. The younger Thom hoped the Slam Dunk win would be a jumping off point for his team.
“Coming in .500 here, we needed to get this win,” Thom said. “Good teams don’t lose two in a row and so far we've come back from each of our losses.”