By Mitch Silver
The Rye Neck Boys’ Basketball team squeezed into the Section 1 Class C playoffs last week despite falling to Edgemont in a 58-52 heartbreaker at home. Or maybe it wasn’t a heartbreaker — certainly Head Coach Dan Lopez was heartened to learn the 6-14 Panthers made their way into the post-season.
“We’ll have to play the top seed,” the first-year coach said after the game, “but just getting into Sectionals means a lot to our guys. We put together a four-game winning streak this season, something Rye Neck hasn’t done in a couple of years.”
Their play against another group of Panthers, this one from Scarsdale, typified an entire schedule of play in 32 minutes. The Hornidge Road group did all the things winning teams do. They kept up a tough 2-3 zone defense most of the way, they outrebounded the somewhat taller visitors, but they couldn’t convert around the basket. Time and again a Rye Neck player would dribble his way in for a layup, or grab an offensive board for a putback, only to watch the ball bounce off the iron. And their outside shooting wasn’t much better.
Coach Lopez put it bluntly. “We can’t finish. If we could just make the easy ones we’d have had at least ten wins.”
Only senior co-captain Conor Liguori, who finished with a team-high 14 points, brought his shooting eye with him. Aiden Heaton added ten, Rafael Zyngler contributed nine, and sophomore Korey Greenland had eight.
There was another problem: no one could stop Liam Klein, who scored 19 points — nearly a third of Edgemont’s total — on drives and tap-ins.
The playoff schedule wasn’t posted at press time, but one thing is certain: Rye Neck will hit the road...with their heads held high.
Panther Conor Liguori nails a three despite Liam Klein’s best efforts.
Rafael Zyngler boxes out Edgemont’s Andrew Gallousis (21).