By Mitch Silver
The singer Jerry Reed put the phrase to music more than 40 years ago: “When you’re hot, you’re hot. When you’re not, you’re not.” The Rye Boys’ Basketball team was definitely <not> last Thursday night. The sixth-seed’s from Albertus Magnus led nearly all the way against the home-standing Garnets in the Section 1 quarterfinals and punched their ticket to the Final Four at the County Center, ending the season for the No. 3 Garnets.
Simply put, the locals couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket. Shooting guard and career 1,000-point scorer Charlie Nagle not only missed all his three-point efforts, the usually rock-steady All-Section performer missed four free throws on the evening. Certainly, the wallop he took in the third quarter that knocked the air out of him and kept him down on the floor for over a minute didn’t help. And Nagle did lead his team with 16 points, scoring several layups after his patented knock-the-ball-loose-from-behind steals on defense.
Unfortunately, Nagle’s shooting woes seemed to infect the other starters. Michael Carty scored eight points, making one of three from the foul line. Center Seamus McCrohan had three baskets, and Brett Egan was shut out. Only Max Samberg brought his A game to the Class A playoffs, hitting three trifectas while scoring 13 points for the Garnets. A.J. Thompson sank the only other Rye three in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the other 1,000-point scorer on the floor — Falcons’ swingman Justin Bullock — led all scorers with 17, including a couple of key buckets down the stretch. Senior guard Collin Crispino added 14 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, and big man Connor Parahus (aptly pronounced “Powerhouse”) scored 11.
Still, with all their woes, Rye nosed in front late in the game. After trailing 16-10 after the first quarter, 27-25 at the half, and 44-39 after three, the Garnets found themselves up 48-47 when Samberg and Carty hit back-to-back contested baskets with six minutes left.
A couple of Falcon free throws made it 49-48. Carty missed a three, but alertly got back on defense to knock the ball away from Parahus as he drove for a lay-up. With the game winding down, Nagle airmailed a three-point try with the score 53-49. A Bullock score stretched the lead to six before Carty, with six rebounds for the game, and Samberg brought the Garnets back. Samberg’s step-back three from the right wing made it 55-54 with 24 seconds left.
After trying for the steal, Rye fouled Cameron McGrath. He missed the front end of a one-and-one and Samberg would end up missing a last-gasp effort in the paint. Parahus came down with his 13th rebound and the Falcons’ celebration began in the middle of the court.
Coach John Aguilar’s 16-6 Garnets shot just 4 for 24 from 3-point range and missed seven free throws in their last game of the season. The coach took the loss in stride.
“It was very tough to come inches away from the County Center, but what the seniors have accomplished over the last two years has been remarkable, winning 32 games. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Except, maybe, he’d have that final Garnet shot go in.