Rye High Boys’ Basketball
Garnets Fall to Poughkeepsie in Semifinals, 73-60
By Mitch Silver
When the season began in December, Rye Head Coach John Aguilar knew winning a Sectional championship would be an uphill battle. “Our tallest starter is 6-foot-one. A lot of point guards in Westchester are bigger than that.” What the Garnets didn’t know was that theirs would also be an upstate battle. As in…Poughkeepsie.
Despite riding a 12-game winning streak, the Garnets entered Thursday’s Class A semifinal against the Pioneers as decided underdogs. “They’re long, they’re fast,” the coach said, “and they’re playing at home.”
“Home” used to be in Section 9, where the Dutchess County school on the Hudson River won a Sectional title two years ago. Then, somehow, a team froml 60 miles north of I-287 found itself playing Section 1 basketball. And, instead of the neutral court of the County Center, this year the top seeds were allowed to play their semifinal game against fifth-seeded Rye on their standing-room-only home court.
Coach Aguilar said, “It was the loudest high school gym we’ve ever played in. Louder, much louder, than our games with Byram Hills.”
Still, the Garnets acquitted themselves well. They fell behind early 22-13 when the Pioneers’ big three (literally) of Davontry Thomas, Niyel Goins, and Tremell Reaves all made three baskets in a helter-skelter eight minutes.
Coach Aguilar would say afterwards, “We’d steal the ball, hear footsteps and miss our shot. They’d run the ball the other way and make theirs.”
Rye finally got into their rhythm and closed the gap to five points at the half on a Quinn Kelly three at the buzzer. But, no sooner had the third period begun than an in-and-out Rye long-range attempt led to a Poughkeepsie three at the other end. Instead of cutting the margin to two, it ballooned to eight. And then it was more as Thomas, Reaves, and Jayquan Pearson—scoring repeatedly on put-backs—combined for 25 points by the time the third-quarter ended. Thomas even threw down an enormous dunk. Poughkeepsie 60, Rye 38.
The Garnets would claw back to 11 down with a chance to make it eight with three and a half minutes left. Matthew Tepedino’s shot from behind the arc was halfway down before popping out. In the end, the favorites had their 13-point victory in front of their ecstatic fans. And the 19-4 Garnets had a long bus ride home.
Kelly, Tepedino, and Thomas Flaherty all scored in double figures in the losing effort. The coach would say of them, “This is my grittiest bunch, my one-for-all, all-for-one group of guys. Quinn Kelly is one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever had. And when your high scorer passes up his shot to get his teammates involved, it gets everyone else doing it.”
Poughkeepsie will face unbeaten Tappan Zee in the final. Rye will face another 10 months before they’re back on the court.