Amanda Latkany launching one of her two first-quarter 3-pointers.
Garnets Press Pesky Panthers and Remain Undefeated
BY LEIF SKODNICK
Sometimes, athletes just need reinforcement, especially in a compressed season where there is little time to practice or prepare for certain opponents.
Sometimes, they need to hear what they already know in someone else’s voice to bolster their own belief.
On March 4, with her Garnets tied 18-18 with Pleasantville at halftime, Rye head coach Margo Hackett told her team what they already knew: “On a given night, you can beat anybody.”
After which, the Garnets came out and controlled play over the final 16 minutes on the way to a 51-47 win in a game that Hackett and her charges said was their biggest challenge thus far.
From the opening tip, Pleasantville played a 2-3 zone in their own end, allowing Rye to shoot from the outside, with the Panthers collecting rebounds and pressing up the court.
“They’re five scrappy athletes who, if there’s a loose ball, are all on it,” Hackett said. “And that’s the type of game this was.”
Rye immediately started to press as the second half began, forcing Pleasantville to be more aggressive on defense and fouling Rye in the bonus.
Senior Amanda Latkany, who led the Garnets with 32 points, hit three 3-pointers and went 7-for-9 from the foul line. Frequently charged with moving the ball for the Garnets, Latkany was the beneficiary of the referee’s whistles, all of her free throws coming in the second half.
“They’re definitely a very aggressive team both offensively and defensively,” Latkany said. “They kept fighting until the end, and I have a lot of respect for that.”
With 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Garnets leading 48-44, Latkany had the ball and was fouled by Lila Donahue. The Panthers, however, had no fouls left to give, drawing a fervent reaction from their head coach Dillon Clark.
“No! No! Won’t you listen? Now they shoot,” he yelled to his players, knowing that any foul would put the Garnets – and most likely, Latkany – on the foul line.
She made both free throws awarded for that foul, and one of two on Pleasantville’s next infraction.
A three-pointer from Pleasantville’s Jenna McAllister that would have been good in the NBA with 2.4 seconds left, cut Rye’s lead back to four, but was too little, too late.
“I think we just had positive energy coming into the second half,” said Latkany, summing up the Garnets’ effort. “And that really helped us, especially with the press and on defense.”
Hackett pointed to her Brown-bound senior as the difference in the game.
“Thirty-two points! I didn’t realize it was 32 until I looked at the book,” Hackett said. “Amanda’s a silent assassin. …I looked at her halfway through the third quarter and I said, ‘Take over this ball game.’ She gave me this look, and I knew it was over.”
The 9-0 Garnets are one game closer to the playoffs, though Hackett doesn’t know how they will set up.
“Haven’t even thought about it,” she said. “Our goal right now is just to win every game.”