Local Boys’ Basketball Teams Reach for the Brass Ring, Come Away Empty

Unless they win the championship, every team in every sport ends their season in defeat. So it was with Rye’s basketball-playing boys as the season came to a close last month.

Published March 21, 2016 4:42 PM
4 min read

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IMG 8250Unless they win the championship, every team in every sport ends their season in defeat. So it was with Rye’s basketball-playing boys as the season came to a close last month.

 

By Mitch Silver

 

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

                                    — T.S. Eliot

 

IMG 8250Unless they win the championship, every team in every sport ends their season in defeat. So it was with Rye’s basketball-playing boys as the season came to a close last month.

 

In Class B playoff action, Rye Neck was beaten for a third time this season by archrival Blind Brook. Rye High defeated Pearl River 59-38 in their Class A playoff opener only to fall to higher seed Nanuet by an almost identical score, 60-38. And Rye Country Day lost a heartbreaker to Friends Seminary at the buzzer of their New York State Association of Independent Schools first-round playoff game, 62-61.

 

Let’s start with Class B. Rye Neck Coach James Mooney was upbeat before his 14th-seeded Panthers traveled to play No. 3 Blind Brook in their playoff opener after dropping both regular-season games.

 

“We know exactly what to expect from them, what their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies are. Overall, we’re not the same team we were at the beginning of the season or when we lost to Blind Brook a week ago. We’re more confident, we’re more prepared, and we’re feeling great going into tomorrow.”

 

Feeling great is one thing, penetrating the Trojans’ smothering defense is another altogether. Rye Neck couldn’t get anything going, and they fell for a third time, 59-31.

 

The Garnets had just as tough a time with 4th-seeded Nanuet on the Golden Knights’ floor. “Their backcourt was the best we have faced all year,” Rye coach John Aguiar said afterwards, “and their bigs were as strong as any we have seen. Nanuet was on an 11-game winning streak, playing at home in front of a rowdy crowd. Unfortunately, we missed shots early on and it seemed to get us rattled. We were unable to get into any flow.”

 

IMG 8288The coach was upbeat about the season, though. “Winning our own Michael Ice Tournament against Harrison and getting to 15 regular-season wins were definitely some of the things we will all remember most.

 

“Several players brought their game to another level. Mark Croughan was named to the All-League team, Michael Carty has become one of the league’s best all-around point guards, and, of course, our shooting guard Charlie Nagle was voted All-Section. This was a great season for the basketball program.”

 

Lastly, first-year Wildcats coach Steve Gage couldn’t get his charges over the hump posed by Friends Seminary in their post-season opener. Despite playing in front of an enthused home crowd, Rye Country Day let a late lead slip away.

 

After falling behind by 17-16 at the end of the first period, the locals seemed to grab hold of the game behind the hot three-point shooting of Jared Jones (four in the first half) and the rebounding at both ends of the court by 6’8” senior Manny Chukwu. The Wildcats walked off at halftime with a 31-23 lead.  

 

The third period, though, saw Chukwu get into foul trouble, allowing Friends to cut the margin to three, 49-46, going into the final eight minutes of the season.

 

Despite terrific work down low by Shams Elbardissy and James Kossan, the Wildcats were only up one with a minute and a half to go. That’s when Owls coach David Lieber called for “our Golden State double stack” at the top of the key for sniper Cal Freundlich. Behind a two-man screen, Freundlich calmly sank his sixth three-point shot of the game for a 61-59 Friends lead.

 

Still, Elbardissy tied it up at 61-all with under a minute to go. That’s when the refs whistled Jared Jones for a touch foul on all-everything shooting guard Giovanni Pegues with 20 seconds left. Pegues made his first free throw but missed the second, and Chukwu took down the rebound.

 

With time running down, Jones tried a lefty drive that missed. Chukwu had a try for a putback with a second to go, but the ball rimmed around and fell away. And the Wildcats’ season went with it.

 

Coach Gage was philosophical. “The kids played their hearts out, nobody took any plays off. That’s all you can ask.”

 

And so the plaintive cry goes up all along Boston Post Road: “Wait till next year!”

 

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