Rye Neck Boys’ Basketball
By Mitch Silver
First-year Head Coach Mike Vecchione sent two different Rye Neck basketball teams onto the floor Monday against Solomon Schechter. The starters couldn’t make a bucket in the early going and trailed after the initial five minutes by 9-0.
It wasn’t that the visitors were faster or taller or better ball handlers. They weren’t. But they could put the round thing through the hoop.
After a timeout to regroup, the same five Rye Neck players started to play. They still trailed at the end of the first period by 16-7, but at least they’d righted the ship. After the game, their coach said, “We played man-to-man defense in the beginning, and we weren’t very good. So, I sent them back out in a 3-2 zone.”
Now, maybe you’re a basketball aficionado and you’re saying to yourself, “Gee, if I’m down by nine early, maybe I should press. Schechter’s ball-handlers aren’t that skilled, maybe I can rattle them into speeding up and making mistakes. Maybe I can shake loose a few easy layups.”
Quite the opposite happened. Rye Neck’s zone made the Lions have to pass the ball around the perimeter two or three times, at least, on every possession, and they just didn’t have the patience. A poor pass here, a hurried shot there, and little by little the Panthers edged back into the game. They were led by point guard Ryan Ramos, swingman Korey Greenland, and shooting guard Justin Cantu off the bench. Cantu nailed the first three-pointer he tried, and there would be more to come. The home team outscored the visitors by four in the second period to trail by five at the half, 28-23.
The third period was all Rye Neck. They outscored the Lions 24-9 to build a 10-point margin heading into the final period. Greenland, who’d led the charge back with 11 points in the first half, nailed a couple more buckets, as did Evan Falco. Justin Cantu sank two more trifectas, and Ramos began driving the lane no matter how clogged it was. He would sink seven out of eight from the charity stripe. It was a lead the Panthers would never relinquish.
Ramos, Greenland, and Cantu were joined in the fourth-quarter shooting spree by Ronan Heaton and Scott DeVore, who each made a bucket. The Lions fouled repeatedly to get stop the clock, but Ramos and Cantu between them canned all eight of their free throws. In the end, though that first Rye Neck team lost its section of the game by nine, the second crew won by 18. It was the Panthers’ second win on their young season.
The locals traveled to Haldane Tuesday and Edgemont, in a league encounter, 48 hours later. They won’t play again until the new year, hosting Pawling January 7 at 6 p.m.