With two of their five starting players injured, Rye Country Day has had to rely on their many young players over the past few weeks.
By Melanie Cane
With two of their five starting players injured, Rye Country Day has had to rely on their many young players over the past few weeks. So it is not surprising that they struggled against the more experienced and very tall Kent team at home on January 16, losing 63- 45.
Eighth-grade starting point guard Alana Jones brought the ball down court with ease, beginning the “go to your post and find the open player” offense effectively. But the Lion’s 6’1” center, Sarah Gallo, often blocked her path to senior Melanie Mandell who was cutting across the key, forcing Jones to shoot from outside or pass around the perimeter. When the ball got to senior Emily Moran in the right corner, Moran’s long shot often dropped or she drove inside and drew a foul. Passes to the left side were less successful. Whether on a breakaway or a standard play, the pass often went out of bounds or was cut off by a Lion.
The aggressive Kent team capitalized on Rye Country Day’s many turnovers, with Gallo driving down the lane to score and draw fouls. Jones got into foul trouble midway through the half and coach Nails had to bring in a less experienced point guard. After the Wildcats fell behind by 11 points, the coach brought Jones back and at halftime the Rye girls were only behind by three points, 32-29.
In the second half, Rye Country Day came within a point of Kent, but Mandell came out of the game due to foul trouble and eventually fouled out. The Lions dominated the half and even though the Wildcats played hard, they were too inconsistent and couldn’t keep up. Kent outscored Rye Country Day 31-17 in the second half. Overall, Jones had 16 points and Moran had 14. Gallo, Kent’s top scorer, had 36.
Coach Nails expressed his frustration after the game. “Some of our girls played in an undisciplined manner, threw balls away, and committed dumb fouls.” He added, “Basketball is a game of runs. When you fall behind, it takes a lot of energy on both ends to recover. We didn’t play a smart game defensively.”
On the bright side, the coach continued, “Our younger players have gained experience. This will only help us down the stretch.”
The Wildcats are currently 7-7 and 1-1 in league play.