Rye Country Day’s 61-37 win against Hackley January 12 was their fifth consecutive victory.
By Melanie Cane
Rye Country Day’s 61-37 win against Hackley January 12 was their fifth consecutive victory. Hackley won the NYSAIS tournament last year, so it was exciting for the Wildcats to outplay them, said Coach Scottie Nails. He added, “One of their players, Ally Mueller, is the best player my team has seen all season.”
Coach Nails’ game plan for his team is “to defend, rebound, and run.” That is exactly what they did, controlling the tempo of the game in its entirety. Under the leadership of senior captains Nery Mendez and Tara Berger, and the outstanding play of seniors Emily Moran, Maddie Cooper, and Zoe Verni, the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead and did not allow the Hornets more than one shot in a play. Their stellar man-to-man defense prevented Hackley from getting shots off from the key, forcing them to shoot from outside. When Hackley did shoot close to the basket, more often than not, RCDS stuffed the ball. The Wildcats’ tight defense also forced Hackley to make a lot of long passes, creating many stealing opportunities.
Rye Country Day’s excellent defense was matched by their stellar offense. Whether point guard Mendez drove the ball to the basket herself or passed to an open teammate, she was seeing the court ahead of time and making “great decisions,” said Nails. Moran ran the court really well, too. Not only did she do an outstanding job of covering Mueller, but she stayed a step ahead of her defender on offense, got close to the basket, and shot from left and right. She was the high scorer with 14 points. Berger followed with 11. Cooper was quick to grab loose balls.
Because the Wildcats took a big lead early on, going into halftime with a 32-12 lead, Coach Nails made many substitutions in the second half, giving every player time on the court. He was thrilled with how well his team executed the game plan. “I’ll take giving up 37 points to Hackley anytime,” he said. Offensively, the Wildcats were 14 for 23 from the floor.
Rye Country Day is currently 7-3, and 2-0 in NYSAIS. If they can keep up their momentum through the second half of the season, this senior-laden team should go far. Their next game is Friday against Mamaroneck High School on January 16.