In their February 13 game against Masters, Wildcats’ Coach Scott Nails substituted all of his starters
By Melanie Cane
In their February 13 game against Masters, Wildcats’ Coach Scott Nails substituted all of his starters (four seniors and junior Melanie Mandell, who was filling in for the injured Zoe Vernie) four minutes into the first quarter, and didn’t play them again until the beginning of the second half. When the starters left the game, Rye Country Day had a 14-2 lead. The second team, led by freshman Tatiana Fernandez at point and guard Emily Moran, picked up where the starters left off, and had a 23-4 lead going into halftime. On offense, Fernandez calmly and efficiently set up plays and Moran was unstoppable from the corner, as well as ripping the ball through the paint.
The Wildcats played a 2-3 zone defense throughout and, regardless of who was on the court, they never allowed Masters more than one shot, did a great job intercepting passes, and stayed out of foul trouble.
Coach Nails put the starters back into the game for the first four minutes of the second half before replacing them for the rest of the game. He gave all his players quality time on the court in the second half. The final score was 39-10, which gave the Wildcats their eighth consecutive win and extended their NYSAIS record to 8-0.
The coach was proud of his entire team, and singled out four for special praise: senior Captain Nereida Mendez, Moran, the high scorer with ten points, stand-in starter Mandell, and freshman Therese Mooney. “Melanie did a great job filling in on defense; Nereida controlled the game from the get-go; Emily hit a lot of jump shots and corners; and Therese did a great job on the glass.”
Regarding the team’s overall success, Nails said, “It’s all about protecting the paint, communicating, and trusting one another. As the season progressed, we got better and better at all of these things.”
He said he was happy to be able to give the non-starters a chance to play in the matchup against Masters. “They work just as hard in practice as the starters, and every time they play it builds their confidence and competitive experience.”
The Wildcats begin NYSAIS play February 24.