“Harrison never takes a play off.” Relieved Rye High coach John Aguiar began his post-game summation of Monday afternoon’s stirring win by praising the Garnets’ rivals.
By Mitch Silver
“Harrison never takes a play off.” Relieved Rye High coach John Aguiar began his post-game summation of Monday afternoon’s stirring win by praising the Garnets’ rivals. “Harrison has, in my opinion, the most physical team in our league. They controlled the entire first half with their energy and hustle.”
After beating the Huskies three weeks ago 56-38 in Rye’s own Michael Ice Memorial Game, the Garnets walked into Harrison’s gym this week with a little swagger. Within eight minutes of the opening tap, the swagger was gone and Harrison was up, 12-5.
“I have nothing but respect for Coach Chiarella and his staff at Harrison,” Aguiar said. “Their game plan was terrific.”
It was still terrific midway through the second quarter. With Rye’s sharpshooting pair of George Kirby and Charlie Nagle sidelined with a pair of fouls each, Michael Nannariello led the home side to a 13-point lead. It took a 7-1 Garnet run to end the half at 24-17.
So what was the rousing halftime talk about, Coach? “About playing to win instead of not to lose. I’m happy to say, they embraced it.”
For a while, it was hard to tell this would be one of those memorable comebacks. Nagle picked up his third foul almost as soon as play resumed, and Kirby was called for his fourth with ten minutes left in the game. Guards Michael Carty and Brett Egan picked up the slack, though, and they began to feed senior center Mark Croughan down low.
Coach Aguiar smiled. “We leaned on Mark, and he really delivered.” The 6’5” co-captain would wind up with 12 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and a pair of assists.
The rally was a group effort. On the short side of a 29-21 score early in the fourth, the Garnets got consecutive buckets from Carty, Croughan, and Egan. After Nannariello hit one of two free throws, Croughan used a nifty a spin move in the paint before Egan hit a three-pointer to knot things at 30-all.
Rye took its first lead of the game at 45-43 on junior guard Charlie Nagle’s trifecta with less than four minutes to go. But it would take one more basket by Croughan underneath to pull back ahead of a gritty Husky team as the clock ran down.
In fact, Harrison had a look at a game-winning score. Down by one and facing Rye’s suffocating zone, Nannariello — who’d already drained four three-pointers — heaved one from beyond the arc that rimmed out for the ball game.
With the win, Rye improved to 12-4 overall and 5-2 in the league, a half-game behind 6-2 Byram Hills. The Garnets will close out the regular season when they host the Bobcats this coming Monday in a game for all the marbles. That is, if they beat a tough Pelham squad this afternoon at 4:30 on the road.
Player of the game Croughan had the final word. “With our team, everyone can contribute.” And it’s a good thing they did.