Up seven heading into the fourth quarter, the tenth-seeded Garnets appeared poised to upset No. 7 Byram Hills in the first round of the Section playoffs February 17.
By Melanie Cane
Up seven heading into the fourth quarter, the tenth-seeded Garnets appeared poised to upset No. 7 Byram Hills in the first round of the Section playoffs February 17. Rye had already defeated the Bobcats twice in the regular season, so they entered the road contest with confidence and great expectations.
A third victory against Byram wasn’t to be, however, as the Bobcats rallied and defeated the Garnets 48-46 when Grace Leishman’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short. Bea Williams was the catalyst in Byram’s remarkable turnaround. She caught fire and drained three bombs from downtown in the fourth.
Despite the disappointing end, the Garnets had a commendable season. They finished second in their league with an 11-9 record, and brought their “A” game to every contest.
“This year was awesome,” said Leishman, a senior captain. “I can’t remember a game where 100 percent wasn’t given. I’m awed by how we persevered after graduating two prolific scorers, and just as impressed by how the underclassmen stepped up to fill big shoes. I am very proud of my team, and thankful we had such supportive coaches by our sides.”
In the play-in Sectional round, the Lady Garnets defeated No. 23 Lakeland 34-23. Playing at home, the game should have been a sure thing, but Rye got off to a very slow start. They were so tight, in fact, that they were unable to score at all in the first quarter. Nerves and the proverbial “lid on the rim” seemed to have paralyzed the team.
Fortunately, they held Lakeland to only eight points in the first and redeemed themselves a bit in the second quarter, putting eight on the board themselves while only giving up three. Rye turned it up a few notches in the third, outscoring Lakeland 10-1.
Leishman, who scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half, was blistering hot in the fourth quarter. She netted 14 of the team’s 16 points.
She noted, “I was given some stellar assists by Rachel Egan, Katie Killip, and eighth grade newcomer Maddie Eck.”
In her debut, Eck, who is an excellent ball handler, contributed four assists, four rebounds, and one steal. Leishman and Egan each had ten rebounds, and Egan added nine points and five steals.
Head coach Mary Henwood was pleased with her team’s effort. “We showed our team in the second half. We pressed and got a lot of steals and buckets off of it and our shots finally started falling.”