When Rye High played Pearl River in the Autism Classic on January 25, the teams played evenly, seesawing up and down by a point or two until Rye pulled ahead to win by four at the last minute.
By Melanie Cane
When Rye High played Pearl River in the Autism Classic on January 25, the teams played evenly, seesawing up and down by a point or two until Rye pulled ahead to win by four at the last minute. Everybody expected their February 17 sectional quarterfinal matchup to be a nail biter as well, but Rye, the No. 3 seed, surprised everyone. After a shaky start, down 6-3 four minutes into the game, the Garnets pulled ahead 10-7 on a Taylor Maurer 3-pointer (her second of the quarter), and never looked back. Rye had a 16-11 lead at the end of the quarter and did not allow the Pirates, the No. 6 seed, to come closer than four points again.
Maurer, a junior point guard, hit her third 3-pointer in the second quarter; Kate Robbins also sank one. Ali Imam scored twice off two nice post moves and freshman Ellie Dailey closed the half with two foul shots, giving the Garnets a 30-24 lead. Rye did get in foul trouble, topping out at eight in the half; Pearl River had seven.
In the second half, Rye hit the court running, going on a 7-2 run to nab their biggest lead of the night, 37-26. That intensity was too much to sustain, and after letting up, taking a few rushed shots, and missing some rebounds, Coach Dennis Hurlie called a time out to let them catch their breath. They finished the third quarter up 39-30. Katie Popp scored seven of those nine points.
Maurer opened the final quarter with yet another 3-pointer, and Robbins followed that up with a steal, which she converted into a layup. Just a minute in, Rye had their biggest lead, 44-30. For Rye, the rest of the quarter was about preserving that lead.
Maddie Eck made some nice moves under the basket and the team continued to play smart and move the ball well. They protected their basket, ran down the clock, and pulled off a 54-42 win and a spot in the Sectional semifinals for the second year in a row.
Popp was the high scorer with 17, and Maurer followed with 14. Senior co-Captains Holly Hunter and Laura Ann Pacos attributed the win to the fact that the team played well offensively and maintained its momentum throughout the entire game, and stepped it up in the third quarter. “We made sure to help one another on defense (man to man) and we were getting good looks at the basket. Since we played Pearl River recently, we knew what to expect. And, we really wanted to win.”
Maurer echoed her captains, adding, “We were really together as a team. We were motivated and everybody contributed.”
Coach Hurlie said they had a much easier time against Pearl River in this game, than they did three weeks earlier, because, “We are good and we keep getting better. The turning point in our success has been due in large part to the incredible improvement of Taylor. She is phenomenal!”
The Garnets play Peekskill in the Sectional semifinal at the County Center February 26 at 3 p.m.