Michael Ice played basketball for Rye a few years ago, but he wasn’t a star.
By Mitch Silver
Michael Ice played basketball for Rye a few years ago, but he wasn’t a star. That honor fell to Liam McCabe-Moran, Rye’s all-time leading scorer with over 1,400 points, two All-New York State selections, and the 2007 Conference Player of the Year award for then-Garnets Coach Chris DiCintio. What Michael Ice was, was a terrific teammate.
So when Michael died in a terrible accident in New York City a few years ago, it was Liam and his teammates who asked Michael’s father, also named Mike, if they could do something special in memory of the guy they loved. That was the genesis for an annual $5,000 scholarship in Michael’s name, a boys’ and girls’ skills clinic led by Garnets’ coach John Aguilar, and the Rye-Harrison alumni game, which takes place before the varsity contest.
And what a thriller it was, between 6-3 Harrison and 5-4 Rye. Mayor Joe Sack had barely finished proclaiming January 10, 2015 Michael Ice Day when the Garnets jumped out to an early 16-8 lead on the strength of a couple of Brett Egan threes and a Bob Cousy-esque, behind-the-back fast-break assist by Charlie Nagle. But Harrison, stronger and faster in the backcourt, spent the rest of the half running around and through Rye’s defense. At halftime, they led 32-18.
Coach Aguilar instituted a 2-3 match-up zone in the second half. “We’ve been working on it in practice. The key is boxing out better, because their guards are very strong. It enabled us to get back into the game. That and the hot shooting of George Kirby and Charlie Nagle.”
The home side didn’t just get back in the game; they surged into the lead. Up by two with the ball and less than half a minute to go, Rye looked to be the come-from-behind winners over their archrivals. And then the floor caved in. Or, if you prefer, the rim froze over.
Harrison was forced to foul and, uncharacteristically, the Garnets missed their final four free throws. When the Huskies grabbed the last rebound, they rushed it the length of the floor for a contested 3-pointer from the right wing. The high arching shot hit nothing but net with six seconds on the clock for a 46-45 win.
Mike Ice was philosophical. “What I’m hoping we can do is make Rye-Harrison basketball ‘The Game’ in the winter the way football is in the fall. We’re on our way.”
Two days later the Garnets lost another squeaker, this time to Byram Hills, 61-58, after again leading by a deuce in the fourth quarter. Drew Abate had 18 points for the visitors and Nagle added 15.
This weekend, Rye and Harrison will meet up again when they share the floor with Mamaroneck and Rye Neck at the Mamaroneck Basketball Tournament.