Rye High Boys’ Basketball
Rye Dominant in Section 1 Title Game
By Chris Urban and Leif Skodnick
For the first time in since 1989, the No. 2 seeded Rye Basketball team played the No. 4 seeded Poughkeepsie Pioneers in the Section 1 Class A Final. Rye defeated Nyack, Albertus Magnus, and Pearl River, while Poughkeepsie beat Beacon, Lakeland, and Tappan Zee in order to reach the Gold Ball game. Poughkeepsie started off the season 2-5 but improved to a 17-6 record, and came into the game with an 11–game winning streak. Poughkeepsie had also won the Section 1 Class A Championship in 2019.
The first quarter was up and down for both squads. The Garnets were energized from the beginning, going on an 8-0 run to start the game. But then Poughkeepsie answered right back, in a big way, going on a 12-0 run. Matthew Tepedino ended the Pioneers surge by finishing off a shot and foul three–point play. Rye led 13-12 at the end of the quarter.
The Garnets’ ball movement and quickness showed in the second quarter of play. Rafael Velasquez nailed two three–pointers for Rye in clutch moments. The Garnets were extremely effective in transition, as their athleticism disrupted Poughkeepsie in all facets of the game.
In one sequence, James Mackle blocked two Pioneers at the rim and then picked up a rebound which would lead to an Alex Vollbrecht basket on the fast break. Mackle said, “We knew it all had to start with our defense. I think little plays like those blocks got our team going and fueled our offense. Once we started getting steals and transition points off fast breaks, we knew the game was ours to win.”
Rye went on a 20-6 rampage to end the half, 40-25. Eventual Tournament MVP Matthew Tepedino was executing on all levels for the Garnets, scoring 16 points in only the first half. The Garnets outscored the Pioneers 27-13 in the second quarter.
Coach Aguilar’s game plan going into the second half was to stay aggressive and not let Poughkeepsie have any sort of run that would threaten their lead. “We talked about winning the first four minutes of the third quarter and how important that was. We’ve been attacking all year, we take a lot of shots, take a lot of chances in transition, we shoot threes, we weren’t going to win by playing a different team’s game, so we wanted to stay aggressive the whole second half.”
Mackle crafted his own 4-0 run for Rye to start the new half. Rye extended its lead to 46-28, forcing a Poughkeepsie timeout with 4:52 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Mackle and the rest of his teammates continued to dominate the quarter ultimately forcing yet another Pioneer timeout, and Rye once again led by 18 points, 53-35.
Rye led Poughkeepsie 56-37 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
The entire Garnets team was really starting to open up the game, as they expanded their lead to 23, 60-37. Rye’s interior defense was excellent, rarely allowing any looks inside for Poughkeepsie to bank on. The Garnets displayed very good ball movement to counter Poughkeepsie’s full-court press.
Rye could taste the Section 1 title as they went up 70-44 with 1:40 left in the game. The Garnets created a lot of turnover on defense, dominated the boards, and were certainly the more physical team for all four quarters.
Upon winning the Section 1 title, Rafael Velasquez reflected that “throughout the season, Coach Aguilar said that there hadn’t been a game where everyone clicked. Fortunately, the one game where it did happen was the section championship and I think it was obvious. It’s an amazing thing winning the championship for the school and the town, and I wouldn’t have wanted to win it with any other group of guys.”
The Garnets earned every ounce of the Gold Ball trophy as they beat Poughkeepsie by 19 points, 74-55. Some reserves got tournament experience for Rye, something that always brings reassurance to Coach Aguilar. “I tell the boys all the time that this is the deepest team I’ve coached, so we know if one guy can’t do it, the other guys are ready to go.”
After two sports seasons this year, Rye has won four Section 1 titles in Boys’ Soccer, Football, Ice Hockey, and Boys’ Basketball. In addition, Matthew Tepedino has won two Section 1 Tournament MVP’s, in football and basketball.
“It’s surreal,” said coach Aguilar on winning the Section 1 Title. “I can’t believe it, I’m just blessed to have been hired at a time when a lot of these guys were younger kids and learned from great senior leadership. When you put the 31 years in perspective, it was quite amazing what these boys were able to accomplish this year.”
Tepedino paced the Garnets with 20, Mackle recorded 19 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, and Quinn Kelly scored 17 points. Kelly and Tepedino were named to the all-tournament team.
For Poughkeepsie, Shaun Johnson scored 18, Javel Cherry added 15, and Revelation Garriga netted 12 points. They fall to 17-7 on the season while snapping their 11-game winning streak.
The 20-4 Garnets will have a bye into the Class A NYS Regional Final and will play Section ….’s ….. at 7 p.m. this Friday at Purchase College.
- Matthew Tepedino about to blow by the Poughkeepsie defense. 0079
– Quinn Kelly hitting a little Pioneer interference on his way to the hoop. 0030
– The Rye fans were treated to another Mackle two-handed jam 0180
– Section Champion Garnets with their Gold Ball after defeating Poughkeepsie 0276 ALLISON USE THIS ONE FOR PRINT