Matthew Tepedino surveys the Huskies’ defense in mid-dribble.
RHS Boys’ Basketball
Rye Stuns Harrison in Overtime After 14-Point Comeback
By CHRISTOPHER URBAN
Rye got off to a slow start against Harrison January 11, scoring zero points in their first five offensive possessions. In a surprising move, Rye coach John Aguilar called a four- man substitution only four minutes into the game, taking out senior starters Quinn Kelly, Matthew Tepedino, James Mackle, and Rafael Velasquez. Down 5-0, Zack Rosenstadt hit a big three-pointer to lift the Rye out of their early slump.
Unfortunately for the Garnets, their sub-par level of play continued into the second quarter scoring only three points as a team through nine and a half minutes of play. Rye looked disorganized and rushed their offensive possessions, often taking contested perimeter shots that would not hit. Despite this, senior forward CJ Nemsick provided a spark on the offensive and defensive end, keeping Rye within sight of the Huskies.
Rye called a 30-second timeout with 4:19 left in the second quarter to regroup. Subsequently, senior forward James Mackle quickly crafted his own 4-0 run for Rye to improve the score to 25-11. At halftime, Harrison doubled the Garnets to a score at 28-14. Harrison was having no trouble scoring inside Rye’s interior defense making layups and gritty shots in the paint. The Huskies outpaced Rye in all aspects of the game after two quarters of play.
What a difference a half makes! CJ Nemsick started a tremendous run for the Garnets with a big three-pointer early in the third quarter. Rye’s crowd was getting amped up for what felt like a comeback destined to happen. Mackle completed two thundering, contested finishes under the rim to fuel a Rye 13-0 run to make the score 28-27 Harrison.
Rye took their first lead of the game with yet another Mackle bucket to cap a 15-0 run. Tightly contested defensive effort would ensue from both squads as the score remained 30-29 Harrison for several minutes.
The Garnet defense was swarming Harrison’s offense the entire third quarter forcing them to attempt contested shots beyond the arc. Rye’s intensity, hustle, and urgency increased, something that senior guard Rafael Velasquez noted during Coach Agular’s halftime speech.
He said that “the first half was rough, but what kept us locked in was the intensity of the crowd down the stretch and especially the speech Coach Aguilar gave us at the half. The second half was a totally different story and it showed us what we are capable of.”
Mackle’s huge game continued with a corner three to extend Rye’s lead to 39-34. In the fourth quarter, Rye scored more points in transition from senior guards Kelly and Tepedino while also getting much better looks inside.
Mackle noted that “the first half of the game, we just weren’t playing Rye basketball. Coach Aguilar came into the locker room and told us that if we play our game and stick to what we do the best we can comeback and win this game. And that’s exactly what we did.”
Harrison hit two quick buckets including a three-pointer to go up 45-43 with 1:45 left in the game. Then the Huskies drilled another three-pointer to go up by five. Seconds later, Kelly completed an old-fashioned three-point play to bring the game within two points. Again, Kelly came up big late in the fourth, creating free throw opportunities, blowing by defenders, and carving to the rim several times down the stretch. He knocked down two huge free throws to send it to overtime at 48 a piece.
Kelly opened up the scoring in overtime with two crafty layups to go up 52-48. Mackle followed up Quinn’s efforts with a deep three and an electrifying two-handed jam to sink Harrison. The game ended with several Harrison fouls and Rye players making their free throws. MVP chants for Mackle were coming from the Rye student section, as he finished with a game-high 21 points. Tepedino scored 14 points and Kelly scored 13. Logan Wasserman had 12 to lead Harrison, which had eight players score.
Harrison has now lost two games in a row yet holds a strong 9-3 record. Rye improves to 9-1 and looks beat Sleepy Hollow at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.