Rye Neck’s Korey Greenland (1) passing to a teammate during the first quarter of the game against Blind Brook.
Rye Neck Boys’ Basketball
Stymied by Loss to Blind Brook, Panthers Look to Improve
BY LEIF SKODNICK
For the first six-and-a-half minutes of the game against Blind Brook January 14, the Rye Neck Panthers were in the catbird seat. They held the Trojans scoreless, forcing shots from the outside, pulling down rebounds, and moving the ball up the court in transition, slowly building up a 7-0 lead.
But then, with 1:24 left in the first quarter, Blind Brook’s Ryan Aiello buried a three-pointer from the top of the arc, getting the Trojans on the board and touching off a 23-9 run that closed out the first half. Though the Panthers never trailed by more than nine points, the Trojans controlled play for the remainder of the game on their way to a 44-35 win.
That’s been the story of the season for Rye Neck, whose record fell to 4-6 with the loss. Justin Cantu led the Panthers with 14 points.
“We’re a little bit up and down,” said Head Coach Michael Vecchione. “Some games we play great, and some games we fall off. The first half, I think we were playing great. They started to hit a couple of shots and got some momentum.”
When the Trojans had the momentum, they kept feeding Aiello, who knocked down four three-pointers on his way to a 20-point night.
“It was hard to cover him in the zone to guard that three-ball,” said Rye Neck’s Korey Greenland, who had eight points on four field goals. “We switched it late in the game. If we played it the whole game, I think we would have had them.”
The Panthers drew within four late in the fourth quarter but were never able to draw closer. Physical play from both sides and frustration from the Panthers begat fouls as the clock wound down.
“I know that we didn’t exactly like the other team,” said Rye Neck’s Ronan Heaton. “We felt like we should’ve won that game and we just… we just choked it.”
Heaton said that the Panthers know they can play with and beat anyone if they can just focus and put out their best efforts. “We got pretty close, we’ve just gotta play better defense,” said Greenland. “Offensively, we were working our plays, it was just some little plays on defense.”
If they do, the goals that Vecchione and his team set for the season are within reach. “We’d like to get to .500, finish 10-10, and also maybe a home game in the playoffs,” he said, “and maybe knock somebody out in the first round of the playoffs as we try to rebuild this program.”
“We’ve gotta finish some games,” Greenland said. “Besides not finishing games, it’s been a good season. We’ve just gotta finish games. That’s it.”
(#4) Rye Neck’s Korey Greenland (1) passing to a teammate during the first quarter of the game against Blind Brook.