With a strong showing at the season-opening Cliff Clinton Classic this weekend, the Rye Garnets basketball team proved just how effective it can be. With decisive back-to-back wins against Pleasantville and Blind Brook to claim the tourney title, the Garnets started off the 2018-19 campaign on the right foot, but will have to contend with some tougher opposition as the week progresses.
The Garnets romped over Pleasantville in the tournament opener, beating the Panthers 63-32 on Dec. 7. In the tourney finale the following day, Rye rode a strong second half to a 64-53 win over a game Blind Brook squad, led by a 21-point effort by Quinn Kelly who was named tournament MVP.
But although head coach John Aguilar was quick to credit Kelly and Matt Tepedino, who scored 12 points and was named to the all-tournament team, he was also pleased with the way the rest of the squad—including Thomas Flaherty—performed when the Trojans focused their defensive attention on the Garnets’ top players.
“It was a good opening weekend, we showed our depth and how valuable it is going to be this year,” Aguilar told the Review. “In the first half of the Blind Brook game, Kelly and Tepedino combined for just six points, but they trusted their teammates and that’s a huge positive.”
The Garnets hope that the commitment to team play will be a constant this year, especially as they gear up for a tough two game stretch this week. On Dec. 11, the Garnets will travel to Tappan Zee, which they will follow with a home game against Horace Greeley. Both the Dutchmen and the Quakers came into the season ranked among the top ballclubs in Class A, and Aguilar admits that his squad will have to play relentless basketball in order to come away with victories.
“It’s the hardest schedule we’ve ever played, and right now, those teams are better than we are,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in our team, and if we can do things right, we will definitely learn where we stand.”
According to the head coach, the Garnets’ game plan will center on employing the bench to outwork Greeley and Tappan Zee and hopefully using those fresh legs for a second-half push.
“We have to show them a bunch of defensive looks and throw a lot of guys at their star players,” Aguilar said. “Hopefully, we can wear them down with that and have a little more energy than they do in the fourth quarter.”