As the Rye Garnets get set for their first taste of competition with a Saturday scrimmage, head coach Dennis Hurlie wants his players to be clear about one thing: they’re not here to pick up where they left off.
The 2017-2018 Section I Class A champions may have high expectations, as they are bringing back the bulk of last year’s team, but Hurlie is adamant that his players need to leave last year’s success in the past as they wipe the slate clean for a new winter campaign.
“Winning last year helps create a lot of confidence in the program, but we’re careful to talk about not looking at this year as defending our title,” Hurlie told the Review. “It’s a new team, a new group looking to make their mark. We want to start with winning a league title and just getting better each day.”
On the surface, however, it’s not hard to understand why some would count the Garnets among the favorites to contend for a Class A title this year. The team returns nine players from last year’s squad, including standout wings Amanda Latkany and Teaghan Flaherty, who come into the season as one of the more formidable duos in the section.
Latkany impressed as a freshman last season—mostly coming off the bench—serving as a defensive presence and elite scorer, sending the Garnets to the Class A championship game with a semifinal-round buzzer-beater against Somers. Meanwhile, Flaherty was named the Class A Section I tournament MVP and was a third team selection to the All-State team.
“When you have one running on the right and the other running on the left, you get the sense that at least one of them is going to bail you out if you’re having an off night,” Hurlie said. “And with Teaghan as a junior and Amanda as a sophomore, they’re only getting better, they’ve improved a lot.”
But it doesn’t stop there for the Garnets. Point guard Niamh Carty also returns this year, and will be tasked with facilitating the Garnet offense and providing pressure on the opposing backcourt. Ava Greto is slated to be a difference-maker down low, where Hurlie has been especially impressed with the sophomore’s offensive game. The head coach has also been pleased thus far with the play of Julia Bateman, whom he says can help combat the loss of more defensive-minded players like Margaret Mitchell, Ellie Dailey and Hannah Mullaly.
“Julia’s been on the varsity for three years now and she’s a tremendous defender,” Hurlie said. “And she’s going to need to fill that role this year.”
The Garnets’ regular season officially kicks off on Dec. 4, when they travel to Henry Hudson. In addition to playing in one of the more competitive leagues in Class A, Rye will take on a challenging schedule this year, with games against tough non-conference teams on the docket.
“The idea is always to get ourselves ready for that run to the postseason,” the coach said. “Playing Ursuline at the County Center, North Rockland, Albertus Magnus up at Albertus, we definitely have some good tests lined up.”