Amanda Latkany may only be a freshman, but that doesn’t mean she shies away from the big moment. On Feb. 27, the Garnet youngster hit the most dramatic shot of Rye’s season, nailing a game-winning buzzer-beater to down defending champion Somers 50-49 in the Class A semifinals at the Westchester County Center.
Trailing 49-48 with 4.3 seconds left in the game, Rye inbounded the ball to center Ellie Dailey underneath the Tuskers’ basket. The senior found Niamh Carty open on the wing for a 3-point attempt which missed off the front rim. Luckily for the Garnets however, Latkany was in position to collect the rebound and in one fluid motion, launched a jumper that kissed high off the backboard and dropped through the net as time expired, sending Rye to its first Class A title game since 2016.
“I had no idea how much time was left, I just chucked it up and hoped for the best,” Latkany said after the game. “It’s been my dream to play [at the County Center], it’s been a lot of my teammates’ dream, and to finish a play like that, it’s just unbelievable.”
Latkany’s last-second shot was hardly her only signature moment of the game, as the freshman finished with 15 points off the bench and went 7-for-8 from the foul line, including converting on two free throws that tied the game at 48-48 with under a minute to play.
“[Latkany] is a tremendous athlete and we’ve run that play a bunch in the past and it’s never worked,” Garnet head coach Dennis Hurlie said. “But I didn’t think she was going to get that rebound and bank it in; that was ridiculous.”
Latkany and fellow underclassman Teaghan Flaherty (24 points) both shined in their County Center debuts, as the duo helped Rye jump out to an early 23-12 lead over the defending champs on Tuesday. “The first 14 minutes of the game was probably the best basketball that we’ve played all year, it was off the charts,” Hurlie said.
But Somers—aided by some Garnet miscues—climbed back into the game before the intermission and took a 36-33 lead heading into the final quarter, which set the stage for Rye’s late-game heroics.
Down 48-42 with one minute left, Flaherty converted a 4-point play—sinking a 3-pointer while being fouled—to put the Garnets within two which Hurlie feels could have been the sequence of the game; if not for what transpired in the final seconds.
“When Teaghan hit that 3, I thought that that was the play that was going to help us win the game,” he said. “That put us within striking distance and then the freshman steps up to tie it, so a sophomore and a freshman led us, but defensively, it was everybody.”
With the win, the Garnets will head to the Class A championship game, which will be held on March 3 at Pace University. Their finals opponent will be a familiar one, as they get set to take on league rival Harrison with the Gold Ball on the line. The Huskies and Garnets have played twice this season, with Harrison winning both games. But Latkany and the Garnets are confident that their regular season battles have prepared them for the task ahead.
“We have a tremendous league that is full of so many tremendous players,” Latkany said. “It’s been tough and we have had a lot of competition all year and I think that’s why we’ve had to work so hard to get where we are.”