Teaghan Flaherty might not have been having her best offensive day on Jan. 29, but with the game on the line, there aren’t many players that Rye head coach Dennis Hurlie would rather see with the ball in their hands. In a back-and-forth battle against rival Harrison on Wednesday afternoon, the junior standout’s fourth quarter heroics—and deft touch from the foul line—proved the difference-maker in a 54-50 comeback win for the Garnets.
Coming into the final eight minutes of the contest with just four points, Flaherty erupted for eight more in the fourth quarter, going 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in a winning effort. In fact, it was the junior’s ability to create contact that proved the deciding factor, as it was her contested drive to the hoop with just 3.9 seconds remaining that resulted in her final trip to the line and helped the Garnets break a 50-50 tie and fend off a challenge from the upstart Huskies (7-8).
“At the time I knew they had five fouls, so I was just trying to get contact and hopefully get to the line,” Flaherty said after the game. “Today my shot wasn’t dropping, but luckily my teammates were able to pick that up for me, so when I got to the line, I felt at least I could contribute from there.”
Hurlie said that Flaherty’s confidence under pressure and steadiness at the foul line is a key reason that the junior is able to swing the outcome of a game, even on the rare occasion that she’s having an off night from the field.
“Her basketball IQ is through the roof,” Hurlie told the Review. “And it’s great when she drives because if she gets fouled, I don’t even need to look because we know it’s going in.”
Early in the contest though, it didn’t seem as though the Garnets would find themselves in a position to win. An inspired Huskies squad got off to an impressive start, leading by as many as 14 points midway through the second quarter. But stellar performances from sophomores Amanda Latkany (19 points) and Ava Greto (18 points) eventually turned the tide and helped the Garnets go on a 17-3 run to start the second half.
Greto’s performance in the paint was an integral part of Rye’s success, Hurlie explained, ultimately leading to chances for the team’s sharpshooters like Latkany and Julia Bateman.
“We’ve said all year that the ball needs to go in there because it releases the pressure that teams put on our perimeter shooters,” he said. “[Greto] has a tremendous motor and a lot of skill, and she’s only in 10th grade.”
Harrison was led by Ashley Stagg (15 points) and Victoria Lendino (14 points), but the Huskies ultimately weren’t able to put away a 10-6 Rye team that came into Wednesday’s matchup having lost five of its last eight games.
“We needed that third quarter, we needed that win in the worst way because we’ve been struggling and sometimes doubt starts to creep in,” Hurlie said. “We’re a good basketball team but we struggled for a stretch; luckily it’s a long season.”