Author Archives: Mike Smith

About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.

ryebball1333

Rye rolls in regionals

 

Madeline Eck drives to the hoop against Saugerties on March 1. Eck scored 23 points in Rye’s 57-37 win.

Madeline Eck drives to the hoop against Saugerties on March 1. Eck scored 23 points in Rye’s 57-37 win.

Taylor Maurer brings the ball up the floor against the Sawyers. Photos/Mike Smith

Taylor Maurer brings the ball up the floor against the Sawyers. Photos/Mike Smith

Katie Popp hits a jumper on March 1. Popp battled a stomach bug on Tuesday, but still scored 16 points off the bench.

Katie Popp hits a jumper on March 1. Popp battled a stomach bug on Tuesday, but still scored 16 points off the bench.

By MIKE SMITH
Rye fans who traveled to the Westchester County Center were in for something of a surprise on Tuesday, March 1, when the Garnets’ starting five was announced and Katie Popp wasn’t in it. But despite not having the junior standout at 100 percent, the Garnets hardly missed a beat, blasting Saugerties to win the regional semifinal game 57-37 in impressive fashion.

Popp, who led the Garnets to their first sectional championship in 11 years last weekend, was battling a stomach bug that threatened to keep her out of action on Tuesday, but provided a lift off the bench, scoring 16 points against an overmatched Sawyers squad. Senior point guard Taylor Maurer, who picked up the slack in Popp’s early-game absence, scored nine of the Garnets’ first 16 points on the night. According to Maurer, the Garnets didn’t have a real idea of how much the ailing Popp would be able to contribute and had to adjust their expectations accordingly.

“We didn’t know what was happening until we got on the bus to come to the game,” Maurer said. “But we knew that we were all going to have to pick up a lot of the slack, offensively and that we were going to have to step up and make plays.”

Madeline Eck, Rye’s other 1,000-point scorer, finished with a game-high 23 points and helped the Garnets take control in the second quarter, as they outscored the Sawyers 15-3 to open a 28-13 lead by halftime.

“We thought it was going to be closer,” Eck said. “But it was still a tough game, especially in that first quarter.”

Maurer attributes the Garnets’ success to a good game plan put in place by head coach Dennis Hurlie during the team’s Monday practice.

“We had scouted them, so we knew what holes in their defense we could attack,” Maurer said. “Everyone just stepped up and contributed.”

With the win, the Garnets (21-4) advance to the regional finals, where they will take on Vestal at SUNY Cortland on March 5. The winner earns a berth in the New York State Semifinals, which will be played at Hudson Valley Community College.

According to Maurer, Rye’s performance against Saugerties should provide a blueprint for success over length of the push towards states.

“I think we proved that we have a lot of weapons and that we’re a versatile team,” Maurer said. “Any one of our five players on the court can make plays, and that means a lot.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com  

Jamel Wallace goes up for a layup against Mount Vernon on Jan. 4. Wallace had 13 points in a 72-63 Huguenot loss.

The Review Roundup

Rashon McNeil fights for a rebound in a tightly-contested game against Mount Vernon on Monday.

Rashon McNeil fights for a rebound in a tightly-contested game against Mount Vernon on Monday.

Boys Basketball

1/4 Mount Vernon d. New Rochelle 72-63

An early Huguenot lead didn’t stand up on Jan. 4, as New Rochelle fell 72-63 to Mount Vernon in the first meeting of the year between the two rivals.

Buoyed by a poor shooting performance by the Knights and a huge rebounding edge in the first half, New Rochelle led the reigning Section I champs by as many as 11 points before heading into halftime with a
38-33 lead.

Mount Vernon picked up the pace after the break, however, forcing 17 second-half turnovers as they cut into the Huguenots margin and eventually took the lead late in the third quarter.

Rashon McNeil goes up for a layup. Photos/Mike Smith

Rashon McNeil goes up for a layup. Photos/Mike Smith

Junior swingman Noah Morgan led the way for Mount Vernon, netting 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, while teammate Marco Morency added 17 points of his own.

Jamel Wallace and Jarrett Haines both scored 13 points to pace the Huguenots, and Haines also dished out six assists.

New Rochelle coach Rasaun Young could not be reached for comment as of press time.

With the loss, New Rochelle fell to 3-4 on the season, with two losses coming at the hands of Section I teams. They will be back in action on Jan. 6, after press time, against league foe White Plains. The Huguenots and Knights will square off again on Feb. 2.

Girls Basketball

12/17 New Rochelle d. Rye 52-46

Jarrett Haines guards a Mount Vernon player at New Rochelle High School. Haines finished with 13 points and six assists.

Jarrett Haines guards a Mount Vernon player at New Rochelle High School. Haines finished with 13 points and six assists.

In the finals of the Rye Holiday Tournament last month, New Rochelle fended off a challenge from the host Garnets to come away with a 52-46 win and the tourney title.

Rye stayed with the Class AA Huguenots during the first three quarters of the game, heading into the final stanza tied at 33-33, but New Rochelle’s ability to get to the line proved to be the difference-maker as the Huguenots were able to outlast their hosts.

Kayla Correa earned tournament MVP honors with a terrific performance in the championships, going 11-of-12 from the foul line and finishing with a game-high 24 points. Rye was led by Maddie Eck, who scored 21 points on the afternoon.

“I was happy with our effort, especially on the defensive end,” Rye coach Dennis Hurlie said. “But [New Rochelle] turned it up a notch and we didn’t knock down as many free throws as
we wanted.”

New Rochelle will take on White Plains on Jan. 6, after press time.

Ice Hockey

1/4 White Plains d.

Jamel Wallace goes up for a layup against Mount Vernon on Jan. 4. Wallace had 13 points in a 72-63 Huguenot loss.

Jamel Wallace goes up for a layup against Mount Vernon on Jan. 4. Wallace had 13 points in a 72-63 Huguenot loss.

New Rochelle 5-4

Two goals apiece from Massimo Miceli and Jonas Passante were not enough to help the Huguenots tame the Tigers on Monday, as White Plains earned a one-goal win over New Rochelle at the Ice Hutch.

James Carrier scored twice for the Tigers and freshman goalie Justin Schulz made 27 saves in the win.

The Huguenots will look to turn things around on Jan. 8, when they take on Pearl River.

-Reporting by Mike Smith
Bold denotes home team or location

 
Harrison Fried bodies an Ice Cats defender at Hommocks.

Black team earns stripes

 

Harrison Fried takes a shot against Mount Pleasant on Jan. 2. Fried is one of the captains of Mamaroneck’s second varsity team.

Harrison Fried takes a shot against Mount Pleasant on Jan. 2. Fried is one of the captains of Mamaroneck’s second varsity team.

Harrison Fried bodies an Ice Cats defender at Hommocks.

Harrison Fried bodies an Ice Cats defender at Hommocks.

Tommy Conley starts the rush against Mount Pleasant. Photos/Mike Smith

Tommy Conley starts the rush against Mount Pleasant. Photos/Mike Smith

Matt Croly looks for an open teammate on Jan. 2.

Matt Croly looks for an open teammate on Jan. 2.

By MIKE SMITH
On Jan. 2, Mount Pleasant topped the Mamaroneck Black team 9-4 at the Hommock’s Ice Arena, but for the Tigers’ second varsity team, the loss was just another learning experience for a promising young group. As the Tigers continue to make strides on the ice, they are turning into a very serious contender within Section I.

Mamaroneck stayed tight with the Ice Cats—6-1 thus far this season—through the first period and a half, carrying a 3-3 tie into the second period before Mount Pleasant was able to pull away for a five-goal win. Sophomore Colin Lavan had a goal and two assists in the loss.

Thus far, the Mamaroneck Black squad, which is comprised mainly of sophomores and freshmen, has shown the ability to hang with some of the top teams in the section, including the Ice Cats, despite a marked lack of veterans.

Mamaroneck’s ranks have swelled this year, leading to the creation of a second varsity team, but Mike Chiapparelli Jr., who heads the Black team, said that through the first 10 games of the season, his skaters are showing that they’re more than just a junior varsity squad.

“We are playing against teams with a lot of senior leadership,” Chiapparelli said. “The biggest thing for us is coming in and not thinking of ourselves as a ‘B’ team.”

Chiapparelli, whose father is the longtime coach of Mamaroneck’s more established varsity team, which is currently 10-0, has been pleased with the play of his young squad, which has acquitted itself well on the varsity level this year, compiling a 3-5-2 record to start the season. With 32 players on the roster, none of whom came into the season with previous varsity experience, the Mamaroneck Black team has had to learn on the fly as they adjust to the speed of the game. Two of the team’s losses have come to top 10 clubs, the other being a Dec. 21 loss to 10-1 Rye Town/Harrison.

“Our defense is very deep, we can roll out about eight or nine players who do a great job,” Chiapparelli said. “We are just having trouble with missed opportunities on offense, which comes from not having a lot of varsity experience yet.”

Chiapparelli Jr. and the Tigers are looking to push ahead in 2016 and get back to .500. According to the head coach, that will only happen if the team finds a way to start quicker.

“The first period has been our biggest problem,” he said. “But we’re bouncing some ideas around to figure out how to change that.”

The Tigers will be back in action on Jan. 8, when they host Rye Town/Harrison in a much-anticipated rematch. A win over the Titans, who are coming off a 13-0 rout over Rivertown, could be the signature victory the young squad has been looking for.

“We tested them at their place,” Chiapparelli said. “So we’re definitely motivated to come out and play them again.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 

Jackson Schultz carries the puck along the boards at Rye Playland. Schultz had a goal and four assists in the Titans’ win over Somers/North Salem.

RTH Titans ice Sabers 8-2

 

Max Picker takes a shot against the Sabers. Picker had a hat trick in the Titans’ win. Photos/Mike Smith

Max Picker takes a shot against the Sabers. Picker had a hat trick in the Titans’ win. Photos/Mike Smith

By MIKE SMITH
On Dec. 28, Rye Town/Harrison turned a fast start against Somers/North Salem into a solid finish to the calendar year. With an 8-2 win over the Sabers at the Rye Playland Ice Rink on Monday, the Titans head into January as the owners of a 9-1 record and seem to be picking up steam as the playoffs approach.

Max Picker scored the game’s first goal just six seconds into the contest, taking the opening faceoff down the length of the ice and beating Sabers’ netminder Ben Winter to put the Titans on the board. Picker finished with a hat trick on the night, while Doug Harrison added two goals and junior Jackson Schultz tallied a goal and four assists to lead the Titans to a one-sided win.

The Sabers found the net twice late in the game, but tallied only 11 shots to RTH’s 25 as the Titans’ depth propelled them to a late game surge.

Jack Shapiro challenges a Sabers’ defenseman on Dec. 28. Shapiro found the net in the second quarter to give the Titans a 4-0 lead.

Jack Shapiro challenges a Sabers’ defenseman on Dec. 28. Shapiro found the net in the second quarter to give the Titans a 4-0 lead.

Jackson Schultz carries the puck along the boards at Rye Playland. Schultz had a goal and four assists in the Titans’ win over Somers/North Salem.

Jackson Schultz carries the puck along the boards at Rye Playland. Schultz had a goal and four assists in the Titans’ win over Somers/North Salem.

Joey Livornese makes a stop against Somers/North Salem on Dec. 28. Livornese and the Titans topped the Sabers 8-2.

Joey Livornese makes a stop against Somers/North Salem on Dec. 28. Livornese and the Titans topped the Sabers 8-2.

“I noticed their bench was short and that certainly plays to the end of the game,” Titans’ coach Jason Head said. “But we wanted to start strong, which we did with that goal by Max, and finish strong.”

The Titans have currently won four games in a row, and after victories over Mamaroneck Black and Byram Hills, Head is beginning to like what he sees.

“This was the most complete game I think we played all year,” he said. “From start to finish, there was nothing for me to pick apart after this game.”

In fact, the Titans have seemed like a whole new team after suffering their first loss of the season on Dec. 12 against Mount Pleasant. According to senior Doug Harrison, overconfidence may have played a role in the Titans’ 8-2 loss to the Ice Cats that day.

“Losing that game, it changed the way we looked at everything, changed the way we prepared,” he said. “Everyone was too jolly before that game, now we’re quiet in the locker room, getting focused, and we’re a better team that way.”

Head concurred with Harrison’s assessment.

“I think it taught them some humility,” he said. “They learned that they’re not unbeatable.”

Of course, having reeled off four straight wins, the Titans are not lacking any confidence at the moment. Despite having more victories than all but one other in-section team, undefeated Mamaroneck, several RTH players believe the team is still being overlooked. They aim to use that as motivation when they return from break to a game against Rivertown on Jan. 4.

The Titans will have a grueling stretch to start 2016, including games against the ETBE Eagles and the reigning Division I champion Scarsdale Raiders. On Jan. 18, they will get another shot at Mount Pleasant.

“We still feel like we’re underrated based on the teams we’ve played,” Harrison said. “Each game, we love to come out and win and get higher up in the rankings.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 
Jimmer Fredette drives to the hole against the Delaware 87ers on Jan. 2. Fredette scored 27 points in the Westchester Knicks’ 106-97 win.

Westchester Knicks win 2016 opener

Jimmer Fredette drives to the hole against the Delaware 87ers on Jan. 2. Fredette scored 27 points in the Westchester Knicks’ 106-97 win.

Jimmer Fredette drives to the hole against the Delaware 87ers on Jan. 2. Fredette scored 27 points in the Westchester Knicks’ 106-97 win.

The Westchester Knicks, the official NBA Development League affiliate of the New York Knickerbockers, rang in the new year on Jan. 2 in front of sold-out crowd at home with a 106-97 win over the Delaware 87ers, the Philadelphia 76ers’ affiliate.

With the win, the Knicks improved to 13-5, while the 87ers fell to 11-9 on the year.

Westchester’s Jimmer Fred-ette started off perfect, going 4-for-4 with two from downtown. The Knicks held a healthy lead for the majority of the first quarter, going on an 8-0 run to take an 11-point advantage. But a 13-2 run of their own in the final four minutes allowed the 87ers to tie it up 27-27, before a Westchester foul with 0.6 seconds on the clock put Rick Jackson at the line for Delaware. Sinking 1-of-2, the 87ers managed to squeak out of the first quarter with a 28-27 lead.

The second quarter contrasted the first, with Delaware maintaining the lead for the majority of the quarter before a Fredette jumper at the buzzer nudged the Knicks back into the lead. The score was 47-46 at the half, and two Knicks and two 87ers held the bulk of the points as Fredette led with 14 and Darion Atkins following with 10, while Delaware’s Jordan McRae had 13 and Rodney Carney had 10.

A balanced scoring effort from the Knicks in the third quarter lifted Westchester’s lead by as many as 11 points. Delaware struggled to find its shots, going 0-for-5 from beyond the arc and nabbing just nine rebounds as a team. In comparison, Westchester had 16 rebounds in the quarter but gave up nine points to fouls. Still, the home team headed into the final 12 minutes with a 75-67 lead.

Travis Trice II sets up the offense against the 87ers. Contributed photos

Travis Trice II sets up the offense against the 87ers. Contributed photos

Delaware made it interesting in the fourth, coming within three points early in the quarter off a David Laury II jumper. That was as close as they’d come though, as the Knicks went on a 9-2 run to rack up a 15-point lead over the visitors with just over two minutes to go. Ten points in the quarter from Knicks guard Travis Trice II helped to solidify a win for Westchester, the final score 106-97.

Fredette nearly finished with a triple-double with a game-high 27 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Trice also neared triple-double territory with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Atkins added 15 points and seven rebounds, while Jordon Crawford supplied 12 points off the bench.

McRae paced Delaware with 25 points, also supplying six assists. White Plains native Sean Kilpatrick finished right behind with 23 points, adding six rebounds and five assists while Laury came off the bench for a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Tickets for the Westchester Knicks are on sale now at Ticketmaster outlets and the Westchester County Center Box Office. For information on season tickets, partial plans and group tickets, visit WestchesterKnicks.com or call 559-6889. Fans can stay up-to-date on team news by following the team at @wcknicks on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and on Face-book at facebook.com/wcknicks. (Submitted)

Broncos sharp in decisive win

Natalie Kister goes 19 points in Bronxville’s 73-39 win.

Natalie Kister goes 19 points in Bronxville’s 73-39 win.

Ellie Walsh dribbles through traffic on Jan. 5. Bronxville is now 7-2 on the season.

Ellie Walsh dribbles through traffic on Jan. 5. Bronxville is now 7-2 on the season.

Alyson Schultz brings the ball upcourt against Edgemont. Photos/Mike Smith

Alyson Schultz brings the ball upcourt against Edgemont. Photos/Mike Smith

By MIKE SMITH
After a long layoff, the Bronxville girls basketball team took the court on Jan. 5, hosting the Edgemont Panthers in both teams’ first contest of 2016. Although Broncos’ head coach Donny Lucas expected his team to be a bit rusty, it didn’t take long for the Broncos to find their rhythm, as they dominated the Panthers en route to a 73-39 win.

Natalie Kister led Bronxville with 19 points and Maggie O’Reilly netted 15 as the Broncos pulled away in the second half, overcoming a slow start that saw the Panthers keep pace through the first 10 minutes of regulation. By halftime, the Broncos had built a 35-26 lead that continued to grow as all but one active Bronxville player recorded a point in the second half.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Bronxville had not played since Dec. 22.

“Early on, Edgemont hit some of their open shots and our defense wasn’t there, maybe because we were off for two weeks,” Lucas said. “But as the game went on, we woke up at some point.”

Bronxville exploited Edgemont’s defensive pressure throughout the game, turning the Panthers’ full-court press into several fast-break points. According to Lucas, the ability to run the floor has been a strength of the Broncos all season long.

“We’re very athletic; we’ve got a bunch of soccer players and bunch of lacrosse players and a few basketball players,” he said. “But unlike today, where we scored a lot, sometimes we can have a bit of trouble executing in half-court.”

At 7-2 on the season, however, the Broncos haven’t seemed to suffer too much when the tempo slows down.

“When you have just two losses, to Irvington and Valhalla, that’s not bad,” Lucas said. “We hoped to be right where we are.”

Lucas is confident that his team can build upon its quick start in January, and the Broncos seem poised to do that, especially once they get healthy.

“We still have some injuries to a few guards, but we’re hoping to get them back soon,” Lucas said. “But in the meantime, we’re getting good experience; we have 11 players on the roster and we go 11 deep.”

The Broncos will need all hands on deck on Jan. 8, when they host Putnam Valley and Cornell-bound center Reena Olsen in what will be Bronxville’s first real test of the new year.

“They have a 6-foot-3 center, they’re committed, they’re disciplined,” Lucas said. “They can cause some havoc, but hopefully, in our gym, we can handle it.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 
MikeSmith

Column: Misery loves company

On Jan. 3, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills dashed the Jets’ playoff hopes with a 22-17 win over Gang Green. For a Giants fan like Sports Editor Mike Smith, the Jets’ loss was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible NFL season. Photos courtesy Wikipedia.com

On Jan. 3, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills dashed the Jets’ playoff hopes with a 22-17 win over Gang Green. For a Giants fan like Sports Editor Mike Smith, the Jets’ loss was a bright spot in an otherwise terrible NFL season. Photos courtesy Wikipedia.com

I swear that I’m not a spiteful person, but when it comes to sports, it seems like a healthy dose of “schadenfreude” is sometimes unavoidable.

Last Sunday, while watching my New York Giants put the finishing touches on a dreadful 6-10 season—and Tom Coughlin’s coaching career—the only thing that gave me any sort of comfort was seeing the Jets’ season come to an equally disastrous end.

I know. I’m a bad person.

The truth is, even for a Giants fan, this wasn’t a hard Jets team to root for. After jettisoning swagger-y blowhard Rex Ryan in the offseason, Gang Green was under new management in the form of Todd Bowles, a coach cut from the same cloth as the no-nonsense Coughlin. They played hard-nosed defense, had the franchise’s most explosive offense in more than a decade and had a likeable—if not imperfect—signal caller under center in Ryan Fitzpatrick. What’s not to like?

But jealousy is a strange emotion. I came into Week 17 with every intention of rooting for the Jets to beat the Bills—now helmed by Ryan—and clinch a playoff spot. But as the two 1 p.m. games unfolded, I found myself almost subconsciously cheering each Buffalo third-down conversion, delighting in the growing despair of the Jets fans around me.

I guess part of it is the residual resentment built up from the Rex Ryan regime. I never had strong feelings one way or the other about the franchise before Rex took over, but his tenure was marked by the kind of bravado and boastfulness that doesn’t engender a lot of goodwill from opposing fan bases.

But mostly, it had to do with the Giants’ failures. If I had to watch my team blow chance after chance and miss yet another postseason, why should anyone else—let alone people I have to see every day—have the right to be happy?

Am I being juvenile? You bet. But at least I’m not alone.

Throughout the course of the game, I was communicating with some friends in a group chat, the majority of whom were Giants or Eagles fans, and had no real stakes in the Bills-Jets game. Only my friend Mike, a season ticket-holder for years, swears allegiance to New York’s other team. But as Fitzpatrick’s interceptions doomed the Jets, you would have thought the rest of us were members of the so-called “Bills Mafia.”

Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin lost his job after another bad season for Big Blue. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, the only silver lining is that the Jets aren’t in the playoffs either.

Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin lost his job after another bad season for Big Blue. For Sports Editor Mike Smith, the only silver lining is that the Jets aren’t in the playoffs either.

GIFS of plane crashes, butt-fumbles and jubilant Rex Ryan celebrations flooded the chain, as we did our best to pile on to our buddy’s already crummy day.

I may not be proud of myself, but if I can’t be proud of the Giants, watching someone else suffer might just be the next best thing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Tyrod Taylor jersey to order.

 

Follow Mike on Twitter
@LiveMike_Sports

 

 

Jack Shapiro challenges a Sabers’ defenseman on Dec. 28. Shapiro found the net in the second quarter to give the Titans a 4-0 lead.

Titans ice Sabers 8-2

 

 

Max Picker takes a shot against the Sabers. Picker had a hat trick in the Titans’ win. Photos/Mike Smith

Max Picker takes a shot against the Sabers. Picker had a hat trick in the Titans’ win. Photos/Mike Smith

By MIKE SMITH
On Dec. 28, Rye Town/Harrison turned a fast start against Somers/North Salem into a solid finish to the calendar year. With an 8-2 win over the Sabers at the Rye Playland Ice Rink on Monday, the Titans head into January as the owners of a 9-1 record and seem to be picking up steam as the playoffs approach. 

Max Picker scored the game’s first goal just six seconds into the contest, taking the opening faceoff down the length of the ice and beating Sabers’ netminder Ben Winter to put the Titans on the board. Picker finished with a hat trick on the night, while Doug Harrison added two goals and junior Jackson Schultz tallied a goal and four assists to lead the Titans to a one-sided win.

The Sabers found the net twice late in the game, but tallied only 11 shots to RTH’s 25 as the Titans’ depth propelled them to a late game surge.

Jack Shapiro challenges a Sabers’ defenseman on Dec. 28. Shapiro found the net in the second quarter to give the Titans a 4-0 lead.

Jack Shapiro challenges a Sabers’ defenseman on Dec. 28. Shapiro found the net in the second quarter to give the Titans a 4-0 lead.

“I noticed their bench was short and that certainly plays to the end of the game,” Titans’ coach Jason Head said. “But we wanted to start strong, which we did with that goal by Max, and finish strong.”

The Titans have currently won four games in a row, and after victories over Mamaroneck Black and Byram Hills, Head is beginning to like what he sees.

“This was the most complete game I think we played all year,” he said. “From start to finish, there was nothing for me to pick apart after this game.”

In fact, the Titans have seemed like a whole new team after suffering their first loss of the season on Dec. 12 against Mount Pleasant. According to senior Doug Harrison, overconfidence may have played a role in the Titans’ 8-2 loss to the Ice Cats that day.

“Losing that game, it changed the way we looked at everything, changed the way we prepared,” he said. “Everyone was too jolly before that game, now we’re quiet in the locker room, getting focused, and we’re a better team that way.”

Head concurred with Harrison’s assessment.

Jackson Schultz carries the puck along the boards at Rye Playland. Schultz had a goal and four assists in the Titans’ win over Somers/North Salem.

Jackson Schultz carries the puck along the boards at Rye Playland. Schultz had a goal and four assists in the Titans’ win over Somers/North Salem.

“I think it taught them some humility,” he said. “They learned that they’re not unbeatable.”

Of course, having reeled off four straight wins, the Titans are not lacking any confidence at the moment. Despite having more victories than all but one other in-section team, undefeated Mamaroneck, several RTH players believe the team is still being overlooked. They aim to use that as motivation when they return from break to a game against Rivertown on Jan. 4.

The Titans will have a grueling stretch to start 2016, including games against the ETBE Eagles and the reigning Division I champion Scarsdale Raiders. On Jan. 18, they will get another shot at Mount Pleasant.

“We still feel like we’re underrated based on the teams we’ve played,” Harrison said. “Each game, we love to come out and win and get higher up in the rankings.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

Joey Livornese makes a stop against Somers/North Salem on Dec. 28. Livornese and the Titans topped the Sabers 8-2.

Joey Livornese makes a stop against Somers/North Salem on Dec. 28. Livornese and the Titans topped the Sabers 8-2.

 
Gia Mancini drives to the basket against Irvington on Dec. 26. Mancini finished with 23 points and six rebounds in a 57-55 loss. Photos/Bobby Begun

Huskies fall to Bulldogs

 

Gina Nuvoloni rushes past Irvington’s Lindsay Halpin last Saturday. Nuvoloni had 11 points for Harrison.

Gina Nuvoloni rushes past Irvington’s Lindsay Halpin last Saturday. Nuvoloni had 11 points for Harrison.

By MIKE SMITH
On Saturday, Dec. 26, a Harrison program on the rise got a chance to test its mettle at the annual Slam Dunk Challenge at the Westchester County Center against a good Irvington team. Even though the Huskies were unable to come away with the win, falling 57-55 to the reigning Class B champs, head coach Louis Kail felt that the team’s performance bodes well for the rest of the season. 

According to the fourth-year head coach, Harrison entered the season eying a trip to the Class A semifinals, which are played every year at the County Center, and last Saturday’s tilt with the Bulldogs should help stoke the team’s competitive fire.

“Ever since I took over, we’ve talked a lot about getting to the County Center in the section tournament,” Kail said. “And to get an invite to the Slam Dunk [tournament], we didn’t come up with a win, but I think it was a priceless experience for the girls.”

Avery LaBarbera takes a jump shot. LaBarbera had 20 points in a losing effort against Irvington.

Avery LaBarbera takes a jump shot. LaBarbera had 20 points in a losing effort against Irvington.

After a strong performance in the first quarter, Irvington surged in the second to head into the half with a 38-28 lead. The Bulldogs led by as many as 13 points after the break, before Harrison came storming back to take the lead, thanks in part to a 13-point explosion by Gia Mancini in the third quarter.

Mancini finished with 23 points on the afternoon, while teammate Avery LaBarbera netted 20 points and picked up seven steals in the loss.

“I don’t like to talk about moral victories, but against an unbelievable Irvington team, we showed a lot of resilience,” the head coach said. “You know a team like Irvington, with a coach like Gina Maher, is going make a run and we did an unbelievable job to stay with them.”

Although the Huskies ultimately fell short, Kail was impressed with the way his team performed, especially given that it was without the services of senior captain Jess Scazzero who is sidelined with an ankle injury. In her place, sophomore Gina Nuvoloni got the start for Harrison and scored 11 points while providing toughness on the defensive end.

“We went with a younger lineup [because of the injury] with Gina who only has about five games of experience,” Kail said. “But Gina [is] going to continue to learn and grow, and when Jess comes back, she is going to have a lot more experience under her belt.”

Gia Mancini drives to the basket against Irvington on Dec. 26. Mancini finished with 23 points and six rebounds in a 57-55 loss. Photos/Bobby Begun

Gia Mancini drives to the basket against Irvington on Dec. 26. Mancini finished with 23 points and six rebounds in a 57-55 loss. Photos/Bobby Begun

Harrison’s schedule does not get any easier when the team comes back after the new year, as the Huskies will travel to North Rockland to take on the Class AA Red Raiders on Jan. 6 and follow that contest with a showdown against a tough league foe in Rye on Jan. 12.

“We’re really getting into it now, and our last four games were a big test for us,” Kail said. “We’ve learned a lot from our losses and we’re ready to get into the midst of our schedule.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 

Brady Lefkowitz goes for a layup against the Bulldogs.

Brady Lefkowitz goes for a layup against the Bulldogs.

 

Benny DiMirco drives to the hoop on Dec. 23. DiMirco scored a game-high 19 points. Photos/Bobby Begun

Eagles top Garnets

Benny DiMirco tangles with Michael Carty under the hoop.

Benny DiMirco tangles with Michael Carty under the hoop.

By MIKE SMITH
On Dec. 23, two undefeated league rivals squared off at the Westchester County Center as Eastchester and Rye tipped off before a Westchester Knicks contest. When the final whistle sounded, however, only Eastchester’s perfect record remained intact as the Eagles turned a solid defensive outing into a 43-30 win over the Garnets. 

Senior point guard Benny DiMirco led the way for Eastchester, scoring a game-high 19 points and putting the game out of reach with an offensive flurry in the third quarter. After the Garnets cut the lead to four on a 3-pointer by Michael Carty, DiMirco scored the next nine points, giving his team a sizable lead that they wouldn’t relinquish in the final stanza.

“[DiMirco] is a terrific player,” Rye coach John Aguilar said. “He started to get hot and there wasn’t much we could do.”

But it was Eastchester’s defense that caused the biggest problem for the Garnets on the day, Aguilar added. The Eagles caused 10 turnovers and did not allow Rye—which was led by seven points from George Kirby—to establish a rhythm on the offensive end.

“It was just a great defensive effort by Eastchester,” Aguilar said. “To force 10 turnovers on us, that doesn’t happen, just about ever.”

Benny DiMirco drives to the hoop on Dec. 23. DiMirco scored a game-high 19 points. Photos/Bobby Begun

Benny DiMirco drives to the hoop on Dec. 23. DiMirco scored a game-high 19 points. Photos/Bobby Begun

The Eagles, however, also had trouble keeping control of the ball early on, but settled in nicely to take a 22-14 lead heading into the half. According to Eagles’ coach Fred DiCarlo, it’s not unusual to see even the most seasoned teams take some time to acclimate to the pressures of playing at the County Center, which also plays host to the Section I semifinal and championship rounds.

“I knew the nerves were coming and I just figured that the team who was going to settle down quickest was going to win,” DiCarlo said. “And we know how tough it is to shoot at this place, so we just stressed playing lockdown defense and letting that defense lead to good chances on the other end.”

The loss put the Garnets at 4-1 on the season, while Eastchester improved to 8-0. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the winning streak came to an end on Dec. 26 when they were felled by CHSAA Stepinac 57-54 in the opening round of the Slam Dunk Challenge Tournament, which was also held at the Westchester County Center. During the consolation round the following day, the Eagles dropped their first game to an in-section opponent with a 58-40 loss to Class AA White Plains.

Stephen Galgano attempts a hook shot against Rye.

Stephen Galgano attempts a hook shot against Rye.

“Playing on this floor, playing in a gym like this, it was a good experience,” DiCarlo said. “The competition we play is only going to help us, and it’s going to help us judge where we are.”

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George Kirby drives past Nick Scalise at the Westchester County Center. Kirby had seven points in Rye’s 43-30 loss to Eastchester.

George Kirby drives past Nick Scalise at the Westchester County Center. Kirby had seven points in Rye’s 43-30 loss to Eastchester.