By MIKE SMITH
Although snow may have interrupted Rye’s annual holiday tournament on Dec. 15, the Garnets were able to come away from last weekend with an opening-round win over a tough Pelham squad, downing the Pelicans with a 81-66 victory.
Saturday’s championship game against Blind Brook was postponed and will likely be played on Feb. 8 when the tournament resumes.
Point guard Tim DeGraw led all Garnet scorers with 23 points on the evening, while George Kirby added 20 points and senior Andrew Livingston netted 15. The offensive outburst was especially welcome given the Garnets were coming off a 44-31, Dec. 11 loss to rival Harrison that saw both teams struggle to put the ball in the basket.
According to Rye coach John Aguilar, the defensive battle against the Huskies was simply par for the course of the hardwood rivalry.
“We know that it’s always a more physical game against them,” the head coach said. “The kids know each other, there’s more intensity on the defensive end. Last year, our game against Harrison was the lowest-scoring game we had.”
Against Pelham, on the other hand, the Garnets proved deadly from beyond the arc, nailing 11 of 14 three-point attempts and receiving a big contribution from DeGraw, who often plays the facilitator.
“Usually as the point guard, we relying on him to get everyone involved,” Aguilar said. “Whatever points he scores, that’s a bonus.”
DeGraw didn’t play basketball last year, nursing some injuries from the football season, but rejoined the squad over the summer. He got the chance to re-connect with a squad that only returns one starter in Drew Abate.
“I think it definitely helped him and myself get to know each other,” Aguilar said of the summer sessions. “But he’s played a lot growing up with the kids like Livingston and Abate, so he was able to fit in pretty seamlessly.”
At 2-1, the Garnets are preparing for a brutal regular season schedule that sees them play eight Class AA squads. The Garnets will also tangle with undefeated Harrison at least once more this season.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge the way the league shaped up,” Aguilar said. “But the goal is to make it to the post season, where, hopefully, we can make a run because we’ve been battle-tested.”
The Garnets will likely need about six wins to qualify for postseason consideration and, while Aguilar has been pleased with how quickly his relatively new squad as gelled early on, he said the Garnets are looking to improve—especially on the glass—as they recover from some early injuries and health issues.
“Rebounding is going to be key for us,” he said. “And it’s definitely going to help once Drew Abate gets healthy–he hasn’t been able to play that much for us so far this year.”
The Garnets will be back in action on Dec. 18, when they host league foe Byram Hills. They return in 2014 with league games against Horace Greeley and Fox Lane.