By MIKE SMITH
Over the last weekend, the Harrison Huskies continued their hot streak, beating the Rye Neck Panthers and Mamaroneck Tigers in successive days to win the 17th annual Mamaroneck Sound Shore Classic and improve their record to 9-1 on the year.
Winners of their last eight contests, the Huskies seem to be peaking at the right time, playing stingy defense and employing a balanced attack to down tough teams like the Class AA Tigers.
The Huskies jumped out to a quick lead against Mamaroneck, setting the tempo for the game in the early minutes of the contest by using their athleticism to neutralize the big Tigers frontcourt, which posed a matchup problem for the smaller Huskies squad.
“Our goal from the beginning was to start in a 2-3 defense and clog the middle because they have big, strong kids,” Harrison coach Gary Chiarella said. “We had five guys on the court who could run the floor, and we figured that would pose some problems for [Mamaroneck].”
Nick Esposito and Matt Stein each had 14 points for the Huskies in the win, while Zac Evans contributed 11 points of his own. For the Huskies, the even distribution of points has been something on which the team has relied all year.
“It says that the kids have confidence in each other,” Chiarella said. “If you look at the scoring on our team, it’s been so spread out, with four or five kids in the double digits each night.”
Though Harrison generally relies on its quickness on the defensive end, senior big man Coby Lefkowitz established himself as a presence early on in the first half with a couple of blocked shots and steals that led to fast break points.
“That was probably Coby’s best defensive half of the year,” Chiarella said. “The kid has very long arms and that’s a valuable weapon that we don’t really have.”
Harrison advanced to the championship game with a Jan. 17 win over Rye Neck, while Mamaroneck won its first-round game over Rye 64-32 thanks to a big day from center Will Giddon, who tallied 14 points and eight rebounds.
In the consolation game, Rye Neck downed the Garnets on 20 points from senior Matt Franks, who scored his 1,000th career point in the first half.
“It felt good, but it was a huge relief,” Franks said of reaching the milestone. “I felt like it’s good to get it over with so I could get on with playing.”
Harrison will look to continue its winning ways this week with games against Byram Hills, Ossining and Rye.
“We want to do absolutely nothing different,” Chiarella said. “We are just looking at the team that’s ahead of us, nothing down the line.”