By MIKE SMITH
New Rochelle hasn’t had an easy time playing at Scarsdale High School over the last few years, but when the Huguenots took the court on Jan. 25, they weren’t thinking about past failures. Instead, they were focused on the task at hand, stopping a hot-shooting league foe in the Raiders.
After a back-and-forth battle that went into overtime, the Huguenots came away with an 83-74 win–a signature victory in an already solid season for New Rochelle.
Playing without Aisha White-Silas, the Huguenots played perhaps their most complete team game of the season, battling back from a 16-point deficit in the second quarter to upend the Raiders in overtime.
“I don’t think we’ve beat Scarsdale at their place as long as I’ve been here,” Huguenots coach Bruce Daniele said. “This was a big, gutty win for us against a team that just played fantastic in the first half.”
Despite downing the Raiders by 20-points in the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 8, Daniele commended Scarsdale for a shooting touch that nearly buried the Huguenots in the beginning of Friday’s game. Given the depth of the league in which both the Huguenots and Raiders play, Daniele wouldn’t be surprised to see big things from the Raiders in the postseason.
“They’re a tough team, the way they shoot the ball,” Daniele said. “They are going to be a very tough draw in the playoffs.”
For a New Rochelle team that has shown flashes of brilliance but sometimes struggles on the offensive end, the Scarsdale game was a high-water mark on the season in terms of scoring. Amirror Dixon led with 16 points, but many Huguenots got in on the action as the squad posted a season-high 83 points.
“With Aisha out, a lot of girls stepped up for us,” Daniele said. “We usually don’t score that many points.”
One of the biggest differences in his team’s play, Daniele said, has been the Huguenots’ improvement in the half-court. Instead of relying on defense and transition buckets, the team has started to find its offensive rhythm thanks, in part, to the continued development of star Amirror Dixon.
“[Dixon] has been unbelievable passing the ball, knowing when to drive, knowing when to shoot,” Daniele said. “She’s becoming the player we always knew she could be.”
At 11-4, the Huguenots are assured of a playoff spot, although Daniele said, because of a few losses, the team hasn’t clinched home-court advantage in the Class AA postseason. According to the Huguenot coach, a tough league schedule and past playoff performances have the Huguenots believing that, no matter where they are seeded, booking a berth to another final-four trip is always the goal.
“We want to get to the County Center; that doesn’t change,” the head coach said. “We probably cost ourselves a home game in the quarter-finals, but we will go anywhere, we will play anyone to get back there.”