Panthers avenge Rye loss

By MIKE SMITH

Chris Pennell drives the lane against Harrison on Jan. 17. Harrison beat the Panthers but Rye Neck responded with a win over Rye the following day.  Photo/Bobby Begun

Chris Pennell drives the lane against Harrison on Jan. 17. Harrison beat the Panthers but Rye Neck responded with a win over Rye the following day. Photo/Bobby Begun

On Jan. 18, the Rye Neck Pant-hers avenged an early-season loss to crosstown rival Rye, beating the Garnets 52-31 to take third place at the  Mamaroneck’s 17th annual Sound Shore Classic.

In addition to the win, the Panthers had another nice moment as senior Matt Franks became just the fourth player in program history to reach the 1,000 point-mark.

Franks, who came into the game seven points shy of the milestone, scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the win, enough to get him named to the All-Tournament team.

“It felt good but it was a huge relief,” Franks said after scoring his 1,000th point. “I felt like it’s good to get it over with so I could get on with playing.”

Rye Neck head coach Shawn Lincoln heaped praise on his center after the game while discussing what Franks has meant to the program over the last few years.

“He’s great kid, a real leader even if he doesn’t say a whole lot,” Lincoln said. “He’s a quiet leader and it’s been a pleasure to have him in this program.”

Matt Franks plays defense against Harrison on Jan. 17. The following day, against Rye, Franks scored his 1,000th career point. Photo/Bobby Begun

Matt Franks plays defense against Harrison on Jan. 17. The following day, against Rye, Franks scored his 1,000th career point. Photo/Bobby Begun

The milestone also came against a Rye team coached by John Aguilar, who served as Rye Neck’s head coach for the first two years of Franks’ varsity career, something that was not lost on the Panther big man.

“It was definitely nice to have coach Aguilar here,” Franks said. “We definitely have a nice relationship, and this was a big win.”

The win was made even more important considering the circumstances.

Rye Neck last played the Garnets on Jan. 11, falling by two points. After a tough week that saw the Panthers drop back-to-back games for the first time this season, the Panthers were able to execute their game plan and beat the Garnets handily.

“I think it’s all a learning process, and one of the things we did this week, getting in a rut, losing three in a row,” Lincoln said. “But in each game we came out of it with an idea of what we had to do better to get ready for the end of the season.”

Matt Franks poses with Mamaroneck coach Tyrone Carver after being named to the All-Tournament team on Jan. 18. Photo/Mike Smith

Matt Franks poses with Mamaroneck coach Tyrone Carver after being named to the All-Tournament team on Jan. 18. Photo/Mike Smith

Despite the win, the Panthers did suffer some setbacks this weekend as the team’s second-leading scorer, Ryan Aquino, suffered a season-ending injury on Jan. 17 in the Panthers’ opening-round loss against Harrison. Aquino is the third Panther player to suffer a significant injury and his loss could be a huge blow for a team that–a few weeks ago–looked like a contender for a Section I crown.

Even with the loss, however, Franks said the Panthers will continue to battle and grind out wins no matter who is on the court.

“It sounds like a cliché, but it’s really next guy up,” he said. “Every team goes through this, but here, everyone steps up, everyone works hard in practice and in games.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

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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.