By MIKE SMITH
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.”
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.”
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.”