By MIKE SMITH
Though they might not have walked away from their own holiday tournament as champions, the Rye Garnets learned a valuable lesson on Dec. 21 when they fell to Arlington in the tourney finals. Despite the early success they’ve had this season, the Garnets will need to continue to improve if they want to keep on winning games once the schedule gets tougher.
Arlington beat the Garnets 51-37 behind a strong third quarter and a 21-point day from Jancy Sherwood. Sherwood did most of her damage from range, hitting five three-pointers to help bury Rye.
“There was a lot of drive and kick,” Garnets coach Dennis Hurlie said. “It was big because they make you extend, and that puts pressure on you.”
For Rye, 5-1, the holiday tournament is traditionally full of top-flight competition, though this was Arlington’s first invite.
“The tournament the last few ye-ars has been very difficult with New Rochelle and Peekskill,” Hurlie said. “When those teams couldn’t make it, we were very lucky to have a team like Arlington come in.”
With a veteran squad, Hurlie was confident his team would start strong. Thus far, the Garnets have had some impressive wins, including their season opener against Hackley, by playing a few different styles. The one constant, Hurlie said, has been the Garnets intensity and attention to defense.
“At this point, we are where I thought we’d be, not in terms of execution, but in terms of our record,” he said. “We’ve played some press, mostly half-court man, but mostly we want to be able to run.”
Led by Rachel Egan and Mad-eline Eck, the Rye defense has stayed busy so far and has stayed consistent, even when the Garnets’ shots haven’t fallen.
“Rachel’s one of our best defenders, and I don’t think anyone does as much for us as Madeline on that end,” Hurlie said. “But we need some other girls to step up and make a few baskets.”
Rye’s competition ramps up after the New Year, starting with a Jan. 3 tilt with rival Harrison and a showdown with a tough Horace Greeley team just three days later. If the Garnets continue to play good defense and tweak some things offensively, Hurlie said, a deep sectional push could be in the cards.
“We defend pretty well, and I think we’re in a good place right now,”Hurlie said. “I think, offensively, we just need to screen a little better and get out there and start running, getting those early, easy buckets.”