I saw my first game tonight at Pleasantville, the home of one of Class B’s preseason contenders. With a lot of hype coming into the game, the Panthers played like they had bought into it. They were sloppy in the first half, turning the ball over against Rye Neck’s press and rushing shots on offense.
Thirty seconds into the third quarter, they exacerbated those problems after a basket, allowing one in a flash at the other end. Second-year coach Chris Welsh called a timeout, blasted his team’s subpar effort and pushed his players for more. They gave it from then on, winning 60-38 by finishing on a 30-13 run.
“It was just kind of a hustle message to get back on track,” senior Charlie Montgomery said. “Toward the end of the third quarter, that’s what we did and that’s how we came away with the win.”
Big men John Leyden and Phil Fleming led the way with 11 points apiece. Leyden had eight boards and Fleming added seven. The 6-foot-4 senior played sparingly, but appears to have developed in the offseason, giving Pleasantville a little more size to group with the three returning senior starters Jack Eisenberg, Montgomery and Nick Greto, who are perhaps the team’s best athletes but lack size.
“They’re big guys. They’re physical. They’re burly,” Welsh said. “We think our guards match up with most. With our frontcourt being able to finish like it did, that’s a good sign for us.”
Montgomery and Greto each added eight points. Greto grabbed 10 boards and Eisenberg added seven points. The Panthers outrebounded Rye Neck 42-33, which helped them overcome 0-for-14 shooting from 3-point land. They also forced 25 turnovers.
Those turnovers caused Rye Neck to unravel in the second half, but it was a good start consider this was the debut of new coach Shawn Lincoln. He took over when John Aguilar left for Rye, but hopes it’s a smooth transition. Lincoln was an assistant last year and a host of key players are back, including Matt Franks and Chris Pennell.
Both scored eight points, but they were permitted just 19 field goal attempts against Pleasantville’s D. Still, Rye Neck received contributions from its bench and appears to be a deeper, more balanced team than in recent years.
Lincoln believes the team is still finding itself. After all, he pointed out, it’s Dec. 3.
“I’m familiar with the guys. I know the kids,” he said. “Some of the JV guys have come up and we’re still working out our rotations. That will settle things out.”
Read more about the game in tomorrow’s Journal News.
Here are tonight’s other roundups:
Keio 68, Greenburgh Academy 36: At Keio, Fumiaki Kobayashi scored 20 points and Haruyoshi Karube scored 15. Ryota Suzuki had nine rebounds.
Carmel 57, Westlake 42: At Carmel, RJ Martinez led all scorers with 23 points. Dan Benkhen scored 12 points. Dan Grieco scored 12 points for the Wildcats.
Solomon Schechter 60, Hawthorne Cedar Knolls 40: In the first round of the Schechter tournament, Jake Diamond had 21 points and five assists. Josh Becker added 11 points and 17 rebounds. Kevin McDermott led Hawthorne Cedar Knolls with 17 points. Schechter will host Tuxedo at 6 Tuesday in the championship game.