Terrific night of high school basketball tonight at Byram Hills. In front of a packed gym and against a Pleasantville team that may have regained its footing as a Class B contender, the Bobcats withstood an early challenge to win 56-46.
Of course, the story of the night — and, fittingly, it was Senior Night — was that Jeff Lynch began just eight points shy of 1,000. His journey to the milestone has been a difficult one, including two surgeries, a misdiagnosis and the removal of some bone from his right leg. But as he often does, Lynch delivered under the brightest lights, dropping 22 points and five steals in a dominant effort.
He had 10 points in the first quarter to surpass 1,000 points. He hit one of his five 3’s to reach the milestone late in the first quarter (excellent picture above of the shot by Frank Becerra), but it came about a minute after he blew a dunk attempt on a wide open breakaway. The good-hearted senior admitted to me later he tried to throw it down, knowing he was just a point shy of 1,000. Read below for more of the story.
(NOTE: I am in the picture above. Can you find Waldo?)
Keep this in mind, too: Pleasantville plays Putnam Valley on Wednesday. Off tonight’s game, don’t be surprised if the Panthers use it to launch themselves back into the Class B race. When on, they are good. Very good.
ARMONK — Although Jeff Lynch has dunked in practice, never in any of his four varsity seasons had he thrown one down in a game. So there the Byram Hills senior found himself in the first quarter Friday night, alone on a breakaway and just one point shy of 1,000 for his career.
If not now, when?
“As I’m going down, I thought, ‘I have to do this right now,’ ” Lynch said. “I had to at least try.”
Yes, Lynch’s dunk attempt failed, but his pursuit of the milestone still succeeded emphatically. The 5-foot-11 guard sank one of his five 3-pointers a minute later and finished with a game-high 22 points in Byram Hills’ 56-46 win over a Pleasantville team bent on spoiling Senior Night.
Needing eight for 1,000, Lynch struck for 10 points in the first quarter. He continued to shine throughout, shooting 7 of 12 to go with three assists and five steals.
It allowed the Bobcats (12-1) to avoid the upset against a team that hit eight 3s, including 6 of 11 in the first half.
“Thank goodness Jeff was on fire. We really needed that,” Byram Hills coach Ted Repa said. “I always felt good, but I was just so frustrated. It was a very uncomfortable game.”
Players from both sides were forced to endure a 10-minute delay while salt and water brought in from outside was wiped clean by a mini zamboni. Byram Hills held a 42-40 lead at the time and Charlie Tulchin tied it just inside of the five-minute mark once play resumed.
Former sectional champs Lynch and senior Ryan Golden (11 points, six rebounds) led another strong finish as the Bobcats closed on a 14-4 run.
Despite suffering their fourth straight loss, the performance hinted at a brighter future for Pleasantville, a preseason Class B contender.
“I never lost faith that we were a potential contender — even when we’ve had some down stretches,” coach Chris Welsh said. “I like my team.”
Lynch has seen his faith tested more than once, too. He missed pockets of games last season with what was misdiagnosed as a bone spur in his right ankle. That included the Bobcats’ close loss to eventual state finalist Tappan Zee at the County Center.
Lynch endured surgery in March and saw an eight-week recovery period never end. It prevented him from playing AAU and led to a second procedure in October to remove a piece of dead bone. He even missed a game last week against Port Chester with a stress reaction in the same foot and hasn’t practiced all season. On this night, any pain was worth it.
“It’s been a rough road, but I’ve so much support from my coach and my teammates,” Lynch said. “I’m just happy I hit the milestone.”