Here’s my game story on New Rochelle’s win tonight at top-seeded Spring Valley. Read about how the Huguenots turned it around and why Spring Valley athletic director Bill Pilla vowed this was not his basketball team’s last game:
SPRING VALLEY In advance of their regular-season finale with Scarsdale on Feb. 11, first-year New Rochelle coach Rasaun Young invited the Huguenots to his house to watch film, grab some food and talk anywhere other than the court. His brother, Rashiem Young, one of the team’s assistants, developed a new rallying cry.
“We have this thing going on called ‘locked in.’ Guys have to be locked into what we’re doing,” Rasaun Young said. “Before these last three games, we’ve heard it all day at practice from Khalil Edney, from Joe Clarke and all of our guys: ‘We’re locked in.’ ”
Ever since, this New Rochelle team has never played better. The two stars of the state football champs led a resounding effort at top-seeded Spring Valley Wednesday, thoroughly defeating the younger Tigers 64-51 in a Class AA quarterfinal.
“It took us a while to get into basketball shape,” Edney said. “Now that we’re in basketball shape, it’s time to roll.”
Spring Valley, a young team with five sophomores, including its two stars, went home amid growing concern that the East Ramapo district would cut all sports programs for next school year.
“I will coach the team for free,” Spring Valley athletic director Bill Pilla said. “I will find people to pay so we can have a basketball season next year. There’s no way I want these kids to not play basketball. I want to keep them here.”
Clarke, a 6-foot-3 senior, recorded his second straight 30-point effort but did so despite missing eight minutes with foul trouble. He returned late in the second quarter with a renewed purposed, shooting 14 of 18 for the game to go with seven rebounds.
Despite Clarke missing so much of the first half, New Rochelle (12-9) led 36-26 at the break thanks to the 6-foot-4 Edney (pictured right, in black). The state championship quarterback controlled the paint, posting 10 of his 17 points and three of his four blocks while contending with Spring Valley sophomore Kai Mitchell, one of the section’s top young big men.
Although the rest of the team harassed the Tigers (17-3) into 21 turnovers, Edney was the only other player in double figures.
His energy off the bench has been a revelation after playing just one game as a junior.
“Never in a million years would I have thought he’d be our second-leading scorer,” Young said. “He was just a defensive guy.”
Edney provided plenty of that, too. He and the Huguenots limited Mitchell and sophomore guard Rickey McGill — Spring Valley’s leading scorers — to just two combined points at halftime. Although Mitchell ended with 14 points and 15 rebounds, McGill finished with just two points. Jason Woodbine tied a team-high with 14.
“We just wanted to come out here and prove everybody wrong, that they were the No. 1 seed and we were the No. 9 seed but we deserved to be in the County Center,” Clarke said.