MAHOPAC — As a seemingly insurmountable lead slipped away in the third quarter, Kevin Downes arrived at a truly unorthodox decision. The Mahopac boys basketball coach pulled all but one of his best players and told them to sit.
“It was just a lack of defense,” Ryan Simone said. “He told us if we couldn’t get it done, somebody else will.”
Luckily for Downes, the message was received. Simone and Co. returned with more fire and held off a ferocious charge from defending Section 1 Class A champ Poughkeepsie in a 46-39 win Monday night.
After a quiet first three quarters, Simone, a 6-foot-4 senior, finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. The teamdevoted itself to feeding him on the block, and the strategy went a long way toward neutralizing the feisty Pioneers.
“I thought we were much more in line with our gameplan that we had in the first half,” Downes said. “They really dug in and showed they didn’t want to let that one slip away.
“I was really proud of their effort in the fourth quarter.”
Mahopac (4-0) had stifled Poughkeepsie early, holding the young Pioneers (1-1) without a point in the first five minutes en route to a shocking 28-9 halftime edge.
But the Indians were equally cold in the opening five minutes of the third quarter as Poughkeepsie came within single digits.
Malik Williams (13 points) and Sanjay Ruparelia (10 points, seven rebounds) brought their team within five points, but the lead was too much to erase.
Led by Simone and Chris Esernio (nine rebounds), the Indians held a 46-28 rebounding edge, grabbing nearly as many off the offensive glass (23) as Poughkeepsie did all game.
“We just kind of lost it (in the third quarter),” said Mahopac senior R.J. Martinez, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half. “We couldn’t hit a shot. We just needed to get it back together in the fourth.”