Dan and I will each pick a Player of the Week from the previous week of games every week this season. If something catches your eye this week (Dec. 31-Jan. 5), make sure to let us know.
Stick with us this week. We’ll have plenty of goodies to kick off the New Year. POTW and GOTW posts will run today, our second set of rankings will run Thursday and our league-by-league predictions will drop on Friday. Stay tuned for those posts and more.
Josh’s POTW: Matt Ryan, Iona Prep - With many local fans getting their first look at the area’s most highly-touted recruit, Ryan was under quite a bit of pressure to perform. And the weekend didn’t start off so well when it was Eastchester’s Benny DiMirco and not Ryan who couldn’t miss. But the 6-foot-7 junior not only found a rhythm of his own, he proved to be the most consistent performer at the Slam Dunk en route to much deserved MVP honors.
Ryan averaged 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in the two games, but it was his shooting efficiency in a building notorious for wrecking an outside game that was most impressive. Ryan was 13 for 26 from the field in the wins over Eastchester and Spring Valley, but his true shooting percentage was much higher. He hit 10 of 19 from 3-point land and was a perfect 10 for 10 from the foul line.
Ryan’s early season play had been inconsistent. Many thought he couldn’t handle the pressure and added attention from defenses, but it was definitely compromised by bronchitis that caused him to miss Iona’s loss to Cardinal Hayes. Ryan said he thought he had turned the corner. If he’s going to play like he did at the Slam Dunk, CHSAA opponents are in trouble.
Dan’s POTW: James Morales, Fox Lane - Sure, Fox Lane’s 56-53 victory over Stepinac will only count once in the win column, but it means a lot more than that. The win showed the Foxes won’t be intimidated by any opponent they face. It seems only fair the game’s most important player gets some credit after such a big win. Senior James Morales had 21 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals as he led the Foxes to victory.
While those numbers might not seem eye popping, consider this: Morales was an extremely efficient 7-of-13 from the field and drilled five 3s. He also did all of this against one of the best backcourts in the area.
Some of you will say this game is more an example of Stepinac being weak than Fox Lane being strong. You’d be wrong. (Stepinac rebounded to beat St. Ray’s Sunday night.) Ready or not, the Foxes are for real.
For a look at all of this season’s Player of the Week honorees, click on the “POTW/Game Balls” tab on the blog.