WHITE PLAINS — Even before Tuesday — before its point guard was out sick and New Rochelle forced it into 22 turnovers — White Plains had been mired in an offensive slump of sorts. Although shots didn’t exactly fall against the Huguenots, the Tigers proved their defense should not be dismissed.
The Tigers (8-1) outrebounded the defending Class AA champ 38-20, grabbing 14 of those rebounds on the offensive end. They also ended the game on a 33-13 surge.
“I just thought our leadership was outstanding,” coach Spencer Mayfield said.
All five starters — four of them seniors — scored between eight and 18 points. Senior Justin Tapper had 18 points and nine rebounds and senior Rexler Noel had eight points and 13 boards, including seven on offense.
Along with senior Marshon Morris (12 points), they anchored a defense that baited New Rochelle into the paint. The Tigers didn’t flinch, drawing multiple charging violations that put the visitors into a deepening hole.
“It seemed like they were getting very frustrated,” Noel said. “We took advantage of that and took them out of the game.”
New Rochelle (4-7) played much of the game without leading scorer Derek Dorn. He injured his ankle in the second quarter and did not return. Making matters worse, junior Antoine Lewis and senior Brian Reese both were saddled with foul trouble.
Reese finished with a team-high 13 points off the bench. Senior Alex Tuci had 12 points and seven rebounds, although Huguenots coach Rasaun Young thought the team failed to feed Tuci enough.
“I think we got into ‘me’ basketball,” said Young, who called it “the most selfish game we’ve played all season.”
The contrast was stark. White Plains successfully shuffled its rotation without DeMello, moving Morris to point guard and moving Chris Jordan into the starting lineup. Jordan scored 10 points, including five straight as the Tigers surged late.
“It was a big loss that Mike wasn’t here, but it’s always the next man up,” Tapper said.
My postgame video with Rexler Noel and Justin Tapper: