Interviews with Nyack coach Ethan Smith and guard Ethan Smith Jr. after today’s thrilling win:
And my story on Nyack’s win over Pelham. As expected, it was the tightest game of the day…
PELHAM Because projections had earmarked them to open the playoffs against John Jay, Ethan Smith and Nyack began to prepare for them. They were surprised to learn Pelham was their opponent in Saturday’s Class A outbracket game, but certainly not upset.
A year after Pelham won on their home floor in the first round, the 19th-seeded Indians returned the favor, winning 52-51 in a game that was tight until the very last shot.
Nyack (8-11) advanced to play No. 3 Our Lady of Lourdes in the first round at 5 p.m. today.
“We already had motivation because it’s the playoffs, but (especially) after the heartbreak last year,” said Nyack guard Ethan Smith Jr., who had eight points, eight rebounds and hit two of his team’s six straight free throws in the final minute. “I feel like they took away one in our gym last year, so this year we wanted to get one back in their gym.”
The Indians trailed 48-43 when Barry Battle converted a three-point play with 2:25 to go. Thomas Keys hit a pair of free throws to tie it with 1:02 left and Max Baroni hit two more to put Nyack ahead for good, 50-48, with 46.9 remaining.
After Smith Jr. hit a pair, Pelham freshman Davis Allen quickly hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds to go. After Battle was fouled and missed two, Chris Ayson, who scored 23 points, was fouled in the backcourt. It was only Nyack’s sixth team foul, forcing Pelham to inbound from the sideline with 2.9 left.
The Pelicans (9-10) inbounded to Ayson in the backcourt. After absorbing some contact, he unleashed a heave from beyond halfcourt, but it was a hair wide.
Senior Jahnai Henry led the Indians with 13 points and had seven rebounds. Nyack finished 19 for 30 from the line, but hit seven straight in the fourth quarter to overcome what the elder Smith called his team’s “Achilles heel.”
“I have to give (my players) a lot of credit. We made our crucial ones,” Smith said. “But I have to give (Pelham) a lot of credit. They’re a heck of a team. They’re coached well and they play hard. It was a lucky win for us.”