NEW ROCHELLE — Just three days earlier, New Rochelle’s home gym was practically bursting at its doors. The crowd and the atmosphere were much more mild Monday for a holiday matinee against North Rockland, leaving the Huguenots to generate their own energy.
Simply put, they didn’t, at least not until senior Justin Watson took that upon himself. Watson (pictured above) scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds and three blocked shots off the bench to lead New Rochelle over the Red Raiders, 64-54.
The Huguenots (7-6) trailed by 11 at one point in the second quarter before Watson led a late flurry. That continued into a third quarter that saw New Rochelle outscore North Rockland (7-4) 21-6.
“Coach always says, when I call your number, be ready to play. It doesn’t matter if you start, you get two minutes, just be ready when you get in,” Watson said. “I didn’t start this game, but when he called my number I was ready to play.”
Watson attacked the glass late in the first half to trim a 21-10 deficit to four points by halftime. He, Isiah Washington (15 points) and Antoine Lewis (8 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) fueled the strong third quarter, which ended on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by teammate Jamel Wallace.
The strong quarter coincided with a prolonged cold spell for the Red Raiders. Wallace’s shot put New Rochelle in front comfortably, 47-36.
“We played very well here in sections, but we have to make those jumpshots,” said North Rockland coach Chris Roff, whose team was hot throughout an 84-55 win over Ramapo last week. “That’s the game. If we make a handful of those jumpshots, they don’t take the run on us they did.”
Evly Davis (15 points, 8 rebounds) and Jesse DeGraft (8 points, 11 rebounds) tried to trim the deficit it the fourth, but the Red Raiders never cut their deficit to fewer than seven.
New Rochelle’s strong finish was seen as further progress after Thursday’s near miss against rival Mount Vernon, the team widely considered Class AA’s best.
“We played well against Mount Vernon, but we didn’t win. We can’t look back,” Watson said. “We played a great game against them, but we have to keep building until playoff time.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Photos by Ricky Flores.
Best of the rest: Ty Jerome hit a pullup jumper with 0.9 seconds left for the winning basket in Iona Prep’s 56-54 victory over visiting Archbishop Molloy. Jerome finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Matt Ryan added 11 points and 10 rebounds and Tom Capuano had 11 points as well. … Matt Maloney hit a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime and Somers eventually beat Ossining 64-60 in the Yorktown tournament consolation. Maloney finished with 22 points. Tommy Gargiulo added 15 for the Tuskers, which, after starting 8-0, avoided a second straight defeat. Jay Criss had 20 to lead Ossining. Sean Trenholm added 15. … Skyler Sinon had 25 points and five assists and Andrew Groll added nine points and 18 rebounds as Byram Hills topped White Plains, 57-44. Luis Cartagena had 13 for the Tigers. … Christian Conklin and Eddie Hall each scored 14 points for Albertus Magnus in a 73-44 victory over visiting Nanuet. The Falcons hit 13 3-pointers as a team.
New Rochelle 64, North Rockland 54
Byram Hills 57, White Plains 44
Albertus Magnus 73, Nanuet 44
Iona Prep 56, Archbishop Molloy 54
Adelphi at Sacred Heart, 4 p.m.
Kennedy at Xavier, 4 p.m.
Tournament at Yorktown
Consolation: Somers 64, Ossining 60 (2 OT)
Championship: Yorktown vs. Clarkstown North, 5 p.m.
Biondi at YMA, 4:30 p.m.
Rye at Port Chester, 4:30 p.m.
Keio at Hawthorne Cedar Knolls, 4:30 p.m.
Clark at Hastings, 4:30 p.m.
Edgemont at Children’s Village, 4:30 p.m.
Solomon Schechter at Palisade Prep, 4:45 p.m.
Lourdes at Mahopac, 6 p.m.