Rye Recreation’s 5th and 6th grade basketball team took home the championship for the fourth straight year in the Cubs Division of the 80th Annual Westchester County Boys’ Basketball Tournament, held at the County Center. This year’s team consisted of Tim Hale, George Kirby, Zack Samberg, Max Pomroy, Mark Croughan, Michael Carty, Joe Zulli, Dominic Guarnieri, Stephen O’Connell and Matt Shainberg. They were coached by longtime Rye Recreation basketball staffers Josh Kirsch, Rob Angilletta and Rashidi Lewis.
The champs pulled out a comeback victory in the finals against the Harrison “Maroon” squad, erasing an eight-point fourth quarter deficit to win 41-39.
“This was a well-earned team victory,” said Angilletta. “Our guys played very hard and never let the game get out of hand. Down by eight in the final quarter, they played with great composure and fought back.”
George Kirby showed his shooting ability from downtown, hitting one 3-pointer in the first quarter and three in the third. He finished with 18 points, including four from the charity stripe. Hale proved to be a defensive machine who also possessed the ability to drive to the basket, scoring seven. Guarnieri and O’Connell each contributed six points and Pomroy netted four, including a buzzer-beating fast-break layup to end the first half. Croughan, Rye’s big man, provided much-needed height at center. Rounding out the support were Samberg, Zulli, Shainberg and Carty.
“This was a challenging year for our program, as we initially didn’t have as many participants and the talent levels varied,” added Lewis. “We are all honored and feel very fortunate with the four-peat. This year’s championship was special, as the kids really learned how to play as a team and remained focused even with the game in jeopardy.”
“It’s becoming something of a Rye Recreation tradition,” said Program Director Matt Trainor. “It really speaks to the quality of our program and the strengths of our coaches.”
Before advancing to the final game, Rye Rec faced some heavy competition. The quest to reach the finals went through the Harrison “Silver” team, Ossining Recreation and Rye Brook Recreation.
“Our press was our best asset all tournament long,” said Kirsch. “We constantly put pressure on the opposing teams, creating turnovers that led to easy baskets and layups. By pressing we shifted the momentum in our favor, which in turn energized us.”
The Rye Rec All-Stars were recognized for their achievement by Mayor Doug French and the City Council at the March 24 meeting.