Rye Country Day School overcame injuries and a height disadvantage at every position February 7 to trounce rival Brunswick, last year’s Fairchester Athletic Association regular season and tourney champs, 72-62.
“It was a total team effort,” said head coach Vin Minotti after the game. “We controlled the tempo, defended, and took good shots.”
Minotti’s gameplan, devised after losing team leader Lowes Moore earlier in the schedule to a knee injury, had the Wildcats constantly changing their defensive looks, from man-to-man to a packed-in 2-3 zone to a matchup zone, with a little ¾-court press thrown in.
“Lowes was our leading rebounder and second-leading scorer,” the coach said. “Without him in there, we had to shake things up. We were able to execute solid defensive ball principles, box out, and rebound against a team that outsized us.”
The proof? RCDS held the Bruins’ 6’9” Bill Murphy scoreless in the first half.
Playing a Brunswick team that’s gone 197-77 over the past ten seasons, Rye Country Day took their first double-digit lead when little freshman point guard Matt Staubi drove through the tall trees for a lay-up, making the score 28-17 late in the first half. “Matt is as tough and smart as any senior,” the coach noted. Staubi, named MVP in an Adidas Jr. Phenom camp over the summer, finished with 10 points and six assists.
The Wildcats built their lead in the second half to as much as 19, at 50-31, with slashing drives by game high-scorer Tyler Fernandez (22 points), Alex Gendelman (17), and Darren Douglas (13). When the Bruins responded by packing it in, Fernandez would throw in a three-pointer from beyond the arc.
The game tightened near the end when Brunswick’s Murphy moved outside and sank four three-pointers in a five-minute span. But it was too late. With the ball in Gendelman’s hands much of the time, the Bruins could only foul and watch the Wildcats sink their free throws.
After the game, Minotti summed up their performance. “The coaching staff is so pleased with how the team is responding to the scouting report and their attention to detail.”
The rivals clash in the big return match Friday, February 11 at Brunswick’s gym. It will be interesting to see if their big man, Murphy, stays outside the whole game and pops uncontested threes, or if Rye Country Day’s Matt (The Giant-Killer) Staubi and his fellow ball-handling gremlins make it two beanstalks in a row.
— Mitch Silver