The Rye Recreation girls’ middle school basketball team made history in March, advancing to the championship game of the Midget Division for the first time in the 27-year existence of the Westchester County Girls’ Rec Tournament. Although they lost 40-15 to a veteran Shrub Oak team, the path Rye blazed to the County Center was unforgettable.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the effort these girls and coaches put into the season,” said Rye Rec Supervisor Erin Riedel. “It’s exciting to play at the County Center on the big court, and the girls showed a huge amount of pride and dignity.”
Rye defeated Harrison March 16 and the Eastchester Blue team March 22 to punch their ticket to the championship round March 29. The team coaches and Riedel put together Rye Rec’s All-Star Team, comprised of ten players, including just two eighth graders. They began practicing together when regular season play ended in early March.
Shrub Oak’s team was made up entirely of eighth graders, all of whom played together throughout the year in AAU and won the eighth grade CYO State title March 27. Shrub Oak’s skills were closer to the high school level, but Rye played their hardest throughout. Katie Popp, a sixth grader, scored 10 points, and all the girls put forth amazing effort and showed great sportsmanship.
“They came together as a team in a short amount of time and played their hearts out,” said head coach Dana Paolino said. “They held their heads up high and never gave up.”
— Melanie Cane