When Matt Ryan woke up Saturday, he had one thing on his mind.
“I was talking to my mom early this morning and I said, ‘I really have to come out and have a good game,’ ” the Iona Prep sophomore said.
While none of the Gaels shined in Friday’s loss against Christ the King, Ryan had a particularly difficult time, scoring only two points and fouling out in the third quarter.
The 6-foot-6 forward was able to turn things around Saturday night, earning the player of the game award after scoring 18 points and grabbing six rebounds in the Gaels’ 60-53 win over White Plains in the Harry Jefferson Showcase at White Plains.
“That was not our day,” Ryan said of Friday’s game. “We just really wanted to come out and get a win and I thought I stepped up and played pretty well.”
Tom Capuano had 13 points and three rebounds in the win. Brandon Williams added 12 points and four rebounds. Mike DeMello led all scorers with 23 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Tigers.
Despite a cold start, Ryan was able to get it done when it mattered most, scoring 16 of his points in the second half, including a contested breakaway dunk halfway into the fourth quarter that proved to be one of the key plays in the contest.
“I think his steal and dunk were the catalyst to the win,” Iona Prep coach Victor Quirolo said. “I think that was the play that sparked the momentum to our side.”
The Gaels appeared to have put Friday’s loss behind them at first, holding a 15-7 lead after the first quarter.
The Tigers would gain the momentum back in the second and the majority of the third, outscoring the Gaels 27-18 over the next 16 minutes to hold a 34-33 lead heading into the fourth.
In the fourth, Iona Prep capitalized on a mixture of poor shots and turnovers by the Tigers, scoring six unanswered points off fast breaks. Ryan’s dunk put the Gaels up six with under four minutes remaining.
“That dunk that Matt had just changed the whole game, I believe,” Williams said. “We all played hard after that and we got the ‘W.’ “
A hot-handed DeMello kept White Plains within striking distance as the Tigers cut Iona Prep’s lead to three with under a minute left.
Ryan was able sink four free throws in the final 30 seconds to ice the game and secure the victory, something Williams, Ryan and Quirolo all felt was important after Friday.
“We needed this because last night was a difficult loss and we kind of fell apart,” Quirolo said. “We need this today to kind of get back on track.”