The sixth-seeded New Rochelle High School girls basketball team rebounded aggressively and took advantage of mistakes by third-seeded John Jay, ending the Patriots’ season with a 63-55 triumph on Wednesday in a Section 1 Class AA quarterfinal.
Up by four points at halftime, John Jay could not weather a 16-0 second-half run by the Huguenots, which turned the Patriots’ 34-30 third-quarter lead into a 46-34 deficit, from which John Jay was unable to recover.
“We just didn’t get back on defense,” said John Jay senior Calli Balfour, who had a game-high 22 points, including her 1,000th career point, to go along with 11 rebounds and seven assists. “We didn’t grab the ball when we needed to. The first touch for each ball was a dribble. They were just faster than us.”
An 11-0 run by John Jay over a span of 4:16 between the first and second quarters gave the Patriots their biggest lead of the game at 22-15, 3:09 into the second quarter.
John Jay outrebounded New Rochelle 32-28, with Brittany Gregory also picking up a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. The Patriots, though, committed 22 turnovers, including 14 in the second half. New Rochelle had only 11.
“We gave up second- and third-chance opportunities on every possession they had,” said John Jay coach Larry Brooks, whose team ended the season 18-2 and had a 10-game winning streak snapped. “It’s hard to beat a team as athletic as (New Rochelle) when you’re giving them easy buckets. At this point of the season, we should be better than that.”
Asjha White (10 points), Sydney Pinn (eight) and Alysia Parente (four) had four points apiece inside the Huguenots’ big run.
“We played as a team and we didn’t play selfish,” said New Rochelle’s Aaliya Hayes, who had 11 points and was 9 for 12 at the free-throw line. “The key to the game was high intensity and defense.”
Amirror Dixon and Liz Tyson led New Rochelle (16-4) with 14 points apiece.
“Defense won this game,” New Rochelle coach Bruce Daniele said. “Two through eight in the seeds, anybody could have won.”
“It’s the Ossining Invitational,” Daniele jokingly said, referring to the top-seeded Pride and superstar Saniya Chong. “We just hope we can be there in the finals to play them.”
Balfour said it was frustrating for her and her teammates when New Rochelle ran out to a commanding lead.
“We knew we could beat this team,” Balfour said. “It was just too late, I guess. I love this team. This is the best program I’ve ever been in. The coaches are great. I love my team. I’m going to miss them.”
Brooks said the team’s 18-2 record, one of the best marks in John Jay history, won’t be forgotten.
“It’s tough, for me, right now to see the seniors go out like that,” Brooks said of his six graduating seniors. “Unfortunately, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. I’m proud of the girls. I wish it would have ended a different way, but unfortunately, it didn’t.”