Chris Cascione didn’t have the best shooting night of his life on Tuesday, but sometimes it’s more about quality than quantity.
That’s why Cascione decided to follow a piece of advice Rye Neck coach Shawn Lincoln instilled in him when the ball came to him in the waning moments of the Class B quarterfinal at Blind Brook with his team down two.
“Coach told me to stay confident with my shots,” Cascione said. “They weren’t falling in the first three quarters, actually, but he told me to stay confident. I just got the ball, stayed confident and took the shot.”
Cascione sank a 3 with 10 seconds remaining to give the No. 7 Panthers a 47-46 win over No. 2 Blind Brook.
Despite only hitting one field goal, a 3, prior to the shot, Cascione’s confidence was high.
“To be honest, I thought it was a swoosh,” Cascione said. “I thought it was good right away.”
Rye Neck takes on No. 6 Woodlands in the semifinals Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the County Center.
It’s the Panthers’ first trip to the semifinals since 2006.
Rye Neck kept a positive attitude throughout, despite trailing all game until Cascione’s game winner.
Lincoln said it was a combination of the experience Rye Neck has gained this season in tight games and the players trusting each other.
“I’m just proud of my guys for sticking with it the whole way,” Lincoln said. “They ended up stepping up when it mattered and got the win.”
Panthers big man Matt Franks posted 19 points and 15 rebounds. Fellow big man Angelo Spedafino added 17 points and four rebounds.
Rye Neck held a significant size advantage on the Trojans, but was outrebounded 33-32. The Panthers showed a major improvement in the fourth, winning the battle of the boards 7-2.
“We knew that they were going to shoot the ball a lot from the outside, and we were going to have to try and grind it out inside,” Lincoln said. “It didn’t succeed until the end of the game, but we just had to keep grinding it out. It’s like a running game in football. You’ve just got to stick with it and hopefully at the end of the game it works out for you.”