WHITE PLAINS – If each point was worth a pound, the scoreboard at White Plains High School might have tipped off the wall early Tuesday night. The Tigers opened the game with a vengeance, scoring 17 of the first 19 points and 23 of the first 27.
New Rochelle was shellshocked.
“Never in my life of coaching, or in any game I’ve been a part of, were we ever down 17-2,” coach Rasaun Young said. “They just came out on fire. We came out lackadaisical and maybe overconfident.”
Instead of folding, the Huguenots surged behind torrid shooting from senior Jamel Wallace. They erased a deficit that built as high as 23 points and survived to win a thriller over White Plains, 71-70.
New Rochelle (11-4), the winner of eight straight, made 12 3-pointers, including eight by Wallace. He led all scorers with 26 points and fueled a furious rally late in the second quarter that gave the Huguenots their only chance to win.
“I was feeling pretty good,” Wallace said with a grin.
The lead changed hands late in the fourth quarter until Wallace’s final 3 handed his team a 70-68 lead with 90 seconds remaining. New Rochelle’s lead was down to a point in the final seconds when White Plains sharpshooter C.J. Layne missed two quality 3-point looks, the last of which rimmed out at the buzzer.
“These guys really fought today,” Young said of his team. “They never gave up.”
Player of the game: Jamel Wallace, New Rochelle. Once his team fell behind in the second quarter, the senior southpaw suddenly couldn’t miss. Of his eight 3-pointers, six came as the Huguenots trimmed a 23-point deficit to six in less than a quarter of action. Wallace then buried two key 3s in the final minutes — he first gave New Rochelle a 67-64 lead, then added another that pushed his team back in front 70-68.
Turning point: Down 47-27 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, New Rochelle blew into the locker room on a 10-0 flurry. The run was fueled by pressure defense and 3-pointers by Jonathan Garcia and Jarrett Haines that helped put the Huguenots within range.
All told, they actually scored 19 of the final 25 points of the first half after falling behind 41-18.
“That minute, minute-and-a-half, that was amazing,” Young said. “Our football players in the crowd got loud and Jamel just caught fire.”
Stat line: Wallace was the only player in double figures for New Rochelle. Tyeshon Martin added eight points, including a basket with 7:30 remaining that gave the Huguenots their first lead all night. … Luis Cartagena scored 24 points — 16 in the first half — to pace White Plains. Layne added 15 and Lamar Noel had 10.
Quotable: “I just told them, keep thinking about it like we’re in open gym,” Wallace said of New Rochelle’s early deficit. “Just keep playing basketball and we’re going to get the win.”