WHITE PLAINS – Robert Bynum doesn’t look at the Ossining girls basketball team the way most do.
The first-year New Rochelle coach doesn’t see the top-seeded Pride as a Monstars-like squad that won 83 consecutive Section 1 games entering Thursday’s Class AA semifinal. He sees … a stove.
“You’re told as a kid, ‘Don’t touch the stove! Don’t touch the stove!’ and your family puts fear in you of the stove,” he said, before the game. “At some point you’re like, ‘I’m not afraid of the stove — I’m going to learn how to cook. I’m going to do what I’ve got to do.’
“I think of Ossining the same way: Don’t be afraid of them, but respect them. As long as you respect them, it’ll go a long way.”
The thing about stoves is that even when you respect them, they can still burn you.
Ossining sprung free in the second half Thursday at the Westchester County Center, running away with an 86-54 victory over the fourth-seeded Huguenots. The Pride will face second-seeded North Rockland in the Class AA section final Sunday at 2 p.m.
Seton Hall-bound senior Shadeen Samuels scored a game-high 30 points, despite missing most of the second half due to foul trouble. Freshman sensation Aubrey Griffin added 26 points for the Pride.
“This is my favorite place to play,” Ricci said of the County Center before the game. “It’s the only sport in Section 1 where the semifinals and the finals are all in the same place, which I think is great.”
The County Center is a familiar setting for both Bynum and Ricci, albeit under different circumstances.
Bynum has been to the White Plains landmark as a player, assistant coach, and now as a head coach, but has never won an elusive gold ball. Ricci, who is in his 25th year at the helm, has brought back six championships to the Ossining trophy case.
Having participated on the court and on the sidelines, Bynum said the host site has lived up to its billing as “Westchester’s Most Famous Arena.”
“There’s nothing like it,” Bynum said. “There’s only two places to play (basketball) in New York City, and that’s the County Center and Madison Square Garden.”