Poly Prep fought hard all game long and was on the cusp of a championship, only to have its heart broken in a double-overtime thriller.
Poly was ever so close to its first private school state championship since 2005, but struggled to score in the second overtime. Rye County Day School was able to surge forward at the end to beat Poly Prep 50–43 in the Class C girls’ basketball title game last Sunday at Fieldston. The Blue Devils missed four-straight free throws and layups in the game’s final five minutes.
“If we make one more free throw it’s a different game,” said Poly coach Mike Junsch. “I give Rye a lot of credit. They made their shots when they had to, and we didn’t.”
Poly had a chance to put the game away with 47 seconds remaining in regulation. It went to the line two times in seven seconds, leading 37–34, but the Blue Devils missed four-straight free throws. That opened the door for Rye guard Nereida Mendez hit a three-pointer with 28 seconds left to make it 37–37 and send the game into overtime.
It was Poly that forced the second extra session when freshman forward Shanniah Wright made two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining to knot the score at 43–43. Rye outscored Poly 7–0 in the second overtime and walked away as champions. Freshman guard Maggie White led Poly with 19 points.
Poly Prep junior guard Carly Coor said different defense strategies played a part in the hard-fought defeat.
“I think us playing a zone and them playing a man-to-man was a difference in the game,” said Coor. “They were getting wide-open threes and we struggled to get the ball inside. Despite that, we did a good job of keeping it close.”
Rye Country Day grabbed control of the game when it went to a full-court press in the second quarter and that gave Poly trouble. The Blue Devils turned it over and didn’t execute its offensive game plan and get the ball inside to Wright. That allowed Rye to take a 14–10 lead at the half.
“In the first half we were very frustrated on offense because they were changing their defense and it made it hard for us to score,” Junsch said.
Poly broke Rye’s press after halftime and opened the third quarter on a 7–0 run. Wright scored five of those seven points and helped the Blue Devils tie the score at 23–23 heading into to the fourth quarter.
Things didn’t end Poly’s way, but Junsch knows he can use this game to push next year’s squad to get back and change the outcome.
“What I’ll say to them is to just think about how you felt after this game,” Junsch said. “ If that doesn’t motivate them, then nothing will.”