The New Rochelle High School boys basketball team dominated the second half en route to a 67-36 win Friday night in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs on the road at Clarkstown South.
The Huguenots built up a double digit lead in the first half, but a run by the Vikings cut it down to six by halftime.
New Rochelle opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run and used an aggressive defense to make sure the game was never in question the rest of the way. The third quarter run was led by senior Joe Clarke, who netted a game-high 30 points in the win.
“At half I challenged the seniors,” said New Rochelle Head Coach Rasaun Young. “I told Joe Clarke and [Khalil] Edney that they’re seniors and asked if this is how they wanted to go out.”
Clarke scored 11 in the third, more than double Clarkstown South’s total in the quarter. The New Rochelle defense clamped down in the third, giving up five points, all from the free throw line. Clarkstown South didn’t score any points in the third until Tyler Mager was fouled and hit two free throws.
“They have a lot of shooters,” Young said. “We knew if we let them get outside shots, they could hit them, so we tried to force them inside.”
Clarkstown South Head Coach Matt Backs saw what New Rochelle was doing, but his team couldn’t find a way around the Huguenot defense.
“They really forced us inside and that’s not one of our strong attributes,” Backs said. “We had to get to the free throw line to score, but just didn’t do it enough.”
The swarming New Rochelle defense didn’t just come out in the third. Clarkstown South was held to free throws for most of the fourth quarter as well, going nearly 16 minutes without a field goal. The Vikings didn’t hit a shot from the floor in the second half until Andrew Bunyan hit a jumper with 2:42 to go in the fourth quarter.
The only Viking in double figures was Joe Zayer, who scored 15 in the loss. For New Rochelle, no one besides Clarke scored in double digits. The next closest was Edney, who scored nine.
New Rochelle advances to play at top seed Spring Valley in the second round of the Class AA playoffs next Wednesday.