CARMEL, N.Y.— With its last win in its season opener against rival Carmel, Mahopac was in desperate need of getting back on track when it took on John Jay-Cross River at the Putnam Challenge.
The Indians found what they were searching for in the form of a 49-39 win over John Jay on Jan. 8 at Carmel High School.
“We needed this one,” senior guard Andrew Ryan said. “We had no confidence in ourselves because we kept losing and losing. But now that we got one, I’m sure we’re going to be happy now in the locker room and we can continue winning off of this one. We just have to keep our confidence up.”
Clinging to a two-point lead after three quarters, Ryan displayed that confidence, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead his squad to victory.
“The way he played today is the way he’s capable of playing every day,” Mahopac coach Matt Simone said. “When he plays like that, we’re a very good team. Getting Ryan Dugan back has been a big help too. He makes a difference. Andrew played great and he’s definitely stepped up the last few games with his overall level of intensity and effort. The team feeds off it. When he plays like that, everyone picks their game up and starts playing a little bit harder and it’s contagious.”
Ryan knocked down two 3-pointers to give the Indians a 36-32 lead with 4:13 to play. He then scored in transition, Robert Garcia drew a charge and Ryan knocked down a foul line jumper to put the Indians up 43-35 with two minutes left.
“I knew shots were eventually going to start falling,” Ryan said. “Last game I was missing all my shots. Once they started falling that was game. Having (Ryan) Dugan back, that definitely helped with him getting a lot of rebounds.”
Dugan, who returned against Roy C. Ketcham two days prior, contributed by scoring five of his nine points in the fourth quarter.
“We kept our composure,” Simone said of how they pulled the game out. “[John Jay] did a great job all game of putting pressure on us. They were doubling ball screens and they forced a lot of turnovers early in the game. We really focused on that at halftime—taking care of the ball knowing that the pressure’s going to be there. Down the stretch we did a great job of that.”
Tim Cegielski (five points) and Reahl Allen (four points) also chipped in offensively.
“We have a lot of depth and a lot of younger kids too,” Ryan said. “We’re building up. They’re going to be a lot better next year and in years to come.”
Simone has been tinkering with his lineup a bit to try to find the right combinations on the court.
“Right before the game in the locker room I told them we’ve been looking to try to find the right five guys,” Simone said. “We’ve had groups that have done well, but we still haven’t found the right five guys. We told the guys, ‘You’ve just got to be prepared to play. Whether you’re starting one game, not starting the next. We’re going to keep tinkering until we find that right five.’ They listened to that today and guys contributed off the bench, which is exactly what we need.”
Mahopac fell to visiting Ketcham 62-49 on Jan. 6. Dugan had eight points in the loss.
The 2-8 Indians have three straight road games coming up. They will face Arlington at 6 p.m. on Jan. 12 and travel to Peekskill for a 3 p.m. game two days later. On Jan. 17 they travel to Rockland County to take on Suffern at 6 p.m.
“It hasn’t been since the first game that we’ve seen a win,” Simone said. “We’ve just been looking for this and I think it’s going to hopefully carry over. We’ve got a tough stretch of games coming up. We need to get some momentum going and keep taking steps in the right direction.”