Sunday, January 5, 2014

Groll, Bobcats Fend Off Pesky Huskers

Byram Hills coach Ted Repa was draped in a blue winter coat as he plodded the sidelines of Brewster High during Saturday’s Putnam Challenge.

Whether Repa was sick or simply fending off freezing winds that seeped into the gym, none of it mattered.

Nobody in the gym weathered 6-foot-7 junior Andrew Groll’s ferocious fourth quarter storm.

Groll scored nine of his game-best 23 points during those final eight minutes, manhandling the middle. 

His timely eruption helped propel Byram Hills to a 61-49 victory over pesky Yorktown.

It was everything Repa, who has lifted the once-ailing Bobcats from obscurity and cultivated a perennially potent brand, could have asked for.

Despite increased physicality from Yorktown’s frontline, Groll attacked the rim. 

He manipulated and altered the trajectory of shots, helping seal the rim shut.

If that wasn't enough, the behemoth also steered Yorktown clear of the driving lanes.

The game MVP, Groll shot 7-of-10 at the free throw line. He was a routine guest at the charity stripe during the frozen tempo fourth quarter.

 The Huskers stormed out of an early 12-1 rut, though the engine finally stalled late in the fourth.

“I was proud of the resolve our kids showed,” Huskers head coach Chris Caputi said.

“The kids really play hard and everyone is ready for their number to be called. I asked them all after the game ‘what do you guys take from this game? Their collective response was, ‘we need to begin the game better and sustain the effort through four quarters.’ They understand they need to play the way they did through the final 26 minutes. They're cognizant of that. The kids want this. We’re trying to change the culture here.”

A glaring resume  victory, over familiar County Center fixture Byram?  

That could’ve helped grow the basketball seed in at the lacrosse hotbed of Yorktown.

 The Huskers' Mason Dyslin emerged with a putback, trimming the Huskers deficit to 44-40 in the third quarter. 

Groll responded, finishing through swarming Husker hands for a layin.

 Yorktown clawed back, shedding a spate of early jitters.

 Matt Broder bagged a deep 3-pointer and senior strongman Ricky Corrado (12 points) buried a mid-range jumper as Yorktown busted into the fourth with a momentum head rush.

Not so fast. 

The massive one-man storm, which Repa seemed prepared for while sporting his jacket, was colossal. 

The Bobcats ripped off a thorough 11-4 surge, capped by—surprise, surprise—Groll. 

The junior's bucket with 1:48 to play supplied Byram with a 55-48 bulge. 

The carnage had been inflicted.  

 Caputi, who scouts and studies foes early, often, and ardently, prepared for Byram the same way he would Lakeland.

The Huskers were scheduled for Lakeland Friday, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather.

Lakeland possesses a 6-foot-9 Center in Nick Fazio.

So, the third-year Huskers coach  implemented the same method of attack when the squad had an impromptu pre-tourney meeting early in the AM.

That plan, coupled with spurts of swarming pressure, worked until Groll's fourth quarter slaying.

 Byram left its fingerprints all over legendary coach John Martino’s home court.

Last season, Groll was another option to a cadre of tactical and playoff-hardened senior guards. 

Since-graduated Jeff Lynch, Ryan Golden, and Brian Skelly were the foundation.

Helping cushion the losses while steadily increasing his scoring aptitude, Groll has incorporated a pack of post moves.  

 The junior's refined back-to-the-basket game was supplemented by David Lachs, who had seven points and three steals in the first half.

The cold was unavoidable Saturday, even in the cozy confines of Brewster High.

Repa planted the seeds for a basketball factory while nurturing high-impact players such as Frank Ward, Mike DeBold, Brandon Steiner and Scott Zaro. 

Amid growing pains and his unwavering commitment to sustaining a year round hoops agenda in Armonk, the product has blossomed. 

The program, once mired in mediocrity, has been revitalized. From dungeon dweller to ticket seller. 

Against the Huskers, the defensive-minded coach who thrives on matchup zones sported a blue winter jacket. Repa implored his team to pound it inside to the big fella, decimating Yorktown's thinner front line.

In the small gym Repa's jacket stood out, but it was Groll's fourth quarter storm that did the primary damage on Saturday.