Byram starts strong, surges by Scarsdale
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Byram Hills may have taken a few teams by surprise last year en route to winning the Section 1 Class A championship. This year, however, everybody is waiting for a chance to take on the Bobcats and perhaps prove that they could be this year’s surprise team.
“It’s a constant struggle, you have to learn how to be a champion,” Byram coach Ted Repa said. “We earned the right to be a champion last year but it’s a different dynamic this year and a different team. So we have to learn how to play with that target on our back.”
Byram appears ready to fight to defend their title after they fended off a feisty Scarsdale team on Tuesday and secured a 62-50 victory.
The Bobcats first quarter was a clinic in defense as they held the Raiders to just 2 points. Byram’s point guard Jeff Lynch (16 points, three assists, four steals) is smooth with a great handle and he led his team to an 18-2 lead at the first break.
Scarsdale settled down and started the second quarter on a 9-2 run. Aleks Larsen (13 points, eight rebounds, two blocks) provided a spark off of the bench and the Raiders seemed more composed with him on the floor. After outscoring Byram 18-7 in the quarter, Scarsdale had cut the deficit and entered halftime down 26-20.
Scarsdale’s big second quarter was due in part to the fact that the Byram Hills big men got into foul trouble early as Alex O’Brien and freshman Andrew Groll picked up three fouls apiece and sat for most of the first and second quarters. During this time, Scarsdale pounded the ball down low and picked up easy points in the paint.
It was Groll’s ability to settle down and patrol the boards in the latter stages of the game that made the difference. The lanky freshman was a beast on the glass and was the dominant force in the lane in the last twelve minutes.
“Defense is all about keeping your hands up and playing with your feet on the floor,” said Groll (seven points, 12 rebounds). “They were good players and it was a tough matchup.”
The Raiders played with heart but were simply no match for the cerebral offensive scheme of the Bobcats. Byram’s offense is a machine that rarely requires maintenance and they run their plays with precision. They are decisive when it comes to taking open shots and they use screens with impunity resulting in slicing drives to the basket from their swift guards.
Byram pulled away in the fourth quarter and led by as many as 18 points. Credit has to be given to Scarsdale for playing to the final whistle. Larsen and fellow substitute Roger Plummer (12 points) hustled to the very end but the Bobcats lead proved insurmountable.
“I just told them that they need to find that leadership within and that inner drive to keep going,” Coach Repa said. “Sometimes we find ourselves in coast mode and we can’t afford to ever be coasting.”
The two teams take to the court again on Friday. Byram Hills (9-3) has a league matchup at Horace Greeley. Scarsdale (4-9) hosts Gorton.