Mamaroneck’s win over New Rochelle on Feb. 6 wasn’t just a fitting celebration of the Tigers’ veterans; it may also have been the team’s signature victory of the season. On Senior Night at the Palmer Gymnasium on Tuesday, the Tigers earned an impressive 46-38 win over their league foes in a performance that has head coach Johanna McNelis confident in her team’s abilities heading into the Class AA playoffs.
Mamaroneck started strong and took a 23-16 lead by halftime, improving to 10-9 with a victory that McNelis felt was the team’s best of the season. Alixandria James led the Tigers with 12 points and Jamie Randall added 10 as Mamaroneck did not surrender the lead after the midpoint in the first quarter.
“This is the closest we’ve come to playing a full 32-minute game with the pedal to the metal,” McNelis said. “Our teams sometimes has lulls and sometimes when other teams go on a run we get complacent, but I saw no complacency today.”
Although the Huguenots—led by Le’Sandra Turner’s 11 points and an effective full-court press—were able to make things interesting in the third quarter, cutting the Tigers’ lead to one, McNelis was pleased with the way her team was able to adjust to the tempo of the game and hold onto the lead.
“It means they’re learning, which is fantastic. Before, we probably would have folded because we wouldn’t want any part of the other team being up in our faces,” McNelis said. “But they showed they wanted to take the space back, they brought the ball up with confidence.”
It was the kind of showing, McNelis added, that her team will need to call upon once the postseason begins next week.
“It’s exactly what you need in the playoffs, every team is going to come out with fire, every team is going to make a run and it’s all about how you handle it,” she said. “When we needed to make a stop, we did, and when we needed to score, they worked their butts off.”
Despite now possessing a better record than the Huguenots (9-10), the Tigers still sit behind New Rochelle in the Class AA standings, although they will have one more regular season game before the Section I seeding meeting on Feb. 12. That game will not be an easy one, however, as they are slated to square off with Ursuline on Feb. 8. The Koalas are currently 15-4 and considered one of the top teams in the area.
“[Ursuline] is a great program and in past years, we haven’t really been able to compete with them, but I’m thinking this year, we go out, play our hardest and work on the things we want to work on,” McNelis said. “Any team can beat any team, and we’ve proven that we can lose to some not-so-great teams, but we’ve also proven that we can win against anybody.”