Ridgefield drops opener to Byram Hills, 69-66

Andrew McClellan isn't into moral victories. That said, the head coach of the Ridgefield High boys basketball team saw much to his liking in a season-opening 69-66 road loss to Byram Hills (N.Y.) on Monday evening in Armonk, N.Y.

"I'm not happy with any loss, so this stings," said McClellan. "But there were a lot of things that we did well. Byram Hills is a real good team and this was already their fifth game of the season. We outscored them in three quarters, and I thought we outplayed them in three quarters."

Led by 6'5" senior forward Brenden McNamara, Ridgefield got off to a textbook start, taking a 22-12 lead after the first quarter. But Byram Hills switched to a zone defense in the second quarter and outscored the Tigers, 19-6, to go ahead 31-28 at halftime. The Bobcats hit 11-of-12 free throws in the period.

"We didn't execute what we wanted to do," said McClellan. "We also had six turnovers in the second quarter and got in foul trouble."

Ahead 47-43 going into the fourth quarter, Byram Hills quickly extended its lead to 50-43 when Skylar Sinon drilled a three-pointer But back-to-back three-pointers from James St. Pierre got Ridgefield within 52-51, and Luke McGarrity grabbed a long rebound and went in for a basket to give the visitors a 53-52 advantage.

Alex Price's three-pointer pushed the Tigers' lead to 56-53. Following a Byram Hills bucket, Chris Knachel drove the lane, scored, and was fouled on the play. Knachel converted the free throw to give Ridgefield a 59-55 lead with 4:16 remaining.

Another basket by Knachel and two free throws from St. Pierre kept the Tigers ahead, 63-60, with 3:07 left. Sinon scored four straight points to put Byram Hills on top, 64-63, but Knachel then knocked down a three-pointer from the right corner, giving Ridgefield a 66-64 advantage with 1:22 to play.

The Tigers didn't score again. Will Samsen converted off a spin move to tie the game, and Sinon followed with a step-back three from the top of the key that gave Byram Hills a 69-66 lead with 25 seconds left.

Ridgefield committed a turnover but got the ball back under its own basket when Byram Hills made a turnover of its own with 3.2 seconds to go. The Tigers, though, were unable to get off a shot, as the hosts held on for the victory.

Notes: Sinon (30) and Samsen (20) combined for 50 of Byram Hills' 69 points. "We won't face another team with two guys as technically skilled as those two," said McClellan.

McNamara paced Ridgefield (0-1) with 17 points and eight rebounds. St. Pierre added 14 points, while Luke McGarrity and Price each contributed 12 points and Knachel had 10 points (all in the fourth quarter). Jackson Mitchell rounded out the scoring with one point.

McGarrity, the Tigers' sophomore point guard, finished with six assists.

With the win, Byram Hills is now 4-1 this season. The Bobcats went 22-2 last season, losing in the Section 1 Class A semifinals.