Clarke powers New Ro' past White Plains
Follow Section 1 boys basketball on Twitter @MSGVarsityKDJ
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — Every good basketball player has at least one trait that makes him or her stand out. It could be a smooth jump shot, great postgame, or something simpler like raw athletic ability.
For New Rochelle’s Joe Clarke, that trait is aggression. The 6-3 forward isn’t the biggest or the fastest, but he sure plays the hardest.
“My mindset is that no one can stop me,” Clarke said. “Once I get the ball, I just feel like I can take over. Tonight (against White Plains), I did that.”
Clarke’s aggression was on full display in Thursday's 51-39 victory over league-rival White Plains (9-5). The senior filled up the stat sheet with 22 points, nine rebounds and three steals.
“Joe played really hard today,” New Rochelle coach Bill Murphy said. “He had the stats but also did the smaller things for us. He had a lot of deflections, drew a lot of fouls. He was the difference-maker in the game.”
New Rochelle (9-4) also got two great efforts from Kirkland Ottey and Malik Burts. Ottey (11 points) was the only other Huguenot in double figures, while Burts did a good job in the second half on White Plains star Akeem Williams.
The two also played big roles in the full-court game, consistently breaking White Plains’ press while also pressing the Tigers on the defensive end. New Rochelle's pressure defense broke the game open in the third quarter, as the Huguenots outscored White Plains 17-9.
“We knew there was going to be a lot of pressure from both teams,” Ottey said. “In practice, we really worked on breaking their press and getting turnovers in our press. We did a great job with it today.”
Williams still had a big game for the Tigers, pouring in a team-high 21 points to go with 11 rebounds. White Plains was without two starters — Mikey Scotman (shoulder) and Jake Sands (lip) — but Williams said it was no excuse.
“The difference was free throws,” Williams said. “We missed 18 free throws and lost by 12. You have to take advantage of those opportunities — especially on the road — and tonight we didn’t.”
White Plains will play in Williamsport, Pennsylvania this weekend before traveling back home to face Mount Vernon on Tuesday. The Tigers then host New Rochelle on Thursday and will be looking for revenge.
The Huguenots, however, are confident that they can sweep the season series.
“We approach it the same as we approached this game,” Clarke said. “Go out and play New Rochelle basketball with tough defense that flows into the offense. If we do that, we should win again.”
GAME NOTES: Scotman will miss the remainder of the season after dislocating the same shoulder he hurt during the football season… There is no timetable for Sands’ return but it could be as soon as this weekend.
Follow Jordan Griffith on Twitter @MSGV_JGriffith | Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org