Get to know the Rye Neck boys basketball team
MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Entering this season, the Rye Neck Boys Basketball team knew it had a tough task ahead of them. Coming off a 17-win season, this year’s team was moved into a stronger league and faced a much tougher schedule. So goal #1 was to prove to the new opponents that the team belonged. Goal #2 was to make it to the County Center to play in the Final Four of Section 1 Class B tournament. Goal #3 was to have a fun, rewarding, and memorable season no matter the final results.
This season, the Panthers went 14-6 in the regular season. Coupled with last year’s regular season record of 17-3, this marks the best 2-year record for the program since 1977. Prior to the arrival of Coach Denman, the team didn’t have a winning record in 8 years.
The 22-23 Rye Neck Boys Basketball is a strong team. But they have yet to prove themselves where it matters: in the playoffs. The 1977 State Champion team is, without a doubt, the best team in school history. This year’s squad needs to show it can go deep into Section 1 Playoffs to earn its place in the history books.
There are 3 Senior co-captains who are the undeniable leaders of the team, both in terms of production but also in spirit. But what makes them even more special is the fact that they’ve been playing together since 1st Grade! RJ Hutt, Luke West and Ronan West are the trio who steer the ship. Hutt is the unquestioned star, scoring 20 points per game to go along with 11 rebounds, all done in an incredibly efficient manner. The West twins are athletic, tenacious and smart players who contribute across-the-box score in big and little ways. Yet it’s the confidence and composure the trio show that has helped vault this team to its level of success.
Rye Neck’s most memorable games haven’t been defined by traditional comebacks or buzzer-beaters. It’s been the team’s style to keep coming and keep coming, taking down local rivals throughout the game.
In the day of extra celebrations and self-hype, the boys on the Rye Neck team are purposefully low-key. They are old-school players who get joy out of working hard and winning. The co-captains are very experienced players who don’t let the team get too excited or self-involved.
This team keeps it simple: practice, prepare, focus, win. Team meals? Of course! Special dinners? Yes! But each game is treated like going to work.
Rye Neck High School is a very small school, so all the players have known one another since grade school. When a player makes Varsity, it’s like welcoming an old friend into your home. Nothing special. Welcome to the join, let’s ball!
Celebrations are low-key. The experienced Senior captains of RJ Hutt, Luke West and Ronan West have played in hundreds of travel, AAU and high school games. They work to win and expect to win.
The team set the best 2-year record since 1977, racking up a record of 31-9. RJ Hutt eclipsed the 400-pt mark in one season, putting him in the Top 10 Rye Neck record book. Its average margin of victory is the highest since 1977.
The leaders have been playing together for over a decade. The team feeds off the commitment of the captains and coach to invest in themselves. And the center of it all is caring: the players care about their team, their school and their legacy.
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