WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Palisades Prep girls basketball head coach Mike Denman could do nothing but watch as No. 2 Haldane’s lead grew bigger.
And bigger. And bigger.
And by halftime Tuesday, when Haldane had built a 30-4 advantage, it was clear that the third-seeded Phoenix were outmatched by the Blue Devils. So when Denman entered the locker room, he spoke honestly to his players.
“It’s just about pride. The second half is about pride,” Denman said. “Try to win the third quarter. Try to win the fourth quarter. Have some pride. You’re too good to lose by 60 points.”
And they didn’t, but they did suffer a 63-13 defeat to Haldane in the Section 1 Class C girls semifinals at the Westchester County Center. The Blue Devils led 16-2 after one quarter, 30-4 at the half and 52-10 after three quarters.
Denman said his players suffered from a classic case of nervousness.
“I think they were a little intimidated in the beginning,” Denman said. “We probably should have had about 12 or 14 points at half. Some easy layups that normally we make no problem, today it’s like they were shooting on a 12-foot basket. Obviously they’re a much better team.”
Palisades Prep was the first girls basketball team from Yonkers to reach the County Center. The Phoenix improved from four wins last season to 12 wins this season. And Denman hopes that his team, now that the players know what it’s like to reach this point, will be on the other end of the score sooner rather than later.
“I told them before the game if they played hard, they had good sportsmanship and had fun, if they did those three things I’d be happy,” Denman said. “Not the result I wanted, but better days are ahead of us.”