MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Fox Lane boys' basketball head coach Chris Violante screamed words of encouragement to his players during a timeout in the first quarter of Wednesday’s quarterfinal game at Mount Vernon.
The Foxes were matching the Knights shot for shot, so Violante looked into the eyes of each of his players and told them there was no reason they could not beat Mount Vernon on their home court.
Try as they might, the Foxes watched the Knights’ lead slowly grow in the second half until the final score read 66-40 in favor of Mount Vernon. The Knights advanced to the Westchester County Center and will play in the semifinal of the Section 1 Class AA playoffs.
Fox Lane gave Mount Vernon all it could handle in the first half, and Violante’s message during that timeout was merely an echo of what he told the players as they prepared for the game.
“I said, ‘You know we earned this. We’re 15-4. This isn’t in an invitation. We earned this,’” Violante said. “We beat some good teams in some good games and we got some talent and I told them you can play with anyone if you believe and play together.”
The Foxes trailed 26-21 at the half and by 45-35 after three quarters, but Mount Vernon blew the game wide open in the fourth quarter as Fox Lane grew more and more exhausted.
Violante knew that Wednesday’s game would be an uphill battle when his sixth-seeded Foxes faced the No. 3 Knights, who rarely lose at this point in the playoffs. The coach said Fox Lane simply had to play whoever was on the schedule.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s our fault and we said that to the kids,” Violante said. “We’re playing Mount Vernon because we didn’t take care of business. We got four losses. It’s no one else’s fault but ours. But we came out here, gave it everything we could, no regrets…I think we represented Fox Lane pretty well today.”
Fox Lane’s starters headed to the bench with 2:38 remaining in the fourth quarter and received an ovation from the visiting crowd. Some of those players will return next season and some will not.
Violante said after the game the nucleus of returning players for the 2013-14 season led him to draw one conclusion.
“That we can be very good next year.”