NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – First-year New Rochelle High School boys basketball coach Rasaun Young coached his first game against Mount Vernon High School and its coach, Bob Cimmino, on Thursday.
Young has learned a lot from Cimmino over the years, but on Thursday the teacher got the better of the pupil in a 74-56 win at New Rochelle. Despite the loss, Young had nothing but praise for Cimmino after the game.
“He’s a legend,” Young said. “He’s a legend. I learned a lot of my stuff from Coach. I still keep in contact with him today, still call him all the time, talk to him. He’s one of the guys I want to keep in contact with because of his knowledge of the game.
“He’s been through it. He knows exactly what he’s doing and he’s a great person at that. He loves the kids. That’s what I love about him. He loves his kids and kids know that, and that’s why they play so hard for him.”
Thursday’s game featured plenty of energy as both teams recorded plenty of steals and forced turnovers and pushed the ball on the fast break. Bodies and basketballs flew across the court for the better part of 32 minutes, but Mount Vernon made fewer mistakes and ultimately walked away with the win.
The rookie coach said the Huguenots thought they could simply out-jump the Knights on the boards, but he quickly pointed out that Mount Vernon is just as athletic and physical as New Rochelle.
“We weren’t putting bodies on them. We weren’t making contact,” Young said. “And I told my football players, I said, ‘You play football. Get out there and hit someone. You don’t have pads on so you can’t? Get out there and hit someone. And they didn’t match their intensity.”
Young got creative with his lineup Thursday as he started junior Drew Peterson. The hype around the game and among the players for the game was so high that Young tried to change the pace by plugging in a fresh face that had yet to experience the rivalry.
“He doesn’t really know what this is about,” Young said. “And I thought about it last night. I was like, Drew would be good to go in there, and he played his butt off, probably played himself into a starting position because he didn’t turn the ball over.”
Young said he liked what he heard in the locker room after the game as the players were “letting each other have it for the first time this year.” That, Young said, will benefit the players because they heard their mistakes and flaws from another voice besides his.
The Huguenots and Knights will not meet again until Feb. 6 in Mount Vernon. Young did not want to look ahead, but he acknowledged the difficulty of facing Mount Vernon again.
“We know it’s going to be a war,” Young said. “It’s going to be even harder, harder than this because we were home.”