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NARRAGANSETT â€“ Even in the dead of summer, when the wins are not necessarily as important, a bitter rivalry will always show through. That was the case on Monday evening when the South and North Kingstown High School boys basketball teams met in the summer league semi-finals at Christofaro Park. The two young teams battled with neither team relenting over the gameâ€™s 40 minutes, but in the end it was North Kingstown running away with a 51-38 victory to advance to the finals.
â€śItâ€™s our rivalry game and it is for them, too,â€ť said North Kingstown head coach Aaron Thomas, â€śand I think weâ€™re both trying to get better. We lost a lot of guys from last year, so weâ€™re kind of in a rebuilding mode and itâ€™s nice because, like I explained to the guys, this is the kind of game you want to be in. You want to figure out what kind of character you have.â€ť
For as well as they had played throughout the summer, South Kingstown summer league coach Jeff Wosencraft knew his team had its work cut out coming into the game, so the Rebels came out with a quick pace, starting the scoring right off the opening tip. Led by a fine three-point stroke from Joe Sekator, who scored 12 of his teamâ€™s 21 first half points, South held tight with North early, but a 13-4 run by the Skippers just after the midway point of the first helped them begin to distance themselves and open a 27-21 lead by the half.
Much like the first, South got a strong start to the second half, going on a 7-2 run in the first 1:30 to get themselves back to within one at 29-28. In jeopardy of losing their lead for the first time since early in the contest, however, North once again found their game, most notably on the defensive end, to pull away from their rivals for good.
â€śWe tried to take away their shooters,â€ť Thomas said. â€śTheir two best shooters, we tried to key on them and take them away.
â€śI think, in a lot of way, theyâ€™re like us. Theyâ€™re young, theyâ€™re still learning the pattern of the offense and how to move and where they fit in, so it will take time for them. I think it was more that we were able to key on what they were trying to do.â€ť
After the three-point basket that brought them to within in one at 1:29 of the second, South went more than 13 minutes before their next field goal, another three-pointer for Sekator, who finished with a game-high 22 points. By that point,however, led by Grant Gillisâ€™, the Skippers had opened up a 10-point advantage to put a comfortable distance between themselves and the Rebels.
South made a last ditch effort to keep things close as they kept sending North to the foul line, but Chris Lenox went six-for-six from the line in the final minute of the game as the Skippers went on for the comfortable 51-38 win.