COVENTRY — The scoreboard with 11 minutes, 33 seconds left in Friday’s game showed the improvement the Coventry girls basketball team has made since the beginning of December.
Even though the Oakers had been heavily outplayed by visiting La Salle, they were still only down six points with a chance to cut the deficit even further.
La Salle went on to run away with the Division I-South contest 53-37 thanks to their full-court, man-to-man defense, but the Oakers showed with some offensive refinement they could be a team that competes for a playoff spot in a very tough division.
“I don’t think we played too bad, I just think that La Salle’s very good,” Coventry coach Donna Beaudoin said after her team dropped a pair of contests to one-loss teams this week. “I am obviously not very happy with the outcome, but I’m happy with the way they played. They came out hard and played aggressive.”
Coventry (2-4 I-South) was led by senior point guard Hannah Cole who had 10 points, including the Oakers’ first five in the contest. Casey Cloutier and senior center Gabrielle Lesnett each had six points.
La Salle (5-1 I-South) received a balanced effort from a number of starters. Kendra Dawless and Liann Raup scored 12 points, while Mikayla Murphy added nine. The Rams suffered a loss to Westerly earlier in the season, but coach Sean Reddy said losses in December and January aren’t a big problem for the perennial state title contenders.
“We’re still trying to find our way right now,” Reddy said. “I told my kids you don’t win a state championship in December or January. We’re just trying to be patient. Our defensive intensity in this game really picked up in the second half and that led to easy baskets in transition.”
If the Oakers were going to even their record at .500 and upset the Rams, they simply needed to limit their turnovers and slow La Salle down. That’s not what happened because Coventry committed 13 turnovers in each half, while the Rams only had 14 because of the solid play of point guard Nicole Stacy.
“It was tough dealing with their pressure in the second half because we were tired,” Beaudoin said. “I knew it was coming, but that is definitely one of our flaws right now and we know that.”