WEST WARWICK — The tension was evident in West Warwick’s gymnasium last night in a game between the Wizards and the Prout Crusaders and had little to do with the scoreboard.
Fans on hand were there in anticipation of senior Tyreese Garrick scoring her 1,000th career point for her Wizards’ career and have been waiting for over a week with recent cancellation of games to do so.
Garrick would accomplish the feat with 2:55 remaining in the first half as the Wizards won that small battle, but they ultimately lost the war as the Crusaders controlled the boards and won going away, 52-42.
“West Warwick brought that energy to the gym and we helped them out with some sloppiness not being crisp in our offensive sets. In my five years here, we have always had a tough time playing them. They are talented, well coached, scrappy, and tough to beat here. This was a good win for us,” said Prout head coach Phil Quinn.
Prout raced out to an early 8-0 to begin the game while the Wizards were flat footed and stuck on neutral.
West Warwick climbed backed into the contest thanks to strong drives to the basket that resulted in frequent Prout fouls and an 18-1 free throw disparity in the first half.
“Well, you can’t start out as poorly as we did to begin each half. We started out down 8-0 to begin the first half and had to dig out of that hole and we did that by being aggressive and driving to the basket,” said West Warwick head coach Mike Francois. “We took 18 free throws the first half and only two in the second and I thought that was a reflection of us not being aggressive enough.”
The combination of Garrick scoring her 1,000th point and an aggressive attitude led to the Wizards grabbing the momentum and actually taking a two-point with them into halftime.
For Garrick, it was a time to breathe again as the intensity of the moment was weighing in heavily on her and her teammates minds and their ability to execute.
“It was overwhelming, but I’m glad I was able to do it. It feels great to do it here and in front of my family and friends,” she said. “I was definitely forcing the issue and I play much better in the flow of the offense and once I make a few shots that gets me even more focused mentally. It would have been great to get this win, but we have overcome losses before. We’ll be fine.”
“I’m very happy for her, it’s a great accomplishment. The coaches, players, we are all proud of her. She’s a great kid and deserves the honor,” added Francois.
After controlling most of the action in the first half with solid ball movement and offensive execution, the Crusaders were held to just two points over the final five minutes and went into halftime searching for answers.
“I was upset because we weren’t running our sets that well. In the beginning of the year with a young team, I can understand, but this late in the year it should not be happening. So we made our adjustments at halftime and our attack against their press, moved Emily and Madeline to the frontcourt to attack the basket, and we just executed better form there,” admitted Quinn.
Prout came out and scored the first ten points of the second half and quickly regained control of the action.
Forwards Madeline Hagerty and Jordan Oswinkle owned seemingly every rebound in the second half that came their way as the duo piled up 24 collectively, 14 of them offensively.
Their play helped overcome an off shooting night from star guard Emily Caswell, who scored the 1,000th point of her career this past Tuesday against Tiverton.
“Emily didn’t have it tonight, but it was great to see the other girls step up and make shots and play hard. Oswinkle and Hagerty had great games and really were aggressive going after missed shots. We need that type of team effort, especially now that we are getting closer to the playoffs,” said Quinn.
Meanwhile, the Wizards fell into the familiar role of playing catch up and were unable to shoot the bell well enough over the course of the final sixteen minutes as Prout held a consistent 8-12 point advantage to finish the game.
“The first three minutes of each have are so important. We were able to come back and take the lead in the first half, but to come out and have them go on a 10-0 run to start the second half was big,” said Francois. “We weren’t patient with our offense and we lacked the execution we needed to win this game.”
Prout (12-4 overall, 10-2 league) will be in action again Wednesday when they face Cranston East, while West Warwick (8-7 overall, 5-6 league) will be at home again tomorrow to face Narragansett.
“I told the team that if we had everybody playing aggressive and rebounding the ball defensively we would have a good chance at winning this game. (Prout) did a good job of controlling the glass and outworking us,” said Francois. “Except for may be two possessions in the second half we watched them play volleyball and get second and third looks at the basket. As a team, we have to do a better job of boxing out. Hopefully, we will do that and be ready come out and play against Narragansett.”