COVENTRY — It was a classic spot on the schedule for the Coventry Oakers to fall into the dreaded ‘trap’ game.
After winning eight of their last nine games, including Monday’s big win over then number one in team Division I St. Raphael Academy, the Oakers had a date with the 2-16 South Kingstown Rebels.
With a four o’clock start and a smaller than usually fan base on hand, Coventry was able to muster up the energy necessary to fight off the pesky Rebels for a 75-60 victory.
“Energy wise we have had two tough games after the win we had here against St. Ray’s and the game time for today’s game being changed effected the fans and them being here, so we had to dig in and provide that energy ourselves,” said Coventry head coach Tom Campbell. “The second half was the key for us. We knew we had to pick up the tempo and force them to play at our pace and we were able to do that.”
Coventry was once again led by the trio of Nate Stitchell (10 points, 9 assists, 6 steals), Aaron Greenwood (16 points, 9 rebounds), and Garrett Douglass (15 points, 4 rebounds).
They were able to take over the game with their fast pace thanks to outstanding passing and ball control as they turned the basketball over just five times.
“We are getting better at sharing the ball and making good passes and getting shots up. I’m a firm believer in getting shots up as opposed to doing too much and turning the ball over. I’ll take the open look over the fancy pass or extra dribbling,” explained Campbell.
“I think we were thinking about the last time we played and beat them by 30 points and they came in here and battled us tough. Coach told us that even though we beat St. Ray’s and East Providence this week, if we lost this game those wins wouldn’t mean much in terms of momentum. We didn’t want to look behind or ahead, we just needed to focus in right now and we were able to do that and get the win,” added Stitchell.
The Rebels kept it close for sixteen minutes as they slowed down the tempo and played halfcourt basketball, which allowed them to trail by only at eight points at intermission.
That philosophy was the reason Coventry scored just 29 points in the first half, well off their season average of 76 points per game.
Dylan Ferdinand led South Kingstown with 14 points after coming off a suspension and showed the type of resiliency and determination that should bode well for the Rebels going forward.
“We were struggling when we played them earlier in the year and lost by 26. Today we brought that down to 15 and trailed by only eight points at halftime, so we are improving. Our goal at the beginning of the season was to get better from day one and I think we have accomplished that,” said South Kingstown head coach Jimmy Champion. “We had success slowing the game down to our pace, but once they made it a faster game in the second half we had trouble keeping up, its just not a style we are suited to play.”
Coventry opened up the flood gates and put up 46 points on the Rebels over the course of the final sixteen minutes and showed its fast break game was in full force and ready to put the opposition away and grab its11th divisional win this season.
“At halftime we had to find the energy that was missing in the first half. Even though South Kingstown has been struggling, they played hard and I’m just glad we were able to pick it up a notch in the second half and pull through,” said Campbell.
South Kingstown (2-16 overall, 1-13 league) will next play Monday when they travel to face North Kingstown, while Coventry (13-5 overall, 11-4 league) has three vital games to finish off their season, beginning with Monday night’s highly anticipated matchup against the Bishop Hendricken Hawks.
“I don’t think many people thought we’d be in the spot we are in, but now we want to finish this off. Having an 11-4 record is nice, but we have three games against three good teams to finish off the season and see how good we are,” said Campbell. “This is exciting. It’s going to be fun Monday night with (Bishop) Hendricken coming in here, everyone likes seeing Hendricken coming in here and we have a chance to prove that we are just as good as them and I have all the confidence in my guys that they will be ready.”