PROVIDENCE – If you’re nit-picking in a 19-point win, things are going well.
For the Coventry boys basketball team, they couldn’t be going any better.
The Oakers got off to a great start against Central, the depleted defending state champions, and while the second half wasn’t A-plus basketball, Coventry didn’t let the Knights complete a comeback that would have had coach Tom Campbell pulling the figurative hairs off his shiny scalp in a 77-58 win Friday night at the Providence Career and Technical Academy.
“We knew that Central can pull anything out. They can hit the threes and they have Jerrell [Washington], who’s a great player,” said Coventry’s Sean Roles after he finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. “We knew we had to come out strong.
“Defense is the biggest part of the game. Defense has won us all our wins so far. We just knew we had to come out strong on the defensive end.”
‘That’s one of the problems and we talked about it at halftime, coming out with energy,” Campbell said. “It’s tough to come out with energy up 25 points or whatever it was. We fell into a lull and they came back but it was a good lesson for us.”
Coventry trailed 18-16 with 9 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first half before it went on a 29-2 run over the next 7:28 and took a 49-28 lead into the break. The offense was near perfect in that stretch.
The defensive was perfect.
Central committed nine turnovers in the 18-play timespan while Washington, the Knights returning all-stater who finished with 20 on 8 of 21 shooting, got off only two shots.
“You slow him down but you can’t stop him,” Roles said. “We knew what we were dealing with and we came out strong on the defensive end. The offense comes from the defense.”
The Oakers opened the second half on a 7-2 run to go up 56-30 on a jumper by Roles. Central slapped on a press that made the Coventry offense look like it had never seen one before and the Knights slowly chipped away at the lead.
While Coventry doesn’t mind playing a fast-paced game, it wasn’t ready for the speed Central had turning the comeback.
“We like playing at a face pace, we like that, but our fast pace. Not their fast pace,” Campbell said. “We have to control our speed and move the ball with passing. If we can do that we can run with anybody, but not at their speed.”
With 7:27 left, Washington hit a jumper to make it 63-50, but the Oakers answered with a basket by Brandon Haynes, who finished the night with 16 points, that started a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach.
“We had the goal to keep them under 50 points, which we didn’t do,” Roles said. “We kept the win and that’s all we could do. We did some things wrong.
“We knew what we were dealing with and knew our defense had to do what it could.”
Roles had a chance to put an exclamation point on the win with a one-handed dunk, but he took off from a spot that would make Blake Griffin think twice. It was a harmless miss, much like the second half issues were.
On this night, it was OK. But going forward Coventry will need a more complete effort because the Oakers are gaining traction as one of the teams to beat, even if their coach doesn’t believe it.
“We’re a small bird in the picture still,” Campbell said. “We have a long way to go before people start gunning for us.
“There’s big shots out there and we’re not big shots.”
Austin Gagan 3-6 6-9 12; Bryce Suvajian 2-2 0-0 4; Brendan Haynes 6-9 3-3 16; Tom Campbell 2-5 1-2 6; Sean Roles 8-19 4-4 20; Tom Peters 0-0 0-0 0; Oscar Daras 0-1 0-0 0; Justin Jadach 6-12 2-2 14; Sean Pacifico 1-3 0-0 3; Ethan Lesnett 0-1 0-0 0; Tyler Woodcock 1-4 0-0 2; Kevin Culton 0-1 0-0 0; Bobby Wilcox 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 29-60 16-20 77.
Jonathan Amado 3-10 0-2 6; Anthony Mosley 3-8 1-4 7; Wayne McKinney 4-12 5-6 14 Jerrelle Washington 8-21 2-3 20; Lerick Acevedo 4-9 1-6 10; Yeudy Martinez 0-1 0-0 0; Sergius Paulus 0-0 1-2 1. TOTALS 22-61 10-23 58.
Halftime: Coventry 49-28. 3-pointers: Coventry 3-12 (Haynes 1-2, Campbell 1-2, Pacifico 1-2, Jadach 0-3, Gagan 0-2, Lesnett 0-1); Central 4-13 (Washington 2-4, Acevedo 1-3, McKinney 1-4, Amado 0-1, Mosley 0-1). Rebounds: Coventry 46 (Roles 10); Central 34 (Acevedo 7). Assists: Coventry 17 (Haynes 4); Central 12 (Mosley 4). Turnovers: Coventry 25 (Gagan 7); Central 21 (Mosley 6). Steals: Coventry 12 (Gagan, Haynes 3); Central 13 (Mosley 6). Blocks: Coventry 6 (Roles 6); Central 0. Total fouls: Coventry 21; Central 16. Fouled out: Amado, Acevedo. Technical fouls: Central (administrative).