NORTH KINGSTOWN – Midway through the first half and down only two to rival North Kingstown, South Kingstown coach Jim Champion called a timeout to settle his team.
“Guys,” he said, motioning to the scoreboard, “you’re doing great.”
Champion’s been around for a while, but even he couldn’t have predicted what was about to happen.
North Kingstown increased its effort to move the ball around on offense and using their depth, tired out the Rebels and outscored them 19-3 in the final 7 minutes, 14 seconds of the first half en route to a 56-39 win Wednesday night.
“We ran out of gas,” Champion said. “He was playing eight, nine guys; from top to bottom they’re a little better than we are and we were a little out of touch without the forwards we needed and our forwards got into foul trouble.”
“You see all their balls go in and yours aren’t dropping, it’s a little demoralizing,” said SK’s Kevin Almond. “You just have to work through it and keep playing.”
The game ended in a 17-point loss, but South (3-4 Division I-South) wasn’t that bad. The Skippers are undefeated (6-0 DI-South) for a reason and showed why many consider them to be the state’s top team.
In the 19-3 run, NK scored on 10 of its 16 possessions, had only one turnover, hit 9 of 15 from the floor and were 2-for-4 from the line. The offense was created by their ball movement; South’s defense wasn’t totally out of position, but you can only chase a ball and get a hand in a shooter’s face for so long before someone else gets open.
“It’s just about working hard and getting good positioning on defense,” Almond said, “fronting guys down low and trying to cut off some passing lanes.”
It didn’t help that SK was missing forwards Ryan Casci and Kyle Favreau, depleted an already short roster. North rolled players in and out like hockey lines; its biggest boost came when Matt Quainoo came off the bench with 10:49 left in the first half.
Quainoo sat in place of Jake Mansfield because Thomas was wary about playing him 30-plus minutes and the NK coach said he didn’t trust himself to limit the point guard’s minutes.
With fresh players against a tired defense, it’s no wonder the final 7:14 went the way it did. All the work on defense didn’t help the offense either.
After Ben Agostini assisted on a Kevin Almond jumper that made it 16-14 with 8:50 left, South Kingstown’s final 16 possessions saw the Rebels go 0-for-10 from the floor, turn the ball over six times and score three points, all on free throws.
“We didn’t run our offense the way it’s supposed to be run. You can’t just come down and think you’re going to do one pass, shot, not against a team like this,” Champion said. “You have to run your offense and grind them down, set your screens and do what you have to do.”
“Our offensive execution got away from us,” Almond said. “We weren’t hitting some easy shots and got a little demoralized.”
The deficit got as big as 20, but North’s ability to keep throwing fresh bodies at the Rebels prevented a comeback.
“We’ve had worse games,” Champion said, “but I think we can player better.”
Sekator led SK with 16 points and Almond added 11 and a team-high 11 rebounds. Evan Kappler led SK with three assists and one block while Sekator, Agostini and Remy Eisendrath shared the team lead with one steal apiece.
After playing back-to-back games, South Kingstown is off until Tuesday when it hosts Hendricken at 7 p.m. as it searches for the type of game it had at the start of the season.
“We need to find ourselves as a team again,” Almond said. “A couple games earlier in the season we were really gelling and then we fell apart a little bit. We have three practices in a row so we’ll see if we can get back together.”
SOUTH KINGSTOWN 49
Joe Sekator 6-16 4-6 16; Ben Agostini 0-3 2-3 2; Kevin Almond 5-11 1-4 11; Kevin Delaney 0-5 0-0 0; Evan Kappler 2-5 0-0 4; Tony Hassell 0-2 0-0 0; Remy Eisendrath 1-4 0-0 3; Shynin Thomas 1-1 0-0 3; Dylan Oakley 0-3 0-1 0. TOTALS 15-51 7-14 49.
NORTH KINGSTOWN 56
Justin Pratt 6-12 0-2 15; Chris Hess 1-4 1-2 3; Austin Barry 2-5 3-4 7; Owen Heath 3-6 0-0 7; Jake Mansfield 3-6 0-0 7; Matt Quainoo 0-1 0-0 0; Matt Madoian 2-8 1-2 7; Chris Lenox 0-2 1-2 1; Evan Gaudreau 1-1 0-0 2; Spencer Bode 0-3 0-0 0; Alex Madoian 3-4 1-2 7; Tom Lederer 0-1 0-0 0; Kellen Coleman 0-0 0-0 0; Grant Gillis 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21-55 7-14 56.
Halftime: North Kingstown 35-17. 3-pointers: South Kingstown 2-15 (Eisendrath 1-3, Thomas 1-1, Sekator 0-4, Delaney 0-2, Kappler 0-2, Hassell 0-2, Agostini 0-1); North Kingstown 7-29 (Pratt 3-9, M. Madoian 2-6, Heath 1-3, Mansfield 1-3, Barry 0-2, Lenox 0-2, Bode 0-2, Quainoo 0-1, Minogue 0-1). Rebounds: South Kingstown 39 (Almond 11); North Kingstown 39 (Pratt, M. Madoian 5). Assists: South Kingstown 5 (Kappler 3); North Kingstown 13 (Pratt, Quainoo 3). Turnovers: South Kingstown 16 (Sekator 7); North Kingstown 14 (Pratt, Hess, Gillis 2). Steals: South Kingstown 8 (Sekator, Agostini, Hassell 2); North Kingstown 12 (Lenox, Mansfield, A. Madoian 2). Blocks: South Kingstown 1 (Kappler 1); North Kingstown 3 (A. Madoian 2). Total fouls: South Kingstown 12; North Kingstown 19.