NORTH KINGSTOWN – Summer League is always a little different.
Different players. Different atmosphere. A chance to try different things.
It should not be surprising then that something considered an advantage in a normal game might turn out to be a disadvantage, as was the case Tuesday night in East Greenwich’s matchup versus Prout.
More bodies means fresher legs, which generally produces better results in sports, especially later in games.
When the two teams took to the court and the East Greenwich lineup overshadowed the seven Crusaders in uniform for Prout, it could have been assumed EG was in for a big night.
It looked that way early, but it turned out numbers became a detractor and Prout came away with the 34-32 win.
“With a bench this big it’s hard to keep the flow of the game,” said East Greenwich Coach Tori Ahrens. “Twenty minutes running time goes quick. Girls are here to play and get better, so I want to give them as much of an opportunity as I can. That’s my real goal here for summer league, but it did kind of hurt us today.”
“Some nights we have anywhere from four to 12,” Prout coach Phil Quinn said. “I think, more importantly, it’s kids getting a chance to play together.”
Before fatigue could even become a factor, Prout looked as though they were in for a long night, struggling out of the gate on both ends of the floor, which allowed East Greenwich to open up an early 10-3 advantage through the first seven minutes.
Once its shots started falling, however, Prout got themselves right back into the game. After blowing their lead, East needing two late buckets to escape the half with a 16-14 lead.
“I was more worried about our defense early on,” Quinn said. “I feel like we gave them too many easy opportunities, and our offensive struggles compounded them.
“Those first 10 points were not much effort on our part trying to stop them. That’s what we talked about at the first timeout, worry about the defense first. Then we made a little run and our defense made it more difficult for them.
“Obviously to start the second half it was our defense that spurred the offense along and we did make some shots down the stretch after missing a few early.”
The onset of the second played out much like that of the first, just in the opposite direction as Prout’s increased defensive effort helped the Crusaders open up a 25-20 advantage.
To their credit, however, East Greenwich kept itself in it, never letting the game get fully out of hand and staying within striking distance of the lead.
“It’s always going to be a back-and-forth game with Prout, they’re a good team,” Ahrens said. “We could have had it with a few chances. Unfortunately, defensively we didn’t get enough stops that we needed at certain, key points of the game.”
Much like the end of the first half, East Greenwich got two late baskets to cut the deficit to just two.
Despite the momentum swing, Prout took possession off the inbounds with 50 seconds to play and managed to hold the ball for the next 42 seconds, virtually closing out the win.
“It was huge,” said Quinn of his team’s ability to maintain possession. “The last two shots they scored were off of turnovers on our part, so we really had to make sure we took care of the basketball. We put a little play in just to make sure we had people screen with a purpose and knew who to look for and hit that.
“It was important because their last two baskets came off turnovers, where if we had taken care of the ball better earlier, it wouldn’t have been that close.”
Following the game, each team has one game remaining on their schedule prior to next week’s playoff, wrapping up the regular season on Thursday night. Prout played Rogers at 6:30 p.m. while East Greenwich faced South Kingstown at 7:30 p.m. (results unavailable at press time).