NARRAGANSETT – As many coaches will say, the games were admittedly more about player and team development for coach Corey Downey and the Chariho boys basketball team in the early portion of its Narragansett Summer League schedule.
There comes a time, however, when even summer league games mean just a little bit more and it is time to focus on winning.
“Last week, I started telling them we’re going to start playing more like I would coach in the winter,” Downey said. “Putting guys in right spots, putting guys in the right situations, not just giving them experience. For the past three games, that’s what we’ve done.
“I wanted to win tonight, so we did what we had to do.”
As they ratcheted up their game, things looked good for Chariho early in its quarterfinal match against North Kingstown last Wednesday evening at Christofaro Park.
The defending summer league champion Skippers managed to match the Chargers’ intensity though en route to a 43-26 victory.
“North Kingstown’s one of the better teams in this league every year, but I thought we were extremely competitive,” said the Chargers’ coach.
“I thought defensively we did a nice job creating turnovers for them, but we had too many turnovers on our side.
“…I loved our defensive fight. I loved the way we boxed out and were physical on the defensive boards. I love that part of us and I feel that will give us success come the wintertime. …They hit a couple shots that were uncontested, which I don’t like, but for the most part they ran good sets and most shots were contested. They’re just a good basketball team.”
With Robbie Toth and Zach Wallander leading the charge, combining to score all of Chariho’s points in the first half, the game went back-and-forth as the score stayed even through the opening 10 minutes.
The difference for North Kingstown would come at the end of the first half though as the Skippers broke an 11-all tie with a 3-pointer and went on to take a 25-16 advantage into the break.
Out of intermission North continued to impose its will, this time more so on the defensive end.
Chariho was held to just one field goal in the second half, which was somewhat self-inflicted thanks to seven turnovers in their first seven possessions, while North’s shots continued to drop and extend their already comfortable margin.
“I think [North Kingstown] may have picked up their defense a little bit, where they created more turnovers for us,” Downey said of Chariho’s offensive drought. “Our spacing offensively was not good, so we couldn’t create and attack, and get it to our big guys.
“We missed a couple easy layups and they hit some tough shots to kind of expand the lead a little bit.”
The game ended as it had begun – with a little more balance as the teams evenly traded points over the final 10 minutes – but thanks to its strength throughout the middle potion of the game, North was never threatened as they rolled to the 17-point win.
Wallander led the Chargers in the effort with 13 points, half his team’s total.
Despite the seemingly lopsided loss, not only was the Chargers’ coach happy with his team’s effort in the contest, but was happy with their performance throughout the summer as a whole.
“From game one to now we had a major improvement,” Downey said. “Especially the last three games, where we were kind of doing what we had to do to win a basketball game.
“I think it will hopefully lead to success in the winter and we make the playoffs for the first time in four years. That’s our goal. I think it’s a realistic goal as long as we continue to work in the offseason.”