COVENTRY - Riding a three-game losing streak headed into their showdown with South Kingstown on Tuesday night, the Coventry boys basketball team displayed a sense of urgency prior to tip-off, knowing that while the season may still be relatively young, time was of the essence when it came to righting the ship and getting back on track.
“We challenged them in the locker room before the game,” head coach Jim Moretti said. “We said that we had to get this one tonight, get back in the win column and get some confidence.”
Behind Jayden Voelker’s double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) and hot shooting from three-point land, the Oakers pulled away in the second half, outscoring the Rebels 40-27 en route to a 70-55 victory, avoiding what would have been a detrimental fourth consecutive defeat.
“That’s great, but now we have to get the next one too,” Moretti said, encouraged by Tuesday’s win, but aware of the fact that his club still has a losing record and plenty of work ahead of them.
Nick Fuentes recorded a game-high 17 points, while Jeff Rosa matched Voelker’s total of 16 on a night that saw the home team drained 11 shots from beyond the arc.
“It was in the flow of the offense. Nick in the flow from the corner is good and Jeff came off the bench and did a great job for us,” Moretti said of the win which improved the Oakers’ league record to 2-3 on the year.
BJ Begones also had a strong night for the home team, coming off the bench and scoring 8 points in the win, which was anything but a guarantee out of the gate.
The Rebels were the ones to start fast, leading 10-2 4:25 into play before Coventry’s offense began to heat up, resulting in a tightly contested half between the two clubs, one that saw a total of seven lead changes and a slim 30-28 lead by the Oakers headed into the break.
Ben Brutti led the way for the Rebels with 16 points on the night, while Justin Brown added 10 and Shane Jedson, 9 as SK left town with the same 2-3 league mark as the team that had just beaten them.
“I give Coventry all the credit. They outworked us in the second half,” head coach Roland Fiore said.
“Obviously, we hoped to take it down to the end, but they shot the ball very well, they executed and the coaches did a very good job for Coventry.”
Separated by just two points as they returned to the floor, the Oakers were the ones playing with all the energy, as they went on a 13-0 run in the span of just three minutes to up their lead to 43-28.
SK was able to cut Coventry lead down to 48-38 following a Brutti three, one of four he had on the night, but the Rebels were unable to get any closer than that.
Fuentes’ and Rosa’s four three-pointers apiece by night’s end were too much to overcome as Coventry led by as many as 21 points at one stage on their way to their biggest win of the year.
The absence of Myles Robinson did not make matters any easier for SK.
“Our lead scorer has been out three games in a row, so we’re hoping that he’s going to join us back,” Fiore said looking ahead, adding, “That’ll help, but that’s not an excuse,” as far as Tuesday’s defeat went.
The Rebels have the remainder of the week off to spend practicing as they get set to play three games next week starting with a 6 p.m. home game against Smithfield on Monday.
The Oakers will go for back-to-back wins tonight as they head up to Pawtucket to take on an 0-3 St. Ray’s team at 7 p.m.