pburke@ricentral.com

EAST GREENWICH – A final-second 3-pointer by Avenger senior point guard Julia Matus tied Cranston West 28-28, sending Friday night’s Division I game into overtime, but it was a last-gasp effort as the Avengers’ long week caught up with them in the 42-34 overtime loss.

On the end of a packed schedule, EG’s girls’ basketball team expelled all the energy in their tank looking for their third Division I win in four days and second in two nights.

“We had three tough games this week,” Avenger head coach Mike McParlin said on Friday night.  “We kind of ran out of gas there at the end.  We had an emotional victory [the previous night] against North Kingstown.  Playing on the next night after that is tough, especially for high school athletes.”

Even after Friday’s loss, EG (4-5 in DI) sits solidly in third place in sub-division DI-B, behind South Kingstown and Barrington, who are tied at 8-1.

The Avengers won two games last week, beating Smithfield 54-42 last Tuesday, Jan. 22, then squeaking one out over rival North Kingstown 44-41 on that Thursday.  The Avengers had three scorers in double-figures against the Sentinels with senior shooting guard Chloe Moss’ 16, Matus’ 12 and senior Maris Nicastri’s 10.  Moss and junior Skylar Sullivan scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, in the win over the Skippers.

The Avengers have had three consistent scorers all year with Sullivan (12 points per game going into Friday), Moss (9.7), Matus (9.2), and Nicastri (8.3) all contributing in different ways.  Sullivan entered Friday night’s game shooting 76 percent at the line with 21 3-pointers.  Moss was shooting at a 57-percent free-throw clip with nine from distance.  Matus was shooting 47 percent with three triples.  Nicastri came in shooting 62 percent from the charity stripe with 18 made 3-pointers.

Cranston West moved to 5-5 after the win, and they’ve since moved to 6-5, tied with North Kingstown for fourth place in the much tighter DI-C.  Bay View (7-4), and St. Raphael Academy (8-3) are up front.

“We played hard and we fought,” McParlin said.  “Cranston West is a good team; they’re big and athletic.”

“They sat in their zone and made it tough for us to shoot,” McParlin said.  “They played defense and rebounded and held us to one shot [a lot of times].”

One of the two backboard shot-clocks wasn’t working, and while McParlin said that didn’t affect things, the first-half scoring looked like pre-shot clock era: EG led 13-10 after a 5-3 run in the last five minutes.

At the end of the game, each team had one scorer in double-figures.  Katie Blake had 10 for Cranston, shooting 6-for-8 from the free-throw line.  Nysia Ortiz (nine points) hit two 3-pointers and hit 3-of-5 free throws, and Madison Alves (eight) hit Cranston’s other 3-pointer.  The Falcons went 13-of-23 overall from the line.  EG was better, going 11-for-13.

Matus led EG with 10 points, hitting that one big time triple, EG’s only 3-pointer, and going 1-of-4 from the line.  Sullivan was second for the Avengers with seven, all on eight free throw attempts.  Moss and Nicastri each had two.  Maddie Rogers had five points, two field goals, and 1-of-2 free throws.

At 4:36 in the second, Moss tied it 20-20 on the line for her only two points.  With 6.3 on the clock, Sullivan hit two free throws to make it 26-25 Cranston.  After a few back-and-forth possessions, Matus hit her tying shot, keeping the game going.  The Falcons went up 30-28 early in overtime and continued through for the eight-point victory.

“We’re just trying to make the playoffs and get better as the season progresses,” McParlin said.  “These girls never quit and they work hard, so we’re in every game and every game is competitive.  I have so much faith and trust in the team; I know they’re going to give us a chance to win every game.”

Teams need five wins to make the divisional playoffs, and EG is one away.  McParlin said that once they achieve that goal they’ll be shooting for the open tournament.

On Monday, EG lost 76-38 to DI-B-leading South Kingstown (9-1), who are tied in a three-way tie with DI-B Barrington and DI-A LaSalle.  Moss led EG with eight; Nicastri had seven; Maddie Kavanah had six.  Matus had five.

The Avengers have another three-game week, with two more upcoming; a division game against DI-C Rogers (1-9) on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. then a game against Westport, Connecticut on Friday, February 1, at 6:00 p.m. 

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