Wizards take the win

Kevin Paygai’s 24 points were not enough to lift the Wizards over North Kingstown on Tuesday night, as they fell by an 87-61 final.

WEST WARWICK- The boys basketball team rang in the New Year with one of their most difficult challenges of the season, as they welcomed last year’s state finalists to their home court.

There is no secret as to what the primary key to success for the Wizards is. Time and again, the box scores prove that Matt Grenier and Kevin Paygai are the two leading scorers. Though they would lead their club with 21 and 24 points on Tuesday night, it would not be enough, as the Skippers opened the game up in the second half en route to a 87-61 final. NK was led by co-captains Teddy Roberts and Thorton Brochu, who each had 18 points in the win.

North Kingstown entered play Tuesday night just two spots ahead of the Wizards in the Division I standings, with both sporting 1-1 records within league play. The Skippers’ 6-2 overall mark was just half a game ahead of West Warwick, who came into the night at 5-2.

There is no secret as to what the primary key to success for the Wizards is. Time and again, the box scores prove that Matt Grenier and Kevin Paygai are the two leading scorers. Though they would lead their club with 21 and 24 points on Tuesday night, it would not be enough, as the Skippers opened the game up in the second half en route to a 87-61 final. NK was led by co-captains Teddy Roberts and Thorton Brochu, who each had 18 points in the win.

While Matt Grenier and Kevin Paygai, the team’s two leading scorers are both needed to perform at the highest level possible on a nightly basis in order for the Wizards to have a realistic shot at winning, getting contributions from other players as well never hurts. Brian Moretti would be that player for the West Warwick in the first half, helping to assist Grenier and Paygai as the Wizards looked to chip away at an early double-digit deficit.

The night did not begin well for the home team, as a baseline three point shot by Roberts had the Skippers out to a 12-3 advantage in the early minutes.

Offensively, the Wizards were struggling to generate points, in addition to being significantly out rebounded by the visibly Skippers.

With the Wizards trailing by a football score of 21-7 midway through the first half, the offense began to finally discover its rhythm. Grenier connected on a pair of consecutive threes, one of which came from near half court, part of an up and down half for the senior. He and Paygai would then both complete three-point plays, as West Warwick was able to slowly but effectively climb back into play.

For all the three pointers Grenier has provided his team with on a consistent basis, it would be one from an unlikely source in Brian Moretti inside the final two minutes of the first half that had the home crowd at its loudest. His shot made it 33-30, as the game was suddenly either side’s to take.

NK was able to prevent West Warwick from fully completing the comeback effort in the first half, with the score standi

ng at 37-32 midway through the game.

The Skippers started the second half much like the first, scoring early and often through aggressive play and drives to the basket.

Roberts extended the visitors’ lead back to double digits with a layup to make it 45-35.

A three-pointer from co-captain Liam Curran made it 61-42, as Richard Grenier called a timeout with 9:58 to play.

West Warwick began to apply more defensive pressure, but it would be to no avail, as the Wizards began to unravel from there on, eventually falling by 26 points.

In the end, the Skippers proved to be able to do what all teams who are successful against the Wizards do: limit the effectiveness of Grenier and Paygai while working to extend their own lead.

The Wizards proved to be a difficult opponent in the first half, but NK owned play in the second, rolling to a one-sided win.

Grenier continued to have his players go with the full court press, despite the lopsided score, but they were never able to pull within 15 points, over a final stretch filled with whistle blows and free throws

“I thought we gave them everything we could. I think that it a few things had gone our way, we actually could have been ahead at halftime.”

The second half would prove to be a much different story.

“The second half, we did not play any half court defense at all. We allowed them to get too many easy baskets. To be honest, we have no business pressing a tall team like that, but once you dig a hole of 15, 16, you are kind of forced to do it.”

While the loss was disappointing, the effort was there, which is what Grenier wants to see above all else.

“We played hard for 32 minutes. That’s all I can hope for. Hopefully a game against a top four team will help us down the road.”

The week will not get any easier for the Wizards as they get ready to travel to Hendricken to take on the currently undefeated Hawks in a Friday night showdown set for 7 p.m

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