WARWICK – The North Kingstown boys basketball didn’t trail in their Division I showdown with Hendricken until there 2:30 left in the second half. They wouldn’t lead again, and the Hawks overcame a 12-point deficit to hand the Skippers their first loss of the season, 51-49.
“Didn’t play well down the stretch,” NK head coach Aaron Thomas said. “The thing we’ve been harping on lately – that we haven’t done well – is boxing out. Guys take a shot, you have to box them out. We’re worrying about trying to block the shot.”
Guards Clay Brochu and Nick Sacchetti overcame adversity to log double-digit points in the loss. Brochu was elbowed below the eye which caused him to miss a chunk of first half action. He still scored 17 points, 15 of which came on 3-pointers. Sacchetti had 15 points despite early foul trouble.
The Skipper defense kept the Hawks in a vice grip for most of the evening. That and heady play by Brochu had NK leading consistently. Brochu converted a pair of four-point plays, meaning all 17 of his points came either directly or indirectly off of 3-point attempts.
The Hawks had a big run in each half. The first came during Brochu’s absence, as the Hawks scored nine unanswered points all while the Skipper star was getting medical attention in the lockerroom.
After Brochu hit a 3-pointer to make it 43-31, the Hawks again had an answer ready. Facing their largest deficit of the night, Hendricken rattled off a 10-0 run to draw within a bucket of the lead.
“Worst free throw shooting night of the year,” Thomas said. “Twice we’ve scored 51 points, tonight we scored 49. We didn’t do it. We had 43 [points] with seven [minutes] to go. We should have easily gotten to where we wanted to go.
“We have to run halfcourt offense. We get comfortable with just chucking the ball up there sometimes.”
The Skipper were 9-16 from the line in the loss. They went a combined 1-of-5 from the line in the last three minutes of play. On two separate occasions they missed the front-end of a 1-and-1.
“Uncharacteristically a lot of turnovers in that last seven minutes,” Thomas said. “Turnovers we don’t normally make. That’s something we definitely have to work on.
“We’re giving away too many shots, too many second-chance opportunities. Played the game we wanted to until the seven-minute mark. We didn’t play to win, we played not to lose. That’s not the philosophy we want.”
Hendricken went on to lead by as many as four points. A Sacchetti lay-up made it 50-49 with under a minute showing on the game clock. Hendricken converted one of two tries at the line, giving NK the ball, down three points with 21.5 seconds remaining.
“At the end, the question was to let them go or call a timeout and set up a play,” Thomas said. “We had the play we wanted, since they were on the free throw line. I thought we were going to get a good look. They did a good job of jumping Clay. He got a little off-balance.”
Brochu was forced to take a deep 3-pointer on the final possession. Both the Hawks and Skippers now have one league loss on the season. NK’s tough week continued on Wednesday against unbeaten Mt. Pleasant (results unavailable at press time).
“We have to take this as a lesson,” Thomas said. “The 24-hour rule applies. We’re playing on Wednesday. Get over it, we’re playing again. We really need to show up.
“We lost a double-overtime heartbreaker to [Hendricken] last year. Then we lost two more right after it. We weren’t able to turn it around. This year’s group, I think, learned that lesson from last year’s group.”