NORTH KINGSTOWN – After trailing 15-14 midway through the first half of Tuesday’s boys’ basketball game against South Kingstown High, the Skippers outscored their rival 53-33 en route to a 67-48 win.
“We looked pretty good early on,” said SK head coach Jim Champion. “Even when we were down by eight at the half, I still felt good about how we were playing.”
Champion also felt good about the plodding pace of the game, considering the Rebels’ lack of depth.
“NK is quicker than we are. They shoot better and they have more depth,” admitted the SK coach. “Because they are a deeper team, we got tired as the game wore on and they didn’t. Once you get tired, your thought process also diminishes.”
Sensing that the Rebels had weary legs, NK head coach Aaron Thomas had his team turn up the heat in the second half.
“We applied the press in the second half,” said Thomas. “We go nine or 10 guys deep. We feel that with our depth, we shouldn’t have a lull in intensity.”
Early in the game, the Skippers shot poorly from outside, while SK made a concerted effort to get the ball down low to center Chase Almond. Unlike SK’s first contest against Coventry in which Almond took relatively few shots and ended up with only six points, he scored a team-high 18 against NK.
“We were concerned about Almond headed into the game,” admitted Thomas. “To his credit, he found ways to get the ball to the basket. He’s a good player.”
Unfortunately for SK, most of Almond’s teammates struggled on offense.
“We’re getting people in the right places to shoot, but we’re not putting anything in from outside,” said Champion. “Our philosophy is to go inside first, but you have to have some kind of outside threat or else you can’t open up your offense. If teams don’t have to worry about our shooters, they’ll just collapse on our big guys down low.”
The Rebels only made two 3-pointers in the game, one by point guard A.J. Diomandes and another by forward Alex Minetti. Both shots occurred in the second half when the Skippers held a comfortable lead.
By contrast, NK sank six shots from beyond the arc. Half of the baskets were made by Michael Scott, one by Chris Hess, one by Matt Quainoo and one by Lucas Nunez.
Neither team fared well from the foul line. SK only made 5-of-16 free throws. NK knocked down just half if its 24 free throw attempts.
Combined with their season opener against Coventry, SK has now been outshot from three-point land, 15-5.
After leading 27-19 at the half, the Skippers outscored the Rebels 14-4 in the first six minutes of the second period. The lead reached as high as 19 on a couple of occasions. The closest SK would come in the second half was 50-36, following an Andre Sampson free throw.
The Skippers had eight players in the scoring column, led by Scott’s 17 points. His twin brother and fellow captain Evan scored 16, Hess contributed eight points, and Quainoo, Nunez and Austin Barry chipped in six points each.
“It’s important for our players to accept their roles on the team,” said Thomas. “How much each person plays partly depends on who our opponent is and the style of play. In our first game, against Bishop Hendricken, we needed a quicker lineup. Against SK we needed more size down low to contend with Almond and their other big guys.”
Coming off a five-point win in their opener against Hendricken, the Skippers have started the season 2-0 in Division I-South and 3-0 overall. NK will play at Coventry (1-1 in league, 2-1 overall) on Friday night at 7:00.
SK will host Hendricken (1-1 record) Thursday evening at 7:00. The Rebels are 0-2 in league and 1-2 overall.