Freshman boys’ basketball puts up a good fight against Hendricken Hawks
Considering the pounding the 5-0 Hendricken Hawks have given most of their opponents this season, the North Kingstown freshman boys’ basketball team might have been happy to just lose by a smaller margin than their predecessors when the Hawks came to North Kingstown on Jan. 15.
But the Skippers came to the court believing they would be the ones to down the undefeated team.
“I expected an extremely hard game with a lot of defensive pressure from Hendricken,” Head Coach Michael Andersen said. “I tried to prepare the team by going over our press break offense and just a lot of repetition of our man and zone offenses.”
Things got off to a good start for North when they went on an 11-0 run in the first three minutes of the game before allowing a Hawk bucket.
But the Hawks were woken up by the aggressive Skippers and went on a run of their own.
Six minutes into the first half, Hendricken had tied the Skippers. Then, the Hawks pulled away to take a 28-20 lead into half-time.
“I told them at half-time that we should be winning, but we had missed some easy lay-ups and made some silly turnovers, and we should try to play the same way in the second half, but eliminate those mistakes,” Andersen said.
The Skippers started the second half with a four-minute, 12-point run, taking the lead back from Hendricken on a free throw that resulted from a technical foul against the Hawks’ coach.
Sharp free throw shooting kept Hendricken in the game and even gave the team a short-lived 36-34 lead, with just over four minutes remaining.
Jamestowner James Chamberlain put up two buckets to regain the lead for the Skippers, which the team kept until the Hawks tied the game, 48-48, on a steal with 29 seconds left to play.
A foul on North with seven seconds left on the clock proved to be the Skippers’ undoing.
A technical foul was called on a North player, who was arguing the foul call, and the Hawks buried all four free throws to take a 52-48 lead – and the win.
Andersen said he felt the technical foul did affect the outcome of the game.
“But on the bright side, hopefully it will teach the team to never speak to the refs again,” he said.
Overall, the experience for the Skippers was a good one, Andersen said.
“I was very proud of them and the way they played,” he said. “If we can play like that every game, then we should have a good run in the play-offs.”
All six Jamestown players on the team got in on the action when the Skippers hosted Pilgrim on Jan. 13.
By midway through the first half, the Skippers, with the help of islanders Chamberlain and Nick Ferguson, had built a five-point, 19-14, lead over the Patriots and never looked back.
“James is very athletic, my everything man. He can play pretty much every position,” Andersen said. “Nick is a great rebounder and very good at attacking the basket.”
Pilgrim continued to press North on the boards, but islander Kevin McDermott pulled in a key rebound with just over a minute left in the first half to keep the momentum on North’s side.
“Kevin is a good shooter and extremely good at ‘The Plank,’” Andersen said.
Sean Dowling got his hand in the face of a Patriot player to foil a three-point attempt at the buzzer and the Skippers took a 27-20 lead into half-time.
“Sean is very strong and raw, but willing to learn. He has made great progress since he started. Unfortunately he broke his hand and can’t play anymore this season,” Andersen said.
The North team picked up right where it left off in the second half, when Chamberlain pulled in a defensive rebound and put it up for two points on the other side.
The only bucket North’s defense allowed the Patriots in the first eight minutes of the half was an open look three-pointer just over two minutes into the second half.
Jamestowners Tyler Woodward and Nathan Lambert showcased their rebounding skills, with both boys controlling the offensive boards and keeping the Patriots scoreless for most of the half.
“Nathan is a much better shooter than he gives himself credit for, all he needs is a little more confi- dence,” Andersen said. “Tyler is another great rebounder and a very hard worker.”
The Skippers allowed just 11 Patriot points in the second half to pull off the convincing 49-31 win.
Andersen said that although the regular season is winding down, the work isn’t over for the Skippers.
“The team’s biggest strength is their team spirit, sense of humor and their work ethic. They never want a day off,” he said. “Most of them never ran any plays when they were in middle school, so running plays and being able to execute them the right way is the biggest part of practice.”
With their toughest game behind them, the Skippers have just two regular season games remaining. The team will travel to East Greenwich on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and Smithfield on Friday, Jan. 29. Both games are at 3:30 p.m.