Boys’ basketball thriving, JV and freshman teams enter postseason
North Kingstown High School is basketball country.
After losing its last game, the boys’ varsity basketball team, which is 16-1 overall and 12-1 in league play, returned to its winning ways Tuesday night with a 74-48 win over Smithfield High.
But this week, the varsity team had to share the limelight with the junior varsity and freshman teams, which both are playing in their respective state tournaments.
The JV team, who only lost twice all season, easily won its first-round match in North Providence Saturday against Classical, 69-36. The win secured a place in the Elite Eight for the Skippers. They will play their next tournament game on Saturday in North Providence. Their opponent, Smithfield, advanced to the Elite Eight by defeating East Providence.
The JV squad got a preview of its quarterfinal round on Tuesday when they faced Smithfield in a regular season game. The game was rescheduled from Monday night due to the winter storm, and it was the first time the two squads had met. According to Cam Moniz, 15, of North Kingstown, the Skippers knew what they had to do to win.
“We need to start the game strong,” said Cam, a 5-foot-9 point guard.
The Skippers’ JV team beat Smithfield 48-41, but before the game, several of the players said the victory Tuesday night could prove a double-edged sword.
Smithfield might go into Saturday’s tournament game looking for revenge, Joe Craven, 16, of North Kingstown, said. Saturday’s winner advances to the semifinal round.
Before they tip off on Saturday, though, the Skippers will face two big tests against Hendricken on Wednesday and La Salle on Friday.
They have a chance to pay the Hawks back for handing them their first loss. (Regardless what happens in these two games, the Skippers are still alive in the playoffs.)
The JV team’s regular season continues through Feb. 8. The Skippers finish their year with a senior-night game at home against Cranston West.
Before practice Tuesday, several JV players said they are hopeful about their chances in the tournament, but not really surprised about their winning record.
The Skippers have racked up an 18-2 overall record. They lost their first game on Jan. 7 to Bishop Hendricken. The Hawks beat the Skippers 59-53. Then last week, Mount Pleasant trounced the JV team in a blowout, 50-25.
Brian Farrell, 15, of North Kingstown, said La Salle is the team he figures will give the Skippers the hardest battle. The Rams’ JV squad is undefeated, he said, and the two teams will meet on Friday.
“We haven’t seen them yet and don’t know what to expect,” he said. Brian, who plays center and is 6-foot-2, said he was not surprised the team has made the playoffs.
“I kind of expected it, to be honest,” he said. “We had a good freshman season and just added players at the JV level.”
Coach James Simmons did not name a starting five, according to Alec Bedard, 15, of North Kingstown.
“He plays everybody equally,” Joe Craven, 16, agreed. The team has a lot of talent, the players said, and everyone on the squad is getting an opportunity to play.
Lucas Barth, 16, said most of the players know the moves of one another pretty well because they have been playing basketball together since they were 9.
Lucas, who is 6 feet tall, plays shooting guard. Joe, at 6-foot-1, is a power forward
Lucas, Joe, Alec and Brian attended Wickford schools, he said. Cam attended the Davisville school, but they all played together on a travel team sponsored by the North Kingstown rec department.
Cam’s father was the coach.
The JV players did play together briefly on an Amateur Athletic Union team, but the team was disbanded.
“I think it was good we all gelled together well so fast,” Lucas said. He also anticipated a winning season and a shot at the state title.
“I think we’re a very good defensive team,” Alec said. “Sometimes, our offense isn’t that good.”
Alec, a 5-foot-10 shooting guard, said the Skippers rely on strong defense to win.
Joe said the coaches at North Kingstown teach the players to work on defense first.
“They teach us to play defense first, and the offense will come out of that,” he said.
Two islanders – Connor Ferguson and Jake Gillis – are on the JV roster. Connor plays center and Jake is a guard. Jake’s cousin Grant is the varsity team’s backup center.
The freshman team record is 11-3 overall. The losses came to La Salle, Bishop Hendricken and Middletown. Jamestown’s Teddy Roberts, Rob Haberland, Stephen Cirella and Jay Patel made the Skippers’ freshman squad.
The freshman team will meet Cumberland High on Wednesday afternoon in a home playoff opener. The score was not available by press time.