CUMBERLAND — It wasn’t even close to being an attractive contest, not with a combined 28 turnovers and 27 personal fouls.
Still, head coach Gary Reedy refused to complain after his Cumberland High boys registered what he called a satisfying 53-40 non-league triumph over Toll Gate at The Wellness Center on Monday night.
“No, it wasn’t pretty, but at times we moved the ball very well,” he said after his club moved to 2-2 overall. “We had some possessions where the ball didn’t hit the floor. There were other times we had our issues, but we’re a young, inexperienced team. We don’t have any returning starters, and the most significant time we had coming back was (senior co-captain and guard) Grant Osmundson.
“Brandon Kolek’s only a freshman, and Tyler Calabro is a junior, as is Nick Poli,” he added. “It’s going to take some time for us to jell. Now that they’ve played four games, it’s time for us to push them a little harder. They’ll have to be a little more accountable for their mistakes.”
Poli, a junior guard, led the Clippers with 14 points and five assists, while Osmundson closed with 10 points before fouling out with 1:51 left in regulation.
Other key contributors included fellow senior co-captain and center/forward swing Ryan Cotter, who posted six points, 11 rebounds and three steals; Calabro (eight points, three assists, two thefts); Kolek (nine boards, six points); and senior guard Chris Gomes (five points with a trey).
For the Titans (0-4 overall), no one reached double figures, though senior captain Zach Bacon and junior center Adam Brice both finished with a team-high points.
Sophomore Kyle McGuire managed eight, while senior forward Jake Johnson drained two three-pointers for six.
Just 2:12 into the opening stanza, Cumberland had already taken a 6-0 lead on a pair of low-post hooks by Calabro and Cotter and Osmundson layup, and it pushed the lead to 10-1 on Cotter’s layin with 11:53 remaining.
Over the next 8:34, however, the Warwick school rallied to slice the deficit to 16-12, courtesy of an igniting trey from Johnson and Bacon’s layup off a turnover with 3:19 left.
The Clippers quickly responded with a 7-0 surge in 1:54, and it ended on Calabro’s putback at 1:25.
Keller’s trifecta with 55 ticks left and Brice’s 15-foot jumper at the buzzer knifed the score to 23-17 at halftime.
Osmundson opened the final session with a trey, but Calabro picked up his third foul only 96 seconds into it. Three minutes later, Osmundson suffered the same fate, though Calabro’s easy bucket off a turnover with 6:54 remaining gave the Clippers its largest lead of the contest at 37-23.
A mere 1:18 later, McGuire fired home a three-pointer before taking a pretty Bacon pass to the rim to cut the lead to 39-33.
But Gomes landed a trey and Poli a pair of traditional three-point plays in the span of 1:02 as Reedy’s bunch rebuilt its lead to 15 (48-33) with 2:58 left. Johnson’s second bomb nine ticks later cut it back to 12, and junior forward Bert Yu knocked down a left-handed hook with 1:31 remaining to slice it to 50-40.
Three Titans fouls later, not to mention three of four baskets from the charity stripe, Cumberland strolled off the floor with its second win of the still-young campaign.
“I was most pleased with our passing,” Reedy noted afterward. “We still need to work on our rebounding, but I thought we handled their pressure pretty well.”
Next up for the Clippers: They will take on rival Woonsocket in the 41st annual Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland/Lincoln Holiday Classic at this same site on Thursday night at 7:30. Before that tilt, Tolman will face Lincoln at 6.