WOONSOCKET – Scott Colantonio had the look of frustration during the first half of Thursday’s Division III-North encounter with North Smithfield. The Mount St. Charles coach wasn’t upset with the play of his team, but just the fact that the shots simply weren’t falling.
The second half was a different story.
The Mounties shots found the net and their defensive intensity also picked up as they erased a five–point deficit at the break to earn a hard-fought 48-42 victory over the Northmen on their home court. In a well-balanced scoring attack, Pat McCarthy led Mount with 10 points.
“In my eyes the biggest difference in the first half was the ball actually going through the hoop,” said Colantonio, whose squad notched its first league win and stands at 1-2 in III-North. “We had a lot of shots in the first half that rolled off, rolled around the rim, especially early in the game…That’s it, the ball goes into the hoop things get easier.”
That certainly was not the case for the Mounties in the first half as they missed their first nine shots and didn’t score until McCarthy hit a layup nearly seven minutes into contest.
Mount was bothered somewhat by the Northmen’s man-to-man defense, but it was mainly due to the shots not falling.
“It was frustrating, but it wasn’t because we were doing something wrong,” Colantonio said. “Sometimes the ball bounces the other way. Early in the game, the ball was bouncing the other way.”
The Northmen, who dropped their first league tilt and are now 2-1 in the division, built their cushion to as much as nine points (16-7) with just about five minutes remaining until halftime. North Smithfield generated a good portion of their baskets by forcing the Mounties to make turnovers with its tight defense.
The Northmen went into the locker room holding a 23-18 advantage, a lead that was cut by two at the buzzer on an 18-footer by the Mounties’ Matt Walkow. N.S. had multiple players score in the half and had six from Walkow, who finished with a game-best 11 for the night.
North Smithfield coach T.J. Kozaczka felt his team should have had a larger cushion at halftime. At times, his squad’s quickness created sloppy play on the court.
“We gave them too many opportunities,” he said. “We’d get steals with our pressure defense and we’d just give it right back to them. The game could have been totally different if we didn’t turn the ball over so many times in that first half. We had a shot at 16-7 to kind of put it away and we just couldn’t do it. It was just careless.”
The Mounties came out strong after the break and scored six quick points just about a minute into the half with Nick Arnold (seven points) hitting a pair of buckets and Matt Koback (eight points) nailing a long 17-footer. The six points would fuel an 11-2 tear - anchored by a 3-pointer from McCarthy – that would give Mount a 29-25 lead a little more than five minutes into the half.
Mount would never trail the rest of the game, increasing its advantage to as much as 12 points (40-28) with 3:25 left. North Smithfield mustered only five points during that long stretch.
“I was happy with the energy in the first half so at halftime, I said, ‘Yeah, I’m happy with the energy, but now it’s time to ramp it up even more in the second half,’” recalled Colantonio. “We don’t take steps back.”
Part of North Smithfield’s troubles in the second half was the Mounties’ defensive intensity. The Northmen were also whistled for numerous traveling violations.
“We couldn’t score in the second half, plain and simple,” Kozaczka said. “We just turned the ball over way too many times. We were playing careless.”
Both teams return to action on Saturday with a pair of non-leaguers. North Smithfield plays host to Blackstone-Millville Regional, while Mount St. Charles welcomes Bishop Feehan to its home court.
NORTH SMITHFIELD (42) – Nate Lussier 2 2-2 6, Carlos Guzman 1 0-0 2, Wlaker Strick 2 1-2 6, Shawn Keeley 0 6-6 6, Matt Walkow 5 1-2 11. Trevor Johsnon 1 0-2 2, Corey Lefebvre 2 1-2 5, Peter Mancini 3 0-0 6. Totals – 16 11-14 42
MOUNT (48) – Nick Arnold 3 1-5 7, Chris Gerber 2 1-2 5, Dan Householder 2 4-4 9, Matt Koback 3 2-2 8, Pat McCarthy 3 0-0 8, John Picard 4 2-4 10, Cory Vescera 0 1-2 1, Riley Young 0 1-2 1. Totals – 17 11-19 48
Halftime – NS, 23-18. 3-point goals – MSC (3): McCarthy 2.