LINCOLN – The offense has had its share of spurts, but it hasn’t quite clicked yet.
The defense has also gotten better.
Since its humbling 25-point loss to Bay View Academy in its Division I opener a few weeks ago, head coach George Coderre has been pleased with the progress of his Woonsocket High team, one that lost a considerable amount of talent from last year’s state championship squad.
“Losing to Bay View (49-24 on Dec. 9), we knew they were good and we weren’t ready to play them. Instead of being discouraged by it, it made us realize that we absolutely have to make some improvements,” said Coderre on Tuesday night as his Villa Novans cruised past host Lincoln, 45-15. “It’s coming along a little slowly but I have faith that as the season progresses that we are going to be a factor.”
As evident by the final score, Woonsocket had limited problems against a young Lincoln squad. The Villa Novans had a pair of double-double efforts from senior teammates Ashley Dubois and Kailey Fugere. Dubois finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Fugere netted 14 and had 15 boards.
Defense certainly played a big part in the outcome, particularly in the first half. The Villa Novans held the Lions to just one bucket - an 18-footer by Casey Beauchemin just 1:10 into the game – and took a commanding 19-2 advantage going into the locker room.
Lincoln was frustrated by the Villa Novans’ tight zone defense, which equated to numerous turnovers and missed shots.
“We played very hard defensively. I was very pleased with the intensity that we have played defense,” said Coderre, whose Novans are now 2-1 in the league. “We are making strides, but you have to realize also that Lincoln is very young and I give them a lot of credit. They kept their poise even though they were playing with a couple of freshmen in the lineup.”
Woonsocket scored its first basket barely five seconds into the game. Fugere swatted the opening tip-off to junior Michelle Brayboy. Brayboy (four points, seven assists) dribbled the ball a few times and then tossed a strike to Dubois, who didn’t miss a stride with an easy layup.
But after that opening shot, the Villa Novans didn’t score until five-minutes later when Fugere scored on a putback off a missed 3-pointer by Brayboy. Woonsocket had just eight points at the midway point when junior Allyson Cartier hit one from behind the arc to give the Novans an 8-2 lead.
Woonsocket had a few other long-range shots in the half, a 3-pointer from Brayboy and a 17-footer from Caitlyn Marcoux as well as a nice turnaround jumper in the paint by Dubois to add to their cushion in the half.
Woonsocket missed its share of shots, but it was nowhere near the struggles of the Lions, who shot less than 15 percent from the field in the first half. For the game, Lincoln was a dismal 3-for-19 from the free throw line.
Coderre wasn’t fooled by his team’s 17-point lead at the break. He knows there is still room for improvement.
“Offensively, I think we are still trying to find our comfort zone,” he said. “We are learning new roles, it’s just not smoothly. But we are making progress and I am very, very happy about that.”
Dubois, who managed just four points at halftime, started to get in a groove in the latter half. She netted 10 of the Villa Novans first 13 points in the second half. Her last shot came on a layup off a great feed from Brayboy to increase Woonsocket’s lead to 32-6 with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
Dubois and Brayboy is a common connection that’s starting to click somewhat for the Villa Novans..
“They both have some talent. They really do,” Coderre said. “They should be able to make a connection. I think at times that have to just relax and play basketball and don’t worry about what we’ve done in the past and that kind of thing. Just go out and do the things that you are capable of doing and be proud of it.”
Marcoux had six assists and Cartier finished with three steals and five rebounds for Woonsocket.
“She’s making some nice improvements,” said Coderre about Cartier. “Defensively, she is really improving and she has become a lot more confident.”
Lincoln, which dropped to 1-3 in the division, had a team-best seven points from senior Gabby Travis.