WOONSOCKET – When the season first began, Kyle Ivey-Jones figured his senior-laden squad would be competitive in Division I.
The Woonsocket High coach never expected what has transpired over the last month.
Two days before Christmas, the Villa Novans have been in the spirit of giving to their opponents and are now staring at an 0-5 league mark.
The latest setback occurred on Thursday night as powerful North Kingstown, last year’s state runner-up, dominated from about the midway point of the first half until the final buzzer in a 64-46 Div. I crossover win over the Novans. The score was a bit deceiving as Skipper head coach Aaron Thomas shuffled in his reserves for the final five minutes of the contest – a span that allowed Woonsocket to outscore its rival, 16-4.
“I did not think we’d be winless (in the division) at this point,” said Ivey-Jones, whose squad dropped to 1-7 overall. “We have nine veteran guys that have been in the program since they were sophomores. Six of the nine are seniors. This is not the outcome that I expected. We didn’t expect Flavio (Barros) to get injured so early in the season. It happens. He’s the key to it. But, no, at this point in the season I did not expect us to be 1-7.”
North Kingstown, which a few starters from its 2009-10 team that was ousted by Bishop Hendricken in the state finals, dominated the boards on both ends of the floor. The Skippers (3-1 In Div. I-South) generated a good portion of their buckets off second and third chance shots.
“That’s been the story of our team all season,” Ivey-Jones said. “That’s why we are 1-7.”
Returning veteran and all-division junior Robert Hazard led all scorers with 22 points for N.K., while senior teammate and another returnee Derryck Kilgore finished with 15 points. Junior Andreas Brackett had a team-high 12 for the Novans.
Woonsocket’s previous four league losses were all of the blowout variety with its closest decision a 64-46 defeat to Mount Pleasant on Dec. 13. The Villa Novans looked as though they were going change that trend and give the Skippers a battle early in the first half.
Trailing 13-6 with about 10 minutes remaining, Woonsocket knotted the score at 14 with an impressive 8-2 run. Bracket netted a half dozen points during the streak, beginning with a running layup on a nice feed underneath the hoop by Jarome Robinson (six points).
Unfortunately for the Villa Novans, that brief offensive spurt would be the highlight of the night. Changing their defensive scheme, North Kingstown responded with nine unanswered points. Those points would fuel a 22-3 run the remainder of the half for a commanding 36-17 advantage.
The Skippers benefitted from several turnovers by the Villa Novans and utilized their strength underneath the boards with six layups.
“We played man-to-man in that first half and instead of playing defense and moving our feet, we used our hands,” Thomas said. “That’s like the cardinal sin of man-to-man you can’t use your hands, except for deflections. We were pushing and hand-checking guys so we actually switched to the zone. What the zone did was end any kind of penetration by them and then we tried to get into a high-paced game. We like to push the ball. I think we average 67 points a game. We want the game a high-speed game.”
North Kingstown built is cushion to as much as 30 points (60-30) late in the second half before Woonsocket was able to finish strong against the Skippers’ reserves.
Thomas scouted the Villa Novans last Friday in their 65-44 loss to La Salle Academy.
“What I did notice about them is even though they got down in the La Salle game they came firing back,” he said. “They have a lot of fight. I think one of the positives of their team is when they get it going well they seem to feed off that. Negative for them right now is when it goes bad for them it starts to go really bad….It comes in spurts from them.”
Woonsocket will have a few days off to enjoy the holiday and then its back to work on Monday when it faces Division II foe Lincoln in the opening round of the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln Holiday Tournament.
“We still got to go back to the drawing board every day,” Ivey Jones said. “We got to go back to practice and hopefully turn things around and get better.”