WOONSOCKET – There’s something to be said about playoff experience.
Kailey Fugere and Ashley Dubois showed just why on Wednesday night.
The Woonsocket High teammates, who have been instrumental players for the Villa Novans in their last two state titles, including the Division I crown last year, stepped up with huge efforts against a pesky South Kingstown outfit.
Fugere scored a career-best 32 points and Dubois added 21 points and 13 rebounds as the Villa Novans avoided an early exit in the postseason with a hard-fought 62-55 win over the Rebels in a preliminary-round tilt at Savaria Gymnasium.
Fugere’s night particularly stands out as the junior forward was playing the game with tendonitis in her left foot.
“We didn’t even know if Kailey was going to be able to play,” said WHS coach George Coderre. “She has been nursing two injuries in her feet. She turned in a monster effort. I am so proud of her, point total or not. She just toughed it out and gave us a great, great effort.”
Fugere, whose foot was heavily bandaged after the game, admitted the injury was painful. But she wasn’t going to use that as an excuse on this particular night. The win earns Woonsocket a date with last year’s state runner-up La Salle Academy in the quarterfinals this Saturday (3 p.m.) at Rhode Island College.
“I was worried coming into the game, but I wanted to make it to RIC,” Fugere said. “I tried my best to do what I could to play. The (foot) was very painful, but I wanted to get to RIC. We made it so far every year and I really wanted to go again.”
While it was the contributions of Fugere and Dubois that keyed the victory, the shot that made the biggest noise came out of the hands of sophomore Amanda Sloan. Ahead by a single point (54-53) with just over a minute remaining in the contest, Sloan nailed a 3-pointer from the right side of the arc. That was followed by a three-point play from Dubois to essentially seal the deal.
“That was probably the biggest play of the game,” Coderre said. “She had the poise to take it. She can hit that shot. We needed it and she was open. It was wonderful. I am so proud of her.”
South Kingstown, a No. 6 seed from Div. I-South, came out with the hot hands in the first half with senior Annie Lawler, who finished with a team-best 26 points, leading the way.
The Rebels took a 13-6 advantage in the first seven minutes of the game with Lawler netting 11 of those points, including two of her four 3-pointers.
The Rebels would have five 3-pointers in the half with junior Kristina Farrell hitting the last one from NBA-range to give her teammates a 25-17 with 3:33 remaining. South Kingstown built that lead to a dozen points (31-19) on a putback from Lawler with just over two minutes remaining on the clock.
“We knew Annie Lawler was going to be a stud,” Coderre said. “Their guards did a great job of not allowing us to double up on Annie. They hit several 3-pointers. They were so hot in the first half coming off the screen, and you had to respect it. The second half they pulled off a bit but they were still effective.”
Fugere scored 16 points by the break, but Dubois managed just six. Dubois began to heat up in the latter part of the half, including the final minute when the Villa Novans were able to finish up with an 8-2 tear and go into the locker room trailing by just five points at 33-27.
Fugere began the streak by taking a nice pass from Dubois under the hoop. Dubois responded with another bucket and then fed Fugere for another lay-up and subsequent three-point play after she was fouled on her drive. Fugere hit one more free throw down the stretch before Lawler scored on an offensive rebound for the final points of the half for a 33-27 lead for the Rebels.
“That was huge to close that gap,” Coderre said. “We did it by finally settling down and being patient enough to see what they were doing. They were showing certain things, other things that we knew were available, and for a while we didn’t have the patience to exploit it. Finally, during that stretch, we did and we were able to close the gap. That was the game right there. That was the game.”
Fugere and Dubois combined for all but four of their team’s points in the second half. The Villa Novans took their first lead since a 2-0 advantage a minute into the game when Fugere scored on a lay-up on another assist from Dubois to put Woonsocket ahead at 50-49 with four minutes left. The Novans increased their lead to three (54-51) on a pair of free throws from Fugere and then after Lawler hit two of her own from the charity stripe Sloan came through with her clutch 3-pointer.
“That was the dagger,” admitted SK coach Joel Tuoni.
Fugere was perfect 6-for-6 from the field in the second half and was four-for-four from the free throw line. She also had seven rebounds. Dubois rebounded from her slow start with 15 points after the break.
“She was really at first kind of tense,” said Coderre, about Dubois. “She turned it on and showed why she’s the player that she is.”
Woonsocket also had key contributions from Michelle Brayboy and Caitlyn Marcoux, who had a combined nine defensive rebounds in the second half.