WOONSOCKET — Woonsocket High coach George Coderre feels he has an experienced squad that will be competitive in Division I this season.
Two of the players Coderre expects to run the show are four-year varsity members Michelle Brayboy and Kailey Fugere.
The talented seniors gave a preview of their effective 1-2 punch in Thursday’s non-league season-opener against Mount St. Charles Academy.
Running the offense with perfection at her point guard position, Brayboy dished out 12 assists and Fugere was the beneficiary of most of those passes, scoring a game-high 25 points as the Villa Novans breezed to a 58-40 victory at the Mounties’ home court.
“Those kids have been integral parts of this program for four years,” Coderre said. “They are both very good basketball players and very good athletes. They understand the game and they love the game. Best of all, they want to carry the teammates and that’s contagious. They have faith in their teammates and their teammates feel that.”
With Fugere netting 17 of her points, Woonsocket took the guesswork out of the outcome by the first half, holding a 33-16 advantage. Ahead already by a 20-9 score, the Villa Novans netted 13 unanswered points that began with a 3-pointer from Brayboy and two straight buckets underneath from Fugere off passes from her classmate.
Woonsocket managed just two turnovers and Brayboy had eight of her assists and three of her four steals for the Novans by the break. As a team, Woonsocket shot nearly 50 percent from the field.
The over-matched Mounties, who lost seven seniors from last year’s Div. II state runner-up squad, did play a more competitive second half. Junior Emily Georgeu finished with a team-best 12 points with a half dozen in each half. Sophomore teammate Noreen Mulledy had eight points.
“It actually came out the way I expected it would come out,” MSC coach Nina Morey said. “It’s going to take us a while to be able to work together. They are all pretty much new working together. It will take a while for them to gel, to get better. I was happy with the first effort against a Woonsocket team that has a couple of really strong players.”
Coderre was impressed by his opponent, which has just one senior and one junior among its 13 players.
“Nina really has a low number of girls,” he said. “It’s very hard. We were in the same position a year ago. It’s so hard to even have a good, competitive practice when the numbers are down. I was impressed with the way her girls fell behind and stayed with it and continued to try and execute what they were taught at practice. They never gave up. They are going to progress.”
For Woonsocket, three players finished in double digits with Brayboy (13 points) and senior Katie Marcoux (12 points) backing up Fugere. Marcoux and Fugere each had seven rebounds.
“I love the attitude we got,” Coderre said. “We got a great bunch of kids that enjoy playing together. It really showed. There was a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of good ball movement. I really like the fact that as the season progresses, we are going to be competitive.”
Woonsocket begins in league slate on Monday when it welcomes Smithfield to Savaria Gymnasium.
“Smithfield is always very competitive,” said Coderre, about the Sentinels, who finished third in I-North last year at 13-5. Woonsocket was fourth at 11-7. “(Head coach) Bob Camara does a great job with that program. He always has his kids playing hard. No matter who they got, they always come and give you a tremendous effort. They are not who I want to play the first game of the season.”
The Mounties start their league season in II-North on Wednesday at Burrillville. The Broncos were 6-12 in the league last year. Mount copped the league crown at 17-1.
“That will be a tough, first regular-season matchup,” Morey said. “They were kind of young last year and got really good as the season went on. It will be a tough game. We’ll just keep doing what we do in practice and hopefully we’ll give them a good fight.”
WOONSOCKET (58) – Katie Marcoux 6 0-0 12. Shade Olowookere 0 0-0 0, Kailey Fugere 11 3-4 25, Allyson Cartier 1 0-0 2, Michelle Brayboy 5 0-0 13, Amanda Sloan 2 0-0 4, Andrea Moyen 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 3-4 58
MOUNT (40) – Emily Georgeu 6 0-1 12, Brennan Bissonette 0 0-0 0, Emi Cadden 0 2-2 2, Taylor Messier 1 1-3 2, Amy Schmitt 2 0-0 4, Theresa Periera 2 0-0 5, Ali Cesare 3 0-0 6, Noreen Mulledy 2 2-2 8. Totals – 16 5-8 40
Halftime – W, 33-16. 3-point goals – W (3): Brayboy 3. MSC (3): Pereira, Mulledy 2.