WOONSOCKET — Turnovers will hurt you.
When you do it against an evenly-matched team, it will often be the difference in the game.
Woonsocket High committed more than its share of mental miscues on Thursday night and suffered its first loss of the season, convincingly, as visiting Barrington left Savaria Gymnasium with a 51-32 victory in an intense Division I contest. The Eagles work underneath the basket on both ends of the court was particularly troublesome for the Villa Novans.
“I think that this was a good reality check for us,” said Woonsocket coach George Coderre, whose squad fell to 2-1 in the division (3-1 overall). Barrington upped its league mark to 3-0 (4-0 overall). “You can’t shoot any worse than we did today. You couldn’t if you tried. Part of that was their defense. Part of that was us just not being mentally prepared. But I can’t take anything away from Barrington. They played outstanding.”
The setback overshadowed a special night for Villa Novan senior Kailey Fugere, who scored her 1,000th career point. Needing just one point to join a club that’s occupied by just four other players, she hit her milestone shot on a free throw with 9:29 remaining in the first half.
After sinking her big point, Fugere was congratulated by her coach and teammates during a brief break in action.
“Kailey’s a great athlete and a wonderful kid,” Coderre said. “She’s very coachable and a great kid. She is not a prima donna player. She’d just assume be a supplementary player.”
Fugere finished the game with a game-high 17 points, but they were points that were never easy for the Novan standout as the Eagles’ defense was continuously pestering the low-post player. Senior teammate Michelle Brayboy, another key player for the Villa Novans, was also affected greatly by Barrington’s effective ‘D’. She finished with eight points, all of which came in the first half.
The Eagles created most of their havoc near the hoop, causing numerous turnovers by their rival.
“We have a lot of inexperience there outside of Kailey and we have to decide that we want to be factors, and that’s it…It will get better,” Coderre promised. “I think in a game like this it’s actually beneficial. You start to see what the upper-echelon looks like and what you need to strive to attain to get there.”
In a defensive battle, points were minimal for most of the first half. Neither squad could gain more than a two-point advantage in the early stages. Woonsocket held a 5-3 lead at the midway point and the two teams were tied at 14 with 2:12 left.
That’s the point where the Eagles started to pick up their intensity. Beginning with freshman Kayla Bauer’s putback to knot the score, Barrington finished the half with an 8-2 to take a 20-16 advantage into the locker room.
“It was simple fundamental basketball. We just got mixed up,” Coderre said. “We have done that every single game this year where we had a stretch where we just kind of break down and some of our inexperience shows. Today, this is not the kind of team that you can get away with that. After that, it was hard to regroup.”
Barrington, which pressed right from the opening tip-off, continued to frustrate Woonsocket to start the second half. After a layup from Fugere less than a minute after the break, the Eagles rattled off 10 straight points to take a 30-12 cushion.
Woonsocket did manage to cut its deficit to 10 on a 3-pointer from Shade Olowookere (five points) with 6:23 left. But Barrington put the game away shortly after with11 unanswered points, beginning with three quick points – a free throw by Nolan and a putback by Maddy O’Hayer off the junior’s missed shot on her second attempt from the charity stripe.
“I though in the first half we played more of their tempo of the game,” said Barrington coach Stephen Lenz. “We weren’t really pushing the ball in transition. We were slowing it down too much on offense. That’s sort of more what they want to do. They are more deliberate the way they play. We are a little bit more of organized chaos. The first half we ran into a little bit of foul trouble, too.”
“We did a great job on the boards in the second half,” he added. “We finally started to box out and get physical. I tell you this, whenever you play one of George’s teams, you know they are going to do all the little things. We weren’t doing the little things in the first half. I thought we did it in the second half.”
Woonsocket will have more than two weeks before its next league game, an away contest with Cumberland on Jan. 6. The Villa Novans will play a pair of non-league tilts next week at the annual Franklin Holiday Tournament, a two-day event that starts on Wednesday.
“It’s always a good experience to go out of state and see what you really need to work on,” Coderre said. “But we found that out today, also.”
Fugere joins a familiar group in the 1,000-point club. Among the four other players that have reached the milestone, three were teammates of Fugere in 2009-10 when the Villa Novans won the Division I state title. Among that list are 2010 grads Brooke Coderre (1,351 points), Lauren Masse (1,034) and Ashley Dubois (1,171), who gradauted last year. Kyshawn Ruff is the other player. The 2000 grad had 1,448 for her career.
“There have only been five 1,000-point scorers in the history of the program and four of them played together the last handful of years. That’s real exciting,” George Coderre said. “We are hoping to have that chance to honor her with all the others here at some point later in the season.”