WOONSOCKET — It wasn’t pretty, not by any means, but Cumberland High head coach Deb Engels didn’t care.
For the first time since the 2010-11 campaign, the Clippers had manufactured a regular-season triumph, this one a sloppy 38-22 affair against Division I-North rival Woonsocket on Thursday night.
Junior forward Erin Rosa led the victors with 10 points, while classmate Kaitlan Engels finished with five points and 10 boards. The senior quad-captains also helped out, with Bridget Hollenbeck adding nine points; Bridget Connors six points and four steals; and Caylin Legare a bucket with six rebounds.
“We didn’t have a league win all of last year, and – the previous season – I think we had eight, so we’ll take it,” the elder Engels grinned after the win, one that pushed the Clippers to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in I-North action. “They actually ran some plays (Thursday) night. We tell them all the time that if they run plays, they’ll work eventually, and they did here.
“I saw some of our girls staying home and playing their position, being patient with the ball offensively,” she continued.
When told her contingent made 20 turnovers in all, she laughed and offered, “Oh, we’re good at that.” But when notified her Clippers forced 28 from the Villa Novans, she sighed, “It’s nice to see we’re creating more than we make.”
To be fair, first-year Woonsocket coach Doug Frisoli inherited a squad that had been seriously depleted via graduation. He stated afterward that – at his first practice session with his girls – he had nine arrive to take part. One was senior Shade Olowookere, who recorded a game-high 12 points.
“We asked all the girls to bring a friend,” he said. “We lost a lot of girls who were really talented, but our kids show up every day and work hard. They’re getting better, and that’s all I’m worried about right now … To be honest with you, I’m really proud of this score. We hung in there.”
Actually, the ‘Novans (0-3 overall, 0-2 league) took an immediate lead (at 2-0) when senior Kayla Mousseau netted a baseline jumper just 26 seconds into the contest. Connors, however, canned a short jumper, and Legare drained a layup off a steal to give Cumberland the lead for good at 4-2 with 3:04 elapsed in the initial half.
Woonsocket sophomore Aveanne Osagie dropped a putback to cut it to 8-6 at 10:53, but Hollenbeck’s lone team trey at 8:10 sparked a 10-5 run the rest of the stanza, as the ‘Novans had been forced into nine turnovers alone in the first 6:18.
The Clippers registered an 13-0 surge in the initial 5:11 of the final half, as Rosa drained back-to-back buckets, the last a fast-break layup off a theft with 10:49 left. Only 46 ticks after, Olowookere dropped a trey, then a long jumper as Frisoli’s bunch posted a 7-0 run of its own to slice it to 31-18 in a span of 1:56.
But Engels and Co. outscored their foe, 7-4 down the stretch to post its first win in about 22 months.
“They’re rebuilding; I knew they lost a lot of girls from the championship teams Woonsocket had recently, and I knew Doug had a couple of really good players graduate,” Engels stated. “I understand, because I’ve been there. It was good to see that he got a number of girls out for the team, and that’s he’s being positive with them. That will go a long way in Woonsocket improving game by game.”