WOONSOCKET -- Luis Garcia may have nailed an NBA-length trey at the buzzer, but it wasn’t enough for Woonsocket High on Wednesday night.
The Villa Novans committed 23 turnovers – including 14 in the final half – and converted just 10 of 24 from the charity stripe (41.7 percent) and ultimately dropped a 54-46 Division I crossover decision to Hope High before a crowd of perhaps 100.
After head coach Kyle Ivey-Jones’ bunch overcame a 29-22 deficit with 11:59 left in the second stanza, slicing the deficit to 34-30, Hope later mustered an 11-2 run in the span of 3:47 to seal the victory.
The Blue Wave captured their first league win of the campaign, and improved to 2-4 overall and 1-4 in D-I, while the ‘Novans fell to 3-6 overall and 0-4 in league action.
When asked what he believed to be the primary Achilles’ heel for his club after the loss, Ivey-Jones stated only, “Free-throw shooting for us, offensive rebounding for them. They just out-rebounded us. The boards were the difference.”
Senior swing Johnson Weah led all scorers with 14 points for Hope, while senior guard Emmanuel Kargbo netted eight and the senior-junior tandem of Delonce Wright and Devonte Youn six each.
For the ‘Novans, senior Luis Garcia notched all but two of his team-high 12 points in the second half, though senior swing Nick Juszczyszyn manufactured a “double-double” with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Junior center/forward Piotr Linek chipped in six points and 11 boards; sophomore Gare Lyles another six points; junior Blaine Desimpelaere three points and two steals; and junior Randy Reyes a point, four thefts and two assists.
Reyes had started at point guard due to sophomore Angel Robles missing the tilt because of the flu, and Lyles, a talented ‘Novans’ big man, didn’t play the initial session; Ivey-Jones said it was a “Coach’s decision.”
Lyles’ absence underneath the basket played a role throughout the initial 16 minutes, but not as much as Woonsocket landing only five of 15 from the stripe in that time. Had it knocked down just half of those missed opportunities, the ‘Novans would’ve entered the intermission tied at 22-all.
In the first 4:14, Hope rallied for a 6-1 advantage, the last bucket a Wright putback, but Woonsocket battled back to tie it three times, the last at 10-10 when Juszczyszyn gathered his own rebound and knocked it home with 7:32 remaining before the break.
Over the next 2:59, however, the Blue Wave assembled an 8-1 run, with highlights including Kargbo’s layup, Weah’s short hook and Thompson’s two freebies; that left the visitors up, 18-11, with 3:42 remaining.
Ivey-Jones’ crew fought back, scoring six straight, the last two on Garcia’s floating one-hander with 1:50 left, but Weah canned a hook and notched another jumper to lift Hope to a 22-17 cushion at halftime.
The ‘Novans came out fast at the start of the second, with senior Juwan Simpson netting a foul shot and Linek a 10-foot baseline jumper to cut the deficit to 22-20, but Hope recorded an 11-4 surge over the next 4:09. It did so courtesy of, in part, Vezele’s lone three-pointer, Rivera’s fast-break layup off a turnover and Weah’s rebound/putback.
With 9:43 left in regulation, though, Jovanny Gonzalez dropped a fadeaway hook and canned free throw for the conventional three-point play and Lyles did the same to slice it to 34-30 just 37 ticks later.
That would be the closest Woonsocket would come on this night; Youn registered his own three-point play, then a short jumper in traffic and Young knocked down a fast-break lay-in off a theft to make it a nine-point lead at 41-30 with 7:45 on the clock.
Lyles’ easy fast-break bucket dropped the deficit to 46-39 at the 4:31 mark, but the damage had been done.
All told, the ‘Novans forced 17 turnovers, though the Wave did nail nine of its 17 foul shots.