BURRILLVILLE -- It looked as if Burrillville High would make the most of its Senior Night celebration after entering intermission behind Division II-North opponent North Providence by a mere five (24-19).
The Broncos opened the final stanza in style, with senior Ashley Spear canning a turnaround one-hander in the lane and classmate Emma Lapierre hitting a putback with only 2:21 expired. Actually, the tri-captain had been fouled on the bucket, and went to the charity stripe set to tie the contest for the first time at 24-all.
Lapierre’s attempt, however, rattled off the rim, and that would be the closest Burrillville would come to posting a victory on Thursday evening. The Cougars immediately delivered full-court pressure, manufactured a 14-2 flurry over the next 6:02 – many off turnovers – and eventually cruised to a 48-33 triumph at the Bronco Dome.
With the verdict, North Providence improved to 14-6 overall and 9-6 in league action. The hosts dropped to 8-11 and 5-10 in II-North; they now must win a make-up tilt against Mount St. Charles on their home floor tonight at 7 to receive a bid to the post-season tourney.
“We were without a couple of starters: (senior tri-captain) Danielle Dumais was playing hurt with a heel injury, and (junior center) Tori Libby has torn ligaments,” explained head coach Lindsay Rachlow after the defeat. “We hurt ourselves with our turnovers. I mean, we only scored 14 (points) in the second half, and – once we got past half-court – we couldn’t run our offense.
“Shooting has been a struggle as well,” he added. “We had been holding the last spot for the playoffs, and now we’re going to have to beat Mount.”
Spear provided the lone double-digit outing of the night, closing with 15 points, including nine of 11 free throws. Lapierre added seven and sophomore Sam Liberty four. For the Cougars, sophomore guard Kelsey Burgess mustered a game-high 20, while junior Madison Jamack collected 10 and sophomore Ashley VanBemmelin eight.
With Burrillville behind by that single point, Jamack drained a three-pointer to give N.P. a 27-23 advantage; Lapierre, though, knocked down a putback off a rebound to slice it to two at 27-25 with 12:27 remaining.
At the 11:44 mark, junior Katherine DeCorte fed classmate Gianna Gigliotta for a pretty back-door jumper, and that sparked a 11-0 run. When Jamack drilled her second trey with 7:37 left, the Cougars had gained a 38-25 cushion.
Until senior guard and tri-captain Alyssa Lemire nailed a three-point basket 26 ticks later, the Broncos had gone 5:16 without a single point. The primary reason: They began turning the ball over at a marked rate due to N.P. head coach Gerry Rubino’s institution of a swarming, full-court press.
With 6:36 left, just 35 seconds after Lemire’s trey, teammate Sam Liberty netted a 17-footer to knife the deficit to 38-30, but Burgess’ steal and six-foot jumper regained for the visitors a 40-30 lead. VanBemmelin’s final three-pointer at the 1:27 mark put the game out of reach at 46-31.
In the initial session, N.P. forced four turnovers in the first 3:09 to take a 5-0 advantage, then made it 10-2 following Julianna Polselli’s seven-footer. Liberty’s pair of freebies closed the cushion to 14-10 with 8:09 left, though Olivia Capraro’s 15-foot jumper gave the Cougars a 19-10 lead at 6:25.
From that point on, the Broncos caught fire, due mostly to the visitors’ turnovers. Spear managed six straight points (four via foul shots) to slice N.P.’s advantage to 19-16 with 4:17 remaining. In fact, from the 6:25 mark to 13:29 left in regulation, Burrillville outscored the Cougars, 13-7.
In the end, it just wasn’t meant to be.