WRENTHAM, Mass. – A good offense needs ball and player movement to keep the defense guessing and someone that can get the ball into the hands of open shooters. Even when all of that goes right and the offense creates a clean look, in the end someone needs to knock down the shots.
It was the last part that King Philip struggled with on Wednesday night in a non-league game at home against Fontbonne Academy (Milton). KP moved the ball around the perimeter, drove into the lane to draw defenders, and had its fair share of open shots, but unfortunately for the Warriors few found the bottom of the net.
Fontbonne went on a 32-13 run over the second and third quarters to break the game open and had three players reach double figures in points (two of whom also had double digit rebounds) to pull out a 59-38 victory.
“Our kids played hard from start to finish,” said KP coach Martin Crowley. “We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well tonight and that’s been our M.O. the last couple of games, but defensively I thought we did a pretty decent job most of the night and we just had that one quarter where we didn’t score many points.”
Offense was a struggle right from the opening tip, which Fontbonne won and turned into a lay-up for Arienne Sauvignon Howard (team-high 17 points). KP worked the ball around and found open players but shots just would not fall. The Warriors hung around with a tenacious full-court press and aggressive half-court defense in the first.
Shannon O’Connor (eight points) had a steal and layup to get KP on the board and then freshman Chloe Layne got to the basket for the first of her six points. Julia Leroux (six points) scored on a spinning drive and then freshman Faye Vellieux snagged an offensive rebound and assisted on a basket by Catherine Cummings before adding a basket of her own on another put-back just before the quarter ended.
KP went into the second leading 10-9, but Fontbonne would start to impose itself on the glass and find ways to break the KP press. Freshman Tasha Lima (11 rebounds) used her quickness to score seven of her nine points in the quarter and Annabelle Larnard (13 points, 15 rebounds) tallied a three-point play as the Ducks went into halftime leading 26-18.
Crowley said, “Sometimes we go small to combat our lack of offense and then we can’t rebound and if we can’t rebound then we can’t be as aggressive defensively as we like…it’s pick and choose what you want to do.”
Things did not get better for the Warriors in the third quarter. After an O’Connor pull-up jumper, Fontbonne went on another long run, this time 12-0, and pushed its lead to 41-20. Layne scored at the buzzer with a baseline scoop but the Warriors had been outscored 15-5 in the quarter and trailed by 18 points heading to the fourth.
“We move the ball, it’s just that we’re concentrating on knocking down some shots,” Crowley reflected. “We move the ball well, we’re unselfish, we play hard together and it’s not for any lack of effort on our part.”
The Warriors have only one senior on the roster, Courtney Kelleher, and start a freshman and two sophomores. Struggling like they were on Wednesday, they could have hung their heads but KP continued to compete throughout the fourth quarter. The Warriors just could not deal with the Ducks on the glass, continually giving up second and sometimes third chances.
“We weren’t knocking down shots and we weren’t getting many rebounds and if you’re not doing that then you’re not going to win too many games,” Crowley admitted.
Layne started the quarter with another drive to the rim and then Faith Roy (eight points) chipped in with an offensive rebound for a basket and knocked down KP’s only three of the night to cut the Fontbonne lead to 15. It was as close as the Warriors would get.
“We’re young and we’re much better about that now,” said Crowley about how his team did not let up in the fourth. “Every second on the floor for us will pay dividends down the road. We kept fighting and we battled and that’s all we can ask them to do.”