NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Even on nights when the shots aren’t falling, playing with the type of frenetic style that King Philip imposed on Friday night’s game at North Attleboro’s Pickering Gym means that even with a low shooting percentage teams can put up plenty of points.
KP put that theory into practice on Friday, pulling out a 65-56 non-league victory against North despite both teams struggling to hold onto the ball or knock down shots from the floor or from the line (combined 30-of-59 on free throws).
“I thought we missed a lot of shots that we usually make but to still score 65 and get up and down like we did is a testament to our pace,” KP coach Dan Nagle explained. “I thought we just played hard and battled through some adversity.”
Both teams like to run, but this was not just about getting out in transition. KP pressured, trapped, and harassed the Rocketeers the length of the court, taking advantage of its depth to maintain the pace throughout the 32 minutes.
While it was a game played to KP’s strengths, North hung around, falling behind by as many as 16 points in the third quarter but then getting as close as seven in the fourth.
“They’re fast and under control,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “We’re fast and a little out of control right now. I kept having to remind them we’re in this game guys, settle down. Too much hanging our heads. I’m trying to get them used to the running so they can play through it.”
The hosts jumped out to an early 6-0 lead by breaking the KP press. Olivia Forbes (six points and five assists) set up Regan Fein for a jumper, Amanda Kaiser hit a pull-up jumper in transition and Eliza Dion got an easy basket on the break.
North couldn’t sustain the momentum and the Warriors started to turn the screw defensively, finishing the first on a 12-1 run. Seven different players scored in the first. Freshman Claire Keswick put KP in front for good with an offensive rebound that made it 9-7. Another putback, this time by Emma Glaser (nine points and six boards) closed out the quarter.
KP continued to build the lead in the second. Brianna James (team-high 15 points) hit a pair of threes and Faye Veilleux (seven points and eight rebounds) got a layup on the break to put the Warriors up 22-9 and seemingly on the brink of breaking the game wide open.
The Rocketeers battled back, cutting the lead to as few as six. Kaiser (16 points and seven rebounds) got a pair of baskets in transition, first on a Dion assist and then one off a steal. Dion added six of her game-high 19 points in the quarter, including four points at the line.
James closed the half with a swooping layup that made it 31-21 at the break. The teams had combined for 24 fouls in the first half alone and went a combined 14-for-32 at the charity stripe. If either team could’ve made their foul shots, then the game may have turned out differently.
“At half we were down 10 and we had missed 10 free throws,” Correia said. “That’s the difference right there. A lot of them were short because their legs were shot.”
The second half had a similar pattern, as KP extended its lead to as many as 16 points on two occasions. Kaiser buried a pair of threes in the third to make it 40-30, but then KP answered back with threes from Courtney Keswick and Elizabeth Molla to push the lead out.
“I’ve asked her to play their best offensive girl, so on offense she’s tired,” Correia said of Kaiser. “She’s running and she’s working, so we have to try and figure out ways to take some of that off her on the defensive end so we can get her going on the offensive end.”
North made another run to close the gap before the end of the quarter. Dion continued to be a force in the paint for the hosts, scoring nine points in the third. Correia said, “Very proud of Eliza, how hard she fought inside and the finishing, which is what we need. The little things I’m starting to see like that is what we need going forward.”
After a pair of offensive rebounds by Fein kept a possession alive for the Rocketeers, Forbes nailed a three that made it just 49-41. Keswick was there to answer back with another three of her own to make it an 11-point game heading to the fourth.
A pair of free throws by Fein and a putback by Kaiser had North within seven early in the fourth, but Glaser got free in the corner on a Veilleux kick out to make the lead double digits and Liv Lafond added three more with an offensive rebound and the foul. Rebounding was a big edge for the Warriors, with Taylor Butler and Emily Sawyer each grabbing 11 on the night.
“We pride ourselves of getting after it on the offensive glass and I thought we did a great job 1-14 of getting to the glass,” said Nagle, who referenced the team’s poor shooting night when he added, “You’ve got to go rebound it if you miss it.”
Freshman Ava McKeon went behind her back to slice through the KP press for a layup. Fein knocked down a jumper on an inbound play, and Summer Doherty got free for a layup, as North was proving hard to put away. But time ran out on the comeback attempt, as Faith Roy’s (seven points) late drive to the rim sealed the win for the Warriors.
“Her kids never quit and they kept coming back,” Nagle said. “Every time I thought we were going to put them away, I’d look up and it’s an eight-point game again. It was punch, counterpunch.”
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