ATTLEBORO, Mass. – All season long, King Philip (12-9) has been a team of runs, turning one basket into two or three or four, grabbing momentum, and being able to turn a deficit into a lead in the blink of an eye. On Wednesday night in the opening round of the Div. 1 playoffs, Bishop Feehan never blinked.
Feehan demonstrated its familiarity with the Warriors press, took advantage of a tough shooting night, and made sure that KP never went on one of its runs, pulling out a 58-46 victory that gave the Shamrocks a place in the sectional quarterfinal and a win in the season series.
“Our biggest thing tonight was that even when we could get a make, we could never string two together or get a stop and then another basket,” said KP coach Dan Nagle. “We could never gain ground. We’d get it to nine and then we’d give up a layup or we’d miss a layup and instead of cutting it to seven they hit a three on the other end.
“The ability to string things together and connect the dots a little bit was missing tonight. “
It felt like the Warriors were running uphill right from the opening tip. Two weeks ago, when the teams last met, KP made 11 threes as a team. On Wednesday, KP made 11 shots total.
Faye Veilleux (game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds) scored four points in the first, but all at the line. Emma Glaser (five points) drilled a three for KP’s first made basket of the night and cut the Feehan lead down to 9-7. After the Shamrocks scored four straight, Faith Roy (10 points) got the basket for two but an Amanda Folan three made it 16-9 after one.
Things didn’t get any better offensively for KP in the second. Roy drove and set up Taylor Butler for a layup that cut the lead to 18-11 and then Roy got a bucket of her own off a nice pass from Brianna James.
Feehan responded with a 7-1 run to extend the lead out to double digits. KP managed to cut the lead down to eight after free throws from James and Veilleux. It was 25-17 at the break and it was hard not to feel that KP was fortunate to be still in the game and that the Warriors would have to improve in the second half.
Roy drilled a three from the corner that made it 27-21 and got the KP bench and fan section fired up and James followed a Feehan basket by grabbing an offensive rebound and turning it into two at the line. It was only a six-point game and it felt like maybe the Warriors were poised to click into gear.
Lydia Moradarski (16 points) had other ideas. She got a steal and layup and then buried a big three that pushed the hosts back in front by 12. Veilleux knocked down a pull-up jumper (her first made field goal in the game) but Feehan was able to beat the press and get a layup for Kyla Cunningham at the buzzer and went into the fourth quarter ahead 39-26.
“They’ve got good, young guards and they handled the pressure well,” Nagle explained. “They were ready. I mean, this is the third time they’ve seen us. They knew what was coming. We don’t really sneak up on anyone with what we do.”
With its high-octane style of play, even a 13-point deficit is not insurmountable for KP and the Warriors had opportunities in the final eight minutes to make it a much closer game, but still the shots just wouldn’t fall.
The Warriors scored 20 points in the fourth, but allowed Feehan to score 19 and never got closer than nine.
“I thought our kids played really hard,” said Nagle, “it just wasn’t our night shooting the ball. It was tough sledding.”
Roy again started the quarter with a big three that gave the Warriors a lift, but the Shamrocks always seemed to have an answer. Veilleux drove and made a tough layup and, after Feehan scored on the other end, freshman Claire Keswick hit a corner three to cut the lead down to 47-38 with 4:21 to go.
The teams were trading points. Veilleux, who scored 10 in the fourth quarter, got a put-back for two but Feehan got two at the line and went on a 9-3 run that essentially killed off the game. Veilleux added a long three in the closing seconds to win the quarter for KP and make the final deficit 12 points.
Nagle said, “We were just kind of waiting for the run to happen because that’s who we’ve been all year but tonight it just didn’t happen. It doesn’t take away what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. I’m really proud of everyone on the team and I’m really looking forward to this team’s future.”