On the back of a near flawless first half that included impressive defensive showing, the Warriors raced out to a 25 point lead by halftime and never looked back in a 71-52 win over the Rocketeers.
Starting with a three from sophomore Kyle Latman (12 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three blocks), the Warriors were off and running in the first quarter. While the offense shot nearly 50% from the field— including a three Justin Vine (eight points) — the defense was equally impressive, forcing five turnovers.
The Warriors defense also limited North Attleboro to just two field goals in the opening eight minutes – both threes from Hacmoni Cuevas. The Rocketeers were 0/6 from inside the arch though and KP led 18-8 after a quarter.
King Philip’s defense only got better in the second quarter, and so did its offense.
The Warriors rattled off a 13-2 run over the first four minutes of the second period. Tom Madden (seven points) made back to back baskets and Layman converted a putback for a quick 6-0 spurt. After Chad Peterson knocked down a midrange jumper for North, Layman took a feed from Madden for two, Vine drove to the basket for two and Seth Sullivan (21 points) drained a three to put an exclamation point on the run.
King Philip led 39-14 at halftime, shooting 47% from the field. The Warriors limited North Attleboro to just 18% shooting in the first half.
“I think so, because [North Attleboro] is a good team too,” said KP head coach Mark Champagne when asked if that was a good of a half as the Warriors have played this year. “When we were looking at the scoreboard and were like “Oh, man.” If they came out and scored 10 in a row we wouldn’t be shocked because they’re a good team. I’d say that was our best 16 minutes of the year so far — against a good basketball team. They present a lot of problems with the type of players they have.”
Two keys to King Philip’s strong start came on the defensive end. The Warriors limited North big man Jonny Friberg – who entered the game as the fifth leading scorer in the league – to just four points. KP also put a lot of focus on Brent Doherty (14.3 points per game) by extending their defense full court with Pharoah Davis (12 points) shadowing his every move.
“Doherty makes everyone on the floor better,” Champagne said. “There aren’t a lot of pure point guards so we wanted to limit his touches and wear him down. I don’t think we wore him down but I think we limited his touches and that helped us a lot. With Friberg, we played a little bit more on top of him this time with [Kyle] Layman coming to help. We learned our lesson last time.”
And part of the key to success on offense?
“We shot the ball well too. It’s interesting when you play a team a second time, with what you’re trying to do. I thought we got a good all around effort from the kids.”
North rolled out full court pressure in the second half to jump start the offense, and it worked. The Rocketeers forced five turnovers and scored 15 points – more than its total in the first half – but KP kept pace with 16 points of its own in the third quarter.
The pressure continued to pay off in the final quarter as the Rocketeers forced seven turnovers, doubling the amount they had forced through the first three periods. Friberg scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and hauled in nine rebounds. Thomas Reynolds added five points and Matt Seavey chipped in with four in the fourth.
North Attleboro scored 38 points on 45% shooting in the second half, cutting the deficit to 20. But the early hole was too much.
The win marks King Philip’s third straight, turning a 3-8 mark to 6-8 overall as the Warriors prepare to go through the Kelley-Rex schedule for a second time. The first time through, KP posted a 1-4 record.
“We didn’t do well the first time through, to be blunt,” Champagne said. “But this is a great start, that’s three in a row now. We had played well the week before that and even though we lost, we improved. We got a little healthier this week. I hope this is a start of it. When you win a little you get some confidence. And we’re getting a little bit more leadership on the floor now too.”
The Warriors (6-8, 5-6 Hockomock) begin their Kelley-Rex schedule on Friday when Attleboro comes to town. North Attleboro (8-7, 5-6) will try to snap its three game skid when Canton comes to town the same night.