KP Falls to Fontbonne on Tough Shooting Night

King Philip girls basketball
Shannon O’Connor (32) drives into the heart of the Fontbonne Academy defense and looks for an open teammate in Wednesday’s loss. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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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.

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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.”

King Philip (5-10, 3-9) will get back into Hockomock League play on Friday when it hosts Taunton.

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O’Connor, Kelleher Spark KP to Holiday Tourney Title

King Philip girls basketball
Courtney Kelleher (24) pulled down 14 rebounds and scored 10 points in the second half to help King Philip pull away from Ponaganset and win the Rhode Island Girls Basketball Holiday Tournament at Smithfield High. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Early in the second half of Thursday night’s finale of the 30th annual Rhode Island Girls Basketball Holiday Tournament, Ponaganset guard Jillian DelPrete hit back-to-back runners to put the Chieftains ahead 23-22 and force King Philip to call a timeout.

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After the timeout, KP settled down and the Warriors defense clamped down. Ponaganset was held to only eight points over the final 12 minutes of the game.

Senior Courtney Kelleher scored all 10 of her points in the second half and also pulled in 14 rebounds on the night, while sophomore guard Shannon O’Connor scored 14 points and dished out five assists to help the Warriors pull away for a 49-31 win and the tournament title.

“They’re a scrappy, physical, tough team,” said KP Martin Crowley about the Chieftains. “We knew we’d have a tougher game today, but our kids responded really, really well.”

It did not start well for the Warriors, who came out flat and fell behind by as many as seven points in the first half. DelPrete (team-high 13 points) buried a three to make it 11-4, but KP responded with a 6-0 run to close the gap. O’Connor scored four of those points and Catherine Cummings (seven rebounds) grabbed an offensive board and put-back.

Trailing again by five, KP took control of the game with an 11-0 run. Julia Leroux (seven points) collected a lobbed pass from Faith Roy for a layup to get it started then O’Connor hit Roy for quick-release jumper to make it 16-15 and give KP the lead for the first time. Leroux assisted on a jumper by freshman Sophia McLaughlin and the Warriors went into the break leading 22-19.

“We were a little flat coming out but we closed the half strong and one of our goals was to keep them under 20 points for the half and in the second half we were even better defensively,” said Crowley.

O’Connor hit a pair of free throws to give KP back the lead at 24-23 then Roy hit her second jumper. That was when Kelleher started to assert herself on the boards and on the scoreboard. She scored on an offensive rebound then off an assist by Roy. Another put-back and another layup, this time on an assist by O’Connor, provided some separation between the teams.

“Courtney Kelleher was huge for us coming down the stretch,” said Crowley. “She’s the lone senior on this team and we needed senior leadership today and we got it.”

While Kelleher was controlling the paint (she also had three blocks), O’Connor was controlling the point guard position, especially after Leroux fouled out late in the second half. O’Connor continually got into the lane and had the vision to drop passes off to her teammates, including twice to Christina Hathaway as the Warriors put the game away down the stretch.

“Shannon is a good ballplayer,” said Crowley. “She’s the real deal. She doesn’t usually play point for us but this week she did. She did a good job handling the ball. She was under control and we put the ball where it needed to be.”

KP was able to rotate players down the stretch and got buckets from Kendall Mason and Grace Ely (off an assist by Faye Vellieux), as the closing minutes ended up being comfortable with a double-digit lead.

“You know, it’s a good win for us, on the road,” said Crowley, and it’s back to the battles next week and we’re off and running.”

When it was noted that the Hockomock League was doing well at the start of the season (8-of-12 teams have a winning record), including KP and Attleboro each going 2-0 in Rhode Island tournaments, Crowley responded, “Not that our league needs validation…but it’s a testament to the players and coaches we have in our league and how good they are.”

King Philip (4-1) will get back into league play on Jan. 6 against unbeaten Attleboro.

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