The Cranston West Lady Falcons made the expedition to Portsmouth High School on Friday night and were beaten by the Lady Patriots 41-34 in a girls Division I basketball showdown.
Alexis Greffen, Portsmouth’s senior guard, scored her 1000th career point during the contest while tallying a game-high 26 points.
Mia James, a senior forward, topped West with nine points.
James has become more of an interior presence during her senior season.
“I’m really proud of Mia,” West head coach PJ Thibodeau said. “Last year, she was timid to go inside. She had more of a perimeter game last year and she was more comfortable on the perimeter. She’s learning how to play a physical game. It sounds funny because she’s a senior. But, she didn’t have that opportunity with the last coach and I’m trying to get her to play inside.”
“She’s strong, determined, and she’s a fighter,” Thibodeau continued. “She’s in there trying to overcome those moments of failure. And, I’m really proud of how she’s progressed. The responsibilities she’s taken on offense and defense.”
“She’s still a work in progress inside, but she’s made great strides,” Thibodeau said. “She’s been rebounding the ball, she’s defending everybody. She’s everything you want in a captain because she’s determined, hard-willed, just a really impressive kid. And, I’m rooting for her all the time.”
Katelyn Blake, also a West senior forward, added five points.
The Lady Falcons led 4-0 early after layups from James and Blake.
Then, Portsmouth cut the deficit to one when Logan Lucenti, a junior, buried a 3-pointer with 12:19 left.
Six minutes later, West upped its advantage to 10-7 when Elizabeth Marses, a junior guard, made a layup following an assist from sophomore Annissa Ferranti.
However, Portsmouth tied the game at 10 when Gabrielle Schenck stole the ball and dished ahead to Greffen, who made a basket while she was fouled. Greffen followed that with a made free throw.
Next, the Patriots took a 12-10 advantage with 5:28 left in the half when Emily Colicci stole the ball and passed to Schenck, before Schenck assisted back to Colicci, who sank getting a jumper.
West knotted the game at 12, a minute and a half later, when Blake found Lauren Plociak, a senior guard, for a floater.
That back-and-forth play continued for the remainder of the first half, which ended even at 20 after two free throws each from Portsmouth’s Colicci and West’s Kaitlyn Fitzgerald during the final minute.
James scored the first bucket of the second half after an assist from Alexandra Coutu and put West up 22-20.
After Portsmouth’s Greffen knotted the game at 22, West’s Nysia Ortiz banked in a 3-point shot and gave the Lady Falcons a 25-22 edge.
Portsmouth evened the score at 25 when Greffen made a layup plus a free throw.
The Lady Falcons showed good ball movement on their next possession as Ortiz passed to Coutu, who found Blake underneath the basket for a layup. Then, Madison Alves scored an old-fashioned 3-point play when she sank a layup while she was fouled, which put West up 30-25 with 12 minutes to play.
But, then, West suffered a power outage over the next six minutes, which allowed Portsmouth to go on a 14-0 run and take a commanding 39-30 lead with 5:48 remaining.
That Portsmouth spurt started with a pull-up jumper from Greffen, which got the Lady Patriots within three.
Including that shot, Greffen scored five baskets during that run, the second being her 1,000th career point.
“That’s our whole season in a nutshell,” Thibodeau said. “That five-minute spurt right there where we turned the ball over way too easily, and then, we sulk and fall asleep on defense. And, it’s always the same recipe every single game.”
“And, we’ve got to step up,” Thibodeau said. “We’ve got to have some girls that can fight through the adversity and not panic because of it. We’re young in some spots and it shows. We’re not confident in some other spots and it shows. And, until we overcome that, it doesn’t matter how hard we fight, we’re not going to be able to win those close games.”
James put a stop to the eruption when she made a free throw with 4:58 left and got the Lady Falcons within eight.
Blake added a free throw after that, and then, with 1:41 remaining, West got within 39-34 when Marses scored West’s last bucket after an offensive rebound.
The final basket of the game came from Portsmouth’s Greffen, who buried a pull-up jumper.
Portsmouth improves its D-I record to 8-5 with the victory while West falls to 6-7 with the loss.
“The one thing I will say is, we never quit,” Thibodeau said. “We haven’t had a single game all year where we’ve quit. The problem is we continue to have that same recipe on offense, which affects our defense. So, we’re right there. It depends on if they want it or not.”
The Lady Falcons had senior night on Tuesday night, but the score was unavailable at press time. West plays next at Rogers (1-10) on Monday at 7pm.