By ALEX SPONSELLER The Cranston West girls basketball team completed a thrilling 58-53 comeback win over visiting Johnston during the team's senior night last week. The Panthers came out hot in the first quarter and took a 12-6 lead and extended it to
By ALEX SPONSELLER The Cranston West girls basketball team completed a thrilling 58-53 comeback win over visiting Johnston during the team’s senior night last week.
The Panthers came out hot in the first quarter and took a 12-6 lead and extended it to 28-19 at the halftime break.
West came out more aggressive on each end of the floor in the second half and would trail by one score heading into the final frame. The Falcons rode the momentum throughout the final quarter, got its first lead with less than five minutes remaining, and closed the show with the big win.
Aydan Gulliver and Amanda Degnan led the Falcons with 15 points each while Amelia Polichetti scored 10 and Catherine Albizu eight. Tori Viau led the Panthers with a game-high 24 points scored, while Abby Clesas scored 12 and Emily Iannuccilli nine.
“We’re still young, still learning how to recognize what a defense is doing and how to attack it. We took some really impatient shots early, had three or four people rolling toward the ball, we were out of position defensively. I felt that if we could get past the nerves then we would get back into it. That’s part of having a young team, those things will happen,” said West coach PJ Thibodeau after the win. “I told them at the end of the third quarter that we were going to win the game. We just were rushing and had to settle down. Unfortunately for us, it’s the press that helps us calm down, but you can’t play like that all the time. But once they got past the nerves and focused in, they did great, they’re really smart kids.”
Thibodeau was proud of his team’s second half response, and its ability to slow down the Johnston backcourt that came out shooting well in the first.
“(Johnston center Sarah Bandoma) is a force. And she’s still learning how to play. She’s a monster on the court, I love watching her play and how aggressive she is. You have to focus on her with that team. Everything is kind of going through her. But I actually thought it was the guards that took control of the game early. They hit some three’s, we gave them too much space and they took advantage of it,” said Thibodeau.
Likewise, Johnston coach Meg Reall was happy with her team’s first half effort but felt that the Panthers ran out of steam down the stretch.
“We’re a shorter bench than they are, but we did everything that we wanted to do. We worked the ball to the inside to Sarah, had Tori, Abby and Emily hitting shots, that’s what we need to do to win games and we did that. We had a couple fouls that hurt us at critical points. They’re a great team and for us to hang in there and battle was big,” said Reall.
Reall added: “Defensively, we’ve improved a lot. We talked, we were communicating, we were eliminating their second chance points. Down the stretch there, with such a short bench, fatigue comes into play and there were mental lapses. I was proud of their performance, just wish we could have pulled it out in the end there.”
Moving forward, Reall and the Panthers hope to keep improving and competing, and are confident that they will be able to get over the hump after losing multiple close matches.
“We’ve just got to be smart with our fouls, we don’t have the depth to go deep with girls when they get into foul trouble. It’s tough to keep losing these games that are so close, but this is a great basketball team,” said Reall. “For us to lose a couple games where we weren’t playing our best, then to come here and compete against a team like this, I couldn't be more proud of them. One of these days the ball will fall our way, we just have to keep working and doing what we’re doing. We just need to clean up a few things, and the pieces will come together.”