Warwick Vets head boys’ basketball coach Chris LeBlanc thought that Will Remak was due for a breakout game.
It came at a pretty good time.
After starting out the league season 0-2, the ’Canes got a much-needed win on Tuesday night largely because of Remak, their junior standout. He scored 22 points – 13 in the first half – to lead Vets to its first win of the season 70-55 over Pilgrim.
The Pats fell to 0-3 in Division III.
“Will had a very good game,” LeBlanc said. “He was due for a good game. It was like a coming out party. It’s a Christmas present for me.”
Remak went a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line and buried three three-pointers to set the pace. Scott Camara also hit three three-pointers for Vets on his way to 20 points.
Pilgrim, on the other hand, never led later than 3-2, and it struggled both to shoot and to hang onto the ball. The Pats committed 25 turnovers while playing all game against the ’Canes’ full-court press.
“Vets played with a lot of energy on defense,” Pilgrim head coach Mike Batalon said. “They did a great job in their press and they turned us over a lot.”
Charles Johnson hit a three for Pilgrim on the opening possession of the game, but the Pats turned the ball over on their next three trips and the ’Canes were off and running.
Israel Thomas scored first, before Remak buried his first three of the game. Vets went up 7-6 before Pilgrim turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions and the ’Canes took advantage.
Camara hit one free throw, got the ball back on an offensive rebound when he missed the second foul shot and then hit a three pointer to make it 11-6.
Then it was Remak’s turn. He drove to the basket, got fouled and made two free throws before converting a layup while sliding away from the basket on Vets’ next possession.
“He’s a tough match-up for us because he can score inside and out,” Batalon said of Remak. “We didn’t have an answer for him tonight.”
Vets went up 18-8 on a Camara three, and then 21-10 on a three by Jeremy Batista. Pilgrim tried to hang on, but just couldn’t put much together against the ’Canes’ press.
From the opening whistle to the final buzzer, Vets pressed the entire time.
“There’s a Rick Pitino line, someone said, ‘Coach you just played three games in four nights, is fatigue a problem?’ He said, ‘Fatigue is never a problem with me and any of my Kentucky teams,”’ LeBlanc said. “We’re intense all the time, and I’m happy with our intensity.”
Pilgrim began to close the gap, as it went on a 6-0 run thanks to a layup by Brendan Rix, another by Johnson and a short jumper by Ryan Morris.
That cut the lead to 21-16, but Remak hit two free throws and added an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 26-17. Two possessions later, he pulled-up for a big three, putting Vets back up by 10 at 29-19.
“I felt good,” Remak said. “My three-pointers, I felt very confident in them. I couldn’t get a few to fall – they were all back rim – but they were good shots. I was taking my man to the rim.”
The ’Canes went into the half up 40-27, and then put the game away early in the second half.
Pilgrim narrowed the gap to 10 points on a jumper by Seth Lawson, but it would never get the deficit to single digits. Remak hit two free throws, Josh Muto hit a three and Remak hit a three right after. Camara then executed a steal and layup to finish off a 10-0 run.
A 42-32 lead was suddenly 52-32, and Vets never looked back. Pilgrim got as close as 14 once, at 56-42 with 7:24 remaining, but Camara and Remak combined for a 7-0 run to end any comeback hopes.
Vets hit nine three-pointers on the night.
“Vets shot the ball well and they did a nice job getting out in transition, finding open people,” Batalon said. ‘We didn’t recover well from that.”
Muto added nine points for Vets while Carter Thomas scored eight. Dan Colabella led the way for Pilgrim with 14 points, while Johnson had 13. Furney had eight while Morris added seven.
“We weren’t patient enough on offense,” Batalon said. “We took a lot of quick shots. We did want to get the ball inside, but we weren’t patient enough on offense to find the open shot.”
The Pats have now lost to Juanita Sanchez, Toll Gate and Vets, but they haven’t lost hope just yet. The game against the Titans was competitive, and the team feels like it just hasn’t hit its stride quite yet.
“We’ve played a lot of good stretches in games,” Batalon said. “Tonight was probably one of our worst games in terms of shooting and turnovers. We’ve had good stretches, and hopefully we’ll turn the corner here.”
Vets, meanwhile, played its best game of the year after losing by a combined 51 points to Toll Gate and Juanita. The ’Canes hope it’s a sign of things to come, as they’ll travel to Moses Brown on Friday for a 6:30 p.m. game and try to get back to .500.
“We had to have this victory,” LeBlanc said. “We were hoping to go three and one before the break, but Toll Gate was big and we couldn’t match-up with them. Juanita is always physical. We needed this game and we’ve got Moses on Friday. We’re looking for 2-2.”
Pilgrim’s next game is on Saturday at St. Patrick Academy at 4:30 p.m.