The Warwick Vets boys’ basketball team did some good things in Monday night’s home game against Moses Brown. The ’Canes rebounded well, hit some big threes, and always hung around when the Quakers threatened to pull away.
But no matter what they did, ’Canes didn’t have an answer for Michael Cavallaro. The Moses Brown senior, who leads the state in scoring with 22.8 points per game, torched Vets for 39 on Monday, and that performance powered the Quakers to a 67-51 victory.
Moses Brown improved to 7-7, while Vets dropped to 4-10.
“We tried box and one, we tried man, we tried a lot of things,” said Vets head coach Chris LeBlanc. “He’s a good player. He’s taller than our guys. He drove, he shot it, he was the whole thing.”
Cavallaro scored 20 in the first half, but Vets ended the half on a 9-2 run to get within seven. Vets continued to hang around in the second half, getting as close as five with 10:13 to play, but Cavallaro and the Quakers always managed to keep the ’Canes at arm’s length.
Despite playing against a box-and-one, Cavallaro added 19 points in the second half. In one stretch, he scored 13 of his team’s 17 points.
“He was the difference,” LeBlanc said.
Vets took an early 6-2 lead on three-pointers by Scott Camara and Will Remak, but the Quakers responded with nine straight points, capped by a Cavallaro three.
Vets got back within four on a Dom Malaga runner with 8:31 left, but a free throw and a three-pointer by Sebastian Ferrell on consecutive possessions put the Quakers back up by eight. Cavallaro added a free throw and a leaner to make it 11.
Throughout that stretch, the ’Canes got some decent looks of their own – they committed only six turnovers in the first half and seemed to execute their offense well. But they were cold from the field, especially from close range. They shot 25 percent in the first half.
“If only we could make a layup or two,” LeBlanc said. “At halftime, I think we had missed 20 points on layups. I’m going to say we left about 30 points on the board total. You’re not going to win if you do that. That’s the bottom line.”
The ’Canes trailed by as many as 14 late in the first half, but made a run to get back into the game. Remak hit two free throws, and Camara hit one to make it an 11-point game. After a bucket inside by Moses Brown’s Matthew Keigwin, Camara hit a fast-break layup and Carter Thomas hit two free throws. Malaga hit a leaner with nine seconds left to make it 32-25 at halftime.
The ’Canes opened the second half in a box-and-one, with Malaga shadowing Cavallaro. That slowed Cavallaro down momentarily, and the ’Canes put together a quick 6-0 run to make it 44-39 with 10:13 left.
That was as close as they got, though. Malaga stole the ball from Cavallaro on Moses Brown’s next possession but missed a tough layup. At the other end, Moses Brown’s Gus Culpo scored inside, and after a missed driving layup by Travis Babcock, Cavallaro buried a three. A Vets turnover then led to a Culpo layup, and all of a sudden, the Quakers were back in front by 12.
Vets stayed within striking distance for the next four minutes, getting a three from Brandon McGuire and a hook shot by Colby Menard to make it a 10-point game with 4:40 left. But Malaga missed a three and Vets committed a turnover on its next possession. That led to a fast-break layup by Cavallaro with 3:57 left, and the lead only grew from there. Vets made just two more field goals.
Ferrell and Gregory Boland had eight points each behind Cavallaro’s big night. Vets was led by Remak, who had 15, and Malaga who scored 13. McGuire added seven, with Camara and Babcock getting six each.
Vets came into the game off a lopsided victory over winless Fatima, but couldn’t make it two in a row.
“We’re still young,” LeBlanc said. “The starting lineup, I had two sophomores out there. They’re learning. Sometimes, they’re learning the hard way, but they’re going out and doing their best.”
The ’Canes still have an outside chance to qualify for the state tournament but would have to win their final four games. That stretch starts with two tough ones – Vets hosts second-place Juanita Sanchez on Friday at 7 p.m. and visits division leader Toll Gate on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“We’re looking for a strong finish,” LeBlanc said. “We can play with anybody. We just have to get our act together.”