Abigail McKanna caught the ball off the opening tip and raced to the basket for a layup, giving Narragansett a 2-0 lead just four seconds into Tuesday’s game.
Unfortunately for the Warwick Vets girls’ basketball team, things didn’t get any better.
Vets tied the game at 2-2 but then went ice cold and made just two more field goals in the first half. In the meantime, the first-place Mariners got hot, stormed to a 28-point halftime lead and never looked back on their way to a 58-21 victory. Narragansett improved to 12-1 with the victory while Vets dropped to 1-12.
“It was definitely going to be tough,” said Vets head coach Owen Paquet. “Narragansett’s the No. 1 team, and then they came out and they were red-hot. They didn’t miss, and that really put us behind the eight-ball quick.”
The ’Canes had been making some strides lately. Last Friday, they lost to third-place East Greenwich by 10 after trailing by just two at halftime.
But an upset wasn’t in the cards against Narragansett.
After McKanna’s layup to start the game, Vets’ Cassidy Plouffe scored on a putback to tie the game. The Mariners promptly got eight quick points on a jumper by McKanna and three-pointers by McKanna and Chelsea Sahagian, making it 10-2.
Casey Bennett stopped the bleeding for Vets with a three-pointer at the 11:40 mark that made it 10-5, but that was as good as it would get for the ’Canes.
For the next 7:44, Vets didn’t score. Emily Almonte finally ended the drought with an elbow jumper at 3:56, but by then the Mariners had opened up a 20-point lead.
“Offensively, I think we could have swung the ball a little better,” Paquet said. “But overall, no shots were falling for us. Whatever looks we were getting, the shots were just not going in.”
And during Vets’ drought, the Mariners put the pedal down. After Bennett’s three, Jaclyn Iannucci got a steal and converted a three-point play. That was the beginning of a 17-0 run that included a pair of dagger three-pointers by Raquel Harris.
Though Almonte eventually stopped the run with her jumper, Narragansett then scored the final eight points of the half to take a 35-7 lead into the break.
Vets committed 10 turnovers in the first half and shot just 15 percent from the field.
“We’re a young team, and there’s a moment of nerves that sets in when a team like Narragansett is coming in,” Paquet said. “It sets us back right away.”
Vets got off to a better start in the second half. Victoria Flynn stole the ball on Narragansett’s first possession and went in for a layup. A driving layup by Casey Bennett and a jumper by Liz Bailey made it a 26-point game with 14:11 left, but the ’Canes hit another cold spell after that, making one field goal in the next seven minutes.
Though they eventually stopped the drought, the deficit was far too much to overcome, and Narragansett cruised to the victory.
McKanna led all scorers with 15, while Sahagian and Harris added 10 each.
Vets was led by five points from Bennett and four from Flynn.
Though the result wasn’t favorable Tuesday, Paquet has been pleased with his team’s progress.
“Big-time strides,” he said. “The progression is there. We played East Greenwich the other night and we were down two at halftime. The first time we played them, it was a half like this, 35-6. It’s a young team and big strides are happening. It’s just that you can’t take any nights off.”
Vets has five games remaining in the regular season, starting with Thursday’s road game against Mt. Hope. On Monday, the ’Canes will visit Toll Gate, the only league opponent they’ve beaten so far this season.
“We’re looking forward to going to Toll Gate next week for another big inner-city rival game,” Paquet said. “We’re hoping to finish off the season strong, with a lot of progression and a positive attitude.”