Warwick Vets trailed Providence Country Day for most of the first half in Tuesday’s game at the Warwick Beacon/Citizens Bank Holiday Classic, but the ’Canes scored five quick points at the end of the half and the first two of the second half. The lead was down to nine, and it looked like the ’Canes might have a run in them.
PCD delivered the run instead.
After Dom Malaga’s layup cut the lead to nine early in the second half, PCD exploded for a 19-0 burst that quickly put the game away. The Knights went on to an 81-52 victory.
“We decided to concentrate more on defense,” said PCD head coach Tom Sienkiewicz. “They’re a tough team, because everybody can drive and score. We just wanted to concentrate on our defense, and we were able to get out on a couple of breaks and capitalize on our opportunities. It worked out well for us.”
The PCD run started with 14:29 left when Tom Horvat hit a jumper. After a turnover, Horvat hit a layup on the break and did the same thing after a quick Vets miss, making it 43-28.
Then the Knights really hit high gear. In a span of a minute and a half, Horvat buried three three-pointers and Matt Davitt hit two layups off turnovers as the Knights scored 13 more points in a row.
It was a perfect storm for the Knights. Once the run started, the ’Canes looked shell-shocked, and the Knights just kept the pedal down. They forced eight turnovers in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the second half.
“At the high-school level, you always try to predicate everything on the defensive end, but usually at this age, they’re not thinking that way,” Sienkiewicz said. “So you try to keep encouraging them to do that. We’re just trying to work as hard as we can on the defensive end.”
With the defense coming through, Davitt and Horvat did the rest. Davitt had a game-high 27 points and Horvat scored 22. Once Vets stopped the bleeding on the 19-0 run, Davitt had a personal 8-0 run to put the game further out of reach.
“Matt and Tom are our two high scorers, and they have a nose for the basket,” Sienkiewicz said. “They have a good feel for scoring.”
Vets stayed close with PCD in the early going, getting threes from Malaga and Will Remak and a jumper from Colby Menard to get within a point at 10-9 with 10:04 left in the first half.
From there, the Knights didn’t explode like they did in the second half, but they were steady. They out-scored Vets 19-5 over the next 5:16 to go up 29-14.
Vets trimmed the deficit to 12 on a three by Malaga with 1:44 left in the half. After PCD hit two shots, Malaga made another three and Menard scored on a jumper to make it an 11-point game at the half. Unfortunately for Vets, it didn’t get much better.
Malaga led the ’Canes with 17 points. Carter Thomas added 10, Remak had nine, Brandon McGuire scored eight and Menard chipped in six.
Vets was scheduled to play Pilgrim in the tournament on consolation game on Wednesday, with results unavailable at press time. PCD was slated to take on Toll Gate for the championship.
“Hopefully, we’re on the right foot,” Sienkiewicz said.