It’s been a tough season so far for the Toll Gate girls’ basketball team, and Thursday’s 46-24 loss at home to Tiverton didn’t help matters.
The Titans struggled on both sides of the ball against the Tigers, who improved to 2-5 on the year. Toll Gate fell to 0-8 in Division II-South.
The previous night, the Titans had lost 60-28 to Rogers.
“This is the first time I’ve really been disappointed – last night and tonight,” Toll Gate head coach John Paolino said. “They’re working hard, but they’re not working smart.”
Toll Gate didn’t have a player in double figures, as Laura McGuire led the way with six points. Miranda Coleman and Courtney Sheridan each added five points, while Lauren Barnes scored four.
In the first half, the Titans managed just eight points, while struggling to a 30-8 deficit at the break.
“The problem is, if we don’t box out and rebound then we can’t run any transition,” Paolino said. “We want to run transition. That’s the style I want them to play, but we can’t run it if we’re not controlling the boards. And we need to score easy baskets.”
Toll Gate also turned the ball over 11 times in the first 16 minutes, while surrendering 14 offensive rebounds to Tiverton.
The result of those rebounds was, more often than not, second-chance points, which put Toll Gate in a deep hole.
“We can’t get off to a good start,” Paolino said. “That’s been the problem every game, really. It’s just basic fundamentals. We’re not boxing out. We’re getting better, but we need to be more consistent.”
The Titans fell behind 6-0 in the early going, before McGuire hit a free throw to get them on the board for the first time.
Tiverton’s lead grew steadily, however, as 6-1 quickly turned into 14-4 and 20-6.
The Tigers closed the half on a 10-0 run in which Toll Gate turned the ball over four times.
“We’re probably averaging 30 turnovers a night,” Paolino said. “You’re not going to win any games with 30 turnovers a night.”
The second half, although not reflected on the scoreboard, was much better, as the Titans committed just six turnovers.
Toll Gate actually tied Tiverton 16-16 after halftime, giving it something to build on as the season moves along.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Paolino said. “This division itself makes it more difficult, because I think this is the tougher division.”
Mariah Caldwell led Tiverton with 10 points, and Samantha Sando and Olivia Bergandy each added seven. Eleven different players scored for the Tigers.
There may be brighter days on the horizon for Toll Gate, though. The Titans will have their best chance for a victory thus far on Friday, when they travel to winless Warwick Vets for a 5 p.m. start.
Paolino is hoping that game can finally get the Titans on the right track.
“We play well in spurts,” he said. “I’m trying to explain to the girls that our goal is still the playoffs, but it’s becoming a numbers game right now.”