The Patriots conquered the Chariho Chargers 59-48 on Tuesday evening at Pilgrim High School during a Division II boys basketball game.
Chariho’s Levi King, a forward, led all scorers in the contest with 27 points and added 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Pilgrim was guided by three juniors in point guard Peter Kay, who topped the Pats with 15 points, plus eight assists, while Kenny Rix finished second in scoring with 14 points, and forward Tyriek Weeks, third, with 13 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks.
It is the first season in black and white for both Kay and Weeks, who transferred over from Hendricken this year.
“Peter is learning the point guard position a little bit,” Pilgrim head coach Matt Fontaine said. “It’s his 12th varsity game now with us, so he’s been our guy to go to, especially late, and he was making some nice passes down at the end, so that was huge.”
Weeks too, has proved to be a valuable acquisition.
“It’s been a good transition,” Fontaine explained. “Great leadership. The hardest working kid in the gym. So, it makes everything easy for us.”
“He’s been tough all year,” Fontaine continued. “Always getting double and triple-teamed. Going through that, and then always looking to make the next pass from there too. So, it’s easy when you get to coach a kid like that. It’s really helpful.”
And Rix, who is now in his third season at the helm, continues to impress.
“We know what Kenny does for us and he grinds,” Fontaine said. “He’ll work his tail off for us.”
“So, those three have been solid,” Fontaine finished. “It’s made our lives a little bit easier this year.”
Prior to tip-off, Pilgrim and Chariho paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, displaying both of his jersey numbers on the scoreboard, 8 and 24.
“We talked about him at practice on Monday after learning everything Sunday,” Fontaine explained. “Knew he was important to a lot of the kids because he’s a big reason why a lot of these guys play the game. We talked about how nothing is promised and how quickly things can change and there is a lot more in life than playing basketball.”
The Pats jumped out to an early 5-0 advantage when Weeks buried a 3-pointer, and then a baseline hook.
Chariho then got on the scoreboard and pulled within 5-2 after Nathaniel Felicetti made a jump hook of his own.
Next, Kay answered with a trey and upped the Pilgrim buffer to 8-2.
With 5:06 remaining in the half, Rix stole the ball and drove coast-to-coast for a breakaway layup before adding a 3-pointer from the right wing on Pilgrim’s next trip down, which upped the Pats advantage to 26-15.
However, with a little over a minute left in the half, King answered for Chariho with a 3-point shot, and then an old-fashioned 3-point play and inched the Chargers within five.
But with 7.9 seconds remaining in the first half, Kay made a layup while he was fouled, plus the free throw, and it gave Pilgrim a 31-23 cushion as the teams headed for halftime.
Chariho’s King began the second half with two layups and closed the gap to 31-27.
Next, Kay made a pair of free throws to end that run and widened the Pats margin to six.
With 11:33 remaining, Kay dished to Rix for a fast-break layup, and then Chariho was penalized for a technical foul, which earned Kay two more points from the charity stripe, and upped the Pats buffer to 37-29.
On Chariho’s next possession, King was whistled for a charge, and then Pilgrim’s Joe Izzi sank a 3-point shot just before the shot-clock expired and it ballooned the Pats advantage to 11.
Then, with under six minutes to play, Rix and Kay each sank 3-point shots, and then Izzi added a free throw and expanded the Pats lead to 53-38.
But over the next four minutes, Chariho went on a 10-0 run and pulled within 53-48. That spurt featured eight points from King before Moziah Mathews finished with a runner.
The Pats stopped the bleeding when Izzi, who finished with eight points, made a couple of buckets and gave Pilgrim some breathing room at 57-48. Next, Rix capped the night with a layup, which earned the Pats the 59-48 triumph.
With the victory, the Pats improve to 6-4 in the league and 8-4 overall, while the Chargers fall to 4-7 and 6-8, respectively.
It’s another step in the right direction for Pilgrim, who moves one step closer to where they want to be.
“Always happy with a win,” Fontaine said. “Now it gets us into a spot where we’re one win away now from our first goal of clinching a D-II playoff spot. Our first goal is always to get to seven wins. So, now we’re at six and we get to go to Middletown on Thursday to try and clinch a playoff spot.”
Middletown is 0-10 this season, but the Pats won’t take them lightly, especially in the Islanders house. That game tips off at 7 p.m.
“Middletown, if you look at their record, then that’s when you get caught,” Fontaine concluded. “They’re a tough team. They’ve been playing better, so we’ve got to come ready to go. Any road game’s tough.”