PORTSMOUTH — The ball just wouldn’t drop for the Patriots Wednesday night, as the boys’ varsity basketball team’s season came to an end at the hands of top-seeded West Warwick.
The Patriots fell, 66-52, in a hard-fought yet decisive loss to the Wizards in the Division II quarterfinals at North Kingstown High School.
The Patriots were looking to avenge an earlier 21-point loss to the Wizards, and held their own early on.
Portsmouth led 16-12 with under six minutes to go in the first half, but the Wizards went on a 10-0 run in a three-minute span to take control and led 31-23 at the half. Too many missed shots by the Patriots and too many rebounds grabbed by West Warwick put the game out of reach in the second half.
Despite the loss, head coach Joe Occhi said he was happy with the way the season went.
“For the game tonight, we were a few mistakes away from being right there,” said Mr. Occhi. “It’s a game of runs; they had their run in the middle of the game and we started to have a few runs. We had a few turnovers but for the most part, I thought we played right with them. We out-rebounded them in the first half, we slowed down their break, we held them below their scoring average.”
The Patriots were also competing with a key player who was not at 100 percent, he said.
“Nobody knew this, but (senior guard) Brennan Tierney rolled his ankle two days ago in practice, so he was all taped up. So we knew we were going to be a little bit differently synched tonight. But they held their own,” he said.
The Patriots were cold from outside, which was a big factor in the loss.
“Cole (Swider) and Brennan, they had a lot that just rattled around. They just wouldn’t drop. If those shots hit, it’s a whole different game and I think we’re on the other end of that score,” said the coach.
Swider, a freshman forward, was the high scorer for the Patriots, with 15 points including two 3-pointers. Senior forward Ryan McVicker added 10, with two 3-pointers. Tierney chipped in seven more.
West Warwick’s Trevor Lawton led all scorers with 21.
Mr. Occhi said he will greatly miss all of his senior players next year.
“I’ve coached all these seniors since they were freshmen,” he said. “Brennan is that guy that every coach loves. I joke sometimes that I call him my 50-year-old teenager because he’s very serious about winning, about the team. He’s a textbook captain and he’s learned every lesson.
“But they all brought something. Matty Sewall had a little bit rougher edge to him, but the leadership was there. There was a lot — some that you saw on the floor, some that you didn’t see — that Matt brought to this team that was very important. Christian Darden, early in the season, wasn’t getting a lot of minutes and had a tough transition from football but he came on in the last couple of weeks.”
Mr. Occhi said he’s “very positive” about next season.
“We’ve got a lot of good guys back. We’ve got Colin Tullson, we’ve got (Christoper) Carpenzano, we’ve got Cole, we’ve got a good freshman class, we’ve got Evan Moore,” he said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we’re going to be OK.”