By Josh Weinreb
A late night for the Tiverton girls basketball team ended in defeat, as the Tigers fell to the Coventry Oakers 52-44 last Thursday evening at Tiverton High School. The Tigers fell to 9-6 on the season with only seven games remaining before the playoffs.
Tigers senior guard Sam Sando led the team with 12 points, while senior guard Jackie Wilson, senior guard Olivia Bergandy, and senior captain Hayley Higginbottom contributed for Tiverton. Junior guard Julie Jadach and sophomore forward Alyssa Derrick led all players with 16 points each for Coventry.
The loss continued a bit of a losing streak for the Tigers, as they have fallen in four of their last five games and have looked sloppy in the process. For Tigers head coach Scott Thiboutot, wasted opportunities were the main reason for the loss.
“We missed some easy shots, I think it was obvious,” Thiboutot said. “It’s a big thing — when you have open shots you have to make them in order to compete. When you miss those open shots it’s tough.”
Coventry came out of the gate fast, scoring seemingly at will against the Tiger defense. But after a late push at the end of the first half, the Tigers were able to battle back to even, and by the halftime buzzer Tiverton would only be down by two points.
In the second half, however, the Coventry offense continued to dominate, causing turnovers and making tough shots that enabled the Oakers to extend their lead.
“Got to give them credit, they played a great second half,” Thiboutot said. “I think we got outplayed a little bit.”
But the Tigers were not finished. With about two minutes remaining in the game, Tiverton began to stage a comeback, making easy jumpers and causing fouls that let them back into the game.
“We’re pretty aggressive,” Thiboutot said. “We press a lot, which you can see by the amount of fouls. We like to cause a lot of pressure. That’s what we do.”
With about a minute to go, Tiverton’s Alli Benevides made a huge three point shot gave the Tigers a glimmer of hope. The effort would go in vain though, as the Tigers’ last second push would not be enough.
For coach Thiboutot, focusing on the little things will help his team pull itself out of its losing rut just in time for the playoffs.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to teach the girls all year is taking care of the small things,” Thiboutot said. “Boxing out, foul shots, taking care of defense, small things like that. And we keep getting better at it, but we need to improve.”
“We are making strides. We are seeing some things getting better, but it’s just not enough,” he said.
The contribution from Thiboutot’s underclassmen is a positive to take away from the loss, as they are showing promise with limited amounts of playing time. they were led by junior guard Avery Pacheco who tallied points and five rebounds for the Tigers.
“She’s been putting in the hard work and effort, so she’s earned some time,” Thiboutot said. “She’s got some varsity playing time over the last couple of games, so that’s a good thing to see.”
The Tigers’ next game is tonight against Bishop Connolly at 6:30 p.m., and their next home game is February 12 when they take on Rogers.