WESTERLY — South Kingstown boys basketball coach Roland Fiore fell short of calling the Rebels’ dominant 73-51 win over Westerly High on Friday in the title game of the 34th annual WCCU Holiday Tournament a mint effort.
“I thought we had too many unforced turnovers and didn’t get the ball inside enough to our interior players,” Fiore said. “It was a solid game, but not our ‘A’ Game.”
Then Division II Westerly doesn’t want to ever see South Kingstown play an ‘A’ game.
Fortunately, the Bulldogs (3-4, 2-0 D-II) won’t have to see SK (6-2, 4-1 D-I) again, unless they meet in the State Open tournament. Next week, Westerly returns to league play, where there aren’t players like 6-foot-8 SK center Keegan Records (16 points, 18 rebounds) and 6-1 guard Darian Butler (25 points, tourney MVP award) displaying their talents.
“We’re looking forward to get back to divisional play,” said Westerly coach Mike Gleason, whose team’s four-game win streak came to an end. “SK extends their zone defense well, and presents problems for us with their length. They were very good offensively. Butler didn’t miss many shots, and we did not hit our open shots, which was a departure for us since we’ve averaged 43 percent on 3-pointers this season.”
Gleason and Co. can only wonder if they could have traded baskets with SK if 6-8 Dave Tiedemann were available. Gleason said Tiedemann’s injured knee is still two weeks away from allowing one of the state’s top players to suit up. But the 1,000 or so in attendance saw two of the state’s best in Butler and Records.
While Records cleaned up on the defensive glass, Butler shook loose for 14 first-half points, including a one-handed slam dunk on a fast break and a buzzer-beating 3 from the left corner to give the Rebels a 37-16 halftime lead.
Westerly made just five field goals, including a pair of 3s, in the first half. Top scorer Taber Gates was held to just four free throws.
But Westerly came alive early in the second half behind the shooting of sophomore guard Chas Morgan, who scored 17 of his 22 in the second half. Gates also tossed in a pair of 3s as Westerly cut a 20-point-plus lead to 52-38 with seven minutes left.
“I’m proud of the way our guys competed to get it back to 14,” Gleason said. “SK has a lot of answers.”
SK scored the next two hoops on a Ryan Fazio (10 points) drive and Butler layup to make it 56-38. Gates hit a 3 to cut it to 15, but the Rebels had no scoring droughts, upping the edge to 67-43 on a Butler 3 with three minutes left. Butler made three 3-pointers.
“If Darian is on, he opens up the floor for our inside guys,” Fiore said. “We’ve been consistent in the respect that we’ve been up by 20 in just about every game. I’d like to show more patience down the stretch. This is a nice experience for us to play in front of a large crowd. The intensity will help us down the road.”
Chariho’s Tom Longolucco and Stonington’sZach Scott joined the SK and Westerly tandems on the all-tournament team. SK point guard Cameron Munroe (11 points) was named as the sportsmanship winner.