MSC learns im­por­tant lessons

Smith­field too much for young Moun­ties

Woonsocket Call - - Sports - By BRAN­DEN MELLO bmello@woonsock­et­call.com

WOONSOCKET — Wed­nes­day night’s In­jury Fund con­test against Smith­field wasn’t about see­ing how the Mount St. Charles girls bas­ket­ball team could com­pete against a vet­eran Di­vi­sion I side.

For Mount coach Ray Leveille, the con­test was sim­ply about try­ing to find a five-player unit that could run his mo­tion of­fense and play solid half-court de­fense.

There were stretches of the first half where the Moun­ties did the lat­ter, but Mount strug­gled to find a rhythm on of­fense. The Moun­ties at­tempted just 39 shots and com­mit­ted 33 turnovers, as Sentinel se­nior Tay­lor Cobain scored a game-high 12 points in a 44-29 vic­tory.

“I was happy with the way we com­peted against a Di­vi­sion I team,” Leveille said. “I didn’t re­ally know what to ex­pect with so many new­com­ers and so many girls with­out any var­sity ex­pe­ri­ence, so I wanted to try out dif­fer­ent ro­ta­tions and see what worked and what didn’t work.

“I thought our defensive re­bound­ing was pretty good. Un­for­tu­nately, what we did af­ter the defensive re­bounds wasn’t very good.”

Mount St. Charles (0-1) com­mit­ted a num­ber of those 33 turnovers in the back court thanks to good tran­si­tion de­fense by Sarah Me­laragno, Ri­ley Hart and Cobain. The Moun­ties lack a true point guard this sea­son, so Leveille is count­ing on Katie Lynch, who scored a game-high 12 points, Lena Nguyen and Ni­cole Le­mos to share the ball-han­dling du­ties.

“We’re go­ing to go point guard by com­mit­tee, but at the same time we have to do a bet­ter job get­ting open,” Leveille said. “We need some players who played mi­nor roles in the past to step up and be more ag­gres­sive/. They’re go­ing to have to be more fo­cal points of the of­fense.”

Along with Lynch, the only other player who was a part of the team that went to the Di­vi­sion III ti­tle game two sea­sons ago was Kait­lyn Koller, who had a team-high 13 re­bounds to go along with three points.

Smith­field (1-0) should com­pete for a D-I play­off spot with a vet­eran ros­ter un­der first-year coach Ni­cole Cor­renti. Cobain and the vis­i­tors took ad­van­tage of three early Mount turnovers to score the game’s first six points. Lynch, who came off the bench, scored her team’s first two points of the sea­son from the foul line.

Mount’s first bas­ket came 6:41 into the half when Lynch knocked down a foul-line jumper to cut her team’s deficit to seven. Thanks to two late buck­ets from ju­nior for­ward Ju­lia Vanelli, the Moun­ties only went into half­time down 19-14.

The Moun­ties stayed in the game by mix­ing up their de­fenses. They started in a 1-2-2 zone be­fore tran­si­tion­ing to a 1-3-1 zone. Leveille also at­tempted to play some man-to-man de­fense, but the speed of the Sentinel guards proved to be too much.

“We’re go­ing to be play­ing a lot of peo­ple, so we’re go­ing to keep mix­ing it up,” Leveille said. “We’re go­ing to try and keep teams on their toes. We’re not the quick­est team, so we’re go­ing to try and sur­prise teams and get some steals and some traps. I’d like to play man all the time like we did in the past, but I don’t have the per­son­nel to do that.”

The Moun­ties com­mit­ted 20 of their 33 turnovers in the sec­ond half, which al­lowed the Sen­tinels to blow the game wide open. Me­laragno (nine points), ju­nior for­ward Ju­lia Mitchell (eight points) and ju­nior guard Caitlin Dolan (six points) helped stretch the lead out to 15 with six min­utes re­main­ing.

Leveille was pleased with the play of fresh­men Piper O’Con­nell, Talia Fer­nan­des and Jyostna Jais­hankar. All three are cur­rently swing players, but all three could have an im­pact on the Di­vi­sion II cam­paign. O’Con­nell scored a point in the first half, while Jais­hankar knocked down a 3-pointer in the fi­nal minute.

“I’m try­ing to bring the three fresh­men along slowly,” Leveille said. “I don’t want to throw them to the wolves right away, but they’re go­ing have to step up. They have the skills, it’s just a mat­ter of get­ting them up to speed.”

Mount’s next chance to de­velop an iden­tity is Wed­nes­day night at Seekonk. The Di­vi­sion II cam­paign opens up two nights later against John­ston.

File photo

Mount ju­nior for­ward Katie Lynch scored a team-high 12 points in Wed­nes­day night’s 44-29 de­feat to Smith­field in an In­jury Fund con­test.

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