MSC learns important lessons
Smithfield too much for young Mounties
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.
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.