PROVIDENCE – Balanced scoring and tough defense led to a 49-43 upset of No. 1 Rogers at the hands of No. 8 Prout in the Division II girls’ basketball playoff quarterfinals at Rhode Island College.
The Crusaders trailed 7-1 and 16-7 in the first half, but rallied to trail only 23-18 at the half. Rogers got up by nine at various points in the second half, but couldn’t shake Prout or get up by double digits.
Rogers led 32-24 early in the second half, and 34-26, but Prout refused to fade away. The Crusaders went on a 12-2 run, capped by senior Brittany Donovan banking in a 3-point shot, to take a 38-36 lead.
When asked what he thought as Donovan launched the 3, Prout head coach Phil Quinn said, “No no no no no no!”
After the game, Donovan laughed a bit as she recalled Quinn’s response, but she said she was open and already in her shooting motion as she heard Quinn.
Although Rogers would tie the game with a bucket, Prout would never surrender the lead. Excluding a late 3, Rogers scored only four points in the game’s final 7:20.
Meanwhile, Prout expanded its lead to as many as nine points, thanks to free throws by Tori Jedsen, Maddie Hagerty and Olivia Hirst. While Prout only scored 11 points in the final six minutes, the Crusaders used 15 to 25 seconds with every possession, shortening the game and putting more pressure on the Vikings as time ticked down.
Following Prout’s opening round game, Quinn said he remembered what it was like to coach a team with a No. 1 seed, and added that it was tough to be the hunted.
“When it gets tight, it feels really hard to deal with that pressure,” he said of Rogers’ play. “That piano in the room was getting heavy on their back.”
In response to that pressure, guards Fatima McDonald and Josie Chaves tried to drive for quick buckets, and Elizabeth Jackson launched several 3s, but the shots wouldn’t fall.
Rogers went away from center Brianne Morgera despite a large size advantage in the post, and Ny’Jah Rivon was content to launch longer jumpers after being forced out of the paint. The two combined for just six second half points.
Quinn praised the work of Hagerty, Riley Martin and Jackie Tousignant on Morgera and Rivon, noting that they prevented several entry passes and clean post-up opportunities. Senior Ashley DiClemente, despite only being 5’3”, also snagged two important rebounds in the final four minutes.
“She’s quick and she’s tough, so she got those rebounds,” Quinn said of DiClemente.
Quinn added that while he had a different strategy coming into the game than Prout’s usual defense, he threw it out about six minutes into the game.
“I told them, ‘Let’s do what we’ve done the past seven years, tough man to man defense,’” he said.
Elaborating on this after the game, Jedson said, “The first thing he said to us was, ‘My brilliant plan was terrible.’”
The sole thing keeping Rogers in the game was Prout’s inability to hit open jumpers at times. While Hirst had eight first half points, she only hit two free throws in the second. Donovan’s banked-in 3 was her only field goal of the day.
Prout plays No. 4 Moses Brown in the semifinals 6 p.m. Wednesday at Rhode Island College. Moses Brown beat No. 5 St. Raphael’s 44-40 in the quarterfinals.
Jedson and Quinn both said that the goal of the season wasn’t to beat Rogers, although it was nice to take care of the top seed.
“The goal on November 30 was not to beat Rogers,” Quinn said.
“I really think we’re at our peak right now,” Jedson said. “We’ve got to keep our eye on the state championship.”
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|Jackie Tousignant||2||0||2||4||50.0%||6||0||0||North Kingstown|
|Kate McCormack||0||0||0||0||0.0%||0||0||0||North Kingstown|