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WOONSOCKET â€“ On a night in which she was honored for scoring her 1,000 career point earlier this season, senior Kailey Fugere and the rest of her Woonsocket High teammates cooled off a resurging St. Raphael Academy program Friday night with a 41-36 decision at Savaria Gymnasium.
Fugere, who was recognized for her milestone during a halftime ceremony, finished with 17 points. The game was hardly the Villa Novans best effort, however, as St. Rayâ€™s overcame a 14-point deficit before the break and made their host sweat it out until the final buzzer.
But it was still a win for the Villa Novans, their fifth straight to improve their record to 8-4 in Division I-North.
â€śThey outplayed us thoroughly in the second half,â€ť said Woonsocket coach George Coderre. â€śWe had just enough at the end, but I was disappointed with our lack of poise. Maybe itâ€™s just the distractions of the night. Fortunately we had enough poise at the end (to win). I thought St. Rayâ€™s played extremely well tonight.â€ť
The setback is the first for the Saints in their last five league games and drops their record to an even 5-5. But against a quality Woonsocket team, SRA head coach Fred Saunders was certainly not disappointed in his teamâ€™s effort, especially considering the large hole it had to climb out of entering the second half.
â€śI was extremely proud of my kids,â€ť he said. â€śWe came in at the half and I told them we just got to work hard at it. There was a good resolve I saw on my team. I thought if we displayed a better second half it would be interesting. And it turned out to be that way.â€ť
Woonsocket took command in the first half. The Villa Novans quickly jumped to an 8-3 lead in the first four minutes of the game and held a 14-11 advantage with about five minutes remaining.
In a quick, three-minute span, Woonsocket scored 10 straight points to extend its lead to 13, beginning with a putback from senior Allyson Cartier (eight points, six rebounds) and a 3-pointer from junior Michelle Brayboy (eight points, four assists, three steals).
Woonsocket went into halftime with what looked like a comfortable 26-12 lead.
But the second half was a different story as the Saintsâ€™ suffocating defense started to create havoc for the Villa Novans, who often looked frazzled by their opponentsâ€™ aggressiveness.
The Saints chopped the Villa Novansâ€™ lead to five points, at 30-25, after back-to-back layups from sophomore Kelsy Lynch (eight points). After a 3-pointer from junior Crista Thomas (eight points) with 3:36 left on the clock, the Saints were within three (37-34).
Woonsocket was able to secure the triumph down the stretch with a putback from Fugere at the left wing and a pair of clutch free throws from Brayboy with 20.1 ticks left.
Woonsocket has two big games on the horizon. On Thursday it faces second-place Barrington and on Feb. 7 it matches up against unbeaten Bay View Academy.
â€śItâ€™s good when you can win when you didnâ€™t play particularly well,â€ť Coderre said. â€śYou come out of that feeling okay. But now we have to regroup because we have Barrington next Thursday. We are going to their place and that is always a big, big challenge.â€ť
The Saints also face Barrington in their next contest, hosting the Eagles on Tuesday.
â€śWe are just young,â€ť Saunders said. â€śThey are trying to learn the system. We started off the year too slow, but we are just starting to pick up and I feel good at where we are. There is still a long way until the end of the season. I think we are going to make a good run towards playoffs.â€ť
SAINTS (36) â€“ Lauren Gaj 2 1-2 5, Becca Gonzalez 1 0-0 2, Kelsy Lynch 4 0-2 8, Emily Millar 3 2-5 9, Oluwaseun Shittu 1 0-0 2, Christa Thomas 3 0-0 8. Totals â€“ 14 3-9 36
WOONSOCKET (41) â€“ Michelle Brayboy 2 3-4 8, Allyson Cartier 4 0-0 8, Kailey Fugere 6 5-6 17, Katie Marcoux 2 2-2 6, Shade Olowookere 0 0-1 0, Amanda Sloan 1 0-0 2. Totals â€“ 15 10-13 41
Halftime â€“ W, 26-12. 3-point goals â€“ SRA (3); Millar, Thomas 2. W (1): Brayboy.