CUMBERLAND --– Two teams in desperate need of getting their respective seasons on track crossed paths in first semifinal of the Cumberland/Lincoln Boys & Girls Club Holiday Tournament on Tuesday night at Cumberland High School’s Wellness Center.
Lincoln was the club that took a solid step in the right direction with a convincing 68-52 triumph over a Woonsocket squad that continues to seek answers. Lincoln will play Tolman in tonight’s championship game set for 7:45 p.m. Woonsocket and Cumberland in the 6 p.m. consolation game.
The Lions’ three-game losing skid went by the boards on their way to improving to 4-3 overall (1-3 Division II-Central). The loss extends the Villa Novans’ skid to seven games as Kyle Ivey-Jones’ club slips to 1-8 overall (0-5 Div. I-North).
“We’re trying to get our moral up heading into the New Year,” said the Woonsocket coach. “Obviously we need to correct some things, but we’ll be back at it (for tonight’s third-place contest).”
Said Lincoln head coach Kent Crooks, “This tourney comes at a nice time for us. We want to move ahead in a positive fashion because from everyone I talk to, this league (meaning Division II) is very tough. Every team brings it every single night.”
Mike Akanji and Matt Lague paced the winners with 19 and 18 points, respectively. The Lincoln pair worked in unison during the first half, combining to score 27 of the club’s 39 points. For Woonsocket Cody L’Heureux came off the bench to score 14 points on four 3-pointers while Jesse Charette pumped in 12 points on three treys. Andreas Brackett rounded out the double figure scores with 10.
The Lions entered play Tuesday having averaged 39 points in their three previous games. They needed just one half to match that output as Lincoln compiled 30 points in the paint to grab a 39-28 lead at recess. Lincoln, which scored 13 points off of nine Woonsocket turnovers, surged ahead as many as 20 (37-17) before late 3-pointers by Charette and L’Heureux cut the Novans’ halftime deficit to a dozen.
“We preach good things will happen when you take the ball to the rim, and that’s what happened in the first half,” Crooks said. “I thought Mike Akanji and Matt Lague did a great job of taking it to the hole.”
Ivey-Jones thought his club’s inability to rotate correctly on defense was a major reason why Lincoln seemingly scored at will during the first 16 minutes. Much to the chagrin of their head coach, the Novans settled for far too many jump shots, which forced Ivey-Jones to juggle his lineup. At one point in the second half Woonsocket had on the floor four guards – Charette, L’Heureux, Edwin Jones and Jarome Robinson – along with one big (Andreas Brackett).
“Our height wasn’t working because we weren’t getting the ball inside,” Ivey-Jones said.
The Lions continued to cruise well into the second half, surging ahead as many as 30 points (64-34). The Novans made a late surge to the finish line to make the final score somewhat respectable, but it too late in the eyes of Ivey-Jones.
“Right now my team is not giving me what I want,” said Ivey-Jones.
WOONSOCKET (52): Jesse Charette 4 1-4 12, Kodie Spearman 1 3-3 5, Andreas Brackett 4 2-7 10, Edwin Jones 2 0-0 4, Kory Lawrence 1 1-2 3, Jarome Robinson 2 0-0 4, Cody L’Heureux 5 0-1 14, Josh Houle 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 7-19 52.
LINCOLN (68): Anthony Palombo 0 0-0 0, Matt Lague 9 0-1 18, Matt Mennucci 0 2-2 2, Ryan Musket 3 2-2 8, Mike Akanji 9 0-0 19, Devante Barbosa 2 0-0 4, Andrew Juckett 4 0-0 8, Curtis Walsh 2 2-3 7, Andrew Viega 1 0-0 2. Totals: 30 6-8 68.
Halftime: L 39-28.
Three-point field goals: 2 (Mike Akanji, Curtis Walsh); W 7 (Cody L’Heureux 4, Jesse Charette 3).