SMITHFIELD – For 16 minutes of the Smithfield Officials Tournament, Tolman High held its own against Division I opponent North Providence.
It’s too bad it was the other 16 minutes that made the difference.
The Tigers fell behind by 25 points at halftime before eventually succumbing to a 57-34 loss to the Cougars in Tuesday’s opener of the three-day tourney. Senior Danai Porter was the lone bright spot for Tolman, scoring more than two thirds of the offense with a game-best 23 points.
Tiger coach Tammy Drape, whose squad’s last game was a 72-53 defeat to fellow Div. II rival Scituate back on Dec. 16, felt a number of things affected her players in the first half.
“We had a lack of getting back into transition. We had lack of rebounding and, for disciplinary reasons, we benched one of our other (starting) guards so we were down a guard,” said Drape, whose Tigers were staring at a 39-14 deficit at the half. “But I saw some good things from some kids that are not normally used to getting some minutes. It’s a lesson learned. We’ll just move on.”
If not for Porter in the initial half, Tolman could have been looking at an even larger hole. The Tiger standout scored 12 of her team’s 14 points.
“Danai, we call her our little motor that just goes,” Drape said. “She works hard. She hustles not only offensively but defensively. She obviously gets us going.”
Even though the Cougars often shuffled players on and off the court in the second half, the Tigers still turned in a stronger effort during that span and actually out-scored their foe, 20-18.
The Tigers had their best spurt during the final three minutes with an 8-3 streak the last 3:11 of the game. Overall, however, Drape was not overly impressed with her squad’s performance.
“My girls just seemed like they were in a fog in terms of defense,” she said. “I wasn’t really concerned about my offense. I was more concerned about lack of defense. I didn’t have a stat girl today, but they out-rebounded us triple.”
The Cougars, a team that is currently 2-2 in the state’s highest division, had nine of their players involved in the scoring. Sophomore Katherine DeCorte led the bunch with 18 points. Senior teammate Pharadia Gabriel chipped in with eight points.
Tolman will continue action at noon today when it faces Div. III squad Central Falls. The Warriors dropped a 45-41 decision to Lincoln in their game on Tuesday.
TOLMAN (34) – Sara Summerly 1 0-0 2, Brittany Bilopeau 2 1-1 5, Danai Porter 6 10-13 23. Totals – 9 11-14 34
NORTH PROVIDENCE (57) – Katherine DeCorte 8 0-0 18, Claudia Pak 3 0-0 6, Pharadia Gabriel 4 0-0 8, Idara Akpan 2 0-2 4, Ashley VanBemmeler 2 2-2 7, Emem Akpan 1 1-1 3, Madison Jamack 2 0-0 5, Carolina Velasquez 2 0-0 4, Gianna Gigliotti 1 0-0 2, Juliana Puselli 0 0-0 0. Totals – 25 3-5 57
Halftime – NP, 39-14. 3-point goals – NP (3): DeCorte 2, Jamack. T (2): Bilopeau, Porter.