PAWTUCKET – Tom “Saar” Sorrentine has been around the coaching block enough times to know that making adjustments goes with the territory. With his St. Raphael Academy outfit having dropped two of its previous three games heading into Tuesday night’s contest with Coventry, Sorrentine was more than justified in his desire to shake things up.
What the veteran head coach did in SRA’s 70-62 win against a pesky Coventry squad that would not go away is integrate three completely lineups around constants Charles Correa (game-high 23 points) and Cesar Mejia (20 points, 16 rebounds) along with senior Davon Robertson, who posted one of his better outings in recent memory.
As if he were conducted a symphony instead of coaching a high school basketball game, Sorrentine would call out for the appropriate group to report in. If it was speed that Sorrentine was seeking, it was time for Jordan Peguero and Zach Mays. If the game’s tenor called for a bigger approach, that meant for Abdou Bah and Kaseem Sams to join forces with Robertson.
The last group might as well be nicknamed the stretch-out gang with a dash of youthful exuberance for good measure. In sophomore John Cooney and freshman Graham Lynch, who saw his first-ever varsity action Tuesday night, Sorrentine has a pair of players who hold the potential of opening the floor up based on their ability to knock shots down. Cooney certainly fit the job description as he finished with nine points on three 3-point makes.
It was Cooney, not Correa or Mejia, who arguably knocked down the game’s biggest shot, a banked-in trey from the top of the key to put SRA up 52-42 with 7:22 remaining.
“We have some young guys who can shoot and we want to give them a little time,” said Sorrentine, noting that Lynch knocked down three 3-pointers during one-half of action in the JV game. “We have some guys who can play decent defense and we have a bigger team that we can put out there to get rebounds.”
Sorrentine may have stumbled onto something that may allow his Saints (12-2, Division I-East) to get back on the kind of roll they enjoyed up until two Fridays ago when La Salle Academy pinned a double-overtime loss on them. Last Friday’s two-point loss to North Kingstown, which also took place at Alumni Hall, also played a part in Sorrentine taking a deep look at how he could break his players out of their recent malaise.
As Tuesday night demonstrated, a committee approach might be the way to go, depending on the matchup at that particular moment. Sorrentine hooked Cooney and Lynch after the two youngsters spent roughly two minutes on the floor with Correa, Mejia and Robertson, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“We’ve got to shake it up,” Sorrentine noted.
The Oakers, who played Tuesday’s game minus the services of leading scorer Garrett Douglas, got down as many as 14 in the opening half before ripping off a 10-2 run that featured four straight makes by Sean Roles (eight points). The surge brought the visitors to within three (40-37) with not even four minutes gone by in the second half.
Back-to-back threes by Cooney restored the Saints’ double digit lead, which is where it remained until the closing minutes. Doug Auger nailed his third three of the game with 25.6 seconds left to cut Coventry’s deficit to 68-62 but two free throws by Correa allowed SRA to breathe a little easier and at the same time get back on the winning side of things.
COVENTRY (62): Aaron Greenwood 5 4-4 14, Ryan Finnegan 5 0-0 13, Brendan Haynes 2 0-0 4, Doug Auger 3 0-0 11, Sean Roles 4 0-0 8, Austin Gagan 4 1-2 10, Kyle Brouillard 1 0-0 2, Brandan Sullivan 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 5-6 62.
ST. RAPHAEL (70): Charles Correa 7 4-4 23, Cesar Mejia 7 5-8 20, Davon Robertson 5 2-4 12, Jordan Peguero 0 0-0 0, Abdou Bah 1 2-2 4, Malcolm Williams 0 0-0 0, Kaseem Sams 0 0-0 0, Zach Mays 1 0-0 2, Darshaun Vargas 0 0-0 0, Graham Lynch 0 0-0 0, John Cooney 3 0-0 9. Totals: 24 13-18 70.
Halftime: SRA 38-27.
Three-point field goals: C 7 (Ryan Finnegan 3, Doug Auger 3, Austin Gagan); SRA 9 ( Charles Correa 5, John Cooney 3, Cesar Mejia).