Second-half woes plague Smithfield girls in loss to Barrington

Second-half woes plague Smithfield girls in loss to Barrington

Smithfield's Rachel Balcom, #3, splits the Barrington defense for a layup during last week's showdown. Balcom scored 11 points, but the visiting Eagles were still able to come away with a 62-52 victory. (Valley Breeze & Observer photo by Kayla Panu)
Sentinels rebound to down Bay View

SMITHFIELD - It was clearly a tale of two halves last Wednesday night in the Smithfield High girls' basketball team's Division I showdown against Barrington High, as the Sentinels dominated the first half, but came up short in the second and ended up suffering a 62-52 loss to the Eagles.

"I thought we played our best basketball all season in the first," Smithfield head coach Robert Comella said of his team, which suffered its third league loss in its last four games. "We went up and down and played good defense.

"In the second, we knew Barrington would come out with high intensity and trap us. We were soft on defense and didn't box out. A win is going to take a full 32 minutes."

This was a physical affair with high foul totals. Smithfield's Lauren Hindley ran into foul trouble in the second half, but she did an excellent job under the basket and scored a team-high 25 points. Barrington's Sarah Middleton was the game's top scorer with 26.

The Sentinels started the game with a 7-2 run, but the Eagles slowly crept back into the game behind Middleton's three-point shooting. She hit five 3-pointers, three in the first half, while Grace Coutu and Grecia Restituyo also helped out with their rebounding and their height.

The Eagles tied the score at 21-21 on a basket by Coutu, and for the rest of the half, the lead continued to flip flop, as both teams went basket for basket. Middleton soon hit another 3-pointer, but Taylor Deming followed with her only points of the night on a three of her own.

But after Hindley gave the Sentinels back the lead, Rachel Balcom added a late basket to give the Sentinels a 34-29 advantage at halftime.

Balcom opened the second half with another bucket, but Barrington came back with nine straight points, six on back-to-back 3-pointers by Middleton, to reclaim the lead, 38-36.

But Hindley then tied the score with a layup and gave the Sentinels back its lead by scoring on a nice feed from Balcom.

"Rachel played her heart out," Comella said of Balcom, who ended up with 11 points. "Offensively and defensively, she was all over the place and takes a beating. ... They all worked hard, but we're undersized and not deep in the bench."

But after the Eagles tied the score, they scored the next seven points, taking the lead on a free throw and never looking back. They encroached under the net on defense, not allowing the Sentinels a good look, while also using their height for turnovers.

"We're playing well, but we're a little shorthanded," Comella said. "The girls are playing hard. Tonight, we were soft on defense. Usually, our problem is the ball not falling in the net. They play hard and aggressive, and there is no quit. They fight to the end."

The Sentinels had another tough opponent two nights later when they hosted Bay View, but they took a hard-fought 55-51 win that improved their overall record to 8-4 overall and evened its league record at 4-4. Comella said Bay View was one of the top three teams in the state this season.

Hindley had a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds and hit two big free throws in the final minute for the Sentinels, who trailed by a basket, 26-24, at halftime. Balcom netted a game-high 17 points, and Jenna Haberle added nine.