Scituate girls keep on winning

Scituate girls keep on winning

Cranston West sophomore guard Maylina Cotto-Santiago, left, tries to prevent Scituate senior guard Rachel Oster from bringing the ball down the court during last Saturday night’s Division I game at the Spartans’ gym. Oster nearly had a rare quadruple-double, as she scored 10 points, added 12 steals, and had eight rebounds and as many assists to help the Spartans roll to a 50-36 victory. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Oster’s near quadruple-double, Rivera’s 22 points guide basketball team to D-I victory over Cranston West

SCITUATE – It’s been said time and time again in sports that defense wins championships. And while only time will tell if the Scituate High girls’ basketball team will win the Division I crown this winter, it’s been evident that their excellence on ‘D’ has put the Spartans in the conversation for the title.

Last Saturday night, Scituate’s outstanding defense was on full display in their showdown on their home floor against Cranston West. The Spartans limited the Falcons to just four points in the first quarter and recorded 19 steals on their way to a 50-36 victory.

The win was a big one for the Spartans, who have settled in nicely in the D-I ranks this season after winning last year’s D-II championship, and it kept them tied for fourth place in the standings.

Entering Tuesday night’s action, only Barrington (8-0) and SRA (5-0) remained undefeated, with South Kingstown sitting behind them with a 5-1 record. The Spartans and Wheeler shared the next spot in the standings with their 6-2 records. and Cranston West’s loss last Saturday put the Falcons a step behind them at 5-2.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of the girls,” said Scituate head coach Frank Kiser. “Over the last couple of weeks, everything’s been about our defense. We kind of got away from our defense and were falling in love with our offense, but I think tonight we got back to really playing hard.”

Leading Scituate’s defensive efforts was senior guard Rachel Oster, who frustrated the Falcons from start to finish and ended up with a dozen steals. She also nearly finished the night with a rare quadruple-double, as she scored 10 points and added eight rebounds and as many assists.

“I can’t say enough about Rachel,” Kiser said. “She was filthy on defense, and we got some great leadership from our captain, which we needed.”

Offensively, freshman point guard Armani Rivera led the way with a game-high 22 points, as the Falcons made it a point to contain junior forward Julia Olson. Rivera, who also collected seven rebounds and three steals, netted eight straight points in the final three minutes of the first quarter to give the hosts a 14-4 lead.

“Armani led us tonight on the offensive side,” said Kiser, who also saw his team own a 30-16 lead at halftime and a 39-26 command at the end of three quarters. “(Cranston West) did a great job guarding Julia and didn’t let her get any shots, but Armani was really aggressive getting to the basket, which we need from her.”

The Spartans also received some solid play in the paint from junior center Logan Bullock, who had 10 rebounds and two blocked shots, and junior center Emma LaPlante, who missed her team’s last game against Juanita Sanchez with a back injury, but came off the bench to grab eight rebounds and also block two shots.

“Emma’s going through some injuries right now, but she wanted to play,” said Kizer, who also received seven points from senior forward Talia St. Angelo. “As far as last night, she wasn’t going to play, but she called me up this morning and said, ‘I feel good, Coach. I want to try to play),’ and she gave us some big minutes.”

The Spartans went into this game without the services of junior guard Maddie Geisser, who was out with an injury she suffered in practice last Friday, but Kiser had a few of his younger players step up in her absence.

“(Sophomore guard) Kailey St. Pierre hit a big bucket late in the game, and (sophomore guard) Mia Clancy came off the bench and gave us some big minutes,” he reported.

Three nights earlier, the Spartans rolled to a 67-29 victory over Juanita Sanchez that saw Scituate receive balance scoring from Geisser (13 points), Olson (11), Rivera (nine), Bullock (eight), and St. Pierre, Clancy, and St. Angelo (seven apiece), and of course, the defense turn in another superb effort.

“I credit our offense carrying us early in the season, but we know that we’re not going to get to where we want to go without playing defense,” said Kiser. “It has to be about the defense.”

While a lot of teams in the state will have their hands full wrapping up their regular seasons, which is excepted to end on Feb. 24, the Spartans only have one D-I game left on their schedule, next Monday’s 6:30 p.m. contest in East Providence against Bay View Academy.

Two nights later, they will play a non-league game against a prep school team, St. Andrew’s School in Barrington, that should help get them prepared for the playoffs that are slated to start that weekend.

“In the meantime, we’re going to practice hard,” Kizer added. “We’ll take (Sunday) off and then we’re going to have five hard practices, which should help us from a conditioning standpoint because we need it. We had a really small preseason with just 10 practices, and it’s tough to get your conditioning during games. This short season, playing a game almost every other day, it’s really tough. We’re not really able to practice the way we want to because we usually have to save something for the next day.”

Scituate freshman point guard Armani Rivera scored a game-high 22 points to lead the way offensively.
Scituate sophomore guard Mia Clancy, right, stares down Cranston West sophomore guard Kiley Abendroth as she defends her during the second quarter of last Saturday’s 50-36 victory.