NORTH KINGSTOWN - The Division I playoff draw matched North Kingstown up with Smithfield, a team it lost to just two weeks ago, in the preliminary round.
The Skippers had no trouble in the rematch.
A dominant first 16 minutes gave the Skippers a 24-point halftime lead, and they nursed it to the finish line in the second half for a 59-49 victory.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the first half,” said assistant coach Kevin Gormley. “We executed so well, both on the offensive and defensive end. We did exactly what we wanted to do.”
Gormley stepped in for head coach Aaron Thomas, who was out with an undisclosed medical issue.
North Kingstown, the No. 3 seed from Division I-South, advances to face North No. 2 seed Mt. Pleasant on Monday at 7 p.m.
Smithfield was the only team outside of No. 1 seed Classical and No. 2 Bishop Hendricken to beat the Skippers this season, winning 65-52 on Feb. 12.
Friday night, North Kingstown briefly fell into the same kind of slog it hit in the first meeting. It was just a 5-4 game with nearly six minutes gone, but a 9-0 run quickly got the Skippers going. Owen Moynihan started it with a layup on the break after a long outlet pass by Shawn Murphy. Ethan Smith followed with a 3-pointer, Moynihan hit a jumper and Owen Goba scored inside.
And that was only the beginning.
Smith opened the second quarter with another 3-pointer and Murphy scored in the paint for a 19-4 lead. After a 3-pointer by the Sentinels - just their second field goal - the Skippers caught fire for a 14-2 run powered by Moynihan, Goba and Murphy. A 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer by Liam Ennis provided the exclamation point as the Skippers went to halftime with a 38-14 lead.
As smooth as the offense was, North Kingstown allowed only five field goals at the other end.
“Great defensive effort, and I thought offensively, we were really moving the ball well, spacing out, attacking their zone,” Gormley said. “We had some trouble with their zone two weeks ago up at their place. We really worked on spacing everything out and the guys did it. It was pretty to watch.”
Smithfield slowed the Skippers’ pace in the second half but didn’t make enough headway. A 6-0 burst made it an 11-point game with 5:24 left, but the Skippers followed with the next six points and held the Sentinels without a bucket for the next three minutes.
Moynihan led the Skippers with 20 points and Smith scored 17. Goba chipped in with 10.
Mt. Pleasant awaits in the quarterfinals after a bye through the preliminary round. The Kilties went 8-2 in the regular season, losing only to La Salle and Bishop Hendricken.