By William Geoghegan
NARRAGANSETT — In a low-scoring grind, the Narragansett and Prout girls basketball teams each broke out for one good stretch on Saturday afternoon.
The Mariners’ best was a little better.
An 11-0 run late in the first half that extended to 15-0 early in the second allowed the Mariners to build a lead that proved insurmountable. Prout gave it a go with a 10-3 burst in the third quarter but couldn’t make up all the ground. Narragansett prevailed 39-30.
The win snapped a two-game slide for the Mariners and secured a winning season, with the team finishing at 5-4. Playoffs are on the horizon.
“We’ve had some tough games against the top teams,” Narragansett coach Kathryn Mahoney said. “It was nice to come home and get a win.”
Prout was sidelined for two weeks due to COVID-19 quarantine and returned Feb. 12 for a sprint to the finish, with seven games in 11 days. The Crusaders dropped to 2-4 with Saturday’s loss. They returned to action on Monday and beat Middletown. Rogers topped Prout 50-21 in Tuesday’s season finale.
“It definitely added some craziness to the season, but the girls stayed in shape,” head coach Kristina Kelly said. “Everyone is healthy and they came back wanting to finish strong.”
Prout led 10-8 early in the second quarter on Saturday and seemed poised to grab control when Narragansett star Leah Hart went to the bench with three fouls. Instead, it was the Mariners suddenly geting hot without their leading scorer. Beginning on a bucket inside by Danielle Hart with 4:42 left, the Mariners scored the final 11 points of the second quarter. Anna Hart added a layup on the break and a 3-pointer, Danielle Hart hit two free throws and Dharma Parks buried a jumper in the paint.
“I think sometimes we rely on Leah too much, and that can happen when you have a standout layer, especially when she’s a ball-handler,” Mahoney said. “But I said to them, ‘This goes to show that you can do it.’ To build that lead without her was impressive. She’s obviously valuable. We all know that, but I think you can become a little complacent and reliant on one player and that’s never good. I think that was a great confidence booster to be able to not only maintain, but to gain a pretty significant lead.”
After Narragansett got the lead to 23-10, it was Prout’s turn. The Crusaders picked up their defensive intensity and allowed just three more points in the third quarter. Eloise Bussey started the comeback effort with a 3-pointer. Zoe Moan scored inside, Stella Mayo converted a three-point play and Julia Mastrandrea scored on a putback to make it 26-20.
“I wish we weren’t in that position, but we really battled,” Kelly said. “Our defense was impeccable, but we missed a lot of layups. And Narragansett is a great team. Kathryn does a great job. We battled. I’m super proud of them. They played their hearts out.”
Prout kept pushing in the fourth quarter but never got closer than four points. After her teammates built the lead, Leah Hart was there to see it to the finish line. She made 10 of 10 free throws in the final 5:27 to seal the victory.
“She’s so clutch,” Mahoney said. “And they demonstrated some good basketball IQ to get her the ball. We have a lot of girls who shoot well from the line, but we’ve always emphasized, if a player is hitting shots, we stick with her.”
Leah Hart led the Mariners with 14 and Anna Hart had 13. Mayo paced the Crusaders with nine points, with Mastrandrea and Moan chipping in six each.