NARRAGANSETT — As a team and a player with a flair for the dramatic last year – and in this very game – the Narragansett High School girls basketball team thought Leah Hart’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was going in on Tuesday night.
Hart was the hero in several thrillers last year and she made a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer Tuesday, but her last-second heave caromed off the rim this time as North Providence hung on for a 32-31 victory over the Mariners.
“We had the right girl with the ball,” head coach Kathryn Mahoney. “That’s who we wanted shooting in that situation. She’s done it before. It just didn’t go.”
Hart actually had two looks at the rim on the team’s final possession. A 3-pointer from the left wing with 10 seconds remaining bounced off. The long rebound bounced around before Hart ultimately snagged the ball near halfcourt, turned, dribbled toward the 3-point line on the left wing and put up another 3-point try. She fell to the court in disappointment as North Providence celebrated, having survived Narragansett’s rally from six points down.
Back to league play after nearly three weeks off, the Mariners dropped to 1-1. They had taken their opener against Middletown in December. With no seniors on the roster and only one proven scorer, they knew there were ups and downs on the docket.
“We were slow at times tonight, especially in the first half. It’s only our second league game, and we had a lot of people missing over break, so we really haven’t had a full team practice in a while,” Mahoney said. “We have a lot to work on, but I think there were a lot of positives, too.”
A cold stretch in the first half put the Mariners into a 12-5 hole, but a 7-0 run powered by Marina Charette and Livy Waranis gave them a 14-13 lead. After four straight points by North Providence, Hart sank her first buzzer-beating attempt to send the teams to halftime in a 17-17 tie.
It was just the second bucket of the game for Hart, a breakout star as a sophomore last year who scored 23 in this year’s season opener. North Providence played a box-and-one defense on her, which slowed her down and muddied up the Mariners’ attack.
“She’s well aware, and we’ve told her that should be expected,” Mahoney said. “It’s not an easy thing as a player to have a box-and-one on you, but I think over time, she’s going to learn how to deal with it. I told her at one point, ‘Defense is what you have to focus on. It’s one thing you can control.’”
Hart didn’t score in the second half, but the Mariners stayed in the game thanks to some timely buckets and the 11 turnovers they forced at the defensive end. Charette, Waranis and Danielle Hart carried the offensive load, and Anna Hart broke out of a cold spell with two 3-pointers down the stretch. The second one, off a pass from sister Leah, made it 32-31 with 42 seconds remaining. A North Providence turnover gave the ball back to the Mariners, but the potential game-winners wouldn’t fall.
North Providence’s Karissa Sherman led all scorers with 13 points. Her 3-pointer with 3:18 left was the last of the scoring for the Cougars, but it held up.
Anna Hart and Waranis led the Mariners with nine points each. Waranis, a sophomore who’s also a softball standout, didn’t play basketball last year but has made a good early impression while teaming with Charette inside.
“You can tell she’s a true athlete,” Mahoney said. “She anticipates well, she finishes well. I’m super happy that she came out and played this year. She’s a great kid, too – very coachable, always working hard. I think she’s only going to develop more from here.”
Narragansett will make the trek north to take on Ponaganset tonight. Monday, the Mariners return home for a South County matchup against Prout.