Eagles edge Skippers, reach girls' hoops 'Final Four'

Barrington beats North Kingstown to advance to state semifinals

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PROVIDENCE — The Barrington High School girls’ basketball team won a “rubber match” with North Kingstown Saturday afternoon, March 11, at Brown University’s Pizzitola Gym, the top-seeded Eagles dispatching the eighth-seeded Skippers 41-37 in the quarterfinal round of the 2017 Open State Championship Tournament.

Barrington and North Kingstown split two previous meetings, the Skippers handing the Eagles their lone loss to date. Saturday, Barrington hung on for the victory as Andrea Kubas-Meyer scored 13 points and Glory Ellison added 11, sending the Eagles to the University of Rhode Island Ryan Center and the ‘Final Four’ later this week.

In the first half, both teams got off to sluggish starts offensively before North Kingstown came on late to put Barrington in a 14-12 deficit heading into the locker room. Back on the court, the Eagles fought all the way down to the final seconds to earn the victory from clutch free throw shooting.

“Our defense was excellence all game,” Barrington head coach Stephen Lenz said. “We played the same defensive intensity in the second half, we just played better offensively. I don’t know what it is, but all year when we are backed into a corner we respond. I think (playing them three times) hurt because each team knows what the other is going to do.”

To start the game, North Kingstown got on the board right away off the tipoff. Barrington then saw its first points come from Ellison on a fast break and Kubas-Meyer on an open corner three to put the Eagles up 5-2 early on.

Two made free throws by Elizabeth Hutchings and the Skippers were forced to call a timeout as Barrington earned a quick 7-3 lead.

Back on the court, the two teams really struggled to shoot as Ellison made one of two at the line to give the Eagles their first points in over six minutes. Meanwhile, Barrington continued to play good defense as they held onto an 8-5 lead before Coach Lenz called a timeout.

After the break in action, the offense started to pick up as Ellison hit an open jumper and Olivia Middleton did the same for the Eagles while Kubas-Meyer sat on the bench with two early fouls.

North Kingstown, however, really started to put solid possessions together as their leading scorer, Morgan Higgins, hit on a shot and got to line which was all part of the point guard’s seven point first half that helped lead the Skippers to a 14-12 lead heading into the half on a 9-2 run.

“I think it (poor shooting in fthe irst half) was a combination of nerves and North Kingstown played really good defense,” Coach Lenz said.

After the intermission, North Kingstown came out firing as they scored five quick, unanswered points to up their lead to 19-12.

The Eagles came soaring back as they scored eight unanswered points of their own including four more points coming from Ellison and a basket from Kubas-Meyer that forced North Kingstown to call a timeout with Barrington now leading 20-19.

The teams proceeded to trade blows as another corner three from Kubas-Meyer and a layup from Grace Coutu allowed the Eagles to keep pace with North Kingstown as the game was tied at 25.

Barrington continued to find their grove offensively as a three from the top of the key went in for Cary Heterick and Ellison scored on a fast break to put the Eagles up 30-27 as the Skippers called a timeout.

Back on the court, Coutu scored and was fouled before Kubas-Meyer made her third corner three of the game to give Barrington their largest lead of the game, 35-27, with under seven minutes remaining.

North Kingstown responded on their very next possession as they hit a three as well and Higgins scored again to shrink Barrington’s lead to 35-33.

After a pair of timeouts and a period of scoreless play as tensions grew higher, both teams played sloppy basketball and Barrington watched Middleton foul out with only 1:26 remaining and the Eagles up just 37-33.

Barrington then saw freshman Heterick go to the line for a one-and-one with just 1:15 left where she made two huge free throws to put North Kingstown in a 39-33 hole.

“That is a ninth grader and a lot of guts,” Coach Lenz said. “We needed a player to step up and hit some shots which Glory (Ellison) and Cary (Heterick) did.”

The Skippers then received a huge reverse layup from Higgins to bring Barrington’s lead back down to 39-35. The Eagles then got to the line again as Kubas-Meyer put Barrington back up by six after two made shots.

After a missed shot by North Kingstown and two missed free throws for Barrington, the Skippers earned a trip to the line with 10.9 seconds left and made both to shrink the Eagles’ lead to 41-37.

A foul before the inbound gave Barrington two more free throw shots and they missed both, but it didn’t matter as North Kingstown make a shot in the final seconds which sealed the deal for the Eagles, 41-37.

With the victory, Barrington advances to the ‘Final Four’ at the Ryan Center next Saturday, March 18, with tip set for noon. The Eagles will face the winner of Bay View and Moses Brown in their semifinal game.

“They deserve to go to the Ryan Center,” Coach Lenz said. “We are exhausted so we are going to rest, regroup and look forward to whoever we are playing next Saturday.”

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