One thing was clear to Oliver Ames boys' basketball coach Don Byron heading into Tuesday night's Hockomock League contest against King Philip:
The Warriors were better than their 1-8 record indicated.
"They present some problems – they’ve got good size and their guard play was really good tonight," he said. "They’ve battled everybody all year long with the exception of maybe one game."
Byron's prediction proved to be true. The Warriors gave the Tigers all they had, outscoring Byron's squad in the first and fourth quarters. Still, it wasn't enough to defeat Oliver Ames at Nixon Gymnasium.
The Tigers defeated the Warriors 67-60 to improve to 7-4 overall. KP dropped to 1-9 overall.
While KP battled, it was the little mistakes and turnovers that cost them the game, coach Tim Clifford said.
"We’re not a team that can afford those dumb mistakes during the stretch and unfortunately that’s been a plague for us all year," he said. "We’re getting better every game. This might be one of our best outings yet."
While KP got out to an early 16-13 lead after a quarter, OA stepped up it's game on both offense and defense in the second and third periods, outscoring the Warriors, 33-19.
The Tigers were led by Ryan Carney, who shot 5 of 8 from behind the three point line and finished the game with 25 points. Four of his five 3's came in the second and third periods.
"There were times in that game where I didn’t think defensively we were where we needed to be and tended to let a couple shots give us a little bit of a push," Byron said. "As I said to the kids, it wasn’t that we made the real good effort that we felt we had to, it was more that we made a couple of shots and with that I think we left at halftime up five. We really didn’t dig in the way we needed to. We did have a little bit better energy in the third quarter I thought."
Carney was complimented by junior Nick Cidado, who scored 17 points.
Senior point guard Andrew Reardon added 12 points. More importantly, however, he was able to weather a defensive storm brought on by KP in the fourth quarter with sound ball handling.
"For the game, we had seven turnovers, which is very good," Byron said. "Our goal is to stay under 10, which is hard to do but we’ve done it in the last couple of games and Reardon is our primary ball handler and he does a nice job keeping it in control."
KP was led in the fourth quarter by senior Jared O'Connor, who scored 23 points, including 13 in the final minutes.
"We’ve been working on him trying to convert the mindset to less passes and more shooting which is rare for a player," Clifford said of O'Connor. "It’s to his credit because he’s such an unselfish guy. Tonight he realized we needed to help offensively and he stepped up. That could be every night for him. He’s a very capable player."
While the Warriors' solid fourth quarter wasn't enough to upset the Tigers, they will look to carry momentum into Wednesday when they travel to Durfee.
Oliver Ames will host Foxborough in an important Davenport Division game Friday night.