NEWPORT–The Rice Green Knights built a fourteen point lead in the first quarter and never looked back as they defeated the North Country boys basketball team 80-52 on Tuesday night.
Rice was hot right from the opening tip, going on a seven point run to kick off the game. Caleb Prue scored the Falcons first points of the contest when he grabbed a rebound and nailed the short jumper making it 7-2.
Casey Tipson picked a Falcon pocket and made the easy two to get the lead back to seven, but Devon Martin cut it down to four with nice three ball.
Jake Maynard answered with a trey of his own, but North Country at this point was still in the game and Prue drove hard to the basket and dumped in a nice lay-up in response to the Maynard basket.
Then the Knights went to work. They scored nine straight to close out the quarter up 21-7.
In the second they picked up right where they left off, and ran the streak up to eleven before a Prue foul shot broke up the run.
Rice hit four straight foul shots, making it 27-8, but Tyler Paxman hit for three to give the home town crowd some juice.
Making his first full game appearance for the Falcons on Tuesday was Matt Duncan. He has seen limited varsity action this season, but with his twenty point a game average at the junior varsity level, it was only a matter of time before he got a full game to show what he could do with the big club.
"He is a very very good basketball player and we figured at some point we would be ready to play at the varsity level and we figured that midway through the season would be that point," said coach Bonvechio, "He is there to challenge Steve, to challenge Jenne, and to make them better players and I think he has done that. And he is going to take some of the offensive load off of Caleb and I thought he did a real nice job tonight in his first full varsity game."
The youngster showed a great willingness to get right up in the faces of the much larger Rice players while on D, and he added a little flair on offense to boot.
Duncan put himself in the score book with a terrific play that started under the Falcon basket.
Colton White got the ball and heaved it the length of the court to an open Duncan. The freshman grabbed the ball, spun around in the air, and made the lay-up, grabbing the attention of those in attendance.
"I had no clue that I was going to make that," said Duncan on the play," I just turned around, threw it up, and hoped it'd go in and it did."
He followed that up with a long three, and seemed that the bigger stage did not intimidate him the least.
"At first I was nervous, but I went out there, played tough defense and played as hard as I can," the frosh said.
He also may have been a little too exuberant with his enthusiasm late in the quarter as he got a technical with twenty-two seconds to play. Giving Rice free looks at the basket is like giving a match and can of gas to an pyromaniac; they are going to burn you.
Rice was 22/35 from the stripe compared to North Country's 2/6, so looking at the discrepancy in chances from the line for the two teams, maybe Duncan had a point.
Said Bonvechio, "There was a combination of frustration and composure loss. The guys felt that we weren't getting calls on over the backs."
The third quarter was a tough one for the Falcons. Already up 39-20 after sixteen minutes, Rice dropped another twenty-two points on the hometown boys to bring their total to 61.
It did not matter who was out there for Rice, as they are a team full of gamers, something that head coach Chris Cassidy has been focusing on,
"We have really been emphasizing that to those guys (non-starters). They are playing against that first unit every day in practice, so they are going to get better naturally. So right now we are at that point where you are starting to see them get better as well."
Paxman had a nice shooting quarter for NCU, nailing another three and two field goals. Jason Hatin chipped in a bucket and Duncan went one for two from the line as the Falcons went into the final frame down 61-30.
The Falcons out scored Rice in the fourth twenty-two to nineteen, but the lead was just too much to overcome and Rice rolled to the 80-52 win.
The lack of recent games really showed in North Country’s play, and Bonvechio knows that when teams go this long with just practices, their game performance is going to suffer.
"For a winter where we have had no snowstorms, we have had more cancellations, and more changes, so we have had more practices with less players there and we are just not in game mode at this point.
"We are struggling and we are trying to figuring out our identity."
Paxman led the Falcons with 15 points, which included three buckets from behind the arch. Caleb Prue had twelve, Duncan hit two from long range finishing with 9, and Jason Hatin had eight.
Rice's Casey Tipson was the game’s top scorer with eighteen points.
Baring any changes, 4-7 North Country heads to Colchester to face the Lakers on Thursday at 6:30.
In the J/V game it looked like the team could have used Duncan's services as they fell by one 46-45 to the junior Knights.