BY TIM SCOTT
Throughout Rhode Island, there were many intense basketball games that changed the outcomes of several teams’ destinies. When the maximum margin of victory was just five points, the closeness and tension associated with the eight postseason games reached an all-time high, and demonstrated the talent of sixteen basketball teams.
With collegiate venues such as CCRI-Warwick, Roger Williams University, and Rhode Island College, the teams demonstrated their competitiveness, and their tenacity at critical times. Although only eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals at Providence College’s Alumni Hall, each game demonstrated the motto which says that “anything could happen, on any given day.”
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27
Games Held at Rhode Island College
(1) CLASSICAL 50, (16) West Warwick 47
In a game where many thought that Classical would dominate, the West Warwick Wizards rose to the challenge by forcing tough shots and playing tough defense. At halftime, the Wizards held an advantageous 20-16 lead. However, the Purple, led by Ismael Batista, outscored the Wizards 34-27 in the second half to avoid the upset. Classical played tough defense in the final two minutes, and clutch free throws put the icing on the victory cake.
(8) WESTERLY 52, (9) North Providence 48
In a battle of highly competitive Division II teams, Westerly relied on its role-players to defeat the North Providence Cougars, 52-48. Even though the Cougars held Rhode Island’s leading scorer Austin Cilley to only 10 points, they did not have an answer for Jacee Hamelin. The freshman had a triple double (17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds), and provided a spark in the second half. Max Bumarch had 16 rebounds while scoring 8 points, and Phil Lynch scored 9 points. Meanwhile, for the Cougars, Jeff Malloney and Samuel Odukoya each scored 16 points, while Joel Diaz and Jeff DiDomenico contributed 14 points.
Games Held at CCRI-Warwick
(15) BISHOP HENDRICKEN 59, (2) LaSalle Academy 54
In one of the biggest stunners so far, the Bishop Hendricken Hawks played well from start to finish, defeating a depleted LaSalle team, 59-54. Since LaSalle had several players suspended due to an off-court skirmish in the Divisional Tournament, their lineup was young and inexperienced. William Tavares led all scorers with 22 points, which contributed to a victorious effort by the Hawks. Kazre Cummings scored 15 points, while Will Parmlee added 10 for the Hawks. For the Rams, Adrian LeFleur scored 17 points, while Damon Gomes contributed 10 more.
(7) HOPE 65, (10) Coventry 63
In a rematch of the Division I Semifinal game, the Hope Blue Wave overcame a halftime deficit to beat Coventry, 65-63. The current Division I champions scored 30 points in the second half, and played a very sturdy offensive game. Manny Kargbo led all scorers with 18 points, while Ben Vezele contributed 16 points. Meanwhile, for Coventry, Austin Gagan scored 16 points, and Brendan Haynes scored 14.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28
Games Held at CCRI-Warwick
(11) BARRINGTON 42, (6) Mount Pleasant 40
In a strong defensive contest, the 11th-seeded Barrington Eagles avenged an Injury Fund loss in December to defeat the Mount Pleasant Kitlies, 42-40. Barrington took the lead in the final minutes, and never looked back after that. Despite the absence of scoring threat Corey Daugherty (mononucleosis), several players stepped up for Barrington throughout the game. Nick Raymond scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the second half, making 6-of-8 free throws. Jesse Browne scored 10 points, and Colin Vatter hit two three-point shots. Meanwhile, for the Kilties, Jovel Beckford scored 16 points, while Zdahmond Dale contributed 14 points.
(3) NORTH KINGSTOWN 68, (14) Cranston West 67
In a crazy finish, the North Kingstown Skippers relied on the clutch heroics of Justin Pratt to knock off the Cranston West Falcons, 68-67. With 0.7 seconds left, a jump-ball call gave the Skippers possession (at the time, the Falcons led, 67-65). The Skippers inbounded the ball to Pratt, who sunk a three from the perimeter at the buzzer. With that three, Pratt scored 13 points on the night. Matt Quianoo led all scorers with 23 points, while Owen Heath scored 15. For the Falcons, Tyler Fann scored 23 points, while Mike Rainone contributed 14.
Games Held at Roger Williams University
(5) NORTH SMITHFIELD 73, (12) Shea 69
North Smithfield became the first Division III team to advance to the Elite Eight since the tournament’s inception in 2011. The Northmen showed their offensive prowess against an athletic Shea Raiders squad, emerging victorious with a 73-69 score. Peter Keenan led all scorers with 20 points, while Breno Pena scored 18. Cody L’Heureux also scored 14 for the Northmen. The Raiders were led by Eli Itkin with 20 points, while Alvin Semedo scored 13.
(13) PROUT 61, (4) Cumberland 57
Prout’s perseverance and patience against a stout Cumberland defense paid off with a 61-57 victory. The Crusaders outscored the Clippers, 34-26, to clinch the victory. Eric Ramieka scored a game-high 23 points. Justin Bristol scored 14 points, and Josh DiPietro contributed 11 points for Prout. Meanwhile, for Cumberland, Ben Bradley led the scoring with 15 points. Gregg Joubert scored 13 points, and the duo of Dylan Boisclair and Tom Lazaras each scored 9 points.
The Elite Eight will play their games on Sunday, March 3, at Providence College’s Alumni Hall. The winners of these four games will travel to the Ryan Center on Friday, March 8, and potentially to the championship on March 10.
Here is the schedule of games for Sunday, March 3.
11:30 am: (11) Barrington at (3) North Kingstown
1:30 pm-(15) Bishop Hendricken at (7) Hope
6:30 pm-(8) Westerly at (1) Classical
8:30 pm-(13) Prout at (5) North Smithfield