And you thought the Rhode Island Interscholastic League “tweaked” boys’ basketball last season, when it decided to hold a 16-team tournament that would determine one – repeat, one – state champion?
The RIIL has “tweaked boys’ basketball in so many ways this season that it’s a wonder coaches’ heads don’t spin off their necks.
For starters, the league has eliminated the three division tournaments which had been in existence seemingly since Dr. James Naismith first hung up a peach basket at Springfield College.
Instead, the league will hold one 32-team tournament.
The league still will consist of Division I, II and III and each team will play 18 league games. But points will be awarded which will determine who gets to play in the state tournament.
Each Division I victory is worth one point.
Each Division II victory is worth .8 point.
Each Division III victory is worth .6 point.
In addition teams in Divisions II and III with the most points will receive one more point as compensation for the disparity in the ratings formula.
Non-league games won’t result in the winning team earning points.
After the whistle blows in the final games of the regular season, the 32 teams with a winning percentage of at least .400 will qualify for the tournament.
Play-in games will be held should more than 32 teams win at least 40 percent of their games. But ties involving teams from different divisions will result in the team from the higher division receiving the higher seed.
Just as noteworthy is the change in venue for the Elite Eight – Providence College’s Alumni Hall - where Friar stars like Jimmy Walker, Ray Flynn, Lenny Wilkins and (when he was a freshman) Ernie DiGregorio lit up the scoreboard.
REACHING A MILESTONE
Pilgrim’s girls’ basketball team has wallowed at the bottom of Division I since it moved up a division last season. But the Patriots did have something to cheer about recently when senior Danielle LeBlanc scored the 1000th point of her career.
The Woonsocket girls will be gunning for a milestone of sorts when they shoot for their third consecutive division title.
Coach George Coderre’s Villa Novans won the Division II crown in 2009 and the Division I title last season.
Woonsocket will be led by a quartet of seniors that includes Kalley Fugere, Michelle Brayboy, Caitlyn Marcoux and Allyson Cartier. But the other 16 girls in the program combined to win a “grand total” of one game during their four years playing on the middle school and junior varsity teams.
BRIGHT LIGHTS ON THE ICE
Arguably the highlight of the boys’ hockey regular season faced off Tuesday night, specifically the Mount St. Charles Christmas Tournament.
The host Mounties belted St. Joseph’s College Institute (Buffalo, N.Y.), 5-1, as sophomore Tyler Scroggins and senior captain Brian Campbell scored two goals apiece.
Mount out-shot the Marauders, 42-29, while playing their first game in 11 days.
In another first-round game, Hendricken edged Fairfield Prep, 3-1, with Rob Buehrer scoring one goal and assisting on two.
Even more impressive was Hawk goalie Bill Palmer who stopped 33 shots.
Division I boys’ state soccer champion La Salle Academy received three slots on the All-State First team: midfielder Colin Patch (who also was All-New England and All-American), defender Alex LaPrade and fellow Ram Rainer Randell, a midfielder.
Division II state champion Smithfield was represented by defender Cory Speroni.
Other All-State selections included South Kingstown forward Zach Campo, Shea midfielder Joao Cardoso, Shea forward Emmerson Barros, Central Falls defender Steve Serpa, Barrington goalie Andrew Jones, Hendricken midfielder Torbey Stricklin and Barrington defender Ian Duncan.
BUCKING THE TREND
In this era of super-tight budgets and budget cuts, North Smithfield may provide a breath of fresh air.
The Northmen have received approval from the town’s school committee to join the Interscholastic League as co-op teams with Burrillville for boys and girls.
The last step is approval by the league’s Principal Committee on Athletics.
Partial operating expenses of some $11,000 will be paid by Northern Club Lacrosse, a development program in the northern part of the state.
ENTER THE HALL
Three eminently successful boys’ soccer coaches recently were inducted into the Rhode Island Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame: Mario Andrade, Eric Cloutier and Joe Baris.
Andrade coached 15 Townie playoff teams from 1987-2007 and won the Division I state championship in 1993. He already is a member of the 150-victory club.
Cloutier coached Tolman from 1991-2007 and compiled a career record of 173-94-30. His 173 victories are the most in school history and mesh nicely with his 1994 and 2001 state championships.
Baris coached junior high and high school soccer in West Warwick from 1988-2007 and won state championships at each level. He finished with a career record of 173-97-30.
WHO’S GOING WHERE
Gatorade’s Rhode Island Girls’ Volleyball Player of the year Kelsey Lace of Mount St. Charles has given a verbal commitment to play her sport at the University of Saint Rose (Albany, N.Y.).
Rhode Islanders who’ve signed letters of intent include La Salle’s Falynn McCartney, who’ll play lacrosse at Central Connecticut State; La Salle’s Cody O’Donnell and Ryan Poirier who also will play lacrosse at Bryant University and Merrimack College, respectively; and Lincoln School’s Jillian DeDimone and Wheeler School’s Hogan Vivier who’ve received early acceptance from Brown University where they’ll play soccer.
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.