To be kind, the seedings for the state boys’ basketball tournament were about as worthless as the paper on which they were printed.
* Fourth-seeded and defending state champion St. Raphael Academy was eliminated in the East Regional semifinal by 13th-seeded Classical, 69-61 with Ismael Batista and Kalean Ives scoring 28 of their combined 47 points in the second half.
* Ninth-seeded Rogers, the Division II-East champion, shocked top-seeded and Division I-South champ North Kingstown, 54-46, in the North Regional final.
* No. 14 Hope nipped No. 11 Mount Pleasant, 49-48, in the West Regional final.
As a result, this weekend’s Final Four pairings at URI’s Ryan Center will pit Classical against Rogers and Central against Hope.
In the only regional finals where form held true, No. 2 La Salle defeated No. 7 North Providence, 87-63, and No. 2 Central outlasted No. 5 Classical, 83-77 in overtime.
Few if any of the current players on Rogers’ roster were born when the Vikings last won a state title – in 1993.
But against North Kingstown, Rogers slapped a man-to-man defense on the Skippers and prevailed – with Reeyon Watts converting five-of-six free throw attempts in the final 42 seconds of regulation.
Center Divon Bailey paced the Vikings with 15 points.
Central’s win over intra-city rival Classical was a classic nail-biter.
The Knights led 57-49 midway through the second half when the Purple reeled off a 12-0 run which forged a 61-57 lead.
Central’s Raikwon Rodrigues tied it at 71-71 with 11.5 seconds left in regulation. Then, in overtime, Central jumped in front and never trailed.
Jerrell Lawson and Brownell Dennis led Central with 16 points apiece.
Hope extended its winning streak to seven games against the Kilties but did it the hard way.
Mount Pleasant led 48-45 with three minutes left in regulation when Hope rallied behind Johnson Weah and Emmanuel Karbo, who finished with a team-high 17 points.
The Rams improved to 21-4 overall with Mike Clark scoring 20 points and Jared Thompson 13. La Salle pulled away by outscoring the Cougars, 24-3 late in the game.
While La Salle’s offense was impressive, so was its defense as the Rams held Cougars, leading scorer Austin Van Bemmelin to 13 points – six below his season average. In addition, the Cougars were held to a mere 22 points in the second half.
NOT EXACTLY STRANGERS
For the 19th time in the last 32 years, Mount St. Charles and Hendricken will clash for the boys’ Championship Division hockey title.
The matchup was assured when Mount outlasted La Salle in the best-of-three semifinals two games to one – winning the final game, 3-2, on Nicholas Bennett’s power-play goal with 1:42 left in a second – repeat, second – sudden-death overtime.
Hendricken ended one of the season’s “feel good” stories by sweeping Burrillville, 4-2 and 3-2, in the other semifinal series.
Fourth-seeded Burrillville was one of the rare public schools that broke the stranglehold the private schools have had on the tournament pairings.
Ironically, the Rams had vanquished the Mounties in five of the teams’ six regular-season games.
La Salle won the series opener, 2-1 and was 72 seconds away from advancing to the finals in Game 2. But Mount rallied and won, 4-3, on a goal by Brandon Borges 39 seconds into overtime.
Borges scored at 5:34 of the first period in Game 3 for a 2-0 lead. But La Salle’s Bryan Lemos scored a power-play goal early in the middle session and Robert Fox tied it 43 seconds after the third-period faceoff.
Hendricken’s David Mitchell finished off a 2-on-1 rush 66 seconds into the third period of Game 1 to key that 4-2 victory.
Then, in Game 2, Burrillville bolted to a 2-0 lead before Hendricken scored three unanswered goals off the sticks of Robbie Buehrer, Matt Creamer and Creamer again, this time at 2:55 of the third.
HISTORY TIMES TWO
The La Salle Academy girls’ hockey team twice made history in its State Championship series against perennial champ Mount St. Charles.
First, the Rams posted their initial victory ever against the Mounties, 4-0, in Game 1 of the best-of-three series as Holly Scott “pitched” a 31-save shutout.
Then, after Mount tied the series with a 2-1 victory in Game 2, La Salle captured the whole ball of wax (ice?) with a 2-0 triumph in Game 3 with Scott making 19 saves for the whitewash.
Overall, in the three-game finals, Scott stopped a total of 72 shots.
The championship was the first in the history of girls’ hockey at La Salle and prevented Mount from winning a third consecutive crown.
Allison Bernier gave Scott the only goal she would need when she scored at 2:43 of the third period.
FAMILIAR NAME; DIFFERENT SPORT
Brad Faxon long has been one of the state’s premier pro golfers.
Now, his daughter Sophie is making a name for herself in a different sport: hockey.
Sophie Faxon kicked out 27 shots as Barrington beat Burrillville, 2-1, to sweep their best-of-three Division I championship series.
Barrington, which is a co-op program with girls from Portsmouth and Mount Hope, beat the Broncos, 3-2, in Game 1 and finished the season with a 14-7-1 overall record.
LACROIX “PERFECT” FOR CLIPPERS One point was all that separated Cumberland from Hendricken in the state wrestling championships as the Clippers amassed 171-1/2 points for their third title in the last eight years.
Cumberland’s Tom Lacroix faced South Kingstown’s Ryan Smith in the 195-pound match.
A “routine” victory by Lacroix would have earned the Clippers a share of the title with Hendricken. But Lacroix completed an undefeated (38-0) season in style by registering a 12-4 major decision which gave Cumberland four points and the title.
Ironically, Cumberland entered the tourney with five top seeds but Lacroix was the only one who came out on top.
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.