Thursday, February 9, 2012
New England Roundup: Rhode Island
By Mike Scandura
At the risk of using a horse-racing metaphor, Cranston West High recorded a “daily double” when Words Unlimited announced its award winners for the 2011 calendar year.
Jeff Diehl, who starred in basketball and baseball, was voted the Schoolboy Athlete of the Year while Falcons baseball coach Rob Malo was voted the Schoolboy Sports Coach of the Year.
Diehl, a senior, led the Falcons to the first-ever Division I basketball championship in school history.
Then, in the spring, he hit .537 with six home runs and 27 RBI as the Falcons compiled a 13-5 regular-season record. His production was a major reason why Cranston West won the Division I state championship.
When June rolled around, Diehl was selected in the 23rd round by the New York Mets.
Malo replaced veteran and eminently successful coach Chuck Jones in 2007 – two years after the Falcons won their first Division I state baseball title since 1975.
The Falcons finished the 2011 season on top of the Division I pile as they spotted North Kingstown a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three finals and won the next two games to capture the state championship.
On the distaff side, La Salle’s twin sisters Madison and McKenzie Meehan were voted co-Schoolgirl Athletes of the Year while Barrington cross-country coach Annmarie Marino was named the Schoolgirl Sports Coach of the Year.
Last fall, Madison Meehan led the country in assists with 44 while McKenzie led the nation in scoring with 80 goals as the Rams won their fourth consecutive Division I state soccer championship.
Each Meehan also earned All-State honors the previous winter as the Rams annexed their fifth straight state indoor title.
Marino guided the Eagles to both the Class A and State championships. The state title was the first in school history since 1994.
Words Unlimited is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.
Rogers High boys’ basketball coach Jim Psaras won his 400th career game on January 24 when the Vikings belted Central Falls, 71-37.
Psaras has been the head coach at Rogers for 24 seasons.
The Vikings later presented Psaras with career victory No. 402 when they beat previously undefeated West Warwick, 64-41, in a key Division II game.
The loss was the Wizards’ first of the season after 11 wins – one reason being Rogers’ man-to-man defense forced them into 20 turnovers.
Prior to that game, West Warwick’s John Morrison scored his 1,000th career point when he tossed in 26 during a 70-63 victory over Tiverton.
La Salle’s Rams have thrust themselves into contention for the top spot in the boys’ basketball power-point standings thanks to a pair of impressive victories.
First, La Salle handed St. Raphael its first Division I loss of the season, 74-69, as Dexter Thompson and Mike Clark combined for 37 points – including six apiece in two overtime periods.
SRA’s Charles Correa forced the first extra session when he buried a three-point shot with 21 seconds left in regulation. Correa finished with 34 points and also passed the 1,000-point mark for his career.
Then, La Salle held off a physical Central team and crowned the Knights, 83-77.
Tommy Hunt scored 18 of his overall 29 points on six three-point shots while Mike Clark poured in 22.
Through Feb. 7, North Kingstown remained atop the power-point standings with a 12-2 record (12 points). But La Salle, St. Raphael and Central are tied for second with 11-3 slates (11 points) while Rogers and West Warwick are tied for fifth with 13-1 records (10.4 points).
BRONCOS KICK UP THEIR HEELS
Burrillville on February 4 did something no other boys’ public school hockey team has been able to do in nearly two seasons.
The Broncos beat a private school team, in this case Moses Brown, by a 4-2 score when freshman Chad Stone scored two goals – including what proved to be the game-winner at 4:19 of the third period.
Prior to that game, the six Division I public schools were a brutal 0-47-1 versus their private school counterparts (0-18-1 this season).
Now, here’s where it gets interesting.
Prior to this season the Interscholastic League changed its post-season format.
A four-team State Championship Tournament will be held along with a Division I Tournament for teams that finish five through eight.
Through February 8, Hendricken (12-1-1; 20.3 points), La Salle (8-4-1; 13.8 points) and Mount St. Charles (8-5-0; 13.8 points) occupied the first three spots in the power-point standings.
Burrillville (9-5-0; 12.2 points) ranked fourth while Moses Brown (6-7-1; 9.4 points) ranked fifth.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the Broncos control their destiny in terms of qualifying for the State Championship Tournament.
Even if the sport is ping pong, what the Toll Gate girls’ track team has accomplished is off the charts.
The Titans recently completed their indoor season with an 8-0 record – the 14th consecutive season in which they’ve finished with a perfect slate during dual-meet competition.
Obviously, coach Norm Bouthillier must be doing something right.
Not to be overlooked is Woonsocket junior Kaylann Pitts.
While competing in the first East Coast Invitational Track Meet at the PCTA facility, she broke the state record in the triple jump with a leap of 39-feet, ½-inch. It was nearly three feet more than the previous record.
Currently that distance ranks second in New England and sixth in the nation.
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.