In the history of boys’ basketball at North Kingstown, the Skippers have won only two state championships – each of which occurred while the team was playing in Division II (1985 and 1990).
So far this season, head coach Aaron Thomas’ team has its sights set on a loftier goal: the Division I state title.
Through games of Jan. 15, North Kingstown was the only undefeated team (8-0) in each of the state’s three divisions that comprise Division I.
The Skippers’ eighth victory came at the expense of Cranston West who was throttled 61-43, with Owen Heath scoring a game-high 29 points.
Coventry (7-1) was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten when Hendricken chopped down the Oakers, 52-45, with Garfield Coustard scoring 16 points.
Those results set up an “interesting” game for Jan. 17 when North Kingstown hosts Coventry with first place on the line in I-South.
But lest the Skippers become overconfident about their early-season success, Thomas is quick to remind them of what transpired in recent trips to the state tournament.
The Skippers were 16-2 last season but lost to Rogers in the quarterfinals.
In 2011, they were eliminated in the preliminary round. And in 2010, they were beaten by Hendricken in the state championship game.
And you thought the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks seemingly played forever in last weekend’s NFL playoff game.
Mount Pleasant and Classical staged a high school basketball version of the Falcons-Seahawks game on January 15 when the Kilties outlasted the Purple 100-94 in four – count them four – overtimes.
Zdahmond Dale (33) and Jovel Beckford (25) accounted for just over 50 percent of Mount Pleasant’s offense, as did Terrill Toe (30) and Kealen Ives (29) for Classical.
In the game prior to the one against Classical, Beckford lit up East Providence for 37 points – 30 coming on 10 three-point shots – as Mount Pleasant beat the Townies, 61-55.
Cumberland moved into a first-place tie with North Providence in Division II-North by whipping II-South leader Westerly, 69-53. Dylan Boisclair (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Tom Lazaras (10 points, 10 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for Cumberland (7-2) while the Bulldogs fell to 8-1.
Middletown remained atop the Division III-East standings by belting Toll Gate, 60-47. Justin Bailey (15 points) led a quartet of Islanders in double figures.
North Smithfield (8-0), who plays in III-North, is the only other undefeated Division III team in the state.
CAVALIERS SEEK REPEAT
Juanita Sanchez cruised through an undefeated season in 2011-12 and captured the first Division III girls’ basketball championship in school history.
With approximately one-third of the season in the books, the Cavaliers again appear to be the team to beat.
Two victories over intra-city rivals enhanced that status as the Cavaliers moved into a first-place tie (6-0) with Middletown.
Freshman Elfeda Hoff scored 12 points, snared seven rebounds and dished off seven assists in barely 16 minutes of playing time as the Cavaliers routed Hope, 44-24.
Previously, in a game against another team that was undefeated at the time, Juanita Sanchez beat Central, 44-32, with Hoff scoring 23 points and adding five steals. Teammate Leoni Taylor contributed a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds).
In other games of note:
St. Raphael Academy (4-0) moved into sole possession of first place in Division II-Central after outing previously undefeated Moses Brown, 63-35. Becca Gonzalez’s name was all over the stat sheet because besides recording a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) she was credited with five steals and four assists.
Josie Chaves buried the game-winning basket with 15 seconds left in regulation to give Rogers a 50-47 victory over East Providence in a Division II-East game that featured two undefeated team. Liz Jackson added 17 points for the Vikings (4-0) while Mary Monagle scored a career-high 20 points for the Townies (3-1).
OAKERS HAVE HIGH HOPES
Coventry’s boys’ hockey team commenced the current season with consecutive Division II state championships on its resume – and five overall titles.
Now, because of a new playoff format adopted by the Interscholastic League, the Oakers could get a shot at dethroning the big kids on the block – Mount St. Charles, La Salle, Hendricken, etc.
A Division I Super Four Tournament will be held for the first time this season with the four slots going to the four teams that have compiled the most points (i.e. power points) in the combined standings of Mount, La Salle and Hendricken in the Division I-Cimini subdivision plus the five public schools in the Division I-Eccleston subdivision.
Through games of January 14, the Oakers were tied for third with Mount in the combined standings with 3.6 power points.
Hendricken was at the top of the pile with 8.8 while La Salle was second with 5.4.
The 3-3 Oakers boast two of the top scoring leaders in the state in Mike Pesola and Zach Woods.
Hendricken remained undefeated (6-0-0) by beating Barrington, 6-3, with Andrew Fera notching a hat trick, and by blanking Mount, 4-0, as Mitchell Proulx made 44 saves which complemented Fera’s two-goal performance.
HAWKS LEAD THE WAY
Hendricken, which stunned high school football fans by upsetting highly-favored La Salle in the Division I Super Bowl, was rewarded with four selections on the All-State Football First Team: tight end Mario McClain, two-way lineman Nick DiCiantis, linebacker Jarrid Witherspoon’ and linebacker Mario Delvecchio.
Division II Super Bowl champ Cumberland landed cornerback/wide receiver Mitch Baxter and two-way end Trent Vasey; Division III bowl champ Middletown placed running back Randy Butler and offensive guard Mitch Sullivan on the first team; Division IV champ Mount Pleasant was represented by running back Randolph Zleh.
The remainder of the First Team was comprised on Cranston East’s Marven Beauvais (wide receiver), E.J. Isom (two-way back) and Marquem Monroe (two-way back); St. Raphael’s Jason Colon (two-way tackle); La Salle’s Mitch DaSilva (wide receiver), Josh Morris (La Salle) and Anthony Francis (quarterback); Cranston West’s Anthony St. Laurent (two-way lineman); Portsmouth’s Matt Greenman (linebacker-wide receiver), Bobby Chavous (quarterback); and Austin Szczepniak (running back); Johnston’s Evan Hopson (punter); Shea’s Baboucarr Lemon (place kicker); Chariho’s Austin McQuaide (running back); Tolman’s Mamour Samb (running back); and East Greenwich’s Kyle Palmer (defensive back).
The state lost one of its most respected and amiable coaches with the passing of Burrillville’s Wilfred “Skee” Carter.
Carter, 66, coached baseball at his high school alma mater for 22 years and guided the Broncos to six state tournaments plus the 2007 Division II championship.
Between the middle school and high school, he also coached cross country for 22 years.
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.