Boston High School: Mitchell Baxter

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

February, 16, 2013
2/16/13
4:34
PM ET
Officially, the nickname of the Classical High boys’ basketball team is the Purple.

Rhode IslandBut given how well head coach John Kavanagh’s team has played in recent weeks, perhaps that nickname should be preceded by the adjective “red-hot.”

Classical clinched the Division I-Central title by reeling off three consecutive victories – 79-75 over Hope, 82-58 over Smithfield and 89-70 over defending Division I state champion Central.

Ironically, Classical (14-3 in I-Central and 17-5 overall) is led by three of the shortest players on the team: 5-8 guard Kealen Ives, 5-10 forward Ismael Batista and 6-1 center Terrill Toe.

Ives is Classical’s leading scorer while Batista has proven to be a force on the offensive glass.

Toe buried a 3-point shot with 16.5 seconds left in regulation to break a tie and give the Purple a 79-75 victory over Hope. Ives celebrated his 17th birthday by scoring a game-high 34 points, which included 15-of-18 from the free throw line.

Ives just missed a triple-double when Classical belted Smithfield.

He finished with 21 points, 11 assists and eight steals while Batista and Toe combined for 51 points; Toe nailed seven 3-point shots).

Classical held its senior night on Feb. 12, and Batista made sure his classmates would go out as winners as he scored 19 points – including a quintet of 3-point baskets – which helped the Purple crown the Knights.

SKIPPERS REBOUND
North Kingstown’s Skippers, who had been cruising along in Division I-South, dropped an ugly 53-46 decision to La Salle in a crossover game.

Ugly was defined by the fact North Kingstown shot a frigid 29.3 percent (17-of-58) from the floor and 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from the free throw line.

But the Skippers (15-2) held onto first place in their division by rebounding to beat St. Raphael, 55-52, on Kazre Cummings’ 3-point shot at the buzzer and South Kingstown, 58-33, with Justin Pratt and Owen Heath combining to score 30 points.

North Kingstown (20-2 overall) leads the power-point standings while Classical is in second.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES
Austin Cilley broke the career scoring record for Westerly boys’ basketball – one that had stood since 1952 – by pouring in 38 points during a 61-58 overtime conquest of Barrington in a Division II crossover game.

Cilley raised his career total to 1,399 points, which eclipsed the previous mark of 1,386 set by Bob Serra in 1952. In the game where Cilley broke the career record, he tossed in 38 points, including nine in overtime, as the Bulldogs beat Barrington, 61-58.

Three other boys surpassed the 1,000-point mark for their careers in recent games: La Salle’s Jared Thompson; Mount Pleasant’s Jovel Beckford; and Ponaganset’s Scott Peterson.

PERFECTION ELUDES SAINTS
The St. Raphael Academy girls’ had their sights set on at least an undefeated season in Division II-Central. But Johnston derailed the Saints by handing them their first loss of the season, 65-63 when Isabella DiRaimo nailed a 3-point shot with 3.2 seconds left and, following a turnover, Alex DiRaimo tossed in a basket at the buzzer.

The Saints still led II-Central with a 10-1 record.

Elsewhere:
  • Exeter/West Greenwich coach Steven McGrane notched the 350th victory of his career when the Scarlet Knights belted Cranston West, 64-37, due in part to Taylor Buckley’s game-high 17 points.
  • Middletown (13-1) remained atop the III-South standings as the Islanders beat Hope, 58-31, with Chelsea Dowler posting a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds).
  • Juanita Sanchez handed the Islanders their first loss, 53-47, and maintained a firm grip on second place (10-1).
“WEIGHTY” ACCOMPLISHMENT
Barrington High senior Charlie Ionata is inhaling rarified air after his performance at the East Coast Track & Field Invitational.

Ionata uncorked a heave of 77 feet, 6.5 inches in the weight throw, which not only captured first place, but, according to the U.S. High School Weight Throw Performance List, was the longest in the nation.

In addition, he beat the previous meet record of 73-feet and three-quarter inches and moved into 11th place on the all-time national list – good for second on Rhode Island’s all-time list.

SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE
Several Rhode Island high school football players inked National Letters of Intent during the recent signing period.

One of the more notable “signees” was La Salle’s All-State quarterback Anthony Francis – the 2012 Gatorade Rhode Island High School Football Player of the Year – who opted for Marist College.

Cumberland wide receiver Mitchell Baxter and North Kingstown tight end Alex Madoian signed with Bryant University.

Portsmouth native Charlie McKeeman, who played for Bishop Stang of Dartmouth, Mass., signed to play fullback for the University of Rhode Island.

THE “BUTLER” DID IT
Not only was Alex Butler one of the best basketball players ever produced by East Providence High – where he is the head coach these days – but he also was one of the best ever to play for Rhode Island College.

Not surprisingly, Butler was one of 11 players recently inducted into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame.

Butler, who was an All-Stater in high school, was a two-time Division III All-American at RIC.

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.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

December, 5, 2012
12/05/12
6:54
PM ET
At the risk of using a baseball metaphor, the result of the Division I Super Bowl came out of left field.

Rhode IslandHow else do you explain the fact that regular-season champion La Salle was upset, 26-20, by Hendricken in Sunday’s Division I Super Bowl?

Not only did the Rams (who were 9-0 in league play) wax the Hawks, 28-7, in their regular-season game on Nov. 19, but they were a combined 18-1 versus league opponents over the last two season.

And La Salle also boasted the last two Rhode Island Gatorade Players of the year in running back Josh Morris (2011) and quarterback Anthony Francis (2012).

The answer to the above question is two-fold in nature:
  • The Hawks kept La Salle’s potent offense on the sidelines thanks to a ball-control game led by junior Remington Blue.
  • Hendricken’s defense accounted for eight points while the Hawks’ special teams deprived La Salle of another when a PAT was blocked.

Add all of this up and the Hawks wound up in elite company in that they tied the record (three) for most consecutive Division I Super Bowl titles since the Interscholastic League implemented this format in 1972. And ironically, the Hawks were the last team to accomplish this feat since they did so from 1994-96.

Senior linebacker Jarrid Weatherspoon was the Hawk defender who accounted six of the above-mentioned eight points when he intercepted a Francis pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown with 2:05 left in the third quarter – a play that gave Hendricken a lead (17-13) it would not relinquish.

Hendricken’s defense gave the team a 19-13 lead at intermission when it forced an illegal put out of the end zone following a bad snap.

Blue was voted the game’s MVP after rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. As a result, Blue finished his season with 1,065 yards on 128 carries.

TRAVERS STEERS CLIPPERS TO TITLE
Whoever said a game isn’t over until it’s over obviously didn’t have the Division II Super Bowl between Blackstone Valley rivals Cumberland and Woonsocket in mind.

Senior Erik Travers played a career game as Cumberland routed Woonsocket, 49-0, for the Clippers’ first state title since 2004. Travers carried the ball 23 times for an even 100 yards and scored four – count ‘em, four – touchdowns which earned him the MVP plaque and enabled Cumberland to finish with an impressive 12-1 overall record.

In retrospect, Cumberland’s performance was in keeping with its play during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs when it outscored its opponents by a whopping 374-63 margin.

But Travers had to share the accolades with numerous teammates, including quarterback Brendan Guerin, who completed 13 of 17 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and Tyler Calabro, who converted on each of his seven extra-point attempts.

Cumberland’s defense also forced seven turnovers which, for all intents and purposes, put the Villa Novans in a hole which was the equivalent of the Grand Canyon.

Travers set the tone on the game’s first series when he gained 35 yards on seven rushes and scored on a one-yard run.

Then, on their second possession, Cumberland covered 72 yards in 15 plays with Guerin tossing a five-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Baxter.

At that point, arguably the only question left to be answered was what would be Cumberland’s final margin of victory.

VINCENT DOES IT ALL FOR MIDDLETOWN
Granted, Middletown’s sophomore running back Shemar Vincent was one of the youngest players on the field when the Islanders faced East Greenwich in the Division III Super Bowl.

But Vincent played like a veteran as the Islanders outlasted the Avengers, 33-21, for its second Super Bowl title in the last three years.

Not only did Vincent run for 73 yards and two touchdowns but he also did the following:
  • Catch a deflected pass which he returned 60 yards for a score.
  • Recover a fumbled punt which led to a touchdown.

Naming him the game’s MVP might have been the easiest decision made by anybody who witnessed the contest.

But Vincent also received ample support from his teammates. For example, running back Connor Russ gained 91 yards and scored twice on 19 carries while fullback Randy Butler pounded EG’s defense for 66 yards on 15 rushes.

Lost in the rubble was a superb performance by EG running back Carney Crawford who accounted for 126 yards and two scores on 16 carries.

KILTIES STILL DOMINATE DIVISION IV
While Hendricken wasn’t the first school to win three consecutive Division I Super Bowl titles, Mount Pleasant became the first to annex three consecutive Division IV crowns.

The Kilties put their name in the record book by twice coming from behind before eventually whipping North Providence, 41-21.

Mount Pleasant, who finished 10-2 overall, hasn’t lost a Division IV game in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Moreover the 41 points the Kilties scored shouldn’t have been unexpected considering they racked up 373 during the regular season and the Division IV semifinals.

Randolph Zieh earned game MVP honors and deservedly so since he scored four touchdowns (one on a 60-yard run) and ran for a two-point conversion.

Mount Pleasant broke the game open when it erupted for 26 points in the second quarter including a trio of touchdowns by Zieh.

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.

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