Boston High School: Mount Pleasant

A loss in victory for Barrington (R.I.) football

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
5:14
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According to Wikipedia, the following is a definition of a Pyrrhic victory: “A victory with such a devastating cost that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way. However, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit."

Rhode IslandIn retrospect, that’s the perfect way to describe Barrington’s 7-6 Division I victory last Friday over La Salle Academy.

While the victory enabled the Eagles to remain undefeated (6-0) in league play and set up a showdown for first place on Friday at Hendricken (6-0), with the winner virtually assured of the No. 1 seed in the upcoming state tournament, it came with a hefty cost.

The Eagles’ star running back/defensive back James Murphy tore a quadriceps muscle during a third quarter drive, ironically, on a play in which he wasn’t tackled, but slid to the turf similar to a baseball player sliding into a base.

Murphy, who leads the Eagles with 10 touchdowns, was helped off the field in obvious pain.

“He’s probably out for the season,” said Eagles coach Bill McCagney. “If that’s the case, we’ll probably rely more on Nick Jensen at running back and defensive back.

“Nick hasn’t started or us. But he’s proven to be our best defensive back. At least he’ll come in fresh.”

After Friday’s key game, each team only has one league game remaining (each plays a non-league game on Thanksgiving).

Since the first tiebreaker is record in head-to-head competition it’s obvious what’s at stake for each team – moreso for the Eagles who’ve now lost one-half of their 1-2 punch (John Martin lines up with Murphy).

SAINTLY REVIVAL: During the 1980s and the 1990s, St. Raphael Academy (which invariably has one of the smallest male enrollments in the state) was a dominant team whether the Saints played in Division I or in Division II.

The Saints captured the 1982 and 1983 Division II Super Bowls, the 1984 Division I Super Bowl and the 1999 Division II Super Bowl. But a decline in male enrollment led to the Saints dropping off the proverbial radar screen.

But that’s not the case this season, as evidenced by the Saints’ most recent victory – a 54-34 shootout over previous Division II-B leader North Kingstown.

The victory was notable for two reasons:

* The Saints amassed a season-high point total against a team that stepped on the Pariseau Field turf averaging 34 points per game and was beaten at its own game.

* St. Raphael (4-2 in II-B and 4-3 overall) now is a strong contender for a tournament berth.

“Our kids heard all week that North Kingstown had the best offense in the league,” said SRA coach Mike Sassi, a Saint alumnus. “We wanted to prove that we also have a good offense.

“In this game, we came out in more of a spread formation which may have caught them off-guard. Their linebackers tend to play outside and sometimes they have six defenders outside the box. We tried to run inside on them.”

For all intents and purposes, the Saints ran rough-shed over the Skippers (4-2, 7-2) as they amassed an impressive 473 yards in total offense. In the process, SRA scored 27 points in your basic wild third quarter.

James Kelley paced the Saints by rushing for three touchdowns and catching a pass for another while quarterback Emmanuel Leake also ran for three scores and threw that touchdown pass to Kelley.

When the dust finally settled, a traffic jam worthy of a tie-up on Route 95 in Providence existed in the standings.

Cumberland (5-1, 7-2) is in first place. But St. Raphael, North Kingstown, Rogers (4-2, 5-4) and West Warwick (4-2, 6-3) are in a five-way tie for second.

“If we wind up with a five-way tie, I don’t know how that would work out,” said Sassi.

That scenario could be partially resolved this weekend when West Warwick plays Cumberland and if SRA, NK and the Vikings each win. But SRA catches a break when it closes out league play on Friday against winless Pilgrim.

KILTIES IN GOOD SHAPE: Mount Pleasant, which moved up this season from Division IV to Division III, is on the verge of annexing the regular-season championship.

Coach Paul Rao’s Kilties (7-0 overall) are 6-0 in league play, while second-place Moses Brown is 6-1. Since the Kilties beat the Quakers, 16-13, on Sept. 27, they own the first tiebreaker.

The Kilties will face another test on Friday when they visit third-place Middletown (5-2, 7-2) while the Quakers play at Burrillville (3-3, 5-3).

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.

Rhode Island football preview

September, 13, 2013
9/13/13
5:09
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Invariably any pre-season football preview at least starts – but doesn’t necessarily end – with perennial Division I power Hendricken.

Rhode IslandCoach Keith Croft’s Hawks are coming off their third consecutive Division I Super Bowl championship (and ninth in school history) but enter the 2013 season with a dearth of seniors.

Only 13 are listed on the roster which means Croft has his work cut out for him looking to replace First Team All-State selections like tight end/defensive lineman Mario McClain, two-way lineman Nick DeCiantis, linebacker Jarrid Witherspoon and linebacker Marco Delvecchio.

Fortunately, for the Hawks, they could be solid on offense since they feature easily one of the state’s top running backs in junior Remington Blue, plus junior quarterback Patrick Gill. Gill seemingly came out of nowhere last season to earn the No. 1 signal-caller position and in the end was a major factor in the Super Bowl as Hendricken upset heavily-favored La Salle.

The key for Gill will be to remain healthy since the only other experienced quarterback on the Hendricken roster, John Toppa, opted not to play football this season.

Without question La Salle coach Geoff Marcone faces a major challenge in his attempt to replace two of the most productive offensive players in school history – First Team All-State running back Josh Morris (the 2011 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year) and First Team All-State quarterback Anthony Francis (the 2012 Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year).

Marcone does have 18 seniors on his roster and will choose his starting quarterback from a group that includes sophomores Jace Pena and John Farley.

Keon Wilson again will be the primary target for whoever lines up under center while the defense will be led by linebacker Brendan Lippe.

The two Cranston teams, Cranston East and Cranston West, also could figure in the playoff picture.

East returns First Team All-State running back/defensive back Marquem Monroe who last season scored a total of 14 touchdowns and also intercepted four passes.

First Team All-Stater Marven Beauvais complements Monroe on offense while Alex Corvese is an experienced quarterback.

Cranston West will be a force if the Falcons received production that’s expected from running back Isaiah Alvarez and linebacker Jack Hammond.

***

Division II invariably is the most wide-open division in the state – one reason being the format.

Eight teams are in II-A, eight in II-B and top four in each division qualify for the playoffs.

Cumberland qualified for the Super Bowl for the first time since 2005 and waxed Woonsocket, 49-0, for all the marbles led by a pair of graduated All-State picks – wide receive Mitch Baxter and tight end Trent Vasey.

But the Clippers still have talent, especially in the appropriately-named running back Joe Fine plus linebacker Chris Hayes who led Cumberland in tackles last season.

The Villa Novans, who’ve undergone a resurrection in recent years, will be out to avenge that lop-sided loss to Cumberland in the Super Bowl.

Leading the way will be speedster Will Andino who can run and catch the ball plus junior lineman Shawn Ingram, a potential First Team All-State selection.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

May, 31, 2013
5/31/13
4:12
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What do the boys’ lacrosse teams from La Salle Academy, East Greenwich and Smithfield have in common?

Rhode IslandEach team is undefeated and is in first place in its respective division and, not surprisingly, is the odds-on favorite to capture a state championship.

The Rams (10-0 in Division I and 12-0), who are coached by Colonel Steven McConnell, the Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, boast an offense that’s off the charts.

Through matches of May 21, the Rams have out-scored their opponents by a margin of 202-65.

The story within the story is that La Salle attacks Brady O’Donnell and Joe Manown are the top two scorers in the state regardless of division.

O’Donnell, who’s a senior, has whipped home 56 goals and assisted on 33 while sophomore Manown has scored 49 goals and assisted on 38. What makes Manown’s proficiency all the more noteworthy is the fact he missed most of the 2012 season due to injury.

East Greenwich (13-0 in Division II and 13-2 overall), is riding the backs of 15 seniors who have played an integral role in the Avengers’ offense and defense.

Coach Brian Trapani’s team leads the division with 163 goals and has allowed a stingy total of 43.

Senior Colin Watikun and senior Colin Bernier lead the Avengers with 50 points apiece, Waitkun having scored 39 goals and assisted on 11 with Bernier having fired home 40 goals and assisted on 10.

Smithfield (12-0 in Division III and 12-2 overall) hasn’t lost a division game since the 2010 season.

Coach Joe Renzi’s Sentinels weren’t expected to be a contender since the team graduated 16 players from the 2012 squad. But attacks Brendan Benoit, Nick Gerlach and Matt Walker have led an offense that’s tied with Coventry in goals scored with 139.

MOUND KING
Team sport notwithstanding, the baseball program at Hendricken is heavily reliant on arguably the state’s best pitcher, senior Mike King who’s signed a letter of intent to play at Boston College.

King is a major reason why the Hawks lead Division I-North with a 16-0 record since he’s recorded an 8-1 record replete with 46 strikeouts and a mere six walks in 33 innings.

A right-hander, King didn’t allow his first earned run of the season until May 18 when Hendricken beat La Salle, 4-1. King spaced out six hits while going the distance – again.

King also helps himself at the plate with a batting average that’s hovered around .500 all season.

In a recent 5-1victory over Cranston West, King’s RBI single helped key a five-run first inning.

Another Hawk who’s been wielding a potent bat is John Toppa, grandson of the late Rogers High football coaching legend of the same name.

In a 4-3 victory over St. Raphael, Toppa’s fourth-inning double drove home the game-winning run. And in a 6-1 win over Cumberland, Toppa contributed a single, triple and two RBI.

Elsewhere:

* Central Falls pulled off the upset of the season regardless of division when the Warriors won their first game of the season – 5-2 over Division II-North leader Tolman (12-2). Emmanuel Antigua smacked a two-run single during a four-run fourth inning while Brandon Canuto went the distance for the victory. The loss sliced Tolman’s lead over second-place Scituate (13-3) to one game.

* North Kingstown’s Billy Young improved his record to 4-0 by blanking Toll Gate, 7-0, in a Division II-South game. Young allowed only two hits and fanned 10.

* East Providence’s Colin Costa collected two doubles, a single and five RBI as the Townies (14-1) held onto first place in Division II-Central by beating Mount Pleasant, 9-4. Teammate Colin Grant struck out 17 Kilties en route to the complete-game victory.

CLOSE SHAVE
Never let it be said that East Providence softball coach Rob Traverse isn’t true to his word.

A year ago, the Townies won only three of their first 12 games. Traverse made a “bet” with his players that if they won at least seven games this season he’d shave his head. They did and he did.

East Providence currently is in fifth place in the Division I with a 10-5 record – the Townies’ most impressive victory being a 2-0 blanking of North Kingstown (i.e. it was the Skippers’ first loss).

In that win over the Skippers, EP broke a scoreless tie in the eighth inning on Amy DeCastro’s single and Casey Traverse’s subsequent sacrifice fly.

In other games of note:

* Lincoln High to nobody’s surprise clinched the Division I title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming state tournament by beating La Salle, 4-1. Lindsay Mayer allowed only one run on two hits for the 14-0 Lions.

* Division II-East leader Moses Brown (10-5) blanked Central, 6-0, in a crossover game as Emma Rantanen tossed a one-hitter – losing her bid for a no-hitter when Dianna Torres singled with two outs in the sixth.

ENTERING THE HALL
Even though Central Falls is the smallest city in the state, its high school has produced a host of outstanding athletes.

Nine will be inducted into the Central Falls Athletic Hall of Fame on October 11: former boys’ basketball coach Ed McVeigh plus athletes Albert Cardosa, Jeff Desautel, James Dougan, Brian Goodhart, Kevin Guindon, Carmen Pizarro, Russell Standring, Ken Vaudreuil and Kinga Dobrzychi-Zuromski.

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

March, 6, 2013
3/06/13
4:08
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At the risk of using a culinary metaphor, the regular season comprised the appetizer for boys’ basketball.

Rhode IslandThe soup and salad comprised the division tournaments. And the entrée is what 16 teams have been anxiously waiting to devour.

After Hope, Cumberland and North Smithfield annexed the Division I, II and III tournament championships, respectively, they’ll join 13 other teams for the third year that the Interscholastic League has held a tournament to determine the overall state champion.

The 16 teams are placed in four regions and seeded according to the final Power Point standings for the first round which tipped off Wednesday night:

Region 1: No. 16 West Warwick (17-8) vs. No. 1 Classical (17-5); No. 9 North Providence (16-5) vs. No. 8 Westerly (17-5).

Region 2: No. 16 Hendricken (11-10) vs. No. 2 La Salle (16-6); No. 10 Coventry (13-10) vs. No. 7 Hope (14-12).

Region 3: No. 14 Cranston West (14-9) vs. No. 3 North Kingstown (20-3); No. 11 Barrington (17-7) vs. No. 6 Mount Pleasant (13-8).

Region 4: No. 13 Prout (15-8) vs. No. 4 Cumberland (22-3); No. 12 Shea (16-8) vs. No. 5 North Smithfield (24-0).

How the three division champions reached their destination is an interesting story in each case.

Hope, for example, only was seeded eighth in the Division I Tournament. Yet the blue Wave captured their first championship since 1994 by beating fifth-seeded Coventry, 65-62 in the semifinals and upsetting third-seeded Classical, 69-65, in the finals.

Manny Kargbo scored a game-high 32 points (including 16-of-18 free throws) in the win over the Oakers while Ben Vezele posted a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

The Purple, who averaged 70 points per game during the regular season, connected on only 18.7 percent (3-for-16) of their 3-point shots against the Hawks and needed a free throw from Kealen Ives with eight seconds left in regulation to break a 44-44 tie and earn a 45-44 victory in the other semifinal.

Ives led Classical with 20 points.

Without question the parents of the Cumberland players weren’t even born the last time the Clippers won a state title – 1936 when the school annexed the former Class C crown.

Do the math and that championship ended a 77-year drought.

A late 16-4 run enabled Cumberland to build an 11-point lead over the Raiders and eased the pressure going down the stretch.

Dylan Boisclair led Cumberland with 22 points while Tom Lazarus chipped in with 21, including the last nine from the charity stripe.

All North Smithfield did en route to the D-III championship was post the best record (24-0) in school history.

The Northmen beat East Greenwich, 66-55, in the finals, which enabled them to become the first team since Classical in 2008 to go undefeated and win a division title.

North Smithfield’s Cody L’Heureux arguably played a game he’ll remember for the rest of his life.

Not only did he score a game-high 31 points, but he notched his 1,000th career point in the process on one of his five treys.

DOUBLE DRIBBLES

In other games of note prior to the division tournaments:
  • Hope’s Kargbo scored his 1,000th career point during a 52-51 victory over Cranston East, which clinched a playoff berth. Kargbo finished with 14 points and an assist on Vezele’s game-winning basket.
  • Vezele recorded a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds (to go with five blocked shots) as Hope beat East Providence, 66-51, in a Division I preliminary round game.
  • L’Heureux delivered a premonition of things to come when he scored 27 points, including six treys, as North Smithfield whipped Davies, 79-53.
DOBSON IN ELITE COMPANY

Westerly’s Hannah Dobson moved into second place on the school’s all-time scoring list (boys and girls) as the Bulldogs belted Coyle-Cassidy, 48-31 in a non-league game.

Dobson now has 1,514 career points.

Scituate (14-2) clinched first place in Division II-North by beating Johnston, 52-40, with Sadie Ross contributing a double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds).

HAWKS LEAD THE PACK

Hendricken (13-2-1) remained atop the standings in the Division I Cimini Division by beating Cranston West, 5-2.

Three was the magic number in that game because Matt Creamer recorded a hat trick while Ed Markowski was credited with three assists.

Mount St. Charles (13-3-0) remained right behind Hendricken thanks to a 5-1 win over Barrington. Brian Belisle played a superb game by scoring two goals and assisting on the other three.

HENDRICKEN WRESTLERS THE BEST

Maybe what Hendricken’s wrestling team did on Feb.14 should have been an indication of things to come.

Coach Kevin Hennessey’s team handed Cumberland its first dual-meet loss in five years by coasting to a 47-9 victory, improving the Hawks’ record to 15-0.

Then, in the state championships, Hendricken won its first title since 2004 even though it only had one boy win an individual crown – Jason Davol at 106 pounds.

Hendricken amassed 168 points while Exeter/West Greenwich and Johnston tied for second with 133.5 points each.

The key for Hendricken was its ability to score points in the “wrestle-backs.”

Nicholas Celico, Rob Lanni, Anthony DiMauro, Chris Barone and Dallas Sauer lost in the quarterfinals but maintained their composure and annexed victories that earned them third-place finishes.

In other matches of note:
  • Warwick Vets’ John Alteri won his third state title by blanking Cumberland’s Cody Beaudette, 2-0, at 113 pounds.
  • Alteri’s teammate, Nathaniel Colicci, defended his 126-pound state title by beating Moses Brown’s Andrew Howard. The bout was tied at 2-2 after three regulation periods and three overtime sessions. The tiebreaker was Colicci’s ability to hold Howard for 30 seconds.
  • While the 126-pound bout was the longest of the day, the 138-pound final was the shortest since defending champion Christian LaBrie of Exeter/West Greenwich pinned Cumberland’s Jon Mancini in 24 seconds.
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

February, 16, 2013
2/16/13
4:34
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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

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
3:57
PM ET
The highest magnitude on the Richter scale which is used to measure earthquakes is 10.

Rhode IslandThe upset the Coventry boys’ hockey team sprung on perennial Division I state champion Mount St. Charles registered 12.

Or to put it another way, the Oakers’ 2-0 victory on Jan. 19 was the first over the Mount in the 45-year history of boys’ hockey at the Kent County School.

In addition, it was the first time a Bill Belisle-coached Mount team lost to Coventry in the 37 years he’s been the Mounties coach.

The game was scoreless entering the third period when Coventry’s Jacob Harrington scored at 8:35 for what proved to be the game-winner and Steve Schmitt stopped 26 shots for his second shutout of the season.

Coventry (6-5 in Division I) followed up that win over Mount with a 4-1 victory over Cranston West.

The game was tied 1-1 entering the third period when Michael Peola scored the game-winner and Schmitt made 16 saves.

Mount (7-2-0) did rebound from that loss to Coventry by beating Hendricken, 3-1, when Vincent Pearl and Pat Holmes scored within a span of 43 seconds in the middle period, and Burrillville 8-0 with Pearl, Tyler Scroggins and Keith Phaneuf scoring two goals apiece.

But Coventry’s victory means the playoffs could be more interesting than initially expected.

TWO BETTER THAN ONE
Arguably one of the better stories during the boys’ hockey season has been that “written” by the new co-op team with players from West Warwick and Exeter/West Greenwich.

Entering this week the Wizards/Scarlet Knights led Division III with a 13-0 record and had outscored opponents by a 107-17 margin.

Key players for this team are forwards Tony Rel and Brett Coski while goaltenders Ivan Forcier and freshman Jared Olson have been virtually impenetrable.

HAWKS MIS-FIRING
Few schools will shed tears for the Hendricken boys’ basketball team given the fact the Hawks have dominated Division I over the last couple of decades.

But the current team resembles past teams in name only.

Through games of January 28, Hendricken is 6-5 in Division I-South primarily because of a lack of scoring.

When the Hawks crack the 60-point barrier it’s almost a reason to celebrate.

One reason why the Hawks have had difficulty mustering an offense is that Lee Messier, who last season was the team’s best outside shooter, transferred to the Tilton School in New Hampshire.

In other recent games of note:
  • Classical’s Terrill Toe scored his 1,000th career point during a 100-93 victory over intra-city rival Mount Pleasant in a game that lasted four overtimes. Toe finished with 30 points including six three-point shots.
  • Ismael Batista emulated Toe by notching his 1,000th career point during a 71-59 victory over Woonsocket. Batista scored 21 points including 7-for-7 at the free throw line.
  • St. Raphael’s Charles Correa poured in 40 points – 24 coming on three-pointers – as the Saints handed Division I-South leader North Kingstown (12-1) its first loss of the season.
  • Alan Strick only scored 11 points. But three came on a buzzer-beating trey that enabled North Smithfield to tie Middletown and force overtime. Then, Dan Jordan sank a free throw with 20 seconds left in the extra session to give the Northmen a 57-56 victory for the latter’s first Division III loss of the season.
LA SALLE’s DUNPHY TORCHES NETS
La Salle Academy’s Priscilla Dunphy is coming off two games that will be embedded in her memory bank for years to come.

After Barrington handed the two-time defending state champion Rams (12-1) their first Division I loss since the 2010-11 season by a 51-41 score (Caitlyn Nolan led the Eagles with 15 points), La Salle rebounded by whipping Exeter/West Greenwich, 57-37, and Westerly, 49-43.

Dunphy scored 22 points in the win over the Scarlet Knights. But against Westerly, Dunphy scored 13 points – including the 1000th of her career.

Previously, Westerly (11-2 in I-South), beat Barrington, 44-38, with Emily Dobson notching 16 points.

Elsewhere:
  • Senior Maggie Salomone scored her 1,000th career point as Narragansett beat East Providence, 63-49. Salomone finished the game with 21 points.
  • St. Patrick Academy, a small, all-girls school in Providence, was forced to cancel the rest of its first Interscholastic League season due to a series of injuries. Director of Athletics Charles Toste stated the school plans to revive the sport next season – one reason being it will add the 12th grade. Currently, the school only enrolls girls from grades nine through 11.
PASSAGES
Andy McGowan, the long-time director of athletics for the Warwick public school system passed away on January 23. McGowan, who assumed his position in 1968, was awarded the first Rhode Island Athletic Director of the Year Award in 1973.

He was voted into the Manhattan College Hall of Fame (his alma mater), the Rhode Island School Athletic Administrator’s Hall of Fame and both the Hendricken and La Salle Halls of Fame. McGowan became Hendricken’s Director of Guidance in the 1970s.

A FIRST FOR COVENTRY
Coventry High recently announced its first class for the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

The class includes Brian McGovern (who set state basketball scoring records in the early 1990s), wrestling coach icon Dick Magarian, 20-year hockey coach George Egan, Art Fiori (the school’s first A.D.), former football coach Bob Peltier; and Walter Clarke, for whom the school’s athletic complex is named.

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

January, 16, 2013
1/16/13
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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).

Rhode IslandSo 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.

MARATHON
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.

Elsewhere:
  • 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).

PASSAGES
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.

Recap: No. 13 Catholic Memorial 87, St. Raphael (R.I.) 46

December, 23, 2012
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HOLYOKE, Mass. -- Catholic Memorial used a series of runs throughout Sunday’s game to take control against St. Raphael (R.I.) and put it out of reach, en route to an 87-46 victory in Day 4 at the BasketBull Hoops Fest at Holyoke Community College.

The most important run of the game happened at the start of the second half with the No. 13 CM(4-0) leading 42-25. The Knights forced three St. Raphael (4-1) turnovers, including back-to-back steals and finishes by senior guard Pat Hurley, to spark an 11-0 run, taking a commanding 56-25 lead.

“St. Raphael is a good team and I know they were capable of making three’s in bunches,” CM head coach Denis Tobin said. “We stressed at the half that we wanted to extend it and put them away, so if they did hit a couple of three’s we would have enough of a cushion.”

Tobin was right about the Saints, they could get hot from behind the arc and they did. Following the run, St. Raphael connected on three consecutive 3-pointers – from Graham Lynch, John Conney, and Charles Correa – to cut the lead to 56-34. The Saints shot 9 of 24 from deep on Sunday.

“At that point, by the 11-0 start, we were OK,” Tobin said.

That was the only run the Saints would get on the day. The Knights controlled the glass, outrebounding the Saints 25-16, while forcing 16 turnovers in the game.

“The energy off the bench really helped us,” sophomore guard Gullien Smith said. “Our defense really picked up, we closed out on the shooter really well.”

Catholic Memorial started the game with a 7-0 run led by the senior backcourt of Hurley and D.J. McClure. Against the zone defense to start the game Hurley found McClure for a 3-pointer from the wing to start the game. Hurley would make a pair of free throws and a layup, before hitting McClure on a fast break lay-in, forcing St. Raphael (4-1) to call a timeout.

The Knights built a double-digit lead with a 6-0 run late in the first quarter to take a 10-point advantage into the second quarter. With the Saints threatening to cut the lead to single-digits heading into halftime, the Knights put together another 7-0 run to close out the half leading by 17.

“It’s a big court up here,” Tobin said. “The whole plan was to run bodies at them. Pressure them both defensively and then make them run back in transition and hopefully wear them down.”

Smith led CM with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. Hurley was solid all-around with 12 points, four assists, four steals, and two rebounds, while Gerard Adams chipped in 12 points as well, to go along with nine rebounds.

St. Raphael was led by an injured Correa, who had 13 points, five assists, and three steals. Conney led the Saints in scoring with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.

“We caught a break with Charles [Correa] playing with one hand; his weak hand,” Tobin said. “But we’ll take it. I think it’s the best we’ve played this season.”

GUTSY PERFORMANCE
Correa, one of the top players in Rhode Island, was held to just 13 points. It seems like a good defensive performance on paper, keeping a dynamic scorer like that in check. However, Correa was playing with an injured right hand – his shooting hand – forcing him to play the entire game with basically one hand.

“I still have a good left hand,” Correa said. “I couldn’t let my team down. If we were going to lose, we were going to lose together.”

After the game Correa said he had never shot left-handed before. He mentioned a game back in 2005 when then Indiana Pacer Jermaine O’Neal hurt his elbow on a foul from Denver Nuggets center Francisco Elson. O’Neal went to the line and was forced to shoot his free throws left handed.

“He’s just an unbelievable athlete. He hurt it the other night in the game,” St. Raphael head coach Thomas Sorrentine said. “He could really only go left, so we set him up to go left. He gave us everything he had out there. Obviously he wasn’t 100 percent.”

Correa was still able to be effective. He was second on the team in scoring with 13 points, he had five assists and came away with three steals in 26 minutes of action. With just his left hand he was still tough to guard, finding his way into the lane.

In the second quarter he knocked down back-to-back left-handed 3-pointers – he had three on the day – to go along with two other lefty layups in the second half.

“That’s very courageous of him. A non-league day, out of state, it’s very impressive,” Tobin added. “Left-handed, he’s still very, very good.”

Correa injured his right hand two days earlier in a win against Mount Pleasant. The right hand was completely wrapped and as he iced it after the game, the area around his pinky was still swollen. Sorrentine said they will have the an X-ray of Correa’s hand soon.

“I couldn’t handle the ball with my right hand,” said Correa. “I had to keep going back to my left.”

CATHOLIC MEMORIAL'S BALANCED ATTACK
This year is different for Tobin. He doesn’t have a consistent scorer every night, but he does have multiple players he can rely on game in and game out.

“We’re not like past teams, where we’ve had big go-to guys,” he said. “On any given night we have four or five guys capable of scoring 12-15 points.

“I’m very impressed with our unselfishness as well. Everybody’s willing to share the ball. We’ve all bought into the team concept.”

In Sunday’s win, six players scored eight or more points, 10 players came away with at least one rebound and seven players recorded two or more assists. The team was also solid defensive team in both the full court pressure and well as in the half court set.

The five starters –Hurley, McClure, Smith, Adams, and John McDonough – all contributed in different areas, while Kevin Claflin and Rich Lopez provided a lift off the bench.

“No one is selfish on this team,” Smith said. “No one is trying to go out and score 20, we just want to win.”

The undefeated Knights have a few days off before heading to Newton as part of a Christmas tournament with Newton North, Newton South, and Lexington.

“We’ve been there for four or five years and we haven’t won it yet,” Tobin said. “We’d like to take care of that.”

“We have another non-leaguer with Woburn on Jan. 2 and then the rest of the month of January is the league and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

December, 5, 2012
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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.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
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If they haven’t already, Rhode Island high school football fans should circle Nov. 9 on their calendars.

Rhode IslandThat’s when La Salle and Hendricken – arguably the top two teams in the state regardless of division – will meet at the Hawks’ field with the Division I championship at stake.

La Salle (6-0) and Hendricken (6-1) established that scenario last weekend when the Rams blasted Cranston East, 41-12, and the Hawks flew by Barrington, 18-6.

If the Rams prevail and also beat East Providence (1-5) on Thanksgiving, they’ll clinch the outright title plus the No. 1 seed in the Division I Tournament. But should the Rams lose to the Townies and the Hawks beat La Salle, each team would finish 7-1, and Hendricken would earn the top seed by virtue of having beaten La Salle.

All-State running back Josh Morris shredded Cranston East’s defense as he scored four touchdowns – for the second consecutive year against the Thunderbolt. Morris’s scores came on runs of 19, 20, 18 and 30 yards.

In addition quarterback Anthony Francis threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Keon Wilson and scored on a one-yard run.

In its previous game, La Salle only led Barrington 17-14 at halftime but exploded for 24 points in the second half and coasted to a 41-17 victory.

Morris again led the way by running 12 times for 122 yards and two scores.

Ironically, Cranston East was coming off one of the more dramatic victories in school history.

Coach Tom Centore’s team spotted Portsmouth a 25-point lead at halftime and then rallied for a 51-47 victory.

E.J. Isom scored on a three-yard run with three minutes left on the clock to cap the comeback and set up the Bolt’s big game versus La Salle.

DIVISION II PICTURE IN FOCUS
As a result of last weekend’s games, the pairings are set for the Division II Tournament.

Johnston (7-0), Mount Hope (5-2), Woonsocket (5-2) and Westerly (4-3) earned the top four spots in Division II-A.

In Division II-B, undefeated Cumberland (7-0) earned the No. 1 seed followed by No. 2 St. Raphael (5-2), No. 3 West Warwick (4-3) and No. 4 Rogers (4-3).

Because West Warwick, Rogers and Central each finished 4-3, tiebreakers determined the last two seeds and Central became the odd team out.

Johnston finished strong by winning each of its last two games, 38-10 over Westerly and 42-6 over Warwick Vets.

In the victory over Westerly, Evan Hopson caught a pair of touchdown passes, kicked a 27-yard field goal and converted three-of-four extra-point attempts.

Hopson was just as prolific against the Hurricanes since he again caught two touchdown passes and returned a fellow Panther’s fumble for a third score.

ISLANDERS MAKE HISTORY
Don’t waste your time delving through the record books to find the last year when Middletown completed an undefeated regular season in league play (in this case Division III).

At the least, that happened four decades ago - perhaps when the parents of the current Islanders were youngsters. And, if Middletown beats Tolman and Portsmouth in a pair of non-league games, it will record an undefeated regular season – period.

Middletown, which has outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 339-96, handed East Greenwich its first loss of the season, 20-7.

Junior Connor Ross accounted for each of Middletown’s touchdowns on runs of 13, 27 and five yards. Ross clinched the victory when he intercepted a pass with one minute remaining at the Islanders’10-yard line.

Also in Division III, Moses Brown (5-2) clinched a playoff berth by routing Burrillville, 31-13.

Andrew Howard paced the Quakers by rushing for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

KILTIES REIGN IN DIVISION IV
Mount Pleasant put the wraps on an undefeated Division IV season by blanking Central Falls, 33-0.

Randolph Zish paced the Kilties (7-0) by amassing 275 rushing yards and each of his team’s five touchdowns.

The field for the Division IV Tournament is just about set.

Hope (6-1) will have the second seed while North Providence (4-2) and North Smithfield (4-2) will battle for the fourth and final seed.

HAWKS REMAIN DOMINANT
Few teams have dominated boys’ cross country like Hendricken. The Hawks annexed their fifth consecutive state championship on Nov. 4 by scoring 44 points – 20 fewer than second-place La Salle.

Hendricken’s points were accounted for by Connor Doyle (fourth), Colin Tierney (fifth), Tyler Henseler (seventh), Alex Doherty (135h) and Collin Manning (15th).

The Hawks added the state trophy to the Class A championship they had captured the previous week.

Trevor Crawley became the first Cumberland runner to notch the state individual title in 14 years by covering the 5000-meter course at Ponganset High in 15:39.47. That time was 20 seconds faster than second-place finisher Bryce Kelley of Chariho.

BARRINGTON GIRLS DOUBLE UP
The Barrington girls may have needed a trailer to carry home all the trophies they annexed at the state cross country championships on Nov. 4 at Ponaganset.

As a team, Barrington easily captured its second consecutive state title by scoring a mere 31 points – 40 less than second-place La Salle.

In addition, freshman Emma McMillan won the individual title with a time of 18:22.99 on the 5000-meter course.

According to Interscholastic League records, McMillan is the first freshman female to win the individual championship since 1995. She finished 8.5 seconds ahead of La Salle’s Sheridan Wilbur.

After McMillan, Megan Vener-Crist (fourth), Fiona Paine (eight), Julianna Portelli (ninth) and Abigail Livingston (12th) rounded out Barrington’s first five finishers.

LINCOLN TRIO OFF TO COLLEGE
When Nov. 14 rolls around, three Lincoln High student-athletes will sign National Letters of Intent.

All-State pitcher Lindsay Mayer will sign with Virginia while teammate Emily Bouthillete will remain in state and sign with Bryant University.

All-Stater Nick Zammarell will head south and play baseball with Elon University in North Carolina.

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

October, 24, 2012
10/24/12
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La Salle Academy moved into sole possession of first place in Division I without having to score a single point or make any tackles.

Rhode IslandInstead, the Rams might be inclined to send a “thank you” note to Portsmouth.

The Patriots pulled off the upset of the season in the state’s top division by belting previously undefeated and defending state champion Hendricken, 39-14, on Oct. 20.

As a result, the Rams (4-0) are the division’s only undefeated team while Hendricken (5-1) fell to second followed by Portsmouth (4-1) and Cranston East (3-1).

Obviously, if the Rams run the table they’ll earn the No. 1 seed in the Division I Tournament (the top four teams qualify for post-season play).

Portsmouth led by a tenuous 9-7 margin at halftime but erupted for 30 points in the third quarter.

Quarterback Bob Chavous was a one-man wrecking crew as he passed the Hawks dizzy by completing 14-of-20 passes for two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Matt Sewall led Portsmouth receivers with six receptions for 55 yards.

Chavous also led the Patriots ground game. He carried the ball 18 times for 170 yards and one touchdown.

The loss took some of the luster off Hendricken’s 21-14 victory over Cranston East on October 12.

Quarterback Patrick Gill snapped a 14-14 tie when he scored on a one-yard run with 2:02 left on the clock.

Cranston East hosts Hendricken on Friday night in what will be the key game in Division I this week.

ISLANDERS “STRAND” QUAKERS
In the previous six years Middletown has played in three Division IV Super Bowls (winning in 2006) and two Division III bowls (winning in 2010) – including 2011 when it was knocked off by Aquidneck Island rival Rogers.

The Islanders remained in contention for the top seed in the Division III Tournament by defeating Moses Brown, 35-13.

Connor Russ paced the Islanders (6-0) by scoring on runs of 18, 21 and 22 yards and combined with Randy Butler for just over 200 yards on the ground.

East Greenwich (4-0) is in second place – which means when the Avengers host the Islanders on November 12, first place and the top seed could (should?) be at stake.

PETERSON UNSTOPPABLE
Ponaganset (2-3) is in a five-team traffic jam for one of the last two playoff berths in Division III.

If the Chieftains qualify for the playoffs, it will be due in large part to the play of running back Scott Peterson.

Over his last two games, Peterson has been virtually unstoppable.

Peterson carried the ball 31 times for 269 yards and scored each of Ponaganset’s four touchdowns during a 27-0 blanking of Classical.

The previous week, in a 24-12 non-league victory over Toll Gate, Peterson shredded the Titans defense for 322 yards and five touchdowns – each of which was a school record.

KILTIES STATE THEIR CASE
Even though this is the campaign season, Mount Pleasant doesn’t need to take out an ad in local newspapers to state its case as perhaps the best team in Division IV.

The Kilties did their talking on a soggy field last weekend when they beat Smithfield, 35-6.

As a result, Mount Pleasant (5-0) is alone in first place, a half-game ahead of Hope (5-1).

The Kilties visit the Blue Wave on November 10 and can clinch the top seed for the playoffs with a victory.

Sophomore Stephen Young slogged his way to scoring runs of five and 67 yards while Joe Putu returned an interception 50 yards on the final play of the third quarter which set up a six-yard touchdown run by Montrell Hopper that put the game out of reach.

COMING UP ACES
The R.I.I.L. girls’ tennis season came to an end over the weekend when the state singles title plus three team championships were decided.

East Greenwich’s Alexsandra Drljaca dropped the first set to Smithfield’s Jenna LaBarre but rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory in the singles finals – which made her the first Avenger female to win a state singles title.

Ironically, Drljaca had defeated LaBarre in three sets during a regular-season match.

La Salle put the finishing touches on an undefeated season (14-0) by blanking Mount St. Charles, 4-0, for the Division I team title.

The Rams, who now have captured four state titles, received three of their four points from their doubles teams: Emily Carranza and Caroline Dunn; Annie Venditti and Natalie Pitocco; and Briana Hanson and Caitlin Wrag.

Amanda Pitocco accounted for the lone singles point.

Portsmouth emulated La Salle by also wrapping up an undefeated season (14-0) by beating Classical, 4-0, in the Division II finals.

Julia Harrigan and Kathryn Harper prevailed in singles while the doubles teams of Taylor MacLeod and Caroline Farrow plus Jamie Hole and Paige Colman annexed the other two points.

Mount Hope rebounded from a 4-8 season in 2011 to capture the Division III team title, edging previously undefeated Coventry 4-3 in the finals.

With the match tied at 3-3, juniors Marisa Silva and Destinee DeSousa captured a three-set match at No. 1 doubles.

PASSAGES
Rhode Island lost one of its most ardent advocates for high school sports with the passing on October 24 of Pete Connell in his hometown of Smithfield.

For over two decades while writing for either The Observer or The Valley Breeze, Connell was a fixture at games involving teams in the western and northern parts of the state.

Connell was equally as respected as a high school baseball umpire.

As a testament to Connell, the entire Smithfield High boys’ soccer team paid their respects at his wake.

THE AXE FALLS
What had been on the drawing board became fact when East Providence’s state-appointed Budget Commission passed a $154-million budget that, among other things, eliminated sports at the city’s two middle schools.

At the moment, this is just a one-year cut. But that caveat notwithstanding, the loss of middle school sports should have a negative impact on East Providence High’s varsity sports (especially football, basketball and baseball), which will now be deprived of their feeder programs.

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

September, 13, 2012
9/13/12
12:56
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History.

Rhode IslandThat’s what defending Division I Super Bowl champion Hendricken is chasing this season.

Since the Rhode Island Interscholastic League implemented the Super Bowl format in 1972, only three schools have captured three consecutive championships at the Division I level: Rogers from 1976-78 and from 1988-80; Portsmouth from 1991-93; and Hendricken from 1994-96.

Ironically, the Hawks also qualified for the Super Bowl from 1997-99 only to lose each time. But six consecutive trips to the Super Bowl is the best run in school history.

Hendricken entered this season having played in five of the last six Super Bowls and at the risk of stating the obvious is pursuing its sixth trip in seven years.

No other team besides Rogers and the 1990s Hawks have made six trips in seven years and bused home with three championship trophies.

While the returning players still may have memories of their shocking 17-14 upset of previously undefeated La Salle in the 2011 Super Bowl, coach Keith Kroft began practice thinking about how to replace three First Team All-State selections: quarterback Ryan Brannigan, offensive lineman Max Heintzelman and wide receiver Laionel Cintron.

But while Branningan ran for just over 1,400 yards last season, another Hawk may do the bulk of the ball carrying if Hendricken’s 36-8 season-opening, non-league victory over St. Raphael Academy is any indication.

Junior running back Remmington Blue shredded SRA’s defense for 290 yards and four touchdown runs of 3, 53, 8 and 65 yards.

In 2011, Blue was at best the No. 3 running back – and sometimes No. 4 – because Hendricken was loaded with seniors at that position. But barring injury, Blue could make several teams – excuse the pun – feel “blue” this season.

But, altogether, Croft must replace 16 of 22 starters who graduated.

Topping the list of Hawks whom Croft hopes will plug holes are senior linebackers Marco Delvecchio, Jarrid Witherspoon, Robert Lineberger and Erick Olson; senior two-way linemen Nick DeCiantis (who checks in at 6-3 and 308 pounds) and Mario McClain.

La Salle, meanwhile, who dropped its non-league opener to North Attleborough still boasts one of the top running backs in southeastern New England in senior Josh Morris who accounted for 1,304 yards plus 16 touchdowns last season and was voted the Rhode Island Gatorade Player of the Year.

Lining up under center will be First Team All-State quarterback Anthony Francis who last season passed for 13 touchdowns and ran for an even dozen.

WE HAVE LIFTOFF
In other non-league openers of note:

*Stefano Marzale intercepted a pass and returned it 75 yards for a score to break a tie and give Cranston West a 12-6 victory over Cumberland.

* Dave Parrillo only ran nine times but gained 189 yards as Smithfield punished Pilgrim, 33-12.

* Austin Sczepaniak ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns while Bob Chavous passed for 145 yards as Division I power Portsmouth belted Rogers, 46-0.

* Mamour Samb scored four touchdowns on “only” 98 rushing yards to lead Tolman to a 49-6 romp over Classical.

* A fourth-quarter interception by Nick Liguori enabled Moses Brown to preserve what turned out to be a 7-6 win over Mount Pleasant. The “pick” was Liguori’s second of the game.

* Marc Breton only threw five passes, but he completed each one for 157 yards and three touchdowns as Johnston’s Panthers mauled Ponaganset, 40-0.

GORHAM’S RETURN BOOSTS TOWNIES
Over the previous 17 seasons, few – if any – high school football coaches in Rhode Island have been more successful than East Providence’s Sandy Gorham.

During that span, Gorham’s guided the Townies to 15 trips to the Division I playoffs and captured five Super Bowl championships.

But in late May, Gorham announced that he would be retiring after teaching for 36 years in the school’s Physical Education Department.

Gorham’s reasons were personal and financial because, at the time, the teachers’ union and the school committee were locked in contentious negotiations. Among other things, the committee was proposing to cut stipends for coaches and other teachers who performed extra-curricular work by 60 percent. And there was a chance that athletics would be eliminated – period.

But after a contract was hammered out and Gorham took time to discuss his initial decision with his family and friends, he decided to return.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ON THE AIR
WOON radio (1240 AM) in Woonsocket again will broadcast a full slate of high school football games.

For example, September’s schedule includes the following: Woonsocket at Johnson on September 14; Rogers at Cumberland on September 21; Woonsocket at Westerly on September 28.

All games will commence at 7 p.m.

HAWK WILL BECOME AN EAGLE
Senior pitcher Mike King, who led Hendricken to the Division I state baseball championship, has given a verbal commitment to play baseball at Boston College.

He’s expected to sign his letter-of-intent during the fall signing period.

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

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
10:07
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At face value, the La Salle Academy boys’ lacrosse team should have been devastated last spring by graduation when six All-State players – including All-Americans Ryan Poirier (midfield) and Cody O’Donnell (defender) - departed via the cap-and-gown route.

Not quite.

Rhode IslandThrough games of May 15, the Rams were sitting atop Division I with an 8-0 record and were leading in both goals scored (107) plus goals allowed (48).

Most importantly, the Rams have established themselves as the team to beat in their pursuit of the first state championship since the school added the sport.

Over the previous four seasons, coach Steve O’Donnell’s team posted a combined record of 44-3. But the Rams have lost three times in the finals – in 2008 to North Kingstown, in 2010 to Moses Brown and in 2011 to Hendricken.

But the returning veterans have keyed La Salle’s run to a possible undefeated season.

For example, All-American attack Brady O’Donnell scored five goals in this week’s 12-9 victory over North Kingstown. And in a 7-5 non-league victory over Bishop Guertin, a Division I school from Nashua, N.H., O’Donnell collected a hat trick.

Second Team All-State midfielder Jack Collins fired home seven goals and assisted on another in a 12-8 win over Hendricken.

Senior midfielder Dan Lucchetti scored three goals and assisted on one when La Salle beat the Hawks, 11-7, in the teams’ rematch.

Senior midfielder Sam Ricci added one goal plus four assists in the second win over the Hawks.

Sophomore Peter DeSimone has played well at attack and recorded four goals plus an assist in that 11-7 win over Hendricken.

TOLMAN CLINCHES PENNANT
With three games left in the regular season, Tolman clinched the Division II-Central title on May 15 by blanking Mount Pleasant, 3-0, as Andrew Larson and Carlos Sanabria combined on a six-hitter.

That was the latest in a string of impressive victories for the Tigers (13-3 in league play and 14-3 overall).

Against arch-rival Shea, Sanabria tossed a two-hitter replete with one walk and 12 strikeouts as the Tigers prevailed, 10-0. Sanabria also went 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBI.

Earlier, Tolman received another solid mound performance from Larson who went the distance on a five-hitter as the Tigers edged Classical, 2-1.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

April, 19, 2012
4/19/12
9:01
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Defending Division I state baseball champion Cranston West has picked up where it left off last season.

Rhode IslandThrough games of April 18, the Falcons (5-0) were tied for first place with Hendricken in Division 1 Central.

And like any good team, the Falcons are doing it with pitching and hitting.

Just check their last three games:
  • Rich Reo pitched no-hit ball until the sixth inning – the second time this season he’s lost a no-hitter in the sixth – and Frank Pettinato and Tony Crudale each collected three hits and two RBI in a 7-1 victory over Pilgrim.
  • Ryan Long scattered six hits and went the distance as the Falcons edged East Providence, 3-2.
  • Rob DeCosta led the last of the seventh with a solo home run which snapped a tie and gave the Falcons a 3-2 triumph over Cranston East.

In other games of note:
  • La Salle’s Caleb Gardner went the distance on a three-hitter, striking out 10 in the process, as the Rams beat Lincoln, 3-1. Frank D’Amato’s two-run homer and Jon Lapolla’s solo blast accounted for the Rams’ scoring.
  • Kyle Tracey threw only 95 pitches and went nine innings as Cranston East nipped Warwick Vets, 3-2.
  • Scituate’s Scott Iacobucci tossed a no-hitter, replete with 11 whiffs and only one walk, as the Spartans blanked Davies, 14-0, in a Division II-North game.
LAWSON TOPS ALL-STATE BASKETBALL TEAM
Senior forward Jarell Lawson led Central to the state basketball championship, the Knights’ first in 20 years.

Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise when he was named First Team All-State.

Lawson averaged 19 points and 10.9 rebounds for the 19-4 Knights.

Joining Lawson on the First Team are North Kingstown senior center Evan Scott (he averaged 16.7 ppg. and tied the school record with 69 blocked shots); West Warwick senior forward Ryan Lawton (20.1 ppg. and 1.35 rpg.); La Salle junior guard Tom Hunt (18.9 ppg.); and, for the second consecutive year, St. Raphael junior guard Charles Correa (20.4 ppg. and 7.5 assists per game).

Second Team honors were accorded to St. Raphael senior forward Cesar Mejia, Hope senior forward Emmanuel Kargbo, Mount Pleasant sophomore guard Kip Stewart, North Providence senior guard Austin Van Bemmelen, Westerly junior guard Austin Cilley and West Warwick senior guard John Morrison.

WAS SILVA PUSHED OUT THE DOOR?
As is the case with many schools, coaches must apply for their positions on an annual basis regardless of their tenure.

That was the case with Mount Hope head football coach Ron Silva. But in what was anything but a “harmonious meeting,” Silva exited his session with school administrators after confirming he would not apply to remain the Huskies’ coach for the 2012 season.

In five seasons at the helm, Silva compiled a 22-19 record in Division II games and guided the Huskies to the playoffs four times.

Mount Hope advanced to the 2009 Super Bowl where it was blanked, 19-0, by Woonsocket.

Silva indicated he would like to continue coaching and noted he’s already received a few offers.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
6:53
PM ET
Those of a certain age remember the slogan for Timex watches: “They take a licking and keep on ticking.”

Rhode IslandThe same could be said of the St. Raphael Academy boys’ basketball team.

Defending CIAC Class L champion New London smacked the Saints upside the head last Saturday en route to a 66-55 victory at the CCRI Knight Campus Fieldhouse.

With the memory of that loss still fresh in their minds, the Saints took the floor Tuesday night for a key, early-season game against Central.

The Saints edged the Knights, 57-54, and remained atop the Interscholastic League’s new Power Points Standings with a 6-0 record (SRA is 9-1 overall).

Leading the way was SRA’s 1-2 punch of Charles Correa and Cesar Mejia.

Correa, who struggled to score 15 points against New London, led both teams with 19 points while Mejia chipped in with 18 (before the game, Mejia was honored for having scored his 1000th career point earlier in the season).

Granted, the game was marked by a series of turnovers. But when clutch time rolled around, SRA held Central (5-1, 5-2) to four free throws in the final minute.

Conversely, while the Saints were soaring, perennial state power Hendricken High’s Hawks were floundering. At the moment, the Hawks are 1-4 and rank 33rd in the Power Points standings.

Given the new rules changes imposed for this season, one of which requires a team to win at least 40 percent of its league games to qualify for post-season play, the Hawks could be in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in decades.

The top 32 teams qualify.

Hendricken absorbed a brutal 55-53 loss at the hands of arch-rival La Salle on Jan. 3, which did zero to bolster the team’s confidence.

Among other things, a lack of offense has been the proverbial Achilles’ heel for the Hawks who’ve been minus their top returning player, Lee Messier, who’s been sidelined with a sprained ankle.

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