Boston High School: Mount St. Charles

Recap: No. 8 Cathedral 6, Mt. St. Charles 2

January, 19, 2014
Jan 19
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- If somehow Springfield Cathedral can find a way to bottle up its performance during the first two periods of Saturday's matinee match-up against Mount St. Charles Academy, then the Panthers could punch their ticket for a trip to the Super 8 tournament in March.

No. 8 Cathedral put on a virtual clinic for most of the opening 30 minutes of this tilt, building a 5-goal lead before settling for a 6-2 victory at the Olympia Ice Center.

"I think we're playing pretty good right now," said Panthers head coach Brian Foley, after his team improved to 9-2-1. "Mount is a very good team and came out with a lot of energy at the beginning. They out-shot us 6-0 to start the game before we kind of got it together. It was nice to have a 5-0 lead after two periods.

“Our kids are doing a good job finishing opportunities. Overall, we played a pretty-solid game today."

Cathedral did a lot of the little things right in this one. They won many of the small battles up and down the ice and took control of the larger ones as well. They were able to imposed an aggressive style by pressuring the Mounties defense into making countless ill-advised passes up the ice to their forwards. Once MSC was able to clear its own blue line, they ran into a bevy of trouble as the Panthers were waiting for them at mid-ice and beyond, forcing them off of their projected paths towards the net.

Although the Mounties were able to send 10 shots in goaltender Keith Petruzzelli's direction during the opening frame, most came from the perimeter. Petruzzelli, a freshman, got the nod over senior John Liquori, who surrendered three goals in a loss to Central Catholic on Wednesday.

The move may have surprised some people, considering the strength of MSC's offense. However, Foley was quick dismissed any notions of a goaltender controversy brewing.

"This is Keith's second start of the year," Foley said. "We have two very good goalies which I consider to be a luxury. We are going to keep playing both of them and try to find the right combination. For a coach, it really is a luxury knowing you have two goalies that you are completely comfortable with."

Keith Petruzzelli, along with his brother D.J., has already given a verbal commitment to play for Quinnipiac University once their high school careers are over.

D.J. Petruzzelli was equally instrumental in this victory, recording a natural hat trick.

The Mounties (9-5), who played just 18 hours earlier, beating Coventry and then having to endure a two-hour bus ride here, showed no signs of fatigue at the start. They dictated the offensive tempo from the opening face off and move the puck around the Cathedral zone with relative ease for the first four minutes. But Petruzzelli (26 saves) was able to survive the early onslaught before Cathedral started to find its legs.

Following the MSC flurry, the Panthers, sticking with their effective on-the-mark passing and speed skills, began to find gaps within the Mounties defense. They were able to create space in the neutral zone and continue to keep distance once inside Mountie territory. At 8:57 of the opening period, Cathedral capitalized on its efforts. Johnny Leonard, a sophomore, sent a cross-ice feed from the right circle over to Cam Peritz. The freshman was able to get a step ahead of the defense and flipped a shot past Brian Larence for a 1-0 lead.

Larence has been a valuable commodity in MSC's arsenal. The senior had posted three shutouts in his last four games coming in. On this day however, he wasn't as fortunate, stopping 23 of 29 shots.

"We gave up way to many odd-man rushes today," said Mounties assistant head coach David Belisle. "It seemed like it was happening on nearly every shift. I think we were over-anxious at times. Our concentration, especially in the second period, was awful."

Despite the change in momentum that Cathedral enjoyed over the final 10 minutes of the first period, putting up 13 shots, it appeared as though MSC would only be down by a goal heading into the first intermission.

But with just 3 seconds remaining, Leonard was left unattended on the short side of the net and beat Larence with a hard wrist shot under his catching glove, giving his team a two-goal lead.

"We were kind of scrambling around during the second half of the first period," Belisle said. "Giving up that goal late got [them] in their game and got us way off of our game."

The Panthers carried their opening period resurgence into the middle frame. In spite playing a man down, it didn't seem to matter. Leonard chalked up his second goal (No. 14 this season) at 6:45 by finishing off a 2-on-1 break, firing a shot just under Larence's glove to make it 3-0.

Four minutes later, it was D.J. Petruzzelli's time to shine. Another turnover resulted in a hard rush down ice for Cathedral's top line. Forward Peter Crinella started things before handing the puck over to Leonard, who then found Petruzzelli in front of the crease. The junior finished off the drive by stuffing a shot between Larence's leg pads for a four-goal advantage.

Petruzzelli was not finished. With under a minute remaining in the period, another odd-man rush by the Panthers set the stage for his second goal and a 5-0 lead.

"I think we had a top-to-bottom team effort today," said D.J. Petruzzelli. "All of our lines jumped in and played well. Keith played really well in net and I think we just kept pouring it on. All in all it was a good team effort."

MSC opened the final period with a concentrated effort of shoring up its patented 1-2-2 zone in the hopes of slowing down the Panthers. For the most part, it seemed to work as Cathedral was now finding things a bit more difficult in its attempts to work the puck inside the Mounties' zone. In turn, that finally opened things up for MSC's offense. Within a span of 20 seconds, the Mounties found the back of the net twice on goals by Devin Votta (team-high 13) and Patrick Holmes, cutting the deficit to 5-2.

But the hole MSC dug for itself was too deep to crawl out of. With less than two minutes to go, Petruzelli notched his third tally after ripping a shot from the right point, which sailed past Larence, putting an end to any comeback hopes by the Mounties.

"The good thing we can take out of this moving forward is we can't win many games against good teams like this by giving up that many odd-man rushes," Belilse said. "I think we'll be alright. We try to play our best hockey in February and that is the hope again for us this year."

Hendricken emerges from pack at MSC Face-Off

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
Without question Mount St. Charles, La Salle Academy and Hendricken have fielded the state’s dominant boys’ hockey teams for decades. But for the most part, the only time each is under the same roof at the same time is when they play in the annual Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off Tournament at Adelard Arena along with five top teams from five different states.

Rhode IslandNot surprisingly, the fact Hendricken claimed the championship with a 3-0 record may indicate the Hawks could be the team to beat not only for the Division I regular-season championship but also for the tournament title.

In a span of 72 hours last weekend, the Hawks nipped Connecticut’s Fairfield Prep, 4-3; beat division rival La Salle, 6-3; and held off New York’s St. Joseph Collegiate, 4-3.

“It’s good to win a championship,” said Hawks coach Jim Creamer. “It’s never easy to win a championship – one reason being we only play two each season, this tournament at the Mount and then the league tourney. Just to win one is a major accomplishment.”

Tournament MVP Andy Fera scored twice in the finals and was voted to the All-Tournament Team along with fellow Hawks Jamie Armstrong (forward), Matt Kenneally (goalie) and Bryce Dolan (defenseman).

Fera’s second goal gave Hendricken a 4-2 lead and, obviously, proved to be the game-winner.

“He’s our go-to guy … our ‘Mr. Consistent,’” said Creamer. “You get the same thing out of Andrew all the time and that’s the best part about him. To say that fourth goal was big would be an understatement.”

It also would be an understatement to say that beating three quality teams will aid the Hawks in their pursuit of the state championship they last won in 2012.

“We had three good games with some highs and some lows,” said Creamer. “But over the course of those three days, we really did a good job. We got better as a team. We were put in some tough spots but we’re thrilled with (the championship).

“It was a grind to get through this tournament when you have teams like Fairfield, St. Joseph’s, La Salle and Mount. Really, it was a daunting task for our guys.”

Mount implodes: In baseball, batting .333 is excellent.

But in a three-game hockey tournament, batting .333 (i.e. one win and two losses) isn’t anything to brag about especially if you’re Mount St. Charles which has captured a mind-boggling 43 state championships.

The fact Mount was blanked, 4-0, by Fairfield Prep in the third game did little for coach Dave Belisle’s peace of mind.

In fact, Belisle kept the door to the Mount’s locker room closed for a good half-hour while he “addressed” his players about their lackluster performance in the tournament.

“We only played two-and-a-half good periods,” Belisle said of Mount’s loss to Fairfield. “That’s the disappointing part. When you only play two-plus periods against a good team like that, you’re not going to get it done.

“I’ve been preaching it for a long time, that you have to play three full periods of hockey. Even in our division (Division I-Cimini), we’ve only played hard for two periods in the games we’ve won.”

In retrospect, the Jesuits could have won by more than 4-0 if goalie Brian Larence had not made 47 saves.

“I know Brian wouldn’t want me to say he played a good game because we lost 4-0,” said Belisle. “He’d want me to say he didn’t get it done in the third period.

“Overall, we’ve had our fair share of injuries and we’re young. We have eight freshmen on our roster. But this is about giving the effort for 45 minutes – from the opening faceoff until the final buzzer.”

Smooth sailing for Clippers: Cumberland last won the Division II state championship at the end of the 2007-08 season. But Cumberland delivered the proverbial message by upsetting Division I foe Barrington, 3-2, in the opening round of the Burrillville Winter Classic on Monday.

If the Clippers had beaten a Division III team, the victory would have been expected. But to beat a Division I team is a completely different story.

“Barrington plays in the state’s top division,” said Cumberland coach Mark Andreozzi. “For us to skate with Barrington and play well and get the win is definitely a feather in our caps.

“It was good to gain confidence … to know we could go out and play at their level.”

The story within the story was the fact Andreozzi played all three of his goaltenders en route to his team’s upping its overall record to 5-0-0. Leo Lake, Zack Kay and Liam Curren combined for a modest total of eight saves.

“I wanted to play all three because they work hard in practice and really could benefit from the experience of playing against a top team like Barrington,” said Andreozzi. “Granted, it was a non-league game. But it’s just as important as the ones we play in our division (II-North).”

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: LaSalle Academy (R.I.) 1, Franklin 0

December, 27, 2013
WOONSOCKET, R.I. – As Franklin traveled to play Rhode Island power LaSalle Academy, Thursday, as part of Mount St. Charles’ 18th annual Holiday Faceoff tournament, the Panthers were looking for a bounce-back to a sizeable loss to Malden Catholic (an exclusion game) and a penalty-kill collapse against Lincoln-Sudbury.

But as Franklin was shutout, 1-0, after a 29-save performance from Rams junior goaltender Taylor Walsh at Adelard Arena, the Panthers were left kicking themselves again.

“He won the game, he flat out stole the game from the other team,” Rams head coach Mike Gaffney said. “Many, many of his saves were the kind preventing a certain goal. Sometimes goaltenders, the shot hits them, they’re in the right position. That’s hard enough to do. But he stole it away from them.”

This time, the Panthers (1-3-0) had more than plenty chances of their own on the power play, including a pair of sandwiched 5-on-3 chances to end the second period, but LaSalle (2-2-0) withstood it all.

The Rams tallied the lone goal of the game at 9:08 of the first, as junior forward Joe Manown tapped home a loose puck from the goalmouth, amidst a logjam of traffic in front of senior goaltender Mike Donadio (21 saves).

Still, with eight power-play opportunities to their credit, the Panthers had no one to blame but themselves.

“We have some really nice set-ups, getting into the zone and setting up what we wanted to, but the passes were in the skates, and on the power play, if you want to get a shot, you can’t do that,” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane said. “When we did put it on guys’ sticks, we weren’t ready or we didn’t handle it well.”

The Panthers were advantaged with a string of five straight power plays, elapsing over the final 10-and-a-half minutes of the second. During that span, Franklin was given a 5-on-3 opportunity for 38 seconds, which would carry over into the third. To make matters worse for LaSalle, a cross-checking call was also assessed as time ran out in the second, meaning Franklin would start the third period with piggy-backing power plays.

“That’s scary because they get to set up the opportunity exactly as they want it to out of the break,” Gaffney said.

Yet, the Panthers were able to muster just two shots in more than two minutes of 5-on-3 play.

“We’ve been at it a good month now, but I confessed to our team that we haven’t really done a lot of work on [the penalty kill],” Gaffney said. “But we have the right guys out there, the four defensemen, [Ben] Aldrich, [Nick] Altieri, [Ryan] Kelly and [Matt] Manown. I thought [forward Ryan] Tracy did a terrific job, too, when it was 5-on-3, up top.”

Yet, the Panthers seemed to find their stride midway through the third, as part of a 10-shot assault on Walsh in the period.

But Franklin was subject to a little more self-sabotage, as the Panthers got themselves into penalty trouble and a 5-on-3 situation, which LaSalle held in the latter stretches of the third.

“We finally had some serious momentum and then we give up the 5-on-3 and it gets taken away,” Spillane said. “It was all mental mistakes. They were all behind the play, not one of them needed to happen.”

Franklin must bounce back quickly as it prepares to face reigning Connecticut state champion Fairfield Prep tomorrow (2 p.m.) in the second round, while LaSalle hopes to keep the momentum rolling against RIIL rival Bishop Hendricken (6 p.m.)

Recap: No. 2 MC 8, Mount St. Charles (R.I.) 2

December, 19, 2013
MALDEN, Mass. -- Ara Nazarian and Tyler Sifferlen lost linemate Mike Iovanna to graduation, but the duo appear to have not missed a beat. Paired with new right wing Jake Witkowski, the two combined for five goals as the three-time defending Super 8 Champions from Malden Catholic demolished Rhode Island high school hockey powerhouse Mount St. Charles, 8-2, on Wednesday night.

“Losing Mikey [Iovanna] is a big loss,” said Sifferlen of his departed line mate, a UMass-Amhest recruit. “We played with Jake in the fall, and we had good chemistry with him. It’s good that Jake is filling in for him. He’s working hard and doing good with us.”

The Mounties, playing their fourth game of the season, were without their entire second line due to injuries suffered in a scrimmage against Austin Prep. Mount Saint Charles also got to the Valley Forum late because of traffic, but bus legs or not, the school from Woonsocket, R.I. was able to stay even, 1-1, with the skilled Lancers after 15 minutes.

“It’s tough for them,” said Malden Catholic head coach John McLean. “They came all the way up here with a lot of traffic. I feel bad for them. They’re usually a really good team, but they had bus legs all night.”

Malden Catholic sophomore Matt Filipe and Mount St. Charles senior Justin Trindade traded first period goals.

“We were a little nervous going out,” said McLean of his team’s first period start in its season opener. “I think the shots were 19-2 in the first. We had a ton of chances, but just didn’t finish. It was a little case of the nerves and starting the season out with new linemates.”

The floodgates opened in the second period as Sifferlen, the UMass-Lowell recruit, scored twice in the first 31 seconds to give the Lancers a 3-1 cushion. His first goal was a quick snipe from the left side nine seconds in.

UNH recruit Nazarian then added two goals, including a laser that went top shelf past Mount St. Charles goaltender Brian Larence for a 5-1 lead for MC.

Jack Adams scored another goal to give the Lancers a five-goal cushion prior to the second intermission.

“I thought we settled in for the second period. [Nazarian and Sifferlen] are both special players,” said McLean of his duo, who were responsible for four of the five goals scored in the middle frame. “They just know how to play. They compete every shift. They’re very skilled, and when they have a chance they usually bury it. They probably should have more,” added the coach.

Sifferlen scored his third of the night for the hat trick in the third period on a nice chip pass by Witkowski from behind the goal line.

Defenseman Nick Rolli banged one past Larence off a short feed from Filipe for the final goal of the night.

McLean and Sifferlen both stressed the need to stay focused and take it one game at a time.

“It’s a good win. We haven’t arrived yet. It doesn’t mean anything. We have a lot of work to do. The only thing I’m worried about is tomorrow,” said McLean.

“We’ve just got to go out there and play our game. Obviously we’re the team to beat. We know that, being the three time champs, and we just have to go out there game by game,” said Sifferlen.

Notes: A name that high school hockey fans will have to get used to hearing is Lynnfield native Matthew Filipe whose father played hockey at Northeastern. “Matthew Filipe is the next up and coming elite player. He’s a [late] ’97. He’s a big, strong kid who can skate. He plays a hard, mean game, but he’s skilled and can finish. He competes every shift. He’s going to be fun to watch the next few years,” McLean said. … Mount St. Charles, playing shorthanded and with bus legs, didn’t put up much of a fight after the first period, but coach Dave Beslisle believes his team will be one of the top three contenders in Rhode Island with Bishop Hendricken and La Salle Academy.

Previewing the Mt. St. Charles Holiday Face-off

December, 17, 2013
With snow hampering some of the early schedule across the region’s ponds, let’s take a look at one of the premier holiday tournaments coming soon.

Per tournament director Larry O’Donnell, here’s a look at another loaded 8-team field at this year’s Mount St. Charles (R.I.) Holiday Face-off Tournament. Some of the best programs in the Ocean State, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania will be on hand for what should be a highlight to the New England high school hockey calendar.

This year’s entrants:
Mount St. Charles
Franklin (Mass.) High School
Bishop Hendricken (R.I.)
La Salle Academy (R.I.)
Bishop Guertin (N.H.)
Fairfield Prep (Conn.)
St. Joseph’s (N.Y.)
La Salle College (Penn.)

First-round schedule:
(Games scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 26)
Fairfield Prep vs Bishop Hendricken High School, 2 p.m.
Bishop Guertin vs LaSalle College, 4 p.m.
LaSalle Academy vs Franklin, 6 p.m.
Mount St. Charles Academy vs St. Joseph's, 8 p.m.

Second round games (Friday, Dec. 27):
Matchups and face-off times, TBA

Championship and consolation games (Saturday, Dec. 27):
Matchups and face-off times, TBA

Tournament notes: Mounties head coach Bill Belisle enters the RIIL season with more than 900 career wins and 31 state championships. … Fairfield Prep head coach Matt Sather has accumulated more than 230 career wins in 14 seasons at the helm. … Matt Barnaby, son of the former Buffalo Sabre of the same name, plays for St. Joe’s of Buffalo. Also, there’s another Sabres connection, as St. Joe’s head coach Richard Crozier is the son of former Sabres coach Joe Crozier. … La Salle Academy (R.I.) coach Mike Gaffney served under New Jersey Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello while at Providence College. … Guertin head coach Gary Bishop was on the staff of former UMass-Lowell coach Billy Reilly.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

March, 27, 2013
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League has held boys’ hockey state tournaments since 1933. From that year until the present, one school has dominated regardless of division alignments.

Rhode IslandThis season, the RIIL implemented a Super Four championship which involved the top four teams in the state based on a power-point system. New format or not, the final result was the same: Mount St. Charles emerged with its fifth state championship in the last six years; its 31st in the last 36 years; and its seemingly-incredible 43rd in RIIL history.

What made Mount’s conquest this season even more impressive was the fact that, in its best-of-three series with La Salle, the two games coach Bill Belisle’s team needed to annex another title weren’t even close.

Mount blew out the Rams, 7-0, in Game 1 and closed the deal with a 5-2 victory in Game 2.

The Mounties led 2-0 after one period in Game 1 only because of stellar goaltending by Tyler Walsh, who stopped 18 of 20 shots.

Walsh made 22 more saves in a scoreless second period. But in the third the Mount erupted for five goals – the first a power-play score by Dan Glod (his second of the game).

After that, it was all downhill for Mount as Brian Belisle (the coach’s grandson), scored to make it 4-0.

In the end, Mount outshot La Salle by a whopping 67-24 margin.

Mount only led 1-0 after the first period of Game 2 on a goal by Patrick Holmes. But Devin Votta’s second-period goal made it 2-0 and Glod scored twice in the third period which ended any suspense.

Glod, a senior forward, was voted the Super Four MVP after scoring three goals in two games.

Barrington finished a lackluster Division I regular-season record of 3-14-1.

But just like Superman stepping into a telephone booth and emerging as the antithesis to Clark Kent, the Eagles took flight and captured the Division I Tournament by beating Burrillville, two games to one, in the best-of-three series.

Truth be told, eight of Barrington’s regular-season losses were at the hands of the Super Four Tournament teams. But in tournament play, the Eagles were 4-1 and captured the school’s first boys’ hockey title in 18 years (Barrington won the Division II title in 1995).

Barrington set off a wild celebration after blanking the Broncos, 2-0 in Game 3, due in large part to tournament MVP Andrew Galbraith.

A senior goaltender, Galbraith stopped a hefty 52 shots after stopping 28 in a 1-0 victory in Game 1.

Barrington scored the only goal Galbraith would need barely four minutes into the first period on a shot by Brett Fay.

Mike Lombardi’s power-play goal early in the second period provided an insurance goal. Lombardi, a freshman, scored the only goal in Game 1 as the Eagles prevailed, 1-0. But the Broncos kicked up their heels in Game 12 and clipped the Eagles, 7-2, behind a hat trick by Chad Stone.

With the exception of a tie, Lincoln completed a spectacular 23-0-1 season by sweeping the best-of-three Division II championship series against Prout by scores of 3-2 in each game – the second in overtime.

The title was the first for the Lions since the 1984-85 season.

With Game 2 tied 2-2 in OT, Griffin Hevey’s shot from the blue line at 3:36 eluded Crusader goalie Austin Gemma. In Gemma’s defense, Lincoln caught Prout during a line change.

Previously, Hevey scored an overtime goal against East Greenwich which clinched the quarterfinal series.

Lincoln sophomore goalie, Chris Leclaire, stopped 34 shots to earn the victory while Lincoln’s other goals were scored by Ryan Krohto and Jerzy Polak – the latter during a power play.

Leclaire was solid in Game 1 as he turned aside 30 shots and kept Lincoln’s deficit at 1-0 until late in the second period when Krohto scored twice in a span of 3:20.

Three years ago, West Warwick was dropping hockey due to a lack of participation.

So, West Warwick and Exeter/West Greenwich formed a co-op team and in March it did something that was totally unimaginable: win a state title.

West Warwick/EWG swept Tolman by scores of 5-2 and 5-1 to annex the Division III title and erase the sting of a 5-11-0 record the team posted last season.

In addition, it enabled coach Pete Ethier’s team to finish with a 20-0-0 record.

The Wizards/Scarlet Knights scored a hefty 142 goals during 16 regular-season games. And it was more of the same against Tolman, which will be dropping hockey (does this sound familiar?) due to a lack of boys willing and able to play hockey.

Troy Sankey scored the Wizards/Scarlet Knights’ first two goals and Anthony Ventura buried a rebound early in the third period for what proved to be the game-winner.

The victors also boasted the tournament’s MVP in Antonio Rei, who scored the game’s final goal.

Sankey came up big in Game 1 when he scored a power-play goal in the first period to tie the score at 1-1. Ventrua followed suit, and after Tolman’s Chris Baldwin tied it, Rei scored the eventual game-winner at 7:47 of the third.

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
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.


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.

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).


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.


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.

Super 8 tournament projection (Version 1.0)

February, 15, 2013
As advertised, here’s our initial Super 8 hockey tournament, 10-team projection.

We still have a pivotal week ahead for the teams looking to qualify, including some must-see holiday week tournaments, so there could be plenty of movement on this list.

We’ll have Version 2.0 to you next Friday, following the completion of the remaining games of note and before Saturday’s Super 8 selection committee meetings.

Of course, we’d like to hear your input, and feel free to give us your 10-team field below in the Comments field or via Twitter (@espnbostonhs).

1. Springfield Cathedral (15-0-3)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 1

Why they’re in: No matter what happens this weekend and at their host holiday tournament next week, carrying an undefeated record into final week of the season and playing a schedule that includes nearly all the teams that will be mentioned in this piece there’s no question about the Panthers’ resume. The question is where they’ll end up and it most assuredly will be in the top six.

Why they’re in this spot: For now, they hold the poll position as the lone Super 8 Watch List team without a loss to date. But Saturday’s test against No. 2 St. John’s Prep will open the debate.

2. St. John’s Prep (15-2-0)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 2

Why they’re in: The Eagles captured their first Catholic Conference championship since 1994, going 7-1-0 in the state’s elite league, so they’re a shoo-in. They are perhaps the state’s deepest team from the goal out.

Why they’re in this spot: Prep has been perhaps the state’s most consistent team and enters Saturday’s pivotal matchup at Cathedral with a 10-game winning streak in tow. The No. 1 spot is in sight.

3. BC High (11-2-3)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 3

Why they’re in: The Catholic Conference runners-up led the state in RPI ranking in terms of strength of schedule with their only losses of the season coming against the two aforementioned teams.

Why they’re in this spot: Again, there’s nobody ahead of them that hasn’t beat them and there’s nobody behind them they haven’t beat.

4. Reading (14-1-5)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 4

Why they’re in: The Rockets claimed the Middlesex Liberty (Large) Division title, compiling one of the state’s best goals scored to goals allowed ratio (77-25). While Reading’s strength of schedule might not compare to some of the parochial schools making this list, as the top team in the state’s best public school conference, that’s reason enough for automatic entry into The 8.

Why they’re in this spot: The Rockets skated with No. 3 BC High (a 2-0 loss at UMass-Boston) in a competitive December game. That’s why they should be right there with them in seeding. However, they do have some unfinished business with a Middlesex League matchup against fellow Watch List team Wilmington.

5. Archbishop Williams (11-2-4)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 9

Why they’re in: The Bishops earned the Catholic Central Large championship with Wednesday’s 4-4 tie against Austin Prep, their first outright league title since 1997. While Archies (7-0-3 in CCL) claimed the title over AP (6-0-4) by just one point, laying claim to the title all but assures the Bishops a seat at the Super 8 table.

Why they’re in this spot: The Bishops have just one “quality win” over a fellow Super 8 watch list opponent (Barnstable on Jan. 9), so putting them much higher than here would be a stretch. However, Archies will have at least one shot at another Watch List-er at the Cape Cod Classic this week. A victory in such a game should all but do it for the Bishops.

6. Hingham (12-5-1)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 6

Why they’re in: Because we couldn’t feasibly have Super 8 tournament without the Harbormen, right? On this week’s podcast (LISTEN HERE), Bruce Lerch and I discussed Hingham’s troubling lack of a marquee win to date. I think the Harbormen will emerge with at least one of those in the upcoming Cape Cod Classic. But, even still, going it alone, playing as an independent, Hingham takes on all the best the state (and other states) have to offer. They’re in; it’s just a matter of where.

Why they’re in this spot: Again, the lack of a marquee win prohibits them from moving much higher than here (at least for now), but again, I’d like to see at least one quality win from the Harbormen in the final week to feel safe about this pick.

(Play-in seeds, determined by team records):

7. Austin Prep (10-1-6)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 5

Why they’re in: A 2-2 tie against Matignon last week cost the Cougars a share of the CCL title, and it could cost them a top-six spot. I still believe the Cougars will carry a second CCL selection into the tournament. After all, it would be mighty hard to shut out a team with one loss on the season. Yet again, I’d group AP in with the teams that would be greatly advantaged by a win in Falmouth in the final week because they’re just a tad shy (to date) in the marquee win category.

8. Central Catholic (13-3-3)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 10

Why they’re in: The DCL/MVC champions (11-0-0 in league play) will almost assuredly be the conference’s lone representative, having swept the season series from fellow Watch List-er and league rival Chelmsford. While it happened at the beginning of the season, the Raiders hold one of the more impressive wins on their resume of all Super 8-considered teams – a 2-1 victory over St. John’s Prep in December. Still, there will be many sets of eyes on Central’s Monday matinee matchup with Catholic Memorial at Walter Brown.

9. Catholic Memorial (8-6-2)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 7

Why they’re in: Once again, the Knights find themselves near the end of their schedule and haven’t yet clinched a postseason tournament berth. I think that will occur early next week, but CM would be woe to head into Friday’s Catholic Conference finale with Xaverian having not done so. Again, as it has been in the last two seasons when the Knights have failed to qualify, if they qualify, they’re in. Yet, CM would do well to run the table in its remaining four games against fellow Watch List-ers Braintree, Central Catholic and Xaverian, in addition to Connecticut power Fairfield Prep.

10. Malden Catholic (8-6-3)

Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 8

Why they’re in: As in CM’s circumstance, if the Lancers qualify, they’re in. The two-time defending Super 8 champions have been hovering around .500 for most of the season and fighting for their playoff lives. Last week’s emphatic 4-0 win over Central Catholic was a huge shot in the arm. But again, the Lancers are looking at winning out (remaining schedule: Mount St. Charles, St. Mary’s of Lynn, and Springfield Cathedral/ Needham at Cathedral tournament) as their best chance at making it in. Just imagine the disgust of a potential No. 1 seed that could be staring at an opening-round, three-game series against this group. No thanks.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 30, 2013
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.

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.

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 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.

  • 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.
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.

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
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.

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.
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).
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.

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.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 3, 2013
Maybe Mount St. Charles will win a record 43rd state boys’ hockey championship. After all, the Mount returns 13 players from last season’s team that posted a 21-8-0 overall record and lost in a pulsating, best-of-three finals to Bishop Hendricken.

Rhode IslandBut the Mounties were unable to win their own Holiday Face-Off Tournament.

In fact, the Mount didn’t even reach the finals of this season’s tournament because it was eliminated in the semifinals, 6-5, by Delbarton School of Morristown, N.J.

The Green Wave swamped the Mount by scoring four first period goals, including a hat trick by John Balocco, which trumped a two-goal, two-assist performance by Dan Glod.

But in the finals, Fairfield Prep (Conn.) edged Delbarton, 4-3, on Matt Wikman’s goal at 5:50 of a second overtime period.

LaSalle College finished third by blanking La Salle Academy, 5-0, with Ryan Williams also recording a hat trick.

The only Rhode Island team to finish in the top five was Hendricken, as the Hawks beat Bishop Guertin (N.H.), 3-1, with Matt Creamer (the son of head coach Jim Creamer) scoring one goal and assisting on another.

While Mount St. Charles made news (albeit of a negative type) on the ice, Tolman also made news that essentially was disturbing.

Tolman, which has won six Division III state championships, will be dropping boys’ hockey after this season because, quite simply, it’s going to lack enough players.

The current team dresses only 13 players – eight of whom are seniors. And for the second season in a row, there are zero freshmen on the team which also is minus any sophomores.

Nevertheless, the Tigers are 6-1-1 in their first eight games.

Ironically, Tolman’s cross-town rival in Pawtucket, Shea, dropped hockey in 1987 – after winning its only then-Met C title – because of a lack of players.

Like most states, Rhode Island featured numerous holiday basketball tournaments.

Following are the results of the more prominent ones:
  • Ben Bradley poured in 27 points as Cumberland beat Woonsocket, 68-58, in the finals of the long-standing Cumberland/Lincoln Boys & Girls Club Holiday Tournament. Bradley, who was voted MVP honors, scored 13 points and dished out eight assists as the Clippers beat Tolman, 62-46, in the semifinals. The Villa Novans advanced to the finals by beating Lincoln, 53-46, with Nicholas Jusczszyn scoring 20 points.
  • Kody Greenhalgh clinched MVP honors after scoring a game-high 23 points to lead West Warwick to a 67-57 victory over Scituate in the finals of the West Warwick Holiday Tournament.
  • Justin Pratt keyed a rally that saw North Kingstown overcome a double-digit deficit and defeat Shea, 74-63, in the Barrington Boosters Holiday Tournament championship game. Pratt scored 26 points – 18 coming on six 3-point shots.
  • Mackenzie Ramsay and Sarah LaMountain scored five points apiece in overtime and West Warwick converted five free throws in the final moments of regulation as the Wizards beat Coventry, 68-60, in the Coventry Credit Union Classic title game. Coventry’s Sarah McGrath forced the extra session when she drained a 3-point shot with seven seconds left in regulation.
  • Juanita Sanchez boasted the MVP in Elfreda Hoff as it captured the City of Providence Holiday Tournament by outlasting Classical, 37-25, in the finals. Hoff scored 31 of her team’s points against the Purple after notching 25 in a 53-19 romp over Hope in the semifinals.
  • Just before the holidays, Prout’s Eric Ramelka surpassed the 1000-point mark for his career as the Crusaders beat Lincoln, 61-46.
Division I champion Barrington and Division II champ Classical combined to place a total of five players on the First Team All-State Soccer Team.

Eagles earning First Team honors were keeper Andrew Jones (who also was named an All-American); midfielder Christian Egglin; and fullback Carson Hall.

Classical was represented by midfielder Asa Sohn (he played on three consecutive state championship teams, two in Division III and in Division II last season) and forward Julio Jimenez (he led all Interscholastic League players with 27 goals and 11 assists for a total of 38 points).

Rounding out the first team were midfielder Dan Apajee and fullback Greg Forgue from La Salle; forward Christian Rodriguez (21 goals) and midfielder Stiven Montiero from Central Falls; midfielder Brandon Jumoas and keeper Justus Heinstchel Von Heinegg from Portsmouth.

La Salle Academy’s All-Everything running back Josh Morris has announced he’ll be attending Brown University next fall.

Morris, who led the Rams to the Division I regular-season title, rushed for 2,725 yards and 36 touchdowns over his junior and senior seasons.

Hendricken’s Mike King will play his baseball at Boston College, after earning Second Team All-State honors last spring for Division I state champ Hendricken.

Alex Perreault, a First Team All-State selection last spring in lacrosse for Hendricken, opted for perennial power Johns Hopkins.

St. Raphael Academy’s Nicholas Karalekas, who received the Carl Yastrzemski Scholarship (a four-year scholarship endowed by the Red Sox Hall of Famer), will enroll at Merrimack College and play baseball.

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. 2 BC High 2, Mt. St. Charles 0

December, 23, 2012

BOSTON – In the box score of No. 2 BC High’s 2-0 win over Rhode Island powerhouse Mount St. Charles, you’d easily find the fact that Ryan McDonough scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the first period.

What you wouldn’t be able to find in that information, or any other quantified statistic for that matter, is what McDonough, a senior assistant captain of the Eagles, truly meant to his team’s shutout effort. It’s the same thing head coach John Flaherty has come to expect from McDonough, but it was all prominently on display Saturday at UMass-Boston.

In the final minute of BC High’s victory, the Eagles collectively put on a defensive clinic. McDonough led the charge with a key blocked shot, as did Chris LaLiberte. To ice the victory, Tom Besinger’s singular effort on the forecheck resulted in an empty-net goal with 5.3 seconds to play. With a 20-save performance from preseason All-State netminder Peter Cronin, the Eagles made it all stand up.

“We don’t get out of here with two points but for Chris LaLiberte blocking that shot and sacrificing himself,” Flaherty said. “Then, he gets off the ice and Ryan McDonough gets on and that was another huge block by him. Ryan just does that. Both of those guys, they bring that element to their game, every shift. They’re guys that pay attention to details.”

The Eagles (3-0-0) have now thrown two shutouts in the first three games with Cronin picking up all three wins. Between the pipes, Cronin has backstopped BC High to eight scoreless periods of the nine played.

“We’re relying on him too much, but he’s getting the job done,” Flaherty said of Cronin.

Both teams were victim to some early sloppy play getting out of their respective ends. Yet, the Eagles were able to cling to a 1-0 lead after McDonough slipped one past Mounties netminder Brian Larence (21 saves) at 9:15 of the first.

“I got the puck on the left boards and tossed it down to Steve DeForge, and he made a great play,” McDonough said. “I was lucky to get it past the goalie.”

But the Eagles collectively kept the best for last. BC High’s defense in front of Cronin helped keep Mount scoreless despite five man-advantages, collapsing down low and clogging shooting lanes. The Eagles brought the same ethic to the final minute of play with Larence pulled from the Mounties’ net.

“Whatever it takes to win,” McDonough said of his shot blocks. “I try my best for Pete [Cronin] because he does his best for us every single night.”

Cronin continued his hot play on Saturday, but wasn’t tested for long stretches of time. The senior netminder, who didn’t allow his first goal of the season until the third period of Monday’s 5-2 win over St. John’s of Shrewsbury, remained sharp despite a lack of activity in front of him, particularly in the second period when the Mounties got just six shots to the BC High cage.

“Those are tough games for goaltenders because he didn’t have a ton of shots, but when he did, they were good chances and he made some very good saves,” Flaherty said. “A couple of those came off deflections and those were tough, but he’s seeing the puck well.”

A perennial threat in the RIIL’s Division 1 title race, Mount has experienced a sort of power outage without top scorer Brian Belisle.

The Mounties’ top returning scorer from last season suffered an early concussion, but recently was dealt a second blow to the head, holding him out of play for at least the next couple of weeks. Brian’s father, Mounties coach Dave Belisle isn’t about to rush him back into action, even with a loaded field upcoming in Mount’s holiday week tournament upcoming.

“Our goaltending’s been good since the beginning and we have four good defensemen in front of [Larence],” Dave Belisle said. “We just need some scoring. We need some time to come together and we need Brian to get healthy and get back.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 19 St. John's (S) 2

December, 18, 2012

BOSTON, Mass. -- A highly anticipated matchup of two of the state's top netminders ended up taking a backseat to a couple of periods of tremendous BC High pressure and balance across the scoresheet.

Five Eagles scored goals and Chris LaLiberte dished out a pair of assists as No. 2 BC High broke the game open with four scores in the second period and held on for a 5-2 victory over the 19th-ranked Pioneers at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center Monday night.

Both Peter Cronin (BC High) and Mario Pizzeri (St. John's) were tabbed as ESPN Boston preseason All-State goalies and are expected to be key contributors as each club vies to return to the Super Eight in March. Pizzeri got off to a strong start, stopping 12 shots in the first period as the Eagles applied relentless pressure and outshot the Pioneers by a 13-2 margin.

The one that got through belonged to sophomore forward Connor Noonan, who stole the puck off the stick of a Pioneers defenseman, continued his momentum around the net and fired home a wrist shot to give BC High a 1-0 lead at 7:05 of the first.

Knowing that solving Pizzeri was no easy task, the Eagles looked to create chances by sending waves of bodies toward the Pioneers crease, hoping to create enough havoc to slip a couple through. They did exactly that in the second as freshman Billy Roche, junior All-Stater Tom Besinger and sophomores Tim Larocque and Jake Lemanski all knocked home pucks to help BC High extend its lead to 5-0 after two.

"He’s a very good goalie, he’s a big goalie, and he does a very good job of controlling the puck so we’ve been doing our best to try and get as many as we could to the net and get as many bodies to the net as we could," said Flaherty, explaining his team's gameplan against Pizzeri. "With a big kid like that, if you let him see the puck, he’s going to make the saves. Our hope was that we were going to get a lot of shots on him and we would get to the net with our sticks down and try to bang something home."

Roche's goal came courtesy of a beautiful pass from LaLiberte, who sent a perfect cross-ice pass to the freshman who was hustling from behind the play for the easy one-timer. Just under four minutes later, LaLiberte sent Besinger on a long rush, and the junior flashed across from the left wing to the middle to beat his man and catch Pizzeri down on the ice.

In the waning minutes of the second, the Eagles got another odd-man rush with Sam Topham flicking a pass across to Noonan in the middle for a tap over to Larocque for another open one-timer. 32 seconds later, Lemanski got into the act with assists from John Stillman and Aidan Foley.

"If you saw the goals, they were pretty much all right around the net," Flaherty continued. "That's what we knew we had to do because he’s a good goalie. We knew if we were going to have a chance to beat him it was going to be that way."

The Pioneers got one back early in the third as Chris Coveney and Danny Barlock executed a pretty, give-and-go with Coveney providing the finishing touch at 2:58. St. John's would another late as Connor Maloney tipped in a Bryan Nelson blast for the final margin.

The Eagles shorthanded unit had a particularly strong night, killing off all five power play chances for St. John's. With the extra man, BC High was 1-for-4 but created numerous scoring chances with only the strong play of Pizzeri keeping them from burying any more.

"We were moving the puck pretty well on the power play and guys were moving around, I think we got five or six shots on one power play alone," Flaherty said. "We felt comfortable and confident moving the puck around and getting pucks through. Man down, we have some guys who have been doing it for a couple of years with Ryan McDonough and Michael Brooks, Chris LaLiberte, Tom Besinger and Stevie DeForge. Those guys are up front, they work hard and they can fly so our hope that we were going to pressure them and make sure they didn't have clean shots and didn't have clean opportunities and I think we did that man down."

The Pioneers never let down for a second despite the 5-0 deficit and managed to control the tempo in the final frame while scoring a pair of goals. It was the kind of effort that coach Brian Murphy could smile about and gives his charges something on the plus side to take with them.

"It was a good test for us and I thought that we responded well, especially in the third period," Murphy said. "We've got some work to do and we're willing to put the time in and see if we can't improve as the year goes on. We've got these guys again at home at the last game of the season so if we can continue to progress and work hard and get a little bit better every day, we'll see where we are the end of the season.

Saturday afternoon at Clark Athletic Center, BC High hosts Rhode Island power Mount St. Charles in special contest designated as the Eagles 150th anniversary celebration game. The school has been in existence for 150 years and each team picks one game to serve as its special tribute.

Alumni, family and friends of the program are invited to come to a pregame skate from 3-4 p.m., followed by a special reception before the puck drops against the Mounties at 4:30 p.m.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

October, 24, 2012
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

May, 31, 2012
In 1955 the late, great comedic actor Peter Sellers made a movie titled “The Mouse That Roared.”

Rhode IslandIf the Rhode Island Interscholastic League should decide to make a high school baseball version of a sequel it should be named “The Cougars That Roared.”

With an enrollment of barely 500 male students, North Providence is near the bottom of the R.I.I.L. when it comes to sports. But the Cougars sure know how to play baseball.

Not only did coach Dean Garganese’s team capture the Division I championship with a 17-1 record, but the Cougars also earned the No. 1 seed in the 16-team, double-elimination Division I state tournament.

The Cougars got off on the right paw by mauling 16th-seeded Lincoln, 8-3, in an opening round game.

Mike Corin (three hits and two RBI), Nick DiDino (two-run single) and Tyler Proulx (two hits, one RBI) paced the attack as North Providence moved into the winners’ bracket.

North Providence annexed the top seed by blanking Moses Brown, 2-0, in its regular-season finale as Corin blanked the Quakers for six innings and Dillon McCluskie pitched a perfect seventh for the save.

In other first-round games:
* No. 2 Hendricken (the Hawks beat the Cougars two years ago in the finals) beat No. 15 East Greenwich, 7-2, as Bill Walker belted a solo homer and Tom Pannone (who’s signed a letter of intent to play his college ball at the University of Miami) allowed two runs on five hits over six innings.

* No. 14 Chariho upset No. 3 North Kingstown, 5-3, as Jacob Marchessault went the distance on a five-hitter. With the scored tied at 3 in the top of the seventh, Jim Paquette drilled a two-run single for the Chargers.

* No. 4 South Kingstown edged No. 13 Warwick Vets, 3-2, as Nick Hayes plated all of the Rebels’ runs with two hits.

* No. 5 La Salle blanked No. 12 Pilgrim, 3-0, with Caleb Gardner and Tyler Drainville combining for 12 strikeouts. The Rams scored their runs in the third on RBI doubles by Jesse Lee, Frank DiMato and Pat Burns.

* No. 11 Coventry knocked off No. 6 Cranston East, 5-1 as Matt Laferriere went the distance on a six hitter and fanned eight in the process.

* No. 7 Portsmouth routed No. 10 Cranston West, 10-0, with Matt Peters homering to key a 13-hit attack.

* No. 8 Cumberland had to work “overtime” to dispatch No. 9 Middletown, 1-0, in 12 innings. Ryan Harris led the last of the 12th with a single, advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw and scored the only run on a wild pitch.

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