Boston High School: Shea

North Providence (R.I.) hoop makes improbable run

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
12:38
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Nobody could blame North Providence High basketball coach Paul Rizzo if he shed tears of sadness last June when 10 of the 14 boys on his 2012-13 team that finished 15-3 and lost to Shea in the Division II quarterfinals graduated.

Rhode IslandNow flash forward to last Sunday when Rizzo again was shedding tears - albeit tears of joy.

The fifth-seeded Cougars, for all intents and purposes, came out of nowhere and upset second-seeded Barrington, 55-51, for the Division II state championship.

“The boys we returned played sparingly (last season),” said Rizzo. “We had several brand-new starters like Ryan McCluskie (18 ppg.), Connor Nesbitt, Alex Wagoner and Nick Sollitto plus two kids who were on the junior varsity last year and filled in, Nick Geremia (14 ppg.) and Chris Corin (12 ppg., an average that included 21 points against Barrington in the championship game)."

“Every year our goal is to make the playoffs. I stay positive with the guys. Make the playoffs and try to get better during the year, jell at some time and hopefully make some type of run.”

Good point considering the Cougars’ 30-game home winning streak was broken on February 4 when they were mauled by Barrington, 66-45.

Before the Cougars knew what hit them they were mired in a three-game losing streak – the longest North Providence had endured in the past six seasons.

At that point the Cougars were faced with two options: Mail in the rest of their schedule or show some grit and slam the door on that losing streak.

“I told the kids that Barrington and West Warwick were the class of our division and the favorites to win,” said Rizzo. “I told them you can’t get down. That stretch was the toughest part of the season. Exeter/West Greenwich (61-59) really was a tough loss. But then we regrouped.

“The kids don’t know how to get down. They’re positive. They stayed the course and kept working. I told them let’s just get back to the basics.”

Indeed.

The Cougars closed out their regular season with a five-game winning streak.

Then in the Division II Tournament they pulled off three upsets, beating fourth-seeded Prout 49-48, top-seeded West Warwick 66-52 and, as mentioned, No. 2 Barrington.

As a result, North Providence (16-8) earned the ninth seed in the 16-team Open State Championship Tournament.

Granted, North Providence averaged a modest 53.2 points per game on offense. But on defense they lived up to their nickname and played ferociously while holding opponents to a mere 49.6 points per game.

“I stress every year you should never have a night off defensively,” said Rizzo. “If you’re not good on offense you should be on defense. You have to be a constant every night and play defense. The starters play defense and the others have accepted their roles.”

Ironically, Rizzo’s current team is in stark contrast from an offensive standpoint to other teams he’s had in the past.

“We’ve had some dynamite offensive teams but they would take the night off on defense and we would play games in the 80s,” he said. “Two years ago we had three 1000-point scorers (Austin VanBemmelen, Mike Ferrante and Rob Hazard) and we got to the Elite Eight before La Salle beat us at Alumni Hall.”

The Cougars captured the 2010-11 Division II state title – their first since the 1987-88 season.

“When it came to winning close games (this season), we had guys making key shots,” said Rizzo. “They played good, solid basketball. They made free throws late. They made stops on defense. It didn’t look like they had that deer-in-the-headlights look.

“It was amazing how they reacted to those situations.”

How the Cougars react on the biggest boys’ basketball stage in the state could be most interesting commencing with Thursday night’s Round-of-16 game against eighth-seeded and defending state champion Classical.

“Classical arguably has the best player in the state in Kealen Ives,” said Rizzo. “Classical is the defending state champ and the winner of our game probably will play the number one seed (La Salle who faces 16th-seeded Middletown in the Round of 16) so you have to be playing your best ball.

“Going back three months and to see where we are now, my feeling is let’s ride with it.”

Given what the unsung Cougars have accomplished to date, perhaps it could be a longer “ride” than could have been predicted at the start of the season.

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

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
6:50
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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.

TIGERS CRAWL INTO THE NIGHT
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.

DRIBBLING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS
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.
EAGLES, PURPLE REIGN
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.

SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE
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.

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

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
5:37
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Cranston West blinked first.

Rhode IslandThe Division I state baseball champion was clipped, 6-3, by 16-time state champion Hendricken.

That victory enabled the Hawks to remain undefeated and grab sole possession of first place.

Entering the first week in May, Hendricken (10-0) held a three-game lead over the Falcons (7-3).

Tom Pannone was a one-man wrecking crew against the Falcons. Besides striking out 10 he also hit a three-run homer. Pannone picked up where he left off in a 10-5 victory over East Greenwich as he fanned 11in 7 1/3 innings.

Mike King and Reed Gamache personally wrecked Tiverton in 13-0 victory. King tossed a no-hitter replete with six strikeouts while Gamache belted a grand-slam homer.

Pannone again wielded a big bat in an 8-4 win over Mount St. Charles when he smacked a sixth-inning solo homer that snapped a 4-4 tie.

HAWK SKATERS LEAD THE WAY
Not surprisingly Hendricken received the most slots on the All-State boys’ hockey team.

The state-champion Hawks, who ended Mount St. Charles’s run of four consecutive titles, placed goalie Bill Palmer, defenseman Dan Nolte and forward Matt Creamer on the First Team.

Palmer, who was voted MVP honors in the best-of-three finals against Mount, allowed only 13 goals in 15 regular-season games.

Creamer recorded 43 points in 27 overall games. But what was most noteworthy about this honor was that he became one of the very few freshmen ever to be voted First Team accolades.

Defenseman Ben Handanyan and forward Brian Belisle represented Mount on the First Team while forward Bryan Lemos represented La Salle.

TWO LADY RAMS SKATE ON FIRST TEAM
Goalie Holly Scott and freshman forward Meaghan Rickard earned First Team All-State honors for La Salle which captured the Division I state hockey title.

Scott, who was a First Team pick last year, was voted the MVP of the championship series versus Mount St. Charles.

Rickard led the Rams with 17-11-28 totals during the regular season.

Rounding out the First Team are Bay View defender Bethany Fogerty and forward Kiley Colucci plus Mount St. Charles defender Laureen Deguire and forward Brianna Castro.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 2, 2012
1/02/12
12:24
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And you thought the Rhode Island Interscholastic League “tweaked” boys’ basketball last season, when it decided to hold a 16-team tournament that would determine one – repeat, one – state champion?

Rhode IslandThe RIIL has “tweaked boys’ basketball in so many ways this season that it’s a wonder coaches’ heads don’t spin off their necks.

For starters, the league has eliminated the three division tournaments which had been in existence seemingly since Dr. James Naismith first hung up a peach basket at Springfield College.

Instead, the league will hold one 32-team tournament.

The league still will consist of Division I, II and III and each team will play 18 league games. But points will be awarded which will determine who gets to play in the state tournament.

For example:
  • Each Division I victory is worth one point.
  • Each Division II victory is worth .8 point.
  • Each Division III victory is worth .6 point.

In addition teams in Divisions II and III with the most points will receive one more point as compensation for the disparity in the ratings formula.

Non-league games won’t result in the winning team earning points.

After the whistle blows in the final games of the regular season, the 32 teams with a winning percentage of at least .400 will qualify for the tournament.

Play-in games will be held should more than 32 teams win at least 40 percent of their games. But ties involving teams from different divisions will result in the team from the higher division receiving the higher seed.

Just as noteworthy is the change in venue for the Elite Eight – Providence College’s Alumni Hall - where Friar stars like Jimmy Walker, Ray Flynn, Lenny Wilkins and (when he was a freshman) Ernie DiGregorio lit up the scoreboard.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
12:55
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And you wonder why coaches become prematurely gray and develop ulcers?

Rhode IslandJust ask Hendricken coach Keith Croft and Chariho coach Mike Kelly.

Each coach reached for something to soothe their stomachs after his team won its respective Super Bowl.

Hendricken retained its Division I title by upsetting previously-undefeated La Salle, 17-14, while Chariho won the Division II title – the first state football championship in school history – by edging Central, 26-25.

How each team won was the stuff of legend.

La Salle led 14-10 with 55 seconds left in regulation when Laionel Cintron caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Brannigan which helped avenge a 39-14 pasting the Hawks suffered at the hands of the Rams in September.

The championship was the eighth in school history for the Hawks. And, ironically, the reception only was Cintron’s 13th of the season for the run-oriented Hawks.

Chariho trailed 25-20 with four minutes left on the clock thanks to a second touchdown run by Central’s Mike Washington. But on the ensuing kickoff, Colton place caught the ball on his two and sprinted 98 yards for arguably the biggest touchdown in Chariho history – one that produced the 26-25 victory.

The other two Super Bowls had less dramatic finishes but were just as important to the respective victors.

Rogers, which at one time dominated Division I, beat Middletown 27-7 for the Division III title while Mount Pleasant captured its second consecutive Division IV Super Bowl title by outlasting Central Falls, 22-13.

Senior Reeyon Watts helped the Vikings avenge a loss in the 2010 Super Bowl to the Islanders by rushing for 170 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.

The title was the first as a coach for Rogers’ alumnus Frank Newsome who played on three Division I Super Bowl teams from 1988-90.

Emmanuel Marsh caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Dunlap and scored on a four-yard run to pace the Kilties.

In addition, Marsh played a solid game at safety – a position he had not played before the Super Bowl because coach Paul Rao felt he would best fit in a Cover-3 defense.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
4:03
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Call it the calm before the storm – a weekend when all Rhode Island high school football teams are idle prior to their annual clashes on Thanksgiving Day.

Rhode IslandLa Salle enjoys the distinction of being the only team that’s undefeated in league play with a 7-0 record in Division I. As a result, the Rams have clinched the division title and the No. 1 seed in the Division I Tournament which begins on Nov. 29.

The Rams put themselves in that position by beating Cranston East, 35-14, with junior Josh Morris running for touchdowns of 64, 74, 63 and 38 yards.

Hendricken (6-2) clinched second place by beating Barrington, 21-13, as Ryan Brannigan threw a pair of touchdown passes to Lou Falcone and also ran for a third touchdown.

What other two teams will fill out the field is more complicated.

Currently, East Providence and South Kingstown are tied for third place with 4-3 records.

The Townies play arch-rival La Salle on Thanksgiving while the Rebels play winless North Kingstown.

Should EP and SK each win on Thanksgiving and finish 5-3, the Rebels would earn third place by virtue of their 40-12 victory over the Townies (i.e. the first tiebreaker is record in head-to-head competition).

But if the Townies lose and finish 4-4 and the Rebels win, EP would be tied for fourth with Portsmouth which plays a non-league game on Thanksgiving. However, EP defeated the Patriots 26-22 which would earn them fourth place and the last seed in the tournament.

Since Division II is split into two divisions, tournament play began last weekend with Cumberland, Central, Chariho and Westerly prevailing in the quarterfinals.

Cumberland beat Tolman, 13-9, as Ryan Gaumond scored on a one-yard run with 1:21 left on the clock.

Central whipped West Warwick, 27-12, with Mike Washington rushing for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

Chariho outlasted Mount Hope, 28-15, with quarterback Jansen Williamson rushing for two touchdowns and heaving a 70-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Cahoon.

Westerly trumped St. Raphael, 36-22, as Spencer Reed scored on runs of one yard and three yards.

As a result, Cumberland will play at Chariho and Central will play at Westerly in the Nov. 29 semifinals.

Rogers (6-1) has clinched the Division III title and the No. 1 seed in that tournament. The Vikings play a non-league game on Thanksgiving against winless North Kingstown.

Narragansett (5-2) must beat Tiverton on Thanksgiving to clinch second place while Classical (5-3) and Middletown (5-3) are tied for second. But because the Islanders edged the Purple, 27-26, they’ve earned the No. 2 seed for the tournament.

First-place Mount Pleasant has completed its Division IV schedule with a 6-2 record while North Smithfield and Smithfield are tied for second with 5-2 records. But if North Smithfield beats Scituate, the Northmen also would finish 6-2 – and would earn the No. 1 seed by virtue of their 14-12 win over the Kilties.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
11:29
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The play happens about as often as Haley’s Comet soars through the skies. But it was just what a young Chariho football team needed to provide the spark for what proved to be a 34-8 rout of perennial Division II power Shea.

Senior Brandon Cahoon returned a second-quarter free kick 70 yards for a touchdown – after already having scored on a 42-yard, first-quarter run – in the II-A game which propelled the Chargers into the thick of the race for the division title.

When the Chargers (2-1, 3-1) walked off the field, they were in a tie with Johnston (2-1, 3-1) and just one game behind undefeated co-leaders Central (3-0, 4-0) and Westerly (3-0, 4-0).

“These kids are all new,” said Chariho coach Mike Kelly. “There are nine new guys starting on offense and eight new guys starting on defense. What’s happening is we’re starting to get comfortable playing together and it’s starting to click a little bit.

“But with new guys, as nice as it is, next week it could be gone. That’s what we have to be careful of.”

Spoken like a true coach. But Cahoon, for the most part, echoed his coach’s sentiments.

“Once one of us starts clicking, we all start clicking,” he said. “Before, we needed to learn our assignments. That’s why we were so slow in the beginning. Once we started clicking, we just kept moving.

“We’re on a roll now. We just won’t stop.”

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

September, 9, 2011
9/09/11
4:33
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Invariably, post-season play is carved in cement before the football teams from Shea High and Central Falls High commence their respective seasons. But that hasn’t been the case for the last three seasons.

Rhode IslandFrom 1998-2007, Shea qualified for the playoffs (in Division II or Division III) nine times and advanced to the Super Bowl five times. And twice the Raiders rode home with the Super Bowl championship trophy.

The Warriors, meanwhile, have made five post-season appearances during the same time frame and won the Division IV championship in 2005.

Despite each team’s respective drought, both Shea coach Dino Campopiano and Central Falls’ Mo Jackson are optimistic that a reversal of fortune is realistic.

Shea missed qualifying for the 2010 playoffs by one game due to a combination of close losses, ill-timed penalties and costly turnovers. But fortunately for Campopiano, he returns a host of players from last year’s team who could (should?) help the Raiders return to their accustomed spot in the post-season.

Topping the list of key returnees are three seniors who line up at important skill positions: quarterback Adilson Silva plus running backs Jamal Tucker and Travis Gray.

Another senior, Adem Okubanjo, also will see action at running back as will junior Dennis Lloyd – who also can play linebacker and defensive back.

The Warriors, meanwhile, return eight players who saw significant minutes on each side of the ball led by All-Division senior lineman Sension Jimenez and classmate Joel Peralta, who earned All-Division honors at tight end.

Jiminez along with fellow seniors Nico Danielson and Cristian Romero give the Warriors three experienced linemen.

Central Falls also could have one of the more impressive wide receivers in Division IV in Steven Vazquez, who played quarterback and safety each of the last two years – and who is the defending state outdoor track and field champion in the high jump.

Jackson has indicated that he may alternate junior Brandon Canuto and sophomore Tyshon Ashe at quarterback – at least until one wins the position outright.

Senior Amado Gonzalez could be the Warriors’ top back when he lines up at fullback. He’ll be joined in the backfield by Warriors like Jevon Jimenez, Josh Brandon, Julien Rivera and Kenual Lopez.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

December, 30, 2010
12/30/10
6:06
PM ET
The argument has raged in Rhode Island seemingly since the first puck was dropped at center ice when the first Interscholastic League hockey game was played.

Rhode IslandHow can a competitive balance be struck between the private schools and the public schools that play the sport?

The imbalance that exists is underscored this season like a rocket soaring through the skies since the Rhode Island Interscholastic League expanded to 10 schools – four private and six public – in the state’s top division, Division I.

Through games of Dec. 29, Mount St. Charles, Hendricken, La Salle Academy and Moses Brown School were a combined 12-0-0 against public schools Barrington, Burrillville, Cranston West, Lincoln, North Kingstown and Smithfield.

Moreover, the four private schools had outscored their public school opponents by the outrageous margin of 82-3.

The last time a public school won the state Division I championship occurred when Toll Gate captured back-to-back titles during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.

Otherwise, the last time a public school annexed the Division I title was during the 1974-75 season when East Providence prevailed.

The advantage private schools enjoy is obvious: they draw students from every city and town in the state – and even some from Massachusetts. And in the case of Mount St. Charles, the Mounties have their own rink (Adelard Arena), which is adjacent to the school.

Interscholastic League officials over the years have wracked their brains in an attempt to come up with alignments which would involve private and public schools and, hopefully, make more competitive games. But other than the years when Toll Gate prevailed in Division I, the alignments have left much to be desired.

After all, what fans (read parents) want to witness blowouts on a regular basis?

Even if Mount St. Charles, Hendricken, La Salle and Moses Brown were placed in Division I by themselves, and played each other three times a season (as has happened when the Mounties, Hawks, Rams and Titans were in Division I), they still would have to play some public schools – or venture out of state as Mount does on a frequent basis – to round out an adequate schedule.

But that might be the only solution after this season – a solution that might be fostered if red lights in the state’s rinks continue to pop from flashing on way too often.

BEST OF THE BEST
When private schools from around New England venture to Rhode Island for the annual Mount St. Charles Holiday Tournament, fans are treated to the highest brand of interscholastic hockey the sport can offer.

In the opening round this week, for example, Mount beat St. Dominic’s Academy (Maine), 5-1, as Brian Campbell scored two goals while Brian Belisle, Trevor Plante and Mike Magerman each contributed a goal plus an assist.

Andrew King made 20 saves as La Salle College High (Pennsylvania) blanked Hendricken, 5-0.

Frank Crinella and Sean Kavanagh each scored a goal as Springfield Cathedral High (Massachusetts) edged St. Joseph’s College Institute (New York), 2-1.

DOUBLE DRIBBLES
Pawtucket rivals Tolman and Shea put on a show and then some in the finals of the annual James W. Donaldson Memorial Tournament (which is named in honor of the Tigers’ late, long-time coach who was one of the true gentlemen in the history of Rhode Island interscholastic sports).

Jeremy Graca scored 20 points, including a pair of three-point shots, as Tolman edged the Raiders, 48-45.

Austin Silva posted a double-double for the Raiders, with 20 points and 10 rebounds. But his three-point shot – which would have tied the score at the buzzer and forced overtime – fell short.

HOW ABOUT A REPEAT?
For the better part of this decade, La Salle Academy has dominated Division I girls’ basketball.

Prior to the 2009-10 season, the Rams had captured six of the previous eight state championships.

La Salle’s reign came to a screeching halt last season when Woonsocket – the 2009 Division II champ – beat the Rams in the Division I finals.

Woonsocket is off to a 2-1 start in the early going. But it won’t be easy for the Villa Novans to repeat considering who they graduated from last season’s team: Division I Tournament MVP Brooke Coderre (daughter of head coach George Coderre), Nicole Boucher, Kofo Olowookere and Lauren Masse.

If the Villa Novans are to make a run at another title, they’ll need players like Michelle Brayboy, Ashley Doubois and Allyson Cartier to fill the void created by the departure of their teammates.

CAN’T KICK ABOUT THIS TEAM
Division I state champion Barrington landed three players on the All-State boys’ soccer team: midfielder Brett Sullivan, who led the Interscholastic League with 27 assists; forward Jeff Craven, who tied for the state scoring lead with 30 points; and goalie Andrew Jones, who made 115 total saves as the Eagles notched an 18-0-4 overall record.

Other selections included defenders Gaelen Oliver from Chariho, Connor Bolton from Hendricken and Sam Hall-Stinson from North Kingstown; midfielders Colin Patch from La Salle; Joao Cardoso from Shea; and Marcos Urgate from Providence Country Day; forwards Emerson Barros from Shea and Bob Bialy from East Greenwich.

Craven, a senior, also was voted All-America honors by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

ODDS ‘N ENDS
  • Toll Gate senior Samantha Chace will be competing in track and field next year at Columbia. An honors student at Toll Gate High, Chace applied for early admission and was accepted. During her time at Toll Gate, she’s earned All-State honors in cross country plus indoor and outdoor track and field.
  • Prout School’s Elise Walsh was voted the Gatorade Rhode Island Volleyball Player of the Year for a second consecutive season. A senior center, Walsh led the Crusaders to a 14-3 record and their second consecutive Division I state championship. She is a three-time, First Team All-State selection.
  • Portsmouth director of athletics and boys’ basketball coach Mike Lunney was named the new assistant director of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League. He replaces Dick Magarian, who is retiring. Lunney has been the A.D. at Portsmouth for 16 years and a coach for eight.
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, 17, 2010
11/17/10
2:31
PM ET
St. Raphael Academy bused to Johnston High on Nov. 12 for a football game and a basketball game broke out.

Rhode IslandHow else to explain the fact SRA out-gunned the Panthers, 56-50 –- in overtime, no less?

First, as a means of explanation.

Due to the quirky nature of Rhode Island Interscholastic League football, the top four teams in Division II-A and II-B commenced quarterfinal play last weekend -- while teams in the other three divisions were still jockeying for berths in their respective tournaments.

Quarterback Trevor Vasey, son of one-time SRA head coach Todd Vasey, did his best Tom Brady impersonation as he riddled the Panthers for 295 yards and five touchdowns.

Despite his aeronautic proficiency, the Saints trailed 42-28 in the fourth quarter before Andrew Pognon forced overtime by reeling off a 36-yard touchdown run.

Johnston quickly went four-and-out before SRA won it on a 12-yard run by Charles Correa.

The Saints thus advanced to the semifinals on Nov. 30 against cross-town rival Tolman.

The Tigers, who captured the II-B title with a 7-0 record, eked out a 6-0 victory over Westerly on a 35-yard touchdown run by quarterback Joselito Knapp in the fourth quarter.

Woonsocket, who finished second to Tolman, maintained its chances of retaining the Division II championship by beating Central, 34-14.

The game wasn’t anywhere near as close as the final score might indicate because Woonsocket built a 27-0 lead after three quarters on a 35-yard touchdown run by Jalen Evans, a 37-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Reyes to Jesse Charette, a 39-yard run by Orlan Thomas and a 35-yard run by Edwin Jones.

Woonsocket will tackle Chariho in the other semifinal game on Nov. 30.

The Chargers beat Mount Hope in the teams’ quarterfinal game as Coltan Place ran for touchdowns of 22 yards in the first quarter and 21 yards in the fourth.

EXTRA POINTS
Hendricken’s Hawks displayed the mettle last week that, again, stamped them as the team to beat in the Division I Tournament.

The fact Hendricken belted Barrington, 38-14, to clinch its first undefeated league record in 15 years at 8-0 (the Hawks are 10-0 overall but play a non-league game against Toll Gate on Thanksgiving), only told part of the story.

Head coach Todd Croft missed virtually all of practice leading up to the Barrington game because his four-month-old son was recuperating from brain surgery.

In addition, Hendricken was minus All-State running back Ethan Ferreira whose season came to an end the previous week when he fractured a leg.

Quarterback Mike Maloof gave the Hawks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish when he threw first-half touchdown pass of nine yards to Zach Pacula and 45 yards to Rob Manning.

The Eagles, who captured the 2009 Division I Super Bowl, could be on the outside looking in since they also lost their previous game 28-21, to East Providence as Townie quarterback Rob Delgado accounted for three touchdowns.

Barrington (5-3) has completed its league season while the Townies (5-2), who belted winless South Kingstown 28-7 last Saturday (Delgado ran for 135 yards and two scores, has its Thanksgiving Day clash against La Salle (4-3) remaining.

Should La Salle win, it would create a three-way tie for the last two playoff berths in Division I, which means tiebreakers will determine which teams will join Hendricken and Portsmouth (6-2) in the tournament.

Elsewhere:
  • Division III champ Rogers (7-0, 8-1) tuned up for the playoffs by routing Division I North Kingstown, 34-6, thanks to three touchdowns by Chris Savage.
  • Mount Pleasant (8-0) clinched the Division IV title by beating Exeter/West Greenwich, 43-23 behind Tevin Dale’s 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
GETTING THEIR ‘KICKS’
Barrington, Smithfield and Classical emerged as the state’s three boys’ soccer champions.

The Eagles captured the 11th Division I title in school history by edging Shea, 2-1, on a pair of goals by Jeff Craven. Despite the loss, the season was memorable for the Raiders who were playing for the first time in the state’s top division.

East Greenwich entered the Division II finale riding a 38-game unbeaten streak which dated back to the 2008 season. Smithfield made that streak history by edging the Avengers, 3-2, behind the play of tourney MVP Alex Bedrossian who scored two goals.

Classical capped a season for the ages by beating Exeter/West Greenwich, 3-1, due in large part to the play of defender Jose Zarraga who was voted the tournament’s MVP. En route to winning their first state title since 1984, the Purple compiled an 18-1-1 overall record.

All wasn’t lost for the Scarlet Knights since their girls’ team nipped Lincoln, 2-1, for the Division II crown – the first in the 19-year history of girls’ soccer at the school.

Freshman Kara Shaw scored with barely eight minutes left in regulation to give EWG the title.

La Salle maintained its dominance in Division I by blanking East Greenwich, 1-0, in the finals – Mackenzie Meehan scoring the game’s lone goal with two minutes left in regulation.

For the Rams, this was their third consecutive Division I state title as well their eighth in the last 10 years.

Narragansett, meanwhile, won its first state title since 1988 when it annexed the Division II crown by blanking Middletown, 1-0, in the Division III finals. Carla Porras’ goal midway through the second half proved to be all the scoring the Mariners would need.

RUNNING WILD
Cranston West’s Bob Allen wrote his name in the Interscholastic League’s record book by posting a cross-country version of a “double double.”

Allen captured the state championship on Nov. 7 by touring the 3.1-mile course at Ponaganset High in 15:30.86.

In the process, Allen became only the second runner (male or female) in school history to win the state cross-country title.

Then, one week later, Allen journeyed to Thetford, Vt..and won the New England Championship in a time of 16:28.5.

La Salle’s Molly Keating retained her title in the girls’ state championship race.

Hendricken’s boys won a third consecutive team title while the Rams extended their streak of consecutive team titles to four.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball and hockey and 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, 22, 2010
9/22/10
12:13
PM ET
At the risk of stating the obvious, one game doesn’t make a season regardless of sport. But that being said, there was more than “casual” interest in the Division I football opener on Sept. 17 for perennial powers Hendricken and La Salle Academy.

Rhode IslandThe Hawks beat the Rams, 24-12, and enhanced their status as one of the two or three teams to beat not only in the race for the regular-season title but also for a probable Super Bowl championship.

From 1991 through 2009, either Hendricken or La Salle played in the Division I Super Bowl in 18 of 19 seasons.

Even though the Hawks were hit fairly hard by players who followed the “Cap and Gown Route” last June – players from a team that lost to Barrington in the Super Bowl – Hendricken isn’t exactly lacking for talent.

That was never more evident than in the Hawks’ win over the Rams – especially as far as Hendricken’s defense, which is led by senior All-State linebacker Ethan Ferreira, - is concerned.

By the time the final gun sounded, Hendricken had blocked two punts (Ryan Brannigan smothered one ball in the end zone for a touchdown), intercepted three passes and threw up a goal-line stand that would have been the envy of any NFL team.

Hendricken led by the eventual final score when La Salle marched to a first-and-goal on the 3 with 15 ticks of the clock remaining.

Four plays went nowhere and the Hawks emerged with a key, early-season victory.

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