Maybe they don’t have the glamour or publicity enjoyed by perennial boys’ state basketball powers like Hendricken, La Salle and St. Raphael. But the Prout Crusaders have written one of the most heart-warming stories of the 2011-12 season.
Prout reeled off 15 consecutive wins (21 overall going back to last season) in Division III before it was upset, 46-42, by Exeter/West Greenwich. Then the Crusaders regrouped and won their last two games, 66-57 over Middletown and 73-34 over Mount Hope with Jordan Dumford, Justin Bristol and Eric Ramieka playing a key role in each game.
As a result, the Crusaders captured their division title with a 17-1 record and earned the 12th seed (based on power-point standings) in the upcoming state tournament.
Last year, Prout was seeded 16th and was ousted in the first round by Division I champion Cranston West.
Prout, under coach Eric Simonelli, has blown out opponents and won other games by the slimmest of margins.
Ramieka, a junior captain, has been one of the team leaders as well as its leading scorer –- averaging nearly 22 points per game.
Simonelli feels Ramieka isn’t Prout’s most athletic, player but he is the player with the most grit and determination.
What Ramieka means to Prout’s backcourt so does Bristol mean to the frontcourt.
A 6-foot-6 junior, Bristol is averaging 13 points per game and has shown a tendency to dominate the glass at both ends of the court.
In Prout’s regular-season finale against Mount Hope, Ramieka and Bristol combined to score 33 points.
A year ago a Division II team, Tiverton, came out of nowhere and reached the state finals before losing to St. Raphael.
The question is might Prout emulate Tiverton this season and inject an amazing level of excitement into the 2012 tournament?
Senior Ryan Lawton notched his 18th double-double of the season in his 21st game (23 points and 18 rebounds) as West Warwick clinched the II-South championship by defeating Westerly 85-59.
In the process, Lawton scored his 1,000th career point.
Ben Engvall also recorded a double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds) as Barrington beat Pilgrim, 61-34, in II-East. Engvall also scored his 1,000th career point in this game.
North Kingstown earned the No. 1 seed in the state tournament by outlasting Coventry, 73-66, in the I-South finale for both teams. The Skippers finished with a 16-2 record (19-4 overall).
CHARIHO CHARGES TO TITLE
Chariho, like Prout, is another of the Interscholastic League’s smaller schools that gets overshadowed by the heavyweights.
But that wasn’t the case in the boys’ state track and field championships when the Chargers ended Hendricken’s monopoly by scoring 68 points –- five more than the Hawks.
It was the first indoor title in school history and ended Hendricken’s run of consecutive state championships at 17.
Senior Mike Marsella captured the 1000- and 3000-meter runs while junior Bryce Kelley won the 1500-meters and ran a leg on Chariho’s victorious 4-by-800-meter relay team to key the Chargers’ championship run.
Chariho’s triumph was even more noteworthy considering that since the first indoor track championship was held in 1933, Hendricken had placed first a record 24 times.
RAMS’ RUN CONTINUES
The La Salle girls did what the Hendricken boys were unable to do –- namely, extended their run of consecutive state indoor track titles, in this case to six as the Rams amassed 115 points while second-place Hope was way back with 52.
Senior Molly Keating, who’s been the dominant female cross-country runner the past three years, led the way by winning the 1500- and 3000-meter runs while also running the anchor leg on the 1600-meter relay team.
MOUNT GIRLS FAVORED
Based on their regular-season performance, the Mount St. Charles girls are the overwhelming favorite to win another state hockey championship.
Mount ended its season by edging La Salle, 3-2, on Lauren Levesque’s goal at 3:55 of overtime.
As a result, Mount finished the season on a 13-game winning streak, a 15-1-0 Division I record and a whopping 75-10 advantage in goals scored versus goals allowed.
BRONCOS BUCK ODDS
Burrillville’s boys accomplished something few public school hockey teams have been able to do, namely clinch a Championship Division playoff berth while beating out a private school in the process.
The Broncos clinched the fourth and last spot by belting North Kingstown, 8-2, with Andrew Etheridge scoring a mind-boggling six goals (which included a pure hat trick).
Burrillville finished with a 12-5-0 record while the Quakers, who will be spectators, finished at 7-9-1.
DANGER ON HORIZON
For decades, middle school sports have been the foundation for the talented football, basketball, softball and hockey teams produced by East Providence High. But that foundation is on the verge of cracking, based on a recent development in the cash-strapped city.
East Providence, which has been operating under a state-appointed Budget Commission (one step above bankruptcy), had middle school sports eliminated by the commission effective with the 2012-13 academic year.
According to the commission, this action should save the city approximately $100,000 – which at face value is the proverbial drop in the ocean considering the city’s $75-million budget.
The School Committee voted 3 to 1 against eliminating the programs. But since the commission runs the city, that vote was a moot point.
Smithfield High doesn’t have a reputation for producing Division I student-athletes. But come next fall, two girls will be playing sports at a Division I school.
Courtney McGuire signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Bryant University while classmate Nikki Plante signed a letter to play field hockey for the Bulldogs.
The last female Sentinel to play at the Division I level was Betsy Lange, a basketball player who did her thing at Hofstra 20 years ago.
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.