Boston High School: Toll Gate

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 16, 2013
1/16/13
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In the history of boys’ basketball at North Kingstown, the Skippers have won only two state championships – each of which occurred while the team was playing in Division II (1985 and 1990).

Rhode IslandSo far this season, head coach Aaron Thomas’ team has its sights set on a loftier goal: the Division I state title.

Through games of Jan. 15, North Kingstown was the only undefeated team (8-0) in each of the state’s three divisions that comprise Division I.

The Skippers’ eighth victory came at the expense of Cranston West who was throttled 61-43, with Owen Heath scoring a game-high 29 points.

Coventry (7-1) was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten when Hendricken chopped down the Oakers, 52-45, with Garfield Coustard scoring 16 points.

Those results set up an “interesting” game for Jan. 17 when North Kingstown hosts Coventry with first place on the line in I-South.

But lest the Skippers become overconfident about their early-season success, Thomas is quick to remind them of what transpired in recent trips to the state tournament.

The Skippers were 16-2 last season but lost to Rogers in the quarterfinals.

In 2011, they were eliminated in the preliminary round. And in 2010, they were beaten by Hendricken in the state championship game.

MARATHON
And you thought the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks seemingly played forever in last weekend’s NFL playoff game.

Mount Pleasant and Classical staged a high school basketball version of the Falcons-Seahawks game on January 15 when the Kilties outlasted the Purple 100-94 in four – count them four – overtimes.

Zdahmond Dale (33) and Jovel Beckford (25) accounted for just over 50 percent of Mount Pleasant’s offense, as did Terrill Toe (30) and Kealen Ives (29) for Classical.

In the game prior to the one against Classical, Beckford lit up East Providence for 37 points – 30 coming on 10 three-point shots – as Mount Pleasant beat the Townies, 61-55.

Elsewhere:
  • Cumberland moved into a first-place tie with North Providence in Division II-North by whipping II-South leader Westerly, 69-53. Dylan Boisclair (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Tom Lazaras (10 points, 10 rebounds) recorded double-doubles for Cumberland (7-2) while the Bulldogs fell to 8-1.
  • Middletown remained atop the Division III-East standings by belting Toll Gate, 60-47. Justin Bailey (15 points) led a quartet of Islanders in double figures.
  • North Smithfield (8-0), who plays in III-North, is the only other undefeated Division III team in the state.
CAVALIERS SEEK REPEAT
Juanita Sanchez cruised through an undefeated season in 2011-12 and captured the first Division III girls’ basketball championship in school history.

With approximately one-third of the season in the books, the Cavaliers again appear to be the team to beat.

Two victories over intra-city rivals enhanced that status as the Cavaliers moved into a first-place tie (6-0) with Middletown.

Freshman Elfeda Hoff scored 12 points, snared seven rebounds and dished off seven assists in barely 16 minutes of playing time as the Cavaliers routed Hope, 44-24.

Previously, in a game against another team that was undefeated at the time, Juanita Sanchez beat Central, 44-32, with Hoff scoring 23 points and adding five steals. Teammate Leoni Taylor contributed a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds).

In other games of note:
  • St. Raphael Academy (4-0) moved into sole possession of first place in Division II-Central after outing previously undefeated Moses Brown, 63-35. Becca Gonzalez’s name was all over the stat sheet because besides recording a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) she was credited with five steals and four assists.
  • Josie Chaves buried the game-winning basket with 15 seconds left in regulation to give Rogers a 50-47 victory over East Providence in a Division II-East game that featured two undefeated team. Liz Jackson added 17 points for the Vikings (4-0) while Mary Monagle scored a career-high 20 points for the Townies (3-1).
OAKERS HAVE HIGH HOPES
Coventry’s boys’ hockey team commenced the current season with consecutive Division II state championships on its resume – and five overall titles.

Now, because of a new playoff format adopted by the Interscholastic League, the Oakers could get a shot at dethroning the big kids on the block – Mount St. Charles, La Salle, Hendricken, etc.

A Division I Super Four Tournament will be held for the first time this season with the four slots going to the four teams that have compiled the most points (i.e. power points) in the combined standings of Mount, La Salle and Hendricken in the Division I-Cimini subdivision plus the five public schools in the Division I-Eccleston subdivision.

Through games of January 14, the Oakers were tied for third with Mount in the combined standings with 3.6 power points.

Hendricken was at the top of the pile with 8.8 while La Salle was second with 5.4.

The 3-3 Oakers boast two of the top scoring leaders in the state in Mike Pesola and Zach Woods.

Hendricken remained undefeated (6-0-0) by beating Barrington, 6-3, with Andrew Fera notching a hat trick, and by blanking Mount, 4-0, as Mitchell Proulx made 44 saves which complemented Fera’s two-goal performance.

HAWKS LEAD THE WAY
Hendricken, which stunned high school football fans by upsetting highly-favored La Salle in the Division I Super Bowl, was rewarded with four selections on the All-State Football First Team: tight end Mario McClain, two-way lineman Nick DiCiantis, linebacker Jarrid Witherspoon’ and linebacker Mario Delvecchio.

Division II Super Bowl champ Cumberland landed cornerback/wide receiver Mitch Baxter and two-way end Trent Vasey; Division III bowl champ Middletown placed running back Randy Butler and offensive guard Mitch Sullivan on the first team; Division IV champ Mount Pleasant was represented by running back Randolph Zleh.

The remainder of the First Team was comprised on Cranston East’s Marven Beauvais (wide receiver), E.J. Isom (two-way back) and Marquem Monroe (two-way back); St. Raphael’s Jason Colon (two-way tackle); La Salle’s Mitch DaSilva (wide receiver), Josh Morris (La Salle) and Anthony Francis (quarterback); Cranston West’s Anthony St. Laurent (two-way lineman); Portsmouth’s Matt Greenman (linebacker-wide receiver), Bobby Chavous (quarterback); and Austin Szczepniak (running back); Johnston’s Evan Hopson (punter); Shea’s Baboucarr Lemon (place kicker); Chariho’s Austin McQuaide (running back); Tolman’s Mamour Samb (running back); and East Greenwich’s Kyle Palmer (defensive back).

PASSAGES
The state lost one of its most respected and amiable coaches with the passing of Burrillville’s Wilfred “Skee” Carter.

Carter, 66, coached baseball at his high school alma mater for 22 years and guided the Broncos to six state tournaments plus the 2007 Division II championship.

Between the middle school and high school, he also coached cross country for 22 years.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda Pitocco accounted for the lone singles point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
2:37
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Over the years, La Salle Academy has won enough state championship trophies to fill a vault at Fort Knox.

Rhode IslandNow the school must make room for one that’s eluded it for years: a state championship trophy for boys’ lacrosse.

The Rams applied an exclamation point to an undefeated (14-0) season by beating Moses Brown School, 9-7, in the finals -- after losing in the finals each of the previous two seasons.

The championship also ended four years of frustration because coach Steve O’Donnell’s team had compiled the best regular-season record (54-3) during that span but had zero to show for its efforts.

What made this championship game even more noteworthy was the fact that underclassmen led the way over the Quakers (9-6).

Sophomore Peter DeSimone, who was voted the game’s MVP, scored three goals and assisted on three; junior Brady O’Donnell fired in three goals including his team’s last two which proved to be huge in the final outcome; and sophomore goalie Matt Andrews made eight saves in the crucial fourth quarter.

In other boys’ finals:

*At the risk of using a hockey metaphor, East Greenwich’s Ethan Zink scored a “pure” hat trick as the Avengers beat South Kingstown, 10-4, for the Division II championship. The Avengers (19-1) were leading by a slim 3-2 margin in the last minute of the second quarter when Zink scored for a 4-2 halftime lead. Then, Zink tallied the first two goals of the third quarter and the Avengers went on to clinch their second consecutive state title. EG goalie John Trutza came up big in net by making 19 saves.

*Smithfield senior Ryan Benoit made sure he would end his career in style by scoring three goals and assisting on another as the Sentinels whipped Narragansett, 12-6, for the Division III championship. Benoit’s younger brother, Ryan contributed three goals and two assists to the triumph.

QUAKER GIRLS “STICK” BARRINGTON
What the Moses Brown boys were unable to accomplish, the Quaker girls did, capturing a Division I lacrosse championship.

Coach Jeanne Carhart’s team completed an 18-1 season by defeating Barrington, 14-10, with senior Hannah Saris scoring two goals and assisting on five.

But what Saris meant to the Quakers’ offense so did goalie Jamie Marshall to the defense. The sophomore stopped 15 Eagles shots and earned the game’s MVP award.

Saris finished the season with 93 goals and 56 assists.

In the Division II championship game, junior middie Chloe Andrew scored four goals and assisted on three as Cumberland edged defending state champion Tiverton, 12-10.

The championship was the second in school history for the 17-1 Clippers.

OFF TO McCOY STADIUM
Hendricken and South Kingstown will make the much-anticipated bus ride to McCoy Stadium – home of the Pawtucket Red Sox – for the best-of-three Division I state baseball championship.

The Hawks punched their ticket to the finals by sweeping Coventry by identical scores of 3-2 (although the second game lasted 10 innings).

Tom Pannone, a senior pitcher/outfielder who last week was selected in the 33rd round by the Chicago Cubs, went the distance on a five-hitter and belted a solo homer in Game 1.

Then, in the clincher, Rob Hendry lined a one-out single in the top of the 10th which snapped a 2-2 tie.

Jake Newberry earned the victory by virtue of pitching three innings of scoreless relief.

Cumberland and South Kingstown split the first two games of their best-of-three semifinal series.

The Rebels won the opener, 4-3, but Cumberland evened the series with a 1-0 victory in Game 2 as Justin Patrick went the distance on a three-hitter.

The third and deciding game was over almost before it started because South Kingstown romped, 16-1. The game was called after 4 1/2 innings because of the Interscholastic League’s mercy rule.

Jeremy Swan earned the victory as he allowed only two hits and struck out six.

T.J. Lynch paced an 11-hit attack with a two-run single plus a solo home run.

Hendricken will be chasing its seventh state title in the last 10 years while the Rebels will be seeking their first since 2002.

Johnston and Prout will battle it out for the Division II title. Prout will be making is fifth consecutive trip to the best-of-three finals after beating Woonsocket in three games.

In the decisive third game, Kory Lawrence belted a two-run double and Marshall Vigneault allowed four hits as the Crusaders prevailed, 3-2.

Johnston also went to three games before eliminating Westerly with a 10-1 triumph in the final game.

Joe Bongiovanni went the distance for the Panthers as he allowed six hits. And at the plate he collected two hits which were good for three RBI.

LIONS NEAR DREAM SEASON
What were the odds before the first pitch was thrown in anger that Lincoln’s softball team would go undefeated in 2012?

Right. Don’t ask.

But that’s what’s on the verge of happening.

Lincoln upped its record to 21-0 by blanking Toll Gate, 5-0, in the Division I winners’ bracket final.

Lindsay Mayer, who’s been a standout all season for the Lions, allowed six hits and fanned 15 en route to winning her 18th game of the season.

Coventry, came out of the losers’ bracket to reach the championship round as the Oakers beat Toll Gate, 4-2, in the bracket final.

Kerrie Deliberis went the route on a six-hitter replete with 10 strikeouts to pace the Oakers’ triumph.

Elsewhere:
*East Greenwich and West Warwick will clash for the Division II title. The top-seeded Avengers prevailed 11-0 over Woonsocket in a game that was called after 4 1/2 innings because of the league’s mercy rule. The Wizards came out of the losers’ bracket thanks to an 8-5 victory over the Villa Novans in the losers’ bracket final.

*Davies Tech captured the first softball title in school history by outlasting Central, 18-10, in the Division III finals. The Patriots were led by Maddie Goodhart, Kassandra Therrien and Caterina Martinez.

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
5/31/12
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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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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

April, 4, 2012
4/04/12
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Maybe defending Division I baseball champion Cranston West was devastated by graduation. But if the Falcons’ season opener was any indication, they’re not exactly going to fly meekly into the night.

Rhode IslandToll Gate led Cranston West 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth when Joe Nicolace tied the score with a single and winning pitcher Bryan Stetson (who relieved starter Rich Reo in the top of the seventh) drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the winning run.

Still, coach Rob Malo faces a major challenge in that his complete starting lineup departed via the cap-and-gown route last spring.

What’s noteworthy about Cranston West’s success is that the Falcons have won three of the last six Division I state titles and broken the stranglehold Hendricken had on the championship trophy.

Perhaps the one team that might be favored to win the state title is North Kingstown – a feat the Skippers last accomplished 44 years ago.

North Kingstown will be led by First Team All-State third baseman Chris Hess who drove in 42 runs in 29 overall games plus first baseman Jared Habershaw who plated 41 runs and sophomore pitcher Dom Grillo who was 7-0 in his first season on the varsity.

The Skippers last season advanced to the third game of the best-of-three finals only to be torched 18-7 by the Falcons.

CLIPPERS IN SAME POSITION AS FALCONS
Cumberland’s softball team can sympathize with the Cranston West baseball team in that the Clippers annexed their first Division I state championship and then were wiped out by graduation.

Cumberland coach Marty Crowley lost a trio of All-State selections – pitcher Beth Paul, catcher Krissey Peffer and second baseman Christina Speroni.

In addition, junior All-State outfielder Bridget Connors will be sidelined for the season after suffering a knee injury.
The only senior on the team is third baseman Rebecca Geddes.

IMPRESSIVE START
Middletown’s McKenna Barlow was a one-girl wrecking crew as the Islanders blanked Rogers, 12-0, in the Division II-South opener for both teams.

Barlow not only pitched a no-hitter, replete with nine strikeouts. But she also went 3-for-3 with three RBI and three runs scored.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
3:56
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At the risk of using a horse-racing metaphor, Cranston West High recorded a “daily double” when Words Unlimited announced its award winners for the 2011 calendar year.

Rhode IslandJeff Diehl, who starred in basketball and baseball, was voted the Schoolboy Athlete of the Year while Falcons baseball coach Rob Malo was voted the Schoolboy Sports Coach of the Year.

Diehl, a senior, led the Falcons to the first-ever Division I basketball championship in school history.

Then, in the spring, he hit .537 with six home runs and 27 RBI as the Falcons compiled a 13-5 regular-season record. His production was a major reason why Cranston West won the Division I state championship.

When June rolled around, Diehl was selected in the 23rd round by the New York Mets.

Malo replaced veteran and eminently successful coach Chuck Jones in 2007 – two years after the Falcons won their first Division I state baseball title since 1975.

The Falcons finished the 2011 season on top of the Division I pile as they spotted North Kingstown a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three finals and won the next two games to capture the state championship.

On the distaff side, La Salle’s twin sisters Madison and McKenzie Meehan were voted co-Schoolgirl Athletes of the Year while Barrington cross-country coach Annmarie Marino was named the Schoolgirl Sports Coach of the Year.

Last fall, Madison Meehan led the country in assists with 44 while McKenzie led the nation in scoring with 80 goals as the Rams won their fourth consecutive Division I state soccer championship.

Each Meehan also earned All-State honors the previous winter as the Rams annexed their fifth straight state indoor title.

Marino guided the Eagles to both the Class A and State championships. The state title was the first in school history since 1994.

Words Unlimited is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

June, 21, 2011
6/21/11
1:43
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Cranston West’s baseball team picked the right time to unleash an offensive explosion -- in the third and deciding game of the Division I tournament.

Rhode IslandThe fourth-seeded Falcons were held to three hits by top-seeded North Kingstown in Game 1 of the teams’ best-of-three series which the Skippers won, 5-3.

But in the next two games, the Falcons hung a total of 35 runs on the McCoy Stadium scoreboard to capture their third state championship in the last six years. In the process, Cranston West snapped Hendricken’s run of three consecutive titles.

West’s Matt Pagano, who was voted MVP honors, lit the spark in Game 2 as he homered and drove in a total of six runs as the Falcons prevailed, 17-13.

Then, in the deciding game, Pagano tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-run, seven-hit relief as the Falcons belted the Skippers, 18-7.

West’s triumph prevented the Skippers from winning their first Division I title in 44 years.

Mike Hayden also unloaded on North Kingstown pitching in Game 3 when he hit two homers which drove in four runs.

Among other things, the Falcons prevailed in a trio of deciding games during the tournament and became the only other public school to win a state Division I baseball championship since South Kingstown did so in 2002.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
6:39
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After dominating Division I boys’ hockey for decades, Mount St. Charles now is taking a run at Division I baseball.

Rhode IslandMount won the last two Division II state championships but is moving up to Division I this season where it will take on the likes of long-time powers such as Hendricken, St. Raphael and La Salle.

Mount coach Tom Seaver (no relation to the Hall of Fame pitcher) stated the obvious when he said “It starts with pitching … pitching and defense.”

When it comes to pitching, Mount already has an ace in 6-6 lefthander Garrett Hayward who was 10-0 last season.

Hayward, who plays outfield when he’s not pitching, is one of six players who return from last year’s team that was 17-1.

The others include shortstop Mike Hagerman, center fielder Tim Doyle, catcher Derek Deschene, pitcher Collins Utterman and outfielders Danny O’Brien and Trevor Plante.

Seaver also will look for production from third baseman Tyler Eeffert, who will bat cleanup, and Bill Campbell who’ll bat third and play second base.

The Mounties will play in Division I-North which could be the toughest of the three divisions that comprise Division I.

“There aren’t any weak sisters in our division,” said Lincoln coach Ed Hunt. “I think we have the toughest division from top to bottom whereas in the other divisions, they’re more balanced this year.”

Here’s one reason why I-North could be brutal: it includes four private schools – La Salle, Moses Brown and St. Raphael besides Mount St. Charles.

“You can say what you want about Mount because they’ve played in Division II,” said Hunt. “But I think they’re as strong as any team in this division.”

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

February, 10, 2011
2/10/11
1:45
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For those of a certain age, it was the equivalent of the U.S. Calvary coming to the rescue in an old John Wayne movie. But there wasn’t anything “entertaining” about the facts leading up to the crisis.

Rhode IslandAs February dawned on the calendar, the Cranston School Committee was on the verge of eliminating all sports at the city’s two high schools – Cranston East and Cranston West. The move would have been part of an attempt to eliminate a projected $3.7-million deficit in the proposed school budget for the 2011-12 academic year.

But nearly at the last moment, the New England Laborers/Cranston Public Schools Construction Career Academy’s board of directors opted to transfer a $79,928 surplus from its budget to restore all varsity sports. (The latter is a joint effort of the New England Laborers Union and the Cranston Public Schools). Otherwise, the School Committee would have been left with few options and varsity sports like football, basketball, hockey and baseball would have become a distant memory.

As it is, funding is still lacking for freshman football, basketball and baseball. That was the case last year at this time but private donations enabled the School Committee to restore freshman football. But at the moment, any word of similar donations is still lacking.

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New England Roundup: Rhode Island

January, 12, 2011
1/12/11
11:19
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What do traffic jams on Route 95 during the rush hour and Division I boys’ hockey have in common?

Right. Congestion.

Rhode IslandEntering the second week in January, you could put a postage stamp over the top four teams after the previous weekend’s results – which, among other things, featured one of the more remarkable comebacks in the storied history of Mount St. Charles.

Mount (6-0-1) and Moses Brown (6-1-1) are tied for first place with 13 points each although the Mounties have one game in hand. Hendricken (5-1-1) and La Salle (5-1-1) are in a dead heat for second.

For the longest time last Saturday when Moses Brown played the Mount, it appeared the Quakers would exit Thayer Arena in sole possession of first place. Moses Brown led, 6-3, with just under five minutes left in regulation. That’s when the Mounties staged their improbable rally. Trevor Plante’s goal with 4:52 left sliced Mount’s deficit to 6-4 and then Mike Magerman scored twice – his second goal coming with all of 8.3 seconds left on the clock to forge a 6-6 tie.

Since neither team scored in overtime, each was awarded one point in the standings.

Ironically, the six goals coughed up by the Mounties were the most they’ve allowed in a regular-season game in longer than coach Bill Belisle would care to remember. Even more ironic was the fact that the other game on the Thayer Arena card, between La Salle and Hendricken, also ended in a tie – 3-3, after the Hawks rallied from a three-goal deficit.

PASSAGES
Words are impossible to find when describing the tragedy that occurred on January 6 when former Harvard star, multiple-All State hockey pick and NHL player Tom Cavanagh was found dead in the Providence Place Mall garage.

Cavanagh, 28, went right from Toll Gate High to Harvard and later signed with the San Jose Sharks.

In both his junior and senior years, he led the state in scoring and was voted First Team All-State honors. Cavanagh played on the 2004 Titans team that broke Mount St. Charles’ national-record 26 consecutive state championships.

FUTURE FRIAR
Johnston’s Noel Acciari will be playing his college hockey at Providence College.

Acciari began his interscholastic career at Hendricken and earned 2009 First Team All-State honors. He then transferred to the Kent School where he was elected a co-captain and was voted Most Valuable Player in the Avon Old Farms Christmas Tournament.

DON’T OVERLOOK MOUNT GIRLS

While the Mount St. Charles boys’ hockey team invariably tends to overshadow the girls’ team, there’s no overlooking the fact that the Mount girls are one of the premier female teams in the state.

What’s noteworthy about the 2010-11 team – which was 6-0-0 through January 9 – is its depth. Mount coach Steve Shea lost five players through graduation, including All-Staters Katie Loiselle and goalie Kayla DiLorenzo. But he returned the rest of the team and welcomed a handful of freshmen.

Shea’s current team is led by the first line of senior wings Erin Rouleau and Samantha Smith plus sophomore center Danielle Allain.

BIG-TIME VICTORY
Barrington’s St. Andrew’s School over the years has developed a reputation as one of the top basketball prep schools in the nation. But the team out-did itself by upsetting nationally-ranked/traditional power DeMatha Catholic High, 49-46, in the Cancer Research Classic in Wheeling, West Va.

DeMatha came into the game ranked seventh in the nation with a 12-0 record. But Michael Carter-Williams tipped in a missed shot with 18 seconds left in regulation for a 47-46 lead and clinched the victory by sinking two free throws shortly thereafter.

Carter-Williams finished with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 steals while Cedric Kuakumensah pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked 6 shots.

DOUBLE DRIBBLES
Gunnar Bjornson scored 25 points, burying four 3-point shots in the process, as Tiverton beat Portsmouth, 69-47, in the finals of the East Bay Christmas Tournament.

Bridget Hollenbeck and Kelsey Cahill scored 13 points apiece as Cumberland beat Mount St. Charles, 48-35, in the Smithfield Boosters Holiday Tournament championship game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Smithfield and Westerly invariably aren’t confused with Rhode Island’s traditional boys’ basketball powers like Hendricken, La Salle, St. Raphael and Central. But the Sentinels and Bulldogs may bear watching this season if for no other reason than a pair of front-court players.

Smithfield’s Kyle Morvan is a 6-4, 220-pound center who in the early going was averaging 23.2 points in Division I. He also was voted to the Keene (N.H.) Holiday Tournament All-Tournament Team. Morvan earned Second Team All-State honors last season and, obviously, is on track perhaps to do even better.

Westerly’s Zach Wells is a 6-4, 190-pound power forward who through his first eight games was averaging 16.7 points against Division II competition.

ONE FOR THE BOOKS
Chariho senior Innocent Jacobs smashed a 22-year-old Rhode Island state record in the boys’ indoor long jump by leaping 23-feet, -inch in a recent dual meet.
The previous record was 22-11 set by Hope’s Dennis Soares.

Jacobs also displayed his versatility in the meet by clearing 6-10 in the high jump.

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey, plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y. he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

December, 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

November, 4, 2010
11/04/10
12:59
PM ET
Can anybody remember the last year that Hendricken’s football team went undefeated?

Rhode IslandLet’s put it this way: Players on the current team were just starting to learn how to walk, and in some cases crawl.

The year was 1995 – and the 2010 Hawks have a chance to duplicate that feat if, at the risk of using a billiards metaphor, they “run the table.”

The Hawks have put themselves in position to earn the No. 1 seed in the Division I Tournament – and capture their first state football championship since 1996 - by dispatching two of their toughest rivals in recent weeks. They beat East Providence, 13-7, on Oct. 22 and Portsmouth, 14-13, on Oct. 29.

As a result, the Hawks are 6-0 and can finish a perfect regular season by beating Cranston West (2-3) on Nov. 6 and Barrington (5-1) on Nov. 15.

In the latest Rhode Island High School Football Poll, Hendricken remained No. 1 by capturing all 11 first place votes.

Portsmouth (4-2) is ranked second, Barrington third and East Providence fourth.

The Hendricken-Portsmouth game featured two teams that are the “stingiest” in Division I when it comes to allowing points.

After the dust settled, Hendricken still had allowed the fewest points (65).

The Patriots led, 13-7, early in the third quarter when Hendricken’s Mke Maloof threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Rob Manning and followed with a two-point conversion pass to Ethan Ferreira.

Portsmouth sliced its deficit to 14-13 early in the fourth quarter when Ben Willett tossed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Mike Dublin. But when Portsmouth was hit with an excessive celebration penalty, it forced Dan Thorpe back to his 35 for a PAT attempt.

Hendricken blocked the kick and then its defense slammed the door over the final eight minutes.

East Providence entered its game with Hendricken having scored 139 points. But the Hawks held the Townies scoreless until the final minute – which, of course, rendered East Providence’s touchdown irrelevant.

(Read full post)

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