Archive - Sports Article
March 1st, 2011
PAWTUCKET â Rest is always welcome â just so as long as rust doesnât start to form.
Eleven days will have elapsed since St. Raphael Academyâs last game â a tough-to-swallow 77-75 loss to Coventry in the Division I quarterfinals on Feb. 21 â and the next time the Saints participate in a meaningful affair. Their reintroduction to spirited competition, complete with three referees and a neutral setting, is set for Friday night against Westerly High in the new all-inclusive state tournament at the Providence Career & Technical Academy Fieldhouse.
For most of the elite athletes in the state, including several with local ties, Fridayâs New England Interscholastic Indoor Track & Field Championships signifies the end of the winter season.
For a select few like Central Falls senior Aleide Fernandes, itâs just one more meet to prepare for the inaugural New Balance Nationals the following week.
A dozen teams from the Blackstone Valley will be shooting for the same goal â a strong postseason run that hopefully leads them to a state championship â these next two weeks when the R.I. playoffs take flight.
In two of the three division tournaments, there are clear favorites â unbeaten Barrington High is the team to beat in Division I, while powerful Middletown High leads the way in Division III.
But Division II appears to be wide-open, with a handful of teams capable of rising above the pack and winning the title.
PROVIDENCE â Regular season dual-meet results donât carry over into the tournament season. Each wrestler, no matter how big his reputation and how long his list of accomplishments, must begin anew when the opening whistle sounds to start a tournament match.
Thatâs the beauty of this sport, which focuses on a team aspect during the dual-meet season. The emphasis changes to individual results during the postseason.
As the regular season winds down, the discussion for postseason awards and other laurels heats up. Suddenly the office water cooler or neighborhood establishment becomes the spot to discuss and dissect the merits of potential candidates, while those given autonomy to cast a vote sit down with pen, paper and DVD player, study tea leaves and rub the Magic 8-Ball before filling out the ballot.
PAWTUCKET -- When Steve Reynolds took over the reins as Tolman Highâs hockey coach in the winter of â08, he inherited a team that not only graduated a talented senior class that reached the Division II quarterfinals the previous season, but was short on upperclassmen and bodies.
He also had his share of first-year players on his 16-player roster that season, and one of them was a familiar name who starred for the Tigersâ football and wrestling teams the past couple of seasons, Kyle Coutu.
PAWTUCKET --- If Tolman High and the Johnston/North Providence co-op team end up meeting in two weekends in the Division III semifinals, it should make for a truly entertaining best-of-three series.
For the second time in seven days, the two teams battled tooth and nail in an exciting high school game, but unlike their meeting last Saturday, this contest didnât end with a winner or a loser.
NORTH SMITHFIELD --- A very difficult season for Lincoln High came to a rough end on Wednesday afternoon at the hands of a tough non-tough team -- St. Johnâs High of Shrewsbury, Mass.
The 12th-ranked team in the Eastern Mass. polls showed the small gathering at the Rhode Island Sports Center why they are among the teams vying for a berth in their stateâs Division IA âSuper Eightâ tournament by skating to a 6-1 victory over the Lions.
Over the years, the final weekend of the high school hockey regular season had always featured plenty of drama and storylines. Regular-season titles on the line. Teams pursuing higher seeds. Others fighting for late playoff berths.
Unfortunately for local fans, there wonât be much suspense this weekend.
A big reason is because only five boysâ teams from the area qualified for their respective tournaments. Four of the five teams that didnât make it were long eliminated from postseason consideration, while a fifth, Lincoln, saw its run at a playoff berth come to an end last weekend.
PROVIDENCE (AP) â Notre Dame appeared to be in total control, then all of a sudden the Fighting Irish were lucky time ran out on Marshon Brooks.
Ben Hansbrough scored a career-high 32 points and Tim Abromaitis had a season-high 28 as No. 9 Notre Dame hung on for a 94-93 win over struggling Providence on Wednesday night despite a Big East-record 52 points by Brooks.
The Irish (22-5, 11-4 Big East) are off to their best start ever in 11 seasons under coach Mike Brey. Notre Dame, in second place in the conference, has won eight of nine.
CUMBERLAND â The elite seedings for this weekendâs state wrestling championships bear out the dual-meet rankings for the regular season.
Unbeaten Cumberland, the defending state team champion, collected four No. 1 seeds. Cranston West earned three, as did Warwick Veterans. East Providence was honored with two top seeds â sophomore heavyweight Jonah Aurelio and senior 160-pounder Jared Burrows. Bishop Hendricken, also expected to contend for the team title, got one.
NORTH PROVIDENCE â The music played over the PA system to introduce the players from top-seeded North Providence High was the theme song from the movie âRockyâ â the fictional story of the Philadelphia southpaw who overcame all odds to eventually become the heavyweight champion.
While the music was appropriate for the Cougars, who showed plenty of heart in Mondayâs Division II quarterfinal matchup with No. 8 seed Tolman, it would be hard to not say the same for a gutsy Tiger squad.
NEWPORT â Shea High went down fighting in the Division II quarterfinals on Monday night, rallying from a 12-point halftime deficit to lead in the final minute, only to see second-seeded Rogers hit a crucial three-pointer with 12 seconds left that produced a dramatic 59-56 victory over the Raiders.
COVENTRY â It was with 10:27 to go in the game when Coventry head boys basketball coach Tom Campbell called a timeout with his Oakers in serious trouble against St. Raphael Academy that it was more than just them losing the game and having no momentum for the upcoming RIIL Open Boys Basketball Tournament.
The Oakersâ pride was in severe jeopardy since the Saints made C. Arthur Flori Gymnasium all their own for two-thirds of the Division I Quarterfinal game on Monday night.
After that timeout, Coventry gained back more than its pride and momentum.
PAWTUCKET --- When Lincoln and Cumberland were rivals in the old Met B league from the mid-1990s to 2004, the two neighbors hooked up in some entertaining, tightly-contested meetings that were true crowd pleasers.
Since then, they have played in different divisions, but they have still found a way to include each other on their non-league schedules.
On Monday afternoon, the two teams met again in the second annual Kyle J. McLaughlin Scholarship Fund benefit hockey game at Lynch Arena and gave the gathering on hand an excellent high school contest to watch.
PROVIDENCE â After his Pop Warner football team, the Edgewood Eagles, won a national title in 2008, Shea senior Freddy Gobewole figured a similar fate would occur at the high school level.
It never happened.
While Gobewole was a top running back for the Raiders, the teams struggled during his career with just nine total wins, and no playoff appearances, the last four years.
To make matters worse, a dislocated shoulder, suffered during a scrimmage in August, kept him off the field for half the season this fall.
The majority of high school coaches are also full-time teachers. For these dedicated souls, the world of academia does not cease once the final bell rings. True, they may trade their lesson plans in for whistles and clipboards, maneuvering from one stressful environment to the next. In reality coaches are confronted with the same pressing matter that monopolizes their time and energy during the daytime.
PAWTUCKET â If you were to go up to Mike Kayata and tell him that senior star Elijah Wiggins would be a non-factor due to foul problems, the Tolman head coach would say his team is in really deep trouble.
PAWTUCKET â Free throws attempted serve as the perfect means to separate which team was the more aggressive unit.
Itâs also the main reason why Shea High remains alive in the Division II playoffs after posting a 62-53 win over Narragansett High on Friday night at âThe Cage.â
The stat that tells the story in this preliminary round clash is that the seventh-seeded Raiders attempted a dozen more free throws than the No. 10 Mariners. Shea went 16-of-24 from the charity stripe while Narragansett was 6-for-12.
Shea now moves on to face Rogers, seeded second, on Monday in the quarterfinals.
PROVIDENCE â No matter how you slice it, Providenceâs 79-76 defeat to Big East bottom feeder DePaul was a tough pill for Keno Davis and the Friars to swallow.
Davisâ post game press conference was far from a ray of sunshine, as the third-year coach sat silent at the podium for several minutes before trying to explain what has to be the Friarsâ most disheartening loss of the season â one coming against a DePaul outfit that coming had had dropped 25 consecutive Big East games.
âItâs a tough lesson for a young team to learn,â said a clearly shell-shocked Davis.