CUMBERLAND â€” Two nights earlier, the wrestlers from Cumberland High knocked off previously undefeated Bishop Hendricken, the friendly confides of the Wellness Center serving as the backdrop. Hoping to replicate some of that home cooking, the Cumberland boysâ€™ hoops team played host to state contender North Providence on Friday night.
CENTRAL FALLS â€” As a coach you want to see your team pushed to the extreme, especially with the playoffs not too far off in the distance.
Thursday night saw Shea and Central Falls trade big shots and big plays with neither side backing down. The difference in the end was the steely-eyed play of Jordy Brito, the Raiders senior coming up with a series of clutch plays in the closing minutes in what amounted to a hard-fought 63-57 victory over the host Warriors.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Tolman Highâ€™s Dion Rubio, a star football player who developed into a championship-calibre wrestler over the past four winters, enjoys the mat sport.
â€śItâ€™s really different than football,â€ť Rubio, who finished fifth in the state at 160 pounds last winter, said on Thursday night after sending the Tigers to a 42-39 victory over Woonsocket with a pin in the final minute of the final match of the night.
PAWTUCKET â€” Central Fallsâ€™s biggest win of the year also turned out to be Tolmanâ€™s most disappointing loss of the season.
Down by 11 points at the break, the Warriors staged a comeback that saw senior forward Shariela Jiminez toss in 16 of her game-high 20 points and help pave the way to a 55-44 victory in their hard-fought Division II-North duel at the Tigersâ€™ Donaldson Gymnasium.
CUMBERLAND â€“ The best wrestling dual-meets build slowly, bout by bout, to a crescendo. Each match is important. Results in the earlier bouts lay the foundation for dramatic outcomes late in the contest.
Thatâ€™s what happened on Wednesday night at The Wellness Center when an estimated 400 mat-crazy spectators watched Rhode Islandâ€™s only two unbeaten Division I dual-meet teams square off. Cumberland, carrying the burden of a 52-match winning streak nearly three years old, hosted a 13-0 Bishop Hendricken team most experts gave a slight advantage heading into this showdown.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Tom â€śSaarâ€ť Sorrentine has been around the coaching block enough times to know that making adjustments goes with the territory. With his St. Raphael Academy outfit having dropped two of its previous three games heading into Tuesday nightâ€™s contest with Coventry, Sorrentine was more than justified in his desire to shake things up.
LINCOLN â€“ There are wins and there are BIG wins.
For Davies Tech, this one has to be listed under the latter category.
With their playoff fate in Division III more than likely being determined in the final week of the league season, the Patriots scored a crucial victory over North Smithfield on Tuesday night by eking out a thrilling 37-36 decision on their home court. Sophomore Waleska Kelly fueled a total team effort by Davies, netting 12 points along with nine rebounds, seven steals and six blocks.
How important was this triumph for Davies?
â€śItâ€™s not about this week,â€ť Tolman High basketball coach Mike Kayata was saying on Monday. â€śItâ€™s about having your team ready when the playoffs begin.â€ť
Kayata was just voicing the sentiments of most area coaches who are priming their teams for the state open tournament that is scheduled to begin on Feb. 24. A field of 32 teams will begin play that night. Tolman High, just 6-7 in Division II right now, hasnâ€™t even reached the eight-win qualifying standard yet.
Steve Gordon has been coaching Cumberland Highâ€™s wrestling program since time began. Well, not quite. Just since he got the program started back in 1969. Thatâ€™s 43 years, if youâ€™re counting.
The 70-year-old coach spent many of those early years trying to build his program from the ground floor up, creating a wrestling community in Cumberland, one or two parents at a time, that formed the foundation for his program.
Gordon learned a lot from the Coventry High School wrestling program, a dynasty that produced 17 straight state championship teams between 1982-98.
PROVIDENCE â€“ There are times that Ed Cooley must feel like heâ€™s being pulled in a thousand directions.
On one hand, Cooley is trying to build a program befitting of his workmanlike image. In order to accomplish that, the first-year PC head coach needs players that compliment this ideal. Based on the buzz surrounding one of the nationâ€™s most talked about recruiting classes, Cooley has allowed Friar fans to dream big about what the future may hold.