PROVIDENCE â Way back in January, St. Raphael Academy faced Scituate in a crossover tilt between league frontrunners.
Despite the Spartansâ physical presence, or the fact it would eventually become the Division II-North champion with a stellar 16-2 mark, the Saints manufactured a 44-38 triumph, though head coach Fred Saunders claimed it was a tough, aggressive affair.
The two foes met again in a R.I. Division II semifinal at Rhode Island College on Wednesday night for the right to play for the state crown on Saturday. And this time, the same ensued, except âŠ
WARWICK â In a perfect world, this would have been the match-up to determine the R.I. Division II Tournament champion.
Instead, the powers-that-be within the Rhode Island Interscholastic League bracketed regular-season unbeaten Cumberland High against archrival Lincoln, which had dropped a pair of one-goal decisions to the Clippers, in a D-II semifinal.
This one had all the drama and intrigue of a championship final, especially the rubber match between the two at Thayer Arena on Monday night.
PROVIDENCE â They could have paraded out to center court at Alumni Hall Sunday night in the same Big East Championship t-shirts that were distributed to them the previous night at Madison Square Garden.
Instead, everyone associated with the Providence College menâs basketball program wore grey short-sleeve t-shirts that on the front features a poignant and simple battle cry â HEART & SOUL.
PROVIDENCE â St. Raphaelâs record now stands at a glistening 19-0, but for only the third time this season, the Saints found themselves battling for a victory in the final minute of play.
But the Saints, thanks to some strong defense down the stretch, were able to withstand a fierce challenge by ninth-seeded West Warwick and squeak out a 36-33 triumph on Sunday night at Rhode Island College that advanced them to Wednesday nightâs Division II semifinals.
For full story, see Monday's print edition of The Times.
WARWICK â Lincoln controlled the tempo for most of the night and held a significant advantage in the shots-on-goal department in its opening game of its best-of-three Division II semifinal-round series against Cumberland.
Unfortunately for the defending champions, they didnât control the first few minutes of the game. The Clippers did, and what they did in the first 2:21 of play helped them eke out their third one-goal victory of the season over their neighboring rivals.
For full story, see Saturday's print edition of The Times.
Sports editor emeritus
PAWTUCKET â St. Raphael Academy coach Fred Saunders understands he needs a complete team effort if the Saints want to bring home a Division II state title later this month.
âI think depth is one of our strengths,â Saunders admitted on Thursday night after senior Lauren Taylor made her first start of the season and contributed 14 points, seven points and five rebounds that complemented the usual strong efforts by teammates Becca and Danyele Gonzalez along with Seun Shittu.
NEW YORK â Just in case Ed Cooley let it slip from his mind that the Providence Friars and Madison Square have gone together like oil and vinegar for the longest time, he received a reminder from the collegeâs president, the Rev. Brian J. Shanley.
âFrom what (Shanley) told me, we havenât won down here often,â stated Cooley. âSo for us to get off the schneid, itâs a great accomplishment for our program.â
NEW YORK â Ed Cooley didnât mince words when asked if he feels St. Johnâs should be one of the Big East teams selected to the NCAA Tournament.
When the subject turned to whether his Providence squad has done enough to get off the proverbial bubble and move closer to lock status following Thursdayâs 79-74 victory over St. Johnâs, Cooley refrained from politicking on the Friarsâ behalf.
PROVIDENCE â Tolman High head coach Mike Kayata strolled out of the visiting men's locker room in the basement of Rhode Island College's Murray Center on Wednesday night, shrugged his shoulders and tried to explain what had just transpired upstairs.
NEW YORK â At this point of the season, Kadeem Batts and the rest of his teammates are dealing with information overload when the discussion turns to the Friars and their NCAA Tournament prospects.
Like every other Providence College basketball follower, Batts is keeping abreast of the latest developments via watching games on TV, checking out bracket-bubble updates online and hearing all sorts of prognostications on where the Friars stand in their quest for the programâs first NCAA berth since 2004.