Quarterfinals come calling for boys' hoop teams
Junior standout Jessie Fernandez (left) and his Tolman teammates duel Exeter/West Greenwich in tonightâ€™s Division II quarterfinals at Coventry High School. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
The next wave of games as part of Rhode Islandâ€™s version of â€śMarch Madnessâ€ť are set for Wednesday night with boysâ€™ basketball quarterfinal-round contests in all three divisions taking place at neutral sites around the state.
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Two area squads are heading to the same venue as Division II participants Tolman and Central Falls will bus to Coventry High School. The third-seeded Tigers will take the floor first for a 5:30 p.m. matchup against fellow II-Central member and sixth-seeded Exeter/West Greenwich. At roughly 7:30, the seventh-seeded Warriors face No. 2 Barrington.
Over at Johnston High School is where youâ€™ll find Burrillville. Fresh off an impressive victory in the Division III preliminaries against North Smithfield, the eighth-seeded Broncos met No. 1 seed and league unbeaten East Greenwich. The Burrillville-East Greenwich clash tips off at 7:30 p.m. and will follow the contest involving No. 4 Moses Brown and No. 5 Juanita Sanchez.
The Broncos and Avengers met once during the regular season with E.G. rolling to a 66-42 victory on Jan. 26. That game, which took place at the Bronco Dome, was actually a six-point game at halftime before East Greenwich went on to outscore its opponent by a 34-16 count in the second half.
â€śIâ€™ll say this. The boxscore from that game was a lot worse than it was,â€ť stated Broncos mentor Kevin Randall. â€śIt was a (32-26) game at halftime and then (Burrillville junior big man) Isaiah (DeSilva) got in foul trouble. (EGâ€™s Brandon) Eckles, heâ€™s one of the best big men in the state. If Isaiah can match up against him, then I think we have a shot.â€ť
Rogers High School is the other Division III venue for the quarters. No. 3 Middletown meets No. 6 Pilgrim at 5:30 p.m. followed by No. 2 Mount Hope and seventh-seeded Warwick Vets at 7:30.
Tolman and EWG need no introductions. The two divisional rivals met twice during the regular season with the Tigers winning both games by a combined four points.
In the first encounter, Jessie Fernandez sank a free throw with two seconds left to snap a 67-all contest and lift Tolman to a one-point victory. The second meeting that was staged on Feb. 17 at the Scarlet Knightsâ€™ barn featured a deep 3-pointer as time expired by Steven Otis, the late-game heroics resulting in a 69-66 final.
Tolman remains in the hunt for the one of the 16 open state tournament berths up for grabs. The Tigers enter Wednesdayâ€™s action in the No. 11 position in the Power Point rankings with 11.2 points â€“ they were No. 10 before the divisional playoffs got underway.
Like Burrillville, Central Falls will square off against one of the top teams in its division. At 17-1, Barrington tied West Warwick for the top record in Division II. The Eagles lost the head-to-head matchup with the Wizards.
When Central Falls met Barrington back on Jan. 31, the Warriors enjoyed a 10-point lead at halftime. The Eagles outscored the Warriors, 48-29, in the second half, keyed by Corey Daugherty (18 points) and Matt DeWolf (14 points) en route to a 65-56 win.
The other four teams still alive in the Division II bracket head to North Kingstown as No. 4 Prout and No. 5 North Providence collide at 5:30 p.m. with West Warwick meeting No. 8 Portsmouth at 7:30.
The sites for Fridayâ€™s divisional semifinals have been confirmed. Division I will stage its contests at CCRI-Warwick, Division II at Rhode Island College and Division III at Roger Williams Univesity. The finals are set for Sunday afternoon at Providence Collegeâ€™s Alumni Hall.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03