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Raiders rounding into playoff form

January 30, 2013

Shea senior forward Nathan Lopes (21) battles Lincoln defenders Tyge Joyce (14) and Osel-lie Saine for control under the boards at Shea during first-half action Tuesday night. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN

PAWTUCKET — For a ballclub hoping to be one of the deserving 16 teams in the state’s Open Tournament at the end of February, Shea’s been doing its part these days by turning in some excellent basketball.
On Tuesday night, the Raiders put together another splendid outing to sew up their fourth straight victory, this one coming at “The Cage” against neighboring Division II crossover foe Lincoln.
Junior guard Chris Mainville’s contest-high 21 points and nine assists and senior forward Alvin Semedo’s double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds led the way for the Raiders in their 63-48 triumph.
The win improves the Raiders’ Division II-Central mark to 8-4 and overall record to 10-5, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier for them. Their next two games are against the iron of the Division II-North in North Providence (11-2) and Cumberland (9-2).
“Hopefully, we can keep it together and keep playing hard,” added Shea coach Matt Pita. “Division II is no letup. North Providence is coming in Friday night, and then we have Cumberland next Tuesday night. They’re tough games. Anybody can win in this league, so you have to bring it.”
The Raiders certainly brought it last night, and they needed to do so, because the Lions, who fell to 5-8 in the division (6-11 overall), refused to go away quietly.
Lincoln trailed by as many as 15 (35-20) in the opening half, but outscored its host, 10-2, down the stretch to soar into the break down by a 37-30 score.
Again, the Raiders brought their lead back into the teens (46-33) in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Lions fought back with three quick layups to again make it a seven-point game with 9:57 still to play.
But the Raiders broke away from their visitors for good with a 10-1 run, with Mainville leading the charge with six straight points, followed by a nice assist on Eli Itkin’s three-pointer that capped the run.
“We found a way to win,” said Pita. “Lincoln played tough, but we hit some key shots at the right times, we executed our gameplan, and we ran as much as we could.”
The Raiders also did a great job tremendously defensively and played a large role in the Lions’ 27 turnovers on the night. They also shined in the blocked shots department with 14 and got a great game off the defensive glass from Tito DoCouto (eight rebounds, five blocks).
The other two members of the Raiders’ starting five also contributed to the cause, with Nathan Lopes finishing with a dozen points and Itkin also excelling defensively with five steals.
The bulk of the Lions’ offense came from three players. Jon McCourt scored a team-high 19 points to go with six steals, Ryan Kelly contributed 15 points and a dozen rebounds, and Oseh-Lie Saine added eight points and 10 boards.
The Lions, who are looking to secure a playoff spot and join the Raiders in next month’s Division II tournament, will return to Pawtucket on Friday for an 8 p.m. contest against another team in the playoff hunt, Tolman (5-6), and then host Exeter/West Greenwich (7-5) the following Tuesday.

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