SRA's Cesar Mejia drives past EP's Joe Carnevale on his way to the hoop during Friday night's game.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Tom â€śSaarâ€ť Sorrentine will be the first to inform you that his St. Raphael club has been struggling lately, particularly on the defensive end. His concerns reflect the recent turn of events, as SRA entered Fridayâ€™s clash with playoff-starved East Providence High in fourth place in the Division I standings after beginning the week in first.
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Though the Saints held on for a tight 65-62 win against the Townies at the Wellness Center, Sorrentine still feels something is awry. Whatever the culprit is, the Saints now have a few days to do some soul searching before perennial power Bishop Hendricken comes to town next Wednesday for the regular season finale.
â€śWeâ€™re not playing solid,â€ť said Sorrentine, his Saints now 12-4 in Division I-East, though a pedestrian 3-2 in recent outings. â€śWeâ€™re just getting by.â€ť
That was the story of Fridayâ€™s contest, as SRA fell behind by 10 points (26-16) in the first half before regrouping to take the lead early in the second half. The Saints completed the turnaround by going up 56-46 with three minutes remaining before holding off a late push by the Townies, who remain on the proverbial bubble in relation to qualifying for the 10-team divisional tournament, which kicks off with preliminary round games next Friday.
E.P. head coach Alex Butler says the only way heâ€™ll feel at ease is if the Townies (7-9) can win its final two games (today at North Kingstown and Monday at home vs. Mt. Pleasant).
â€śWe need to be ready (today) and go get a win. If we donâ€™t, we can probably kiss the playoffs goodbye,â€ť Butler said. â€śIf we can get to nine wins, that would get us on the door of possibly being in (the postseason).â€ť
SRA sophomore Charles Correa made 16-of-17 foul shots â€“ knocking down 11 straight â€“ on his way to a 25-point performance, which also consisted of three 3-pointers. Senior Trevor Vasey collected a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) while Cesar Mejia came alive in the second half, where the junior notched 10 of his 16 points.
E.P.â€™s scoring line was a strong indicator of the two halves the team played. Brendan Quigley carried the Townies in opening half, scoring 14 points. He didnâ€™t register a point in the second half. Sharpshooter Joe Carnevale nailed four of his five triples in the second half, where he converted 16 of his team-best 19 points. Derek Andreolli was the only Townie who was able to get rolling in each half, totaling 17 points and swishing three of E.P.â€™s 10 treys.
The Townies couldnâ€™t have asked for a better start, which saw Butlerâ€™s crew score at will on the Saints thanks to a steady diet of dribble penetration, which in turn opened up a number of scoring options from deep and inside. Defensively the Towniesâ€™ zone extended the Saints to the point that the 3-point shot became SRAâ€™s only option. That development didnâ€™t please Sorrentine, who saw the Saints go close to five minutes without a point.
Sensing his team needed a spark, Sorrentine switched defenses, going man-to-man after St. Raphael fell behind by double digits. The home team ended the first half on a high note, using a 15-7 surge to close to within 33-31.
Encouraging his team to ditch the 3-pointer and start driving to the basket more, Sorrentine watched as St. Raphael started to draw whistles and parade to the foul line. All told the Saints took 28 free throws (making 21) while the Townies went to the charity stripe just 12 times.
Just when SRA thought it had momentum on its side, E.P. struck back. A triple by Andreolli and two free throws by Carnevale â€“ the latter the result of a SRA turnover â€“ shrank the lead down to 58-56 with 44.6 ticks left. E.P. got the ball back trailing 60-56 but Carnevale committed a costly turnover when he threw the ball into the Townie bench with 32.4 on the clock.
More free throws by the Saints followed before Andreolli swished one from deep with eight seconds left. Correa made it 65-59 with two free throws before Carnevale tossed in a 3-ball at the horn.
â€śWe needed to get to the hoop,â€ť said Sorrentine when asked what the message was at halftime. â€śWe didnâ€™t need to shoot it from the outside.â€ť
The Townies are now 2-7 in league games decided by five points or less.
â€śIn a couple of key possessions we panicked,â€ť said Butler. â€śThatâ€™s going to happen. Theyâ€™re kids and theyâ€™re going to make mistakes. Itâ€™s hard because youâ€™re doing it in front of everyone, but weâ€™ve got a game (today).â€ť
EAST PROVIDENCE (62): Rob Delgado 1 2-4 2, Joe Carnevale 6 2-2 19, Nick Pacheco 0 0-0 0, Brian Poole 3 0-0 6, Derek Andreolli 6 2-3 17, Brendan Quigley 5 2-3 14, Victor Adewusi 22 8-12 62.
ST. RAPHAEL (65): Cesar Mejia 6 3-7 16, Trevor Vasey 5 1-2 13, Charles Correa 3 16-17 25, Terrence Manning 2 0-0 6, Franklin Batista 2 0-0 4, Ben Pillsbury 0 1-2 1, Davon Robertson 0 0-0 0, Newon Sendolo 0 0-0 0, Jordan Peguero 0 0-0 0, Jazz Robinson. Totals: 18 21-28 65.
Halftime: EP 33-31.
Three-point field goals: EP 10 (Joe Carnevale 5, Derek Andreolli 3, Brendan Quigley 2); SRA 8 (Charles Correa 3, Terrence Manning 2, Trevor Vasey 2, Cesar Mejia).
JV: SRA 56-53.