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PAWTUCKET â It wouldnât have felt the same had Tolman not been playing Shea in the championship of the Donaldson Memorial Tournament. Before such a scenario could be crystalized, Tolman had to get past Pilgrim in Thursdayâs opening round.
The Tigers thanked the Patriots for their participation by sending them off with a 69-52 defeat that Tolman head coach Mike Kayata admits he had a hard time enjoying. That said, the first matchup of the season between the Raiders, last seasonâs Donaldson champion, and Tigers is officially on. Tonightâs tap is set for 7 p.m. and Kayata is expecting a charged-up atmosphere.
âI think itâs going to be a healthy rivalry game. Itâs going to be a packed house and the intensity level is going to be up on both sides,â said Kayata. âItâs going to be a fun game. Itâs not for first place because itâs early in the year, but Iâm excited and Iâm sure (the Raiders) are too.â
The usual suspects carried the day for the Tigers as Elijah Wiggins (16 points, 14 rebounds), Jeremy Graca (19 points) and Rodney Bustillo (7 points, 7 assists, 4 steals) all enjoyed strong games. Nkosi Scott chipped in with 12 points for Tolman, now 2-0.
Tolman took it to Pilgrim in the first half, building as much as an 18-point lead before going into halftime up 40-25. The fast start allowed Kayata to play with different lineup combinations as 10 Tigers saw action in the opening 16 minutes.
The Patriots tried to fight back by throwing a myriad of presses at the Tigers but were unable to close within single digits. Pilgrim trailed 51-36 with 9:06 remaining before finding itself down 63-44 with less than four minutes remaining.
âThey were pressing us, which in turn forced us into a sloppy game,â said Kayata about the second half. âGive Pilgrim credit. They could have hung it up, but they continued to push. It would have been nice to extend the lead and empty the bench, but weâve got a long way to go.â
PILGRIM (52): Brandon Greenburg 1 0-1 2, Manny Cavallini 8 1-4 19, Luis Pimental 1 1-2 3, Kaelon Pittman 2 0-1 4, Nick Light 2 0-0 4, David Duchesneau 1 0-0 2, Tyler Little 6 0-0 12, Billy Morris 3 0-0 6. Totals: 24 2-8 52.
TOLMAN (69): Troy Sawyer 1 0-0 2, Rodney Bustillo 2 2-2 7, Rems Percy 1 0-2 2, Kevin Coughlin 0 0-1 0, Juniel Ortiz 3 1-2 7, Jeremy Graca 7 4-4 19, Nkosi Scott 4 2-3 12, Elijah Wiggins 8 0-2 16, Ja-Quan Seldon 2 0-0 4. Totals: 26 9-16 69.
Halftime: T 40-25.
Three-point field goals: P 2 (Manny Cavallini 2); T 4 (Nkosi Scott 2, Rodney Bustillo, Jeremy Graca).
JV: T 57-33.