PAWTUCKET â€“ It wouldnâ€™t 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 Thursdayâ€™s 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 seasonâ€™s Donaldson champion, and Tigers is officially on. Tonightâ€™s tap is set for 7 p.m. and Kayata is expecting a charged-up atmosphere.
â€śI think itâ€™s going to be a healthy rivalry game. Itâ€™s going to be a packed house and the intensity level is going to be up on both sides,â€ť said Kayata. â€śItâ€™s going to be a fun game. Itâ€™s not for first place because itâ€™s early in the year, but Iâ€™m excited and Iâ€™m sure (the Raiders) are too.â€ť
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.
â€śThey were pressing us, which in turn forced us into a sloppy game,â€ť said Kayata about the second half. â€śGive 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 weâ€™ve got a long way to go.â€ť
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.