PAWTUCKET – Story of this winter: Another bad weather day, another round of postponed boys’ basketball games to be added to the “compressed schedule.”
Tolman High coach Mike Kayata was singing this tune on Wednesday afternoon. School had been postponed for a variety of good reasons, beginning with the snow and sleet and ice that have been falling out of the sky for the past two days. Wednesday night’s home game with Ponaganset was postponed until Feb. 16, two days after the original regular season had been scheduled to end, back before January, 2011 became famous for its compressed snow schedule.
“No school, no basketball,” Kayata said with a sigh. “We can’t even practice with school out. But it’s okay for us. Maybe our guys need a break. We will practice (Thursday) to get ready for Friday night’s game at North Providence. We’ll practice on Saturday and focus on Shea, who we play on Monday.
“We have three games scheduled next week,” Kayata added. “We’re cramming everything in because of the compressed schedule. The guys might be getting a little tired. A day off won’t hurt them at this point.”
Tolman takes an 8-5 league record into Friday night’s game. North Providence is 9-3 on the season and features an up-tempo offense. Guard Austin VanBemmelen dropped 51 points on Central Falls this past Monday night. He averages nearly 23 points per game. Backcourt mate Mike Ferrante averages close to 21 points per game.
“They have two really good scorers,” Kayata said. “Van Bemmelen is a great shooter. Ferrante is more of a slasher, a tough kid. We have our hands full with their two guards. We have good guards, too, but they have better height in the backcourt. Speed-wise, I think we can run with them.”
Shea High proved it could run with the Cougars in an epic game played at the Raiders’ gym back on Dec. 20. Shea outran North Providence to the tune of 94-92 in a game that left everyone who saw it shaking their heads in amazement.
Tolman doesn’t have quite the same personnel that Shea had for that game. The Tigers might need to impose their physical will on the Cougars, especially under the basket.
“We need to up our intensity on the defensive end,” Kayata said. “And we need to rebound the ball better.”
The Tigers are led by point guard Rodney Bustillo, a 5-foot-9 player who looks to set up his teammates before taking his own shot. Bustillo scored the game-winning layup with seven seconds left in overtime to beat Cumberland last Friday night.
“That shot came right out of our half-court set,” Kayata said, still pleased at the memory of his team performing so well with the game on the line. “Rodney is our most consistent overall player right now.”