PROVIDENCE – All Charles Correa kept thinking about was the next shot – even on a night in which his touch was off.
The sophomore point guard may have fired at a 5-of-21 clip in St. Raphael’s 68-60 win over a feisty West Warwick squad Monday night, but that’s not the impression Tom “Saar” Sorrentine will take away. To the veteran head coach, the lasting memory is the two timely 3-pointers Correa drained on back-to-back possessions, two clutch baskets that carried the day for SRA in its quarterfinal victory in the open state tournament at the Providence Career & Technical Academy Fieldhouse.
Correa’s first 3-ball reclaimed the lead for the Saints at 56-54 after the Wizards’ Chuck Dalton hit a layup to put his team up 54-53. West Warwick scored to knot things at 56-all before Correa let fly a three in front of St. Raphael’s bench that splashed in with 3:40 left. Correa’s shots clearly ignited the Saints, who held the Wizards to one field goal in the final three minutes.
“I still had faith in my shot, so I just kept on shooting,” said Correa, who finished with a game-high 17 points. “I was feeling it on those two shots.”
“Shooters have got to keep shooting,” interjected Sorrentine as he walked off the court. “He was taking shots so they wouldn’t get blocked instead of drawing fouls. He had a nightmare game, but he made key shots in the end.”
SRA advances to the round-of-four, set for Friday night at URI’s Ryan Center. For the third straight game the Saints opponent will hail from Division II, after North Providence knocked off No. 1 seed Cranston West, 70-69. Austin Van Bemmelen reversed a shot in with 5.1 seconds remaining to provide the margin of victory for the Cougars.
Correa was one of four Saints to hit for double figures. Joining him were Trevor Vasey (12 points), Jordan Peguero (10) and Cesar Mejia (10). Max Montroni led the Wizards with 16 points.
“I wanted to go the Ryan Center last year but we weren’t good enough,” said Correa. “I believe that this is our year.”
The game tightened dramatically in the second half, as the fifth seeded Saints were unable to shake themselves of the Wizards, seeded 12th. SRA’s greatest lead was four points (on two occasions) while West Warwick started the half on a 7-2 run to go up 42-40.
St. Raphael jumped out to a 9-0 lead four minutes in before getting buried under an avalanche of whistles. Peguero became the first Saint to get tagged with two fouls. He soon had company in Mejia, who picked up his second personal at 12:03.
West Warwick, which upset fourth-seeded Coventry Friday night, shook off a rough start move to within two points on a couple of occasions. Matroni and John Morrison served as the primary catalysts, the pair combining for 21 first-half points and five 3-pointers. Morrison buried his third triple of the stanza right before halftime to pull W.W. to within 38-35.
“We couldn’t get away because we had to sit guys out,” said Sorrentine.
St. Raphael tightened up its perimeter defense in the second half, holding West Warwick to just one make from downtown.
“We let them get open in the first half. Every time we went to a new defense they seemed to have clean looks,” said Sorrentine. “(In the second half) we just kept switching guys off because we had to.”
The Saints played the final 6:15 of the opening stanza minus Vasey after the senior picked up his second and third fouls within 31 seconds. On Vasey’s third foul it appeared Ben Pillsbury was guilty, but the three-man referee crew saw differently.
SRA’s bench helped offset the loss of Vasey. A 3-ball from Terrence Manning gave SRA a 29-23 lead while Peguero wound up scoring eight points on 4-of-4 shooting from the foul line. The Saints wound up getting 16 points from their reserves in the first 16 minutes.
WEST WARWICK (60): Jerome Carpenter-Vargas 0 0-0 0, Kyle Brown 0 2-2 2, Shykeel Colon 0 0-0 0, Max Montroni 5 3-4 16, Korey Clark 1 3-4 5, John Morrison 4 0-0 11, Chuck Dalton 5 1-2 11, Ryan Lawton 5 4-4 14, Elijah Saintfleur 0 0-0 0, Cory Thibault 0 1-2 1. Totals: 20 14-18 60.
ST. RAPHAEL (68): Cesar Mejia 4 1-3 10, Trevor Vasey 5 1-2 12, Jazz Robinson 1 0-0 2, Charles Correa 5 4-4 17, Ben Pillsbury 2 0-2 4, Terrence Manning 1 1-2 4, Franklin Batista 0 1-2 1, Jordan Peguero 2 6-6 10, Davon Robertson 4 0-0 8. Totals: 24 14-21 68.
Halftime: SRA 38-35.
Three-point field goals: WW 6 (Max Montroni 3, John Morrison 3); SRA 6 (Charles Correa 3, Cesar Mejia, Trevor Vasey, Terrence Manning).