NORTH PROVIDENCE – A horrendous start to the second half doomed Tolman High on Friday night.
North Providence’s fast-breaking attack seized control of the Division II opener for both sides thanks to rattling off 14 straight points to begin the second stanza. The surge paid off handsomely for the host Cougars, who would go on to win by a 64-54 count.
Tolman junior Juan Velez led all scorers with 23 points while classmate Jonathan Percy ruled down low with 17 points. The scoring dropped off considerably as the next high man for the Tigers was Mamour Samb, who finished with eight points.
Balance was the order of the day for North Providence. Rob Hazard, the senior transfer from North Kingstown, came off the bench to lead his team with 15 points. Michael Ferrante pumped in 11 points while head coach Paul Rizzo received 10 points apiece from Austin Van Bemmelen and Dillon McCluskie.
How North Providence’s game-seizing 14-0 run following halftime was quite elementary. After digging in defensively, the Cougars elected to push the tempo rather than walk the ball up the floor. The end results were simply devastating for Mike Kayata’s Tigers as the home team created one fastbreak opportunity after another on their way to taking a 44-27 lead with barely four minutes gone by.
“We rebounded and got that outlet pass, which is our bread-and-butter,” Rizzo said. “Everybody knows we can score, but it has to come down to playing great defense.”
A 3-pointer by Velez snapped the drought for Tolman, a shot that fall at 11:36. Certainly the Tigers were a long way from where the score stood at recess, which was 28-27 in favor of North Providence.
The Cougars continued to maintain a double-digit lead until the final minute when a layup by Velez made it 62-53. The Tigers got off to a solid start, building leads of 15-9 and 17-12 before the host Cougars regrouped to take the lead at the half.
TOLMAN (54): Juan Velez 8 6-8 23, Seny Samb 0 0-0 0, Justin Zetina 2 0-0 4, Mamour Samb 3 2-2 8, Rodney Jean-Pierre 0 0-0 0, Brandon Gagne 1 1-2 3, Jonathan Percy 8 1-5 17. Totals: 22 10-17 54.
NORTH PROVIDENCE (64): Arthur Corsini 0 0-0 0, Rob Hazard 5 3-5 15, Austin Van Bemmelen 4 2-3 10, Dillon McCluskie 4 0-0 10, Michael Ferrante 5 0-0 11, Joel Diaz 1 4-4 7, Adetokunbo Oduwole 0 0-0 0, Michael Corin 4 1-3 9. Totals: 23 10-15 64.
Halftime: NP 28-27.
Three-point field goals: T 1 (Juan Velez); NP 6 (Rob Hazard 2, Dillon McCluskie 2, Joel Diaz, Michael Ferrante).