WARWICK – There were a few critical reasons why Shea High suffered a disappointing 63-52 loss to Rogers High in the R.I. Open Tournament's “Round of 16” at the Community College of Rhode Island-Warwick's Vincent A. Cullen Field House on Tuesday night.
Heart and will weren't among them.
Instead, the eighth-seeded Raiders issued 19 turnovers, including eight in the initial seven minutes of the final stanza, and dropped only 13 of 21 free throws (61.9 percent), as they closed their campaign at 18-6 overall.
“We had a great season; I hope they know how proud I am of each and every one of them,” stated an emotional head coach Matt Pita just outside the locker room following the defeat. “I thought the turnovers were big, and we had too many, but we played really hard.
“After the game, I thanked them all for being good teammates, and for coming every day to work hard and improve,” he added. “That's a very good team in there. I think they know that.”
Senior forward Michael Neal finished with a “double-double,” including 11 points and 15 rebounds, while classmate and guard Jordy Brito mustered a team-high 20 points and four assists. Fellow senior guard Kenric Carter closed with nine points and a pair of assists, while junior Eli Itkin tallied six points.
For ninth-seeded Rogers, four players manufactured double-figure outings, and junior swing Marc Washington led all with 22 points. Trevor Morgera and Reeyon Watts, both senior guards, netted 15 and 12, respectively, while senior center Divon Bailey posted 10.
Ironically, the Vikings managed just 62.5 percent from the charity stripe (15-of-24), and missed several outside shots, but their ability to drive inside proved the difference.
With the triumph, Rogers (also 18-6) now will face the winner of top-seeded North Kingstown and 17th-ranked Cumberland at Providence College's Alumni Hall (time still to be determined) on Sunday.
With 5:57 left in the contest, Morgera nailed a baseline trey to give Rogers its largest cushion of the game at 50-38, and it looked poised to cruise to an easy victory.
Undaunted, however, the Raiders fought back. Carter drained a pair of foul shots and Brito two of four free throws before junior forward Nathan Lopes tossed in a short jumper with 3:32 remaining. With the bucket, the Raiders had assembled an 8-0 flurry over the previous 2:25 to slice the deficit to 50-46.
Just 19 seconds later, Washington soared for a lay-in and Watts canned a one-hander off a steal to cushion the Vikings' lead to 54-46. Brito's 10-foot jumper at the 1:40 mark made it 54-48, but – three ticks after – Itkin fouled out. Down the stretch, Washington hit four of six foul shots to seal the win.
In the early going, Shea achieved its biggest advantage of the tilt, 8-4, following Neal's conventional three-point play, and Rosa's layup with 7:14 left gave it a 20-17 cushion. Over the next 1:31, though, Rogers – which finished with 13 turnovers of its own – ran off six straight points and led 23-20.
The Raiders returned the favor with a six-point surge, ending on Neal's pretty finger roll with 1:30 remaining. Junior Tito DoCouto's layup with 57.1 seconds left before the break gave Pita's crew a 28-25 advantage, but Rogers netted the last five points – a Washington trifecta and junior Kendall Moreino layup off a turnover with 18.3 ticks remaining – for the 30-28 halftime lead.
Brito actually had a chance to cause a fifth tie in the half, but his one-and-one free-throw attempt bounced off the rim.
Just 16 seconds into the last stanza, Washington drained a trey, and that sparked a 12-5 run over the next 3:44. Washington added a finger-roll drive and Morgera a short jumper at the 12-minute mark as the Vikings went up by nine, 42-33.
Brito's fall-away 12-footer at the 6:55 mark cut the Rogers lead to 45-38, but it scored the next five straight to attain that 50-38 bulge.
“Runs are a part of the game, and we had a couple of them ourselves, but they had the last one,” Pita sighed.