Sports editor emeritus
PAWTUCKET – Tolman High opened its season with a performance that both revealed the potential and the vulnerability of what appears to be a talented squad.
The Tigers roared to a 65-43 victory over Central Falls in a Division II crossover contest. The Tigers played a physical game, took the ball to the basket, looked for the fast break, and turned the ball over 22 times in their eagerness to push the ball up-court. They missed 16 of their 31 free throws.
Central Falls, which opened its season the night before with a solid win over Woonsocket in the opening round of the Lynch Tournament, fell behind early and never rallied after two of its starters – Julian Soares and David DePina – got into deep foul trouble and fouled out during the second half.
Soares had scored 23 points in the win over Woonsocket. He got two points against Tolman in a game that featured 38 personal fouls called by an ambitious officiating crew.
“Tolman hit the boards hard and executed its offense,” C.F. coach Brian Crookes admitted afterwards. “We didn’t play very good defense. We gave up dribble penetration all night.”
Tolman received 15 points from smooth forward Jesse Fernandes and 11 from center Nate Gagnon, who showed a deft scoring touch in the lane. Point guard Keanu Perry ran the offense and added 11 points.
The Tigers went eight deep in quality players.
“We can go nine deep when we have everyone ready,” Tolman coach Mike Kayata said. “Tonight, we ran our fast-break offense well but we shot the ball horribly. Our free throw shooting (15-for-31) was horrible. That’s the first thing we are going to work on at our next practice.”
Central Falls got 14 points from point guard Elsor Colindres and 13 from forward Brad Zeno. The Warriors are back in action this afternoon when they face PCD in the Lynch tourney title game at the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket. The game will begin at 4 p.m. following the 2 p.m. consolation contest between St. Raphael Academy and Woonsocket. Both games were moved up in anticipation of tonight’s snowy forecast of 6-9 inches.
Tolman jumped out to an early 9-4 lead when forward Jesse Lopez scored three baskets on power moves close to the basket. The Warriors closed to 11-9 before the Tigers pulled away for good, moving to a 23-12 lead when Fernandes converted off a steal by Gagnon. Perry followed with a hoop created by Steve Otis’s steal and the Tigers led by 13 with four minutes left in the first half.
Leading 28-18 at halftime, the Tigers expanded their lead to 39-24 in the early part of the second half on a variety of fast-break layups and free throws. To its credit, C.F. never gave up, even after Soares fouled out with 6:42 left and DePina followed him to the bench 90 seconds later.
Tolman moved to its biggest lead at 65-40 during an extended garbage time marked by the incessant whistles from the officials.