The next wave of games as part of Rhode Island’s version of “March Madness” are set for Wednesday night with boys’ basketball quarterfinal-round contests in all three divisions taking place at neutral sites around the state.
Two area squads are heading to the same venue as Division II participants Tolman and Central Falls will bus to Coventry High School. The third-seeded Tigers will take the floor first for a 5:30 p.m. matchup against fellow II-Central member and sixth-seeded Exeter/West Greenwich. At roughly 7:30, the seventh-seeded Warriors face No. 2 Barrington.
Over at Johnston High School is where you’ll find Burrillville. Fresh off an impressive victory in the Division III preliminaries against North Smithfield, the eighth-seeded Broncos met No. 1 seed and league unbeaten East Greenwich. The Burrillville-East Greenwich clash tips off at 7:30 p.m. and will follow the contest involving No. 4 Moses Brown and No. 5 Juanita Sanchez.
The Broncos and Avengers met once during the regular season with E.G. rolling to a 66-42 victory on Jan. 26. That game, which took place at the Bronco Dome, was actually a six-point game at halftime before East Greenwich went on to outscore its opponent by a 34-16 count in the second half.
“I’ll say this. The boxscore from that game was a lot worse than it was,” stated Broncos mentor Kevin Randall. “It was a (32-26) game at halftime and then (Burrillville junior big man) Isaiah (DeSilva) got in foul trouble. (EG’s Brandon) Eckles, he’s one of the best big men in the state. If Isaiah can match up against him, then I think we have a shot.”
Rogers High School is the other Division III venue for the quarters. No. 3 Middletown meets No. 6 Pilgrim at 5:30 p.m. followed by No. 2 Mount Hope and seventh-seeded Warwick Vets at 7:30.
Tolman and EWG need no introductions. The two divisional rivals met twice during the regular season with the Tigers winning both games by a combined four points.
In the first encounter, Jessie Fernandez sank a free throw with two seconds left to snap a 67-all contest and lift Tolman to a one-point victory. The second meeting that was staged on Feb. 17 at the Scarlet Knights’ barn featured a deep 3-pointer as time expired by Steven Otis, the late-game heroics resulting in a 69-66 final.
Tolman remains in the hunt for the one of the 16 open state tournament berths up for grabs. The Tigers enter Wednesday’s action in the No. 11 position in the Power Point rankings with 11.2 points – they were No. 10 before the divisional playoffs got underway.
Like Burrillville, Central Falls will square off against one of the top teams in its division. At 17-1, Barrington tied West Warwick for the top record in Division II. The Eagles lost the head-to-head matchup with the Wizards.
When Central Falls met Barrington back on Jan. 31, the Warriors enjoyed a 10-point lead at halftime. The Eagles outscored the Warriors, 48-29, in the second half, keyed by Corey Daugherty (18 points) and Matt DeWolf (14 points) en route to a 65-56 win.
The other four teams still alive in the Division II bracket head to North Kingstown as No. 4 Prout and No. 5 North Providence collide at 5:30 p.m. with West Warwick meeting No. 8 Portsmouth at 7:30.
The sites for Friday’s divisional semifinals have been confirmed. Division I will stage its contests at CCRI-Warwick, Division II at Rhode Island College and Division III at Roger Williams Univesity. The finals are set for Sunday afternoon at Providence College’s Alumni Hall.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03