EPHS boys’ hoops heads to playoffs on a winning note

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CRANSTON — The East Providence High School boys’ basketball team capped off its 2012-13 Division I-Central regular season Saturday night, Feb. 16, with a 44-35 victory over host Cranston East.

The Townies finished their league slate with a 9-9 record, their best mark in three years. East Providence, which is also making its first postseason appearance since ’09-10, earned the ninth seed in the 10-team Division I championship playoffs and travels to Providence Monday night, Feb. 18, for an opening round tourney contest against Hope at 7 p.m.

“I’d rather not have to play Hope again after just playing them the other night and I’d rather be home, of course, but that’s not the case. We just have to concentrate on what we need to do to win the game (Monday) night,” said EPHS head coach Alex Butler.

The Townies and Blue Wave (9-9 in I-Central) sparred twice over the last two weeks, split their two regular season meetings with each side winning on its home floor. E.P. raced to an early lead against Hope in city, Feb. 1, before settling for a last-second 54-53 victory. The Blue Wave won the rematch in Providence six days ago, Feb. 12, by a 57-45 score.

“It seems like all the games we play against Hope are ‘grinder’ games. The defense is tough. It’s tough to score. The games are always physical, and always seem to come down to the last couple of minutes,” Coach Butler continued.

“I think that’s because we’re so familiar with each other,” he added. “The game is going to come down to who executes better and does the little things like chasing down loose balls and knowing their defensive assignments. That’s what going to win the game.”

Against the Thunderbolts to close the regular season, Charlie Brown led the locals with 16 points. The Townies held Cranston East to just eight second-half points. Earlier last week, East Providence fell to Classical, 74-55. Edwin Sam went for 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the loss.

“I think coming into the final stretch of the regular season things are going well. We struggled a bit in the middle of the week (against Classical), but I think that had to do with who we played,” Coach Butler said. “Saturday was a little different kind of game, playing at that time (6 p.m.) and on that day. It wasn’t pretty, but we won a game on the road and we gained some confidence. Now it’s about throwing the ball up and seeing what happens.”

The winner of the Hope-E.P. game Monday night advances to the D-I tourney quarterfinals Sunday, Feb. 24, opposite top-seeded LaSalle (16-2) at a time and place to be determined.

Saturday’s win also kept the Townies in the mix for the upcoming Open State Tournament. E.P. edged into one of the final spots in the 16-team field, but likely must keep on winning during the division playoffs to ensure its first-ever bid into the now three-year-old event.

The Townies, Hendricken and Hope, all in Division I, as well D-III leader Middletown each enter their respective postseason tournaments with nine points towards qualification for the Open event.

“All of the division tournament games count. You get 1 point for a win in Division I, .8 in Division II and .6 for Division III. Teams ahead of us could lose and teams behind us could win. I told our guys we can’t be concerned about that. We’ve just got to go out and keep winning games,” Coach Butler said of the Townies’ Open State Tournament aspirations.

The Open event starts at the conclusion of the division playoffs with first-round tips Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 27 and 28, beginning with doubleheader at CCRI-Warwick and Rhode Island College followed the next night by another twin-bill back at CCRI-Warwick and Roger Williams University. Game times each evening are 6 and 8 p.m.

Girls’ hoops

The East Providence High School girls’ basketball team remains in the hunt for a Division II playoff berth after splitting its two most recent contests. The Townies defeated Tolman but lost to Mt. Hope to see their league mark move to 6-7 with the decisions.

E.P. defeated the Tigers, 40-29. Thomeeka Speaks paced the Townies with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. Lindsee Allienello added nine. In a 50-46 loss to the Huskies, Speaks led the locals with 16 more points and Brittany Crosby added 15. Angela Leonardo chipped in six.

E.P. is scheduled to close out its regular season slate this week with five games, including back-to-back dates Monday and Tuesday and Thursday and Friday. The Townies play in Central Falls and in Newport against Rogers to start the week then have home games against Tiverton to close out their league schedule and finish off with a non-league date against Classical. All four games tip at 7 p.m.

Hockey

The East Providence High School hockey club continued its winning ways in Division III action as the Townies shut out Woonsocket, 3-0, Feb. 15 in Burrillville. Sophomore Ryan Costa led the locals with a goal and two assists on the evening. Senior captain Troy Derrick and freshman Brynne Costa tallied the other E.P. goals. Defenseman Kyle Marquis had an assist.

The Townies improved to 12-2-1 with 25 points in the D-III standings, still behind only unbeaten the Exeter-West Greenwich/West Warwick co-op (13-0-0, 26). E.P. can clinch the No. 2 seed in the upcoming league playoffs with a victory over Scituate in its final regular season contest set for Friday night, Feb. 22, in Smithfield at 7 p.m.

Cheer

The EPHS Competition Cheer team enjoyed a fruitful week, earning its best result to date in the regular season and having a number of athletes picked to vie in the upcoming Individual State Championship Meet.

The Townies placed second to North Providence and bettered the score of co-ed division rival Cranston East in their final regular season contest. Also, eight athletes were pegged by coaches to compete in the state meet set for March 9 at the Providence Career & Tech Academy Field House. Jayla Semedo, Amanda Michon, Alexis Leaf, Jessica Cordeiro, Alexis Cardoso, Hayley Vine, Justyce Morris and Isabella Torres will represent EPHS in the competition.

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