PROVIDENCE — Host and eighth-seeded Hope sent the East Providence High School boys’ basketball team to both a playoff and season-ending loss Monday night, Feb. 18, the Blue Wave handily defeating the ninth-seeded Townies 66-51 in the preliminary round of the Division I Championship Tournament.
Hope never trailed after scoring the first six points of the contest. The Blue Wave actually started the game on a 14-4 run. Late in the first half, the hosts used a 13-3 spree to eventually take a 32-22 lead to intermission.
Not much changed out of the break. The Blue Wave gradually added to its advantage over the final 16 minutes. Hope’s lead grew to a night-high 25 (54-29) with about six minutes remaining.
Hope improved to 10-9 in league games this winter. More importantly, the Blue Wave advances to the quarterfinal round of the D-I Tourney Sunday afternoon against top-seeded LaSalle (16-2).
For the Townies, their 2012-13 campaign came to an end with a 9-10 mark in Division I outings. Monday’s loss also shut East Providence out of the upcoming Open State Tournament. The Townies needed at least one win in the D-I event to have any shot at gaining a spot in the Open Tourney.
“The two keys we talked about going into the game were defensive transition and being able to handle their pressure. We did neither of those two things tonight,” said EPHS head coach Alex Butler. “Right off the top they scored three quick buckets on five dribbles and two passes. You can’t allow a team to get off to a start like that and give them confidence right away.”
Three different Waves scored buckets to begin the night including Emmanuel Kargbo, who had six points during their opening spurt. Kargbo finished the half with 10 points to lead all scorers.
Hope was the quicker, more active team from the opening tip. The Blue Wave players took the ball strong to the goal, hit the backboards hard and were first to most loose balls. On defense, Hope was aggressive, overplayed the passing lanes and closed down driving lanes.
The Townies, in contrast, were a step behind and they too often settled for contested shots or attempts early in the clock. Alex Hurley and Edwin Sam led the locals with nine and six points, respectively, in the first period.
E.P.’s best response of the night occurred mid-way through the opening half. The Townies cut their deficit to 19-15 with the ball, but Charlie Brown, E.P.’s leading scorer who was kept in check all evening by multiple Hope defenders, attempted a tough fall-away shot in traffic that missed.
Back the other way, Kargbo finished off the break with a layup, which started the Wave’s 13-3 run at the end of the half.
“This game was similar to the one we played here the other night, except we didn’t play with any patience, we didn’t have any tempo to our offense. We were never in sync tonight against their pressure,” Coach Butler explained, referring to the Townies’ 57-45 loss to the Blue Wave in Providence on Feb. 12. E.P. beat Hope, 54-53, in their other regular season meeting back on Feb. 1.
Jashaun Bennett and Sam both hit shots for the locals to begin the second half Monday, cutting Hope’s lead to eight each time. Quick hoops in succession by Kargbo, Johnson Weah and Benjamin Vezele helped the Wave answer and start to extend its edge some more.
Wayne Clements later hit back-to-back 3-pointers as Hope’s lead approached 20 points. A bit after that, another Kargbo layup gave the hosts their game-best 25-point advantage.
Vezele actually led all scorers with 18 points, including an emphatic dunk in the final few minutes of the contest. Kargbo finished with 16 points. Clements scored all 12 of his points in the second half. Hurley, a senior, paced the Townies with 14 points. Sam, also a senior, finished with eight. Brown had 12, but just four in the first half.