EAST PROVIDENCE — Much like most other teams at this very early point on the calendar, the East Providence High School boys’ varsity basketball squad was far from a finish product as the Townies began their Division I-Central regular season schedule this week with a pair of games.
But ready or not, the “real” season is here. The Townies were slated to play a pair of I-Central games against league rivals Hope, Dec. 17, at home and in Providence, Dec. 20, against Central. The games tip at 7 p.m. Tuesday’s contest against the Blue Wave, however, was postponed due to snow. No make-up date has yet been determined.
When the Townies do tip off Friday against the Knights at the Providence Career and Tech Academy Field House, they’ll be led once more on the floor by senior point guard and co-captain Charlie Brown.
Brown is the only returning player to the East Providence roster this winter with any significant varsity experience. He helped guide the Townies to a 9-9 record a year ago and a spot in the Division I championship tourney where the locals lost to Hope in the opening round. E.P. did not qualify for the Open State Tournament last winter.
Much of the burden to score and get the Townies into their offense lays with Brown. If East Providence is going to be successful this winter, however, the cast around him must contribute on a regular basis.
“It’s a feeling out process. Outside of Charlie we have no one with varsity experience. We have some other returning guys, but they didn’t get a lot of meaningful time on the floor last year,” Coach Butler said.
He continued, “Teams are going to focus on Charlie. We know that. They’re not going to let him beat them. He’ll still get his 18, 20 points a game because he’s that good, but the other guys have to step up. Charlie is a willing passer. He doesn’t want to shoot all the time, but other guys have to help him out.”
Finding who exactly fits into the playing rotation is still to be determined. Expected to be in the mix include 6-foot-5 senior center and co-captain Lucas Flavin, junior guard RaeQuan Kelly, junior forward Malik Tavares, junior center Dajon Pereira, junior forward Franz Gabriel, senior forward Paris Sofikitis, junior forward Dylan Poole, junior forward Justin McCoy, senior guard Cristian Woods and Brandon Rebollo and junior guard Raekwon Shepard. The Townies’ roster took a bit of a hit earlier in the week when senior guard Michael Lyles was deemed ineligible due to the Interscholastic League’s age limitation.
Coach Butler said he is seeking those committed to playing his rugged, physical style of defense first, rather than those only concerned with offense.
“If you go out there and play ‘ole’ defense, you can’t play for me. I’ll play guys who maybe can’t score as well, but they can keep people in front of them and defend we’ll have a shot to win games,” Coach Butler added.
“I don’t have very many knowns,” he concluded. “I have some guys I think I’ll be able to use. There’s an educational process that needs to be sped up. League play is very unforgiving. No one is going to feel bad for you, so you’ve got to go. I think we have some nice pieces. The question is how fast are guys going to get prepared to go? Our talk on the floor, our communication has to get better. Everything has to get better, and has to get better in a hurry.”