Though it will lose some important players to graduation this year, the Tiverton varsity girls basketball should be able to rebuild soon thanks to promising talent at the younger level.
The team will be able to drawn from a junior varsity team that went undefeated on the season — 18-0 in league play and 22 overall in winning the Division II JV state championships.
In the playoffs, the Tiverton JVs first dispatched Lincoln by a 45-25 score, romped over Prout in the quarterfinals by a 60-22 margin and handled St. Raphael’s 49-26 in the semis.
In the finals, Tiverton edged a determined East Greenwich team in a defensive struggle by a 33-32 score.
Junior Avery Pacheco was named tournament most valuable player, while teammates Amanda Flick (sophomore) and Sarah Barboza (junior) were both named to the Division II all-tournament team.
It has been quite a run, capped by that thriller against East Greenwich said coach Jeffrey Heath.
Earlier in the season, Tiverton had survived a scare against East Greenwich as that game was tied 29-29 with 30 seconds left.
“Avery Pacheco ran an awesome isolation down the right side of the court,” Coach Heath said. “The defenders parted like the Red Sea and she was able to stay composed enough to make what would turn out to be a game winning shot.”
Two big plays helped decide the championship final against that same East Greenwich squad.
With about there minters left, “We were down 5 points when Reagan Burke flashed across the lane and drew a crucial foul, causing East Greenwich’s best player to foul out. I truly believe this momentum shift allowed us to go on a 5-0 run to win the game in the final minutes.”
Then in what would be the last play of the championship game. “East Greenwich’s point guard dribbled the length of the floor leaving two of our defenders in her wake. Having what appeared to be an open runner in the lane I thought we were in for heartbreak. Then, out of nowhere, forward Amanda Flick rotated over and established position in front of the hoop playing perfect defense. Her hands were high and her feet were set, forcing the girl from East Greenwich to alter her shot just enough so that it rimmed out and gave us the win.”
Having coached three seasons for the past seven years, coach Heath said he had yet to win a title until this moment.
“I’ve always heard that championship seasons have an almost magical feel to them” — players mesh well on and off the court, support one another and hold themselves accountable.
Now, “I know what those veteran coaches were talking about.”
“Although many of our games were won by large margins, I was most proud of the games that were closer … The fact that this team finished undefeated despite playing much larger schools such as East Greenwich and East Providence goes to show that these players truly were a special group. ”
Players on the unbeaten team were Alli Benevides, Avery Pacheco, Amanda Flick, Sam Rollings, Reagan Burke, amber Silva, Meaghan Silva, Tess Bradley, Laurel Branco and Sarah Barboza.