EAST PROVIDENCE — Trailing for most of three quarters, including a 10-point deficit at halftime, the East Providence High School boys’ basketball team rallied in the second half to defeat …
EAST PROVIDENCE — Trailing for most of three quarters, including a 10-point deficit at halftime, the East Providence High School boys’ basketball team rallied in the second half to defeat visiting Bishop Hendricken, 65-60, in a Division I contest played Thursday night, Jan. 6.
The win was the first for the Townies in the league. EPHS lost its opener late to Classical two nights earlier in Providence, 50-47. E.P.’s first three D-I games scheduled to take place before the holidays were postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team.
For the two-time reigning state champion and perennial power Hawks, the loss was their second in as many league outings. Hendricken also lost to Classical in its opener two weeks ago, 76-68.
East Providence’s win over the Hawks was its first as a program since the Townies upset Hendricken, 67-56, in the quarterfinals of the Division I playoffs in 2003. Upstart EPHS, the fifth seed in the event, went all the way to the final before losing to second seeded Mt. Pleasant, 60-49. The next year, the Hawks, 19 time winners of the state title, began a seven-year run as state champions.
The Townies missed multiple 3 point shots and allowed Hendricken to cruise to the hoop for easy lay-ups early in last week’s contest. The Hawks spotted E.P. the first three points of the night before building an 18-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter began in similar fashion with Hendricken starting on a 7-2 run and would eventually lead 34-24 at the break.
“I thought we played timid early,” EPHS head coach Joe Andrade said of the Townies. “Hendricken is extremely aggressive and they play extremely hard, early we missed open shots.”
Momentum seemed to shift the Townies’ way as soon as junior Maxamus Collins drilled a 3 to open the third quarter. While Hendricken was able to keep pace with East Providence for the start of the quarter, getting back to lead of six with 3:30 to go in the third quarter, the Townies finally pulled ahead of the Hawks with a sophomore Trey Rezendes pull-up three pointer setting the score at 46-45. The Hawks regained the lead a minute later to enter the fourth quarter up two against East Providence at 50-48.
“At half I said relax we really should be down 20 but we are lucky,” Andrade said. “We needed ball movement and to run the offense. I told them to stop playing timid, you’ve seen what they can do so match it. And stop bringing the ball down they will grab that.”
With only two seconds to go on the shot clock and up by one point, Collins sent a pass to sophomore Xavier Hazard in the corner, where he drained the 3 to put East Providence up by four, their largest lead of the game since Hazard hit a three pointer as the opening shot of the game. The Townies never looked back and held the lead for the rest of the game, following another clutch 3 pointer from Hazard to put EP back up four at 61-57 with 1:14 left.
The Hawks sent multiple Townies to the line in order to get the ball back, and both teams traded multiple timeouts in the final minute. In the end, East Providence advanced their lead with foul shots and held on to steal the victory.
“Once we made some shots it got us going and then we started playing better defense,” Andrade added. “We are extremely young and we are going to make many mistakes just need to learn from them and fix them.”
The sophomore duo of Rezendes (21) and Hazard (14) totaled more than half of East Providence’s score, with 35 points combined, including six of the team’s nine 3 pointers. Collins also tallied 15 points, with three 3 pointers of his own. Senior David Lynch of Hendricken shared game-best honors with E.P.s Rezendes, scoring 21 points for the Hawks.
The Townies were slated their next three league outings at home, but their contest scheduled for January 7 against Cranston East was postponed due to snow.
As for the now next EPHS boys' hoops game Monday, Jan. 10, vs. Narragansett. Tip time is now 7:30 p.m., according to Andrade. Narragansett is unable to get transportation in time for the original 6:30 start.
The Townies then host Ponaganset on Wednesday night, Jan. 12. Tip is at 6:30 p.m.
The game against Cranston East has been rescheduled for Saturday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m.
Parent is an EPHS sophomore who contributes to the athletic department’s Twitter feed, @EPtowniesSports; With contributions from East Providence Post editor Mike Rego.
— East Providence Post and eastbayri.com staff photographer Rich Dionne shot the accompanying gallery of photos.