Victory is twice as nice for Portsmouth Patriots

After sloppy offensive start, PHS cagers overpower Burrillville for their second straight D-2 state title

By Jim McGaw
Posted 3/6/21

PORTSMOUTH — The Patriots knew patience was the key to their second straight Rhode Island Division II boys’ basketball championship. 

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Victory is twice as nice for Portsmouth Patriots

After sloppy offensive start, PHS cagers overpower Burrillville for their second straight D-2 state title

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — The Patriots knew patience was the key to their second straight Rhode Island Division II boys’ basketball championship. 

After a sloppy start offensively against the Burrillville Broncos at Rhode Island College Saturday afternoon, Portsmouth kept the pressure on and eventually wore down their opponents by the end of the third quarter. 

By the fourth period, the Broncos had barely anything left in the tank. The Patriots outscored them in the final quarter by a 20-7 margin to win going away, 51-36.

It was the second consecutive D-2 title for the scrappy Patriots, which head coach Joe Occhi and Athletic Director Stephen Trezvant believed was a first for any PHS boys’ basketball team.

“We worked so hard for this, so it feels really good,” said Portsmouth junior guard Ben Hurd.

Only a select number of spectators got to watch the game at RIC due to COVID-19 restrictions. The R.I. Interscholastic League, which hosted several title games at the school Saturday, ran a tight ship in the field house to keep crowd size to a minimum, and disinfected the court between games.

Portsmouth got off to a sluggish start on offense, although many of the Patriots’ shots were only slightly off their marks.

“I think we were out of our routine a little bit,” said Mr. Occhi. “They were just a little bit off.”

Burrillville’s senior forward Colby Bouzan had a hot hand in the first quarter. He drained three 3-pointers in a two-minute span, which helped put the Broncos up 12-7 after the first period. 

The Patriots battled back, however, with a long jumper by Hurd putting his team within a point, 19-18, at the half.

The third period started disastrously for Portsmouth, as the Broncos came out of the break smoking hot. Junior guard Jaden White sank two 3-pointers in a span of about 90 seconds, with the Broncos’ big Dean Ayotte hitting a hook shot in between. 

With less than two minutes gone in the third period, the Broncos had scored eight unanswered points to go up 27-18 — their biggest lead of the game — forcing the Patriots to call a timeout. 

That’s when Portsmouth’s Tim Chlaupek took over. First he scored on a layup, then on another drive to the hoop before draining a 3 at the buzzer, bringing the Patriots to within two points, 31-29, at the end of the third period.

Portsmouth took its first lead since the first quarter when Chlaupek hit another 3, making it 33-31 Patriots with 5:30 left in the game. 

Burrillville started to fade, missing shots and turning the ball over, while Portsmouth poured it on. Sophomore Calvin Lucenti, senior Luke Hyder, and Chlaupek all played strong down the stretch. 

The Patriots’ defense, meanwhile, was strong for all 32 minutes, which kept the team in the game.

Defense was key

“The defense was there, but we’ve run into stretches like that where, thank God we can play D, because it helps,” said Mr. Occhi. “And, I think our defense was very good in the second half, and (the Broncos) had to work so hard against it, that I think you saw them break around the end of the third quarter or early in the fourth. I don’t think they normally had to work that hard. We were just patient and then we got the turnovers.”

Hurd agreed. “I felt like we played our game — up and down, running. By the fourth quarter, we wore them down,” he said.

Lucenti said he never thought his team was out of it. “It was a game of runs, and we were just waiting for a run to happen,” he said.

The player of the game, Chlaupek (16 points) said it was just a matter of time before Portsmouth took over.

“I think in the second half we just ramped it up. We knew where we needed to be, and we got it done,” he said.

The Patriots got to the finals by upsetting East Greenwich, 64-54, in the semifinals on the Avengers’ home court Wednesday night. East Greenwich had beaten Portsmouth, 52-48, at PHS during the regular season.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.