Townies rise up boys’ hoops regular season ranks

Pina's last-second shot lifts EPHS past Mt. Pleasant

Posted 2/19/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — The playoff-bound East Providence High School boys’ basketball team began the penultimate week of its 2019-20 regular season with another last-second victory in as many …

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Townies rise up boys’ hoops regular season ranks

Pina's last-second shot lifts EPHS past Mt. Pleasant

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The playoff-bound East Providence High School boys’ basketball team began the penultimate week of its 2019-20 regular season with another last-second victory in as many outings, the Townies defeating visiting Mt. Pleasant 80-78 on R.J. Pina’s game-winning shot Tuesday night, Feb. 18.

The victory was dramatic and dynamic for the locals, giving EPHS the tiebreaker over the Kilties in what is a close race for one of the top seeds in both the upcoming Division I and Open State Championship tournaments.

The Townies improved to 11-4 in the league at the time. Mt. Pleasant fell to 12-4. Both teams were also comfortably inside the field of 18 teams who are currently qualified for the Open Tourney.

Pina’s bucket, a layup and the last of his team-best 23 points on the evening, came with 10 seconds to go and after the locals had rallied from a late-game deficit. The Townies led 41-37 at intermission, but the Kilties answered back in the second half and eventually held a two-possession lead in the closing stages of the game. Mt. Pleasant had an opportunity to potentially send the contest into overtime, but failed to convert the front end of a one-and-one at the foul line before the final buzzer.

Justin Pena added 19 points for the locals, Josh Kauffman 17, Brian Taylor 12, Zach Russell six and Matt DosSantos three.

Russell, in a near identical setting, hit a 3-point shot in the waning moments of East Providence’s previous game, a 61-59 victory over Woonsocket the night of Valentine's Day.

"It was a good win at home. The guys stepped up," EPHS head coach Joe Andrade said after the Mt. Pleasant victory. "We were down five with 2:20 to go. They showed character of a veteran team to come back."

The win over the Kilties was also the first this season for the Townies over one of the better sides in the league. Despite the loss, Mt. Pleasant still held a sizable lead atop the I-B subgroup. Previously, EPHS had lost twice to Hendricken, another to reigning D-I and Open champ North Kingstown as well as rival LaSalle.

"Overall, we needed to beat one of those top teams," Andrade added. "Being 11-4 with three games to go isn't bad. We're trying to get a (first round) bye in the D-I tournament and also a good Open seed."

The Townies are back in action Thursday night, Feb. 20, in Providence against Classical. Tip time is 6 p.m. EPHS then returns home for its final two regular season contests: Saturday, Feb. 22, against Hope at 4 p.m. and Monday, Feb. 24, versus Cumberland at 7 o'clock.

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