PROVIDENCE — Never in doubt after a late first quarter spurt, the East Providence High School boys’ basketball team easily dispatched Mt. Pleasant by the final score of 78-51 Friday …
PROVIDENCE — Never in doubt after a late first quarter spurt, the East Providence High School boys’ basketball team easily dispatched Mt. Pleasant by the final score of 78-51 Friday night, Jan. 27, in a Division I contest.
The host Kilties, who dipped to 4-8 in the league following the loss, kept things close for the opening four minutes. Mt. Pleasant tied the game for what proved the last time at 14-all.
Moments later, though, Trey Rezendes started what was the decisive run of the game for the locals with a pull-up jumper just inside the lane. He soon after drove to the hoop for a layup following an EP steal and the Townies were off. The visitors finished the quarter on an 8-0 spree to build a 22-14 advantage.
Things only kept going in a positive direction for the Townies from there. About 90 seconds into the second quarter Rezendes hit a runner to give EP its initial double digit lead (27-17). Around midway through the period Kemerie Dublin laid in two, upping the Townies’ edge to 15 (34-19).
Approaching halftime, Xavier Hazard hit two from the free throw line to push East Providence’s margin to 19 (41-22). It would stay that much (43-24) at intermission when Rezendes hit Kenaz Ochgwu for a layup as time expired.
The same pair connected on a similar play to open the third quarter, giving the locals their first 20-plus point spread of the night (45-24). Near the mid-point of the period, another Ochgwu chippy near the rim gave EP a 54-29 lead. The third ended with the guests up 63-34 as Rezendes sank a layup just before the horn.
The final eight minutes began rather slowly. About a minute-30 in, Hazard made one from the foul stripe to push EP’s edge to 30 (64-34) initially.
The Townies would eventually build a night-high lead of 33 twice. The first time (67-34) came on a deep 3-pointer well above the top of the key by Derrell Liggins with some 4 minutes to go. The second (71-38) came a bit later when Alex Mulamba finished a fastbreak off a feed by Jayden Cadwell.
Rezendes finished with a team and game-best 16. Hazard added 15. Jayveeon Gonsalves helped the Townies find the range early, scoring eight points in the first quarter and finished with 10. Ochgwu had eight, Dublin seven and Mulamba six.
“We came out ready to go and that basically set the tone right away. If we do that we can be very good,” said EPHS head coach Joe Andrade. “We were prepped and didn’t gamble defensively, which was good, and guys made shots. Jay hits shots that always helps.”
The Townies improved to 8-4 in the league with the win and remained among a pack of teams in a share of fourth place behind unbeaten Hendricken, once beaten LaSalle and twice beaten Central near the top of the D-I standings.
(Update/corrected 12:30 p.m., January 28) East Providence hosts Central in its next outing Tuesday night, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. The game is a rematch of sorts for the sides. The Knights edged the Townies 60-57 in a non-league game in late December 60-57 to win the annual EPHS/Harry Mutter Jr. Memorial Holiday Tourney. Meanwhile, two of East Providence’s four league losses have come to Hendricken and LaSalle.
Andrade said the fact that his team is 8-4 “is actually amazing” considering the Townies have been minus starting point guard Max Collins for about a month and starting forward Will Winfield intermittently, including the win over Mt. Pleasant. Andrade expects Winfield, and his balky knee, to be back for Central Tuesday. He said Collins is at least a week or so more away from returning.
In Collins’ stead, Andrade credited the play of Gonsalves, who has stepped into the starting five. “Jayveeon has played extremely well," he said.
Also, the coach has sensed a change of effort in his team’s preparation as of the first of the year, prior to a January 5 win over Cranston East, 84-50.
“Ever since before that Cranston East game, just after Christmas our practices have changed. They’ve been more intense and that has been a huge change and honestly a key to our success,” added Andrade, whose side has won six of eight with the turn of the calendar. Their only two losses were at home to the unbeaten Hawks and on the road against Classical.
The Townies will need contributions from all available Tuesday when they welcome Central back to the city and seek their first win over a team above them in the D-I standings. The Knights improved to 10-2 in the league following their 76-61 win over Narraganset Friday.