'Bolts rout Avengers to advance to D-I quarterfinals

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The Cranston East girls’ basketball team turned in its best defensive effort of the winter on Friday evening, holding an opponent to less than 20 points for the first time all season as the ’Bolts routed East Greenwich, 52-19, in the first round of the Division I playoffs.

The ’Bolts held East Greenwich to just 11 points in the opening half, taking a 17-point lead to the break, 28-11. East kept its foot on the gas in the second half, as well, tripling up No. 11 East Greenwich, 24-8.

Senior point guard Sarah Coutu dominated the Avengers at both ends of the floor, turning defense to offense frequently to pace all scorers with a game-high 18 points. She was just one of three ’Bolts in double figures, as Maia Caito (13 points) and McKenzie Richards (11 points) also caught fire to help East create separation on the scoreboard.

East’s stingy defense took the Avengers out of the game from the start, as the visitors struggled mightily from the field, particularly from beyond the arc with East Greenwich failing to knock down a single 3.

“Sarah Coutu’s defense,” East head coach Lloyd Bochner responded when asked what sparked his team’s defensive effort. “We held their starting backcourt to three points. It was a great effort, and we did it for 32 minutes, which was pretty impressive.”

East Greenwich had a chance to make up some ground at the free throw line, but it couldn’t find a groove there either. It would go just 3-of-18 (16.67%) from the charity stripe for the game.

No. 6 East was set to travel to No. 3 Moses Brown for a D-I quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday evening, but results were unavailable at press time.

East was going in as the lower seed, but it won the only meeting between the two teams back on Jan. 13, as the ’Bolts went on the road and defeated the Quakers, 47-41, behind 18 points from Coutu and 14 points from Caito.

“I think it helps,” Bochner said of going into Tuesday night having already won at Moses Brown this season. “But it’s an interesting place to play and an intense place to play. I think it’s going to be a close game and a tough battle. I’m sure they’re going to want a piece of us after we beat them last time.”

If the ’Bolts were able to get by the Quakers, they would play second-seeded La Salle in the semifinals at Rhode Island College on Thursday night at 8 p.m.

The Rams got 11 points from Kyra Mattera and 10 from Jayme DeCesare to narrowly get by No. 7 South Kingstown in a low-scoring affair, 31-28, on Monday night to punch their ticket to the semifinals.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 5 North Kingstown awaits the winner of top-seeded Barrington and No. 8 Portsmouth in the other semifinal.

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