By RYAN D. MURRAY The Division II Cranston East Lady Thunderbolts fell victim to a buzzer-beater 41-39 during their season- opener on Monday night at D-I East Providence High School. Townies sophomore Makiah Denson banked in a shot from in front as time
The Division II Cranston East Lady Thunderbolts fell victim to a buzzer-beater 41-39 during their season- opener on Monday night at D-I East Providence High School. Townies sophomore Makiah Denson banked in a shot from in front as time expired to lift her team to victory.
The Lady Bolts had three players reach double-digits in scoring with Chloe Kitterick, a junior, tallying 12 points while both senior Hope Halvarson and sophomore Thamia Perez contributed ten.
The young Perez brought a lot of energy to the contest and she wasn’t afraid to take the ball to the basket.
“It actually was a game-time decision to put her in the starting lineup, but she’s a young, talented kid,” Bolts first-year head coach Jhamal Diggs said. “She’s definitely going to grow. She definitely has a bright future ahead of her. And I’m just trying to get her some experience and get her some playing time and get her growing.”
East Providence’s Denson and Kayla Hannon, both sophomores, topped the Townies with nine points each.
The Lady Bolts held a 19-15 advantage at halftime.
Cranston East got a 3-ball from Kitterick to start the second half and that extended the Lady Bolts lead to 22-15.
But the Townies cut the deficit to 22-20 after a long jump-shot from Mia Jackson and a 3-pointer from Savannah Feola.
Next, Cranston East answered with three straight 3-pointers: from Halvarson, Kitterick, and Gabrielle Baigorria and those gave the Lady Bolts a 31-22 buffer with 12:24 to play.
However, East Providence stormed back, putting together a 7-0 run and cut the margin to 31-29.
The Lady Bolts responded to that with a 6-0 run of their own and took a 35-29 advantage with 6:44 left.
Cranston East continued to cling to the six-point cushion four minutes later, but it wouldn’t last.
With 1:45 left, Denson sank a running bank shot and got the Townies within 38-34.
Then, during East Providence’s next trip down, Denson drew a foul on Halvarson and inched the Townies within three after making one of two from the charity stripe.
Next, with 39.5 seconds on the clock, Denson sank a layup and got the Townies within 38-37.
After that, Cranston East’s Sofia Morel lost the ball out of bounds, and then Denson drew another foul down the other end and made both free throws, which gave the Townies their first lead since midway through the first half at 39-38.
Cranston East’s Perez evened the game at 39 after she drew a foul and sank one of two from the line.
Then, in the closing seconds, Denson drove to the hoop and missed a runner, but the sophomore grabbed her own rebound and put it back just before the bell.
The battle was both up-tempo and exciting and the DII Lady Bolts gave the DI Townies everything they could handle.
“They were gritty, they hustled, and that’s the direction this program wants to move in,” Diggs said. “Moving in an upper-positive direction and to continue to work hard. ‘Hard work beats talent’, that’s what I preach to my girls. And we’re going to continue just to grind and work hard.”
Diggs believes it was his young team’s inexperience which led to them surrendering the lead late.
Cranston East rosters just two seniors this season while East Providence has six.
“Definitely,” Diggs said. “I think that we were a little bit undisciplined and it comes down to being experienced. We haven’t really been in this position before, especially against a DI program. This is our first time getting in this atmosphere and I think that it was new to them. But it was definitely a great experience and a good practice for them for the future.”