By ALEX SPONSELLER After dropping to 0-4 to begin the winter season, the Cranston East girls basketball team would catch fire and win its final five games to punch its ticket to the playoffs. The Lady Bolts carried the momentum into the postseason and
By ALEX SPONSELLER After dropping to 0-4 to begin the winter season, the Cranston East girls basketball team would catch fire and win its final five games to punch its ticket to the playoffs.
The Lady Bolts carried the momentum into the postseason and topped Chariho in the opening round.
East then fell to top-seeded Westerly in the quarterfinals. Chloe Kitterick finished with 10 points for East while Gigi Ortiz scored eight in the loss.
Despite the bitter ending, East coach Jhamal Diggs was proud of his team for turning things around down the stretch.
“This ended up being a historic year for the girls, to win five league games in a row? That’s historic. We were talking about the playoffs for next year when we (were 0-4). We just wanted to finish the season as well as we could. Every game was like a playoff game at that point, so for them to win five in a row, six including the playoff win, that was awesome,” said Diggs.
Between some lineup changes as well as a shift in mindset, things started to click for the Bolts midway through the winter as their confidence skyrocketed.
“Things changed after the Smithfield game. We were down nine points and were able to come out of that with a win. After that, the girls were like, ‘We just need to play basketball. We just need to go in there and play. We have nothing to lose at this point.’ And we did, we went out there and played,” said Diggs.
With only one senior in the starting lineup and the other four players projected to return next winter, Diggs hopes that this year’s run will pay dividends moving forward.
“I think this was major for the team and major for the program. We’re learning how to win again, we’re getting that winning feeling back. We overachieved just making it to the first round, so to win it, it was big in teaching the girls what winning feels like. Going into next year, that’s going to be major,” said Diggs.
He will also miss Ortiz, who emerged as the team's leader this year.
“I can teach a kid how to dribble and shoot the ball, but what I can’t teach or coach is heart, having that passion and desire to play the game. That young lady has all of that, and she was our heart and soul this entire season,” said Diggs. “She just plays with a chip on her shoulder. She started to buy into the culture when she saw that things were turning around and she put the team on her back.”