Plenty to sort through this winter season

Posted 12/13/23

Now that the regular season is officially underway and I was able to gather just a little more information in the past week, it is time for me to make some of my official winter predictions for the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Plenty to sort through this winter season


Now that the regular season is officially underway and I was able to gather just a little more information in the past week, it is time for me to make some of my official winter predictions for the upcoming season.

Let’s dive right in:

For boys basketball, it will be fascinating to see how Bishop Hendricken fares in defending its championship. The Hawks lost all five starters from last year and fields an inexperienced group. Other than James Caldarella, the Hawks do not have players with substantial big game minutes.

As always, though, Jamal Gomes and his staff will find a way to be a factor this winter. La Salle boasts another elite group and Classical is poised to go on a deep run. The Hawks will have their hands full.

It’s rarely a hot take to choose Hendricken to win a state championship for any sport, but for this upcoming hoops season, it is. I am picking the Hawks to repeat. They will lose some games early as they find out what they have on their roster, but come March, they will be right there in the mix.

The other defending champs that will be interesting are Johnston, who will be defending its Division II title. The Panthers lost Derek Salvatore, Anthony Corsinetti and Camani Batista … not an easy group to replace.

After watching opening night against Smithfield, it is clear that this team will recover just fine. Mike Carlino will be one of the best point guards in the division, while Neari Vasquez returns along with Cam Walker up front.

The team’s x-factor will be the Testa brothers, Jayden and Brenden, who will need to be key scorers on a nightly basis. So far, so good. Lincoln is the preseason favorite and has been eye-openingly good, beating North Kingstown 76-34 in the opener. I’m expecting a Lincoln-Johnston final.

For our girls team, the club I am most intrigued by is Toll Gate

The Titans lost their top player last season when Adeline Areson tore her ACL in the fall. She returns at full strength along with Dulce Garcia and Amanda Preston, among others.

Despite losing their best player, which in basketball is massive, the Titans reached the Division II Semis and nearly won it. Not to take anything away from Pilgrim, but Toll Gate would have won and advanced to the finals and had been the favorite. Not saying they would have won, but sometimes one player can make that large of an impact. Toll Gate will be in the finals this winter.

Cranston East will be a team to watch in Division II this winter. After a rough start, the Bolts went on to win three of its final five games and to finish 8-10. East will be returning nearly its entire roster, including Mya Jiminez, and figures to take another step forward. Although a championship is a reach, the Bolts may become a dark horse in the division.

I spoke on boys hockey last week so I will not go too deep into this again, but here are my thoughts.

Hendricken will win the state championship, book it. Last week my column focused on how tightly contested Division I will be, and it will be a dogfight, but the Hawks return too much to not repeat, including Griffin Crain and Jack LaRose, among many others.

Pilgrim will be a fun team to watch. The Patriots are back on their own again and also return a large core of talent, including the state’s best goalie in Braxton Bragg.

Mount St. Charles will be right in the thick of things, as will La Salle and Cumberland. Ultimately, though, it’s hard to see anyone other than the Hawks hoisting the plaque at season’s end.

Back to Pilgrim, though, I am stoked to see how it handles the pressure of being on its own in Division I.

If you recall, Pilgrim dominated Division III only a few years ago and won consecutive titles. I was one of the people pounding the table saying that not only would the Pats be a contender in Division II, but would be a possible playoff club in DI.

The program is as strong as ever when it comes to talent and experience, and I am looking forward to saying I was correct. Although my pick is Hendricken, Pilgrim will be right in that mix of teams looking to pull off the upset.

For swimming, the Barrington Eagles boast another juggernaut lineup and will be the favorite to wrap up a three-peat.

It would be unwise to count out Hendricken who all of a sudden is the second fiddle, but Barrington is firmly at the top of the list while North Kingstown lurks as well. Damon Buchanon will need to be the best swimmer in the state for the Hawks to pull it off.

Then there is wrestling. My prediction is that Cranston West will take home a top-3 finish as a team after taking seventh last year. The Falcons lost Luke Montefusco and Cam Davis to graduation, but return Andrew Alchihed. The JV program also won the state championship last season, so there will almost certainly be enough newcomers to keep things steady and to help West beat the odds at states.

sports, pitch, season


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here