West falls in semis

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 3/11/20

By ALEX SPONSELLER The top-seeded Portsmouth boys basketball team rolled past No. 4 Cranston West 75-54 last week in the Division II Semifinals at Rhode Island College. Portsmouth took a lead in the first half, but things seemed to be looking up for West

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West falls in semis

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The top-seeded Portsmouth boys basketball team rolled past No. 4 Cranston West 75-54 last week in the Division II Semifinals at Rhode Island College.

Portsmouth took a lead in the first half, but things seemed to be looking up for West as the Falcons pieced together a 10-0 run to pull within three points in the final two minutes. However, the Pats would nail back-to-back 3-pointers to go up nine at half and steal the momentum.

The Portsmouth offense would roll in the second half and wear down the West defense. The Pats went on a 9-2 run midway through the second to create some separation and to run away with the win.

“We go on the 10-0 run, get down by 3, but then miss the easy layup, they score, we miss again, then they hit another three. It deflated us a bit, but we have been in several games this year where we have been down at halftime and have come back to win,” said West coach Mike Monahan. “But with Portsmouth, they just have so many weapons. Our kids are resilient and we did what we could, but when a team is hitting shots, you need to produce on the other end.”

Caleb Harris had a big game off the bench for the Falcons, leading the team with 16 points scored. Andrew Dionizio added 12 points, while Jared Olson scored 10 and Cam Alves nine. Justin Parsons led Portsmouth with a game-high 22 points, while Elijah Newsome added 18 and Ben Hurd 12.

“The game plan was to contain Hurd since he’s their engine. I thought we did a good job of that, but they made 12 three’s. They had that spark off the bench and hit a few three’s. We played a 2-3 zone to contain Hurd because good things happen when you contain, but they just kept making shots,” said Monahan.

Portsmouth went on to win the Division III Championship over Barrington on Sunday at CCRI.

As for the West, the Falcons will have one more crack at a championship as they begin their open state tournament on Thursday night as they head south to take on No. 8 Westerly. West earned the No. 9 seed in the bracket.

“They have outstanding guards and like to get out and pressure you. We need to fall back on what our strengths are, they have another good point guard and we’ll have to contain him and identify their shooters. The game will be won on defense, so we need to make stops and take care of the ball on offense,” said Monahan, who also believes his players are hungry after falling big to Westerly early in the season. “They’re aware of it, they want to go down there and prove themselves. It’s about the personnel and we need to be aware of what they’ve got. We need to play good half court defense and make them work, we need to let our defense be our offense.”

As West gets ready to make one final push, Monahan is proud of his club, especially the upperclassmen that helped turn the program around after a 6-12 finish last year.

“For them to finish with just (six) wins last year and to now be the No. 9 seed in the open tournament, I’m very proud of these guys and their effort this year. We are returning a bunch of guys this year and it has been remarkable what they have done,” said Monahan. “I’m proud of them, the community is proud of them, and they have represented (Cranston) well.”

Tip off is slated for 6 p.m. at Westerly High School on Thursday.

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