By RYAN D. MURRAY The Falcons broke the Prout Crusaders 67-50 on Friday night at Cranston High School West during a Division II boys basketball clash. West's Andrew Dionizio, a senior forward, topped all scorers with 22 points and his teammate Jared
The Falcons broke the Prout Crusaders 67-50 on Friday night at Cranston High School West during a Division II boys basketball clash.
West’s Andrew Dionizio, a senior forward, topped all scorers with 22 points and his teammate Jared Olson, a senior guard, finished second in scoring for the Falcons with 14.
The Crusaders offense was led by John Estes, a sophomore, who scored 15 points, and Luke Slom, a senior, who added 14 points.
Early in the contest, Olson buried a 3-pointer from the left wing and it put the Falcons on top 5-2.
However, Prout’s Adam Kurtz evened the game at 7 less than four minutes in when he made a jump shot.
After that, the Crusaders went on a 10-3 run, which was capped by a jumper from Tim Clarke and it gained Prout a 17-11 advantage.
With 2:29 remaining in the opening half, Estes sank a corner trey and upped the Crusaders margin to 24-17.
After that, West got on a roll when Dionizio made a free throw before the Falcons defense forced the Crusaders into a shot-clock violation. Then, Olson added two more points from the charity stripe and inched West within 26-23 as the teams headed into halftime.
“Prout came out strong in the first half,” Falcons head coach Mike Monahan said. “Estes and Slom, those two guys, they had a bulk of their points and they got into the paint and they converted. And then, we went into the half down three and I told my guys at halftime that we have to ride our defense in the second half, and we have to make that our offense, and they responded. They came out with a great second-half effort.”
Prior to the turnaround, Prout extended its buffer to seven points near the beginning of the second half.
But with 11 minutes to play, West’s Harris and Joe Ragosta, each sank corner 3’s, and then Dionizio stole the ball and dished ahead to Harris, who made a breakaway layup and gave the Falcons a 35-34 lead.
The Crusaders answered that spurt and took a 38-35 edge after layups from Slom and John Mainella.
Next, West got a lay-in from Dionizio and two buckets from Will Nebus and took a 41-38 advantage.
Those were the only baskets that Nebus would record, but the forward certainly made his presence known on the defensive side of the floor.
“We got a big spark from our junior reserve Will Nebus,” Monahan said. “He came out and he gave us a real spark with his defensive effort. He was outstanding tonight.”
With 4:30 remaining, the Falcons ballooned their margin to 56-45 following an 8-0 run that featured two layups from Dionizio and two more from Olson.
Two minutes later, West’s Ethan Ryan added a free throw, and then Olson a put back and that upped the Falcons advantage to 16 before they cruised to the 67-50 win.
Dionizio struggled to make some layups in the first half, but in the second half, the senior shined while driving through the paint.
“He went out there and played his game,” Monahan said. “He got everything in rhythm in the second half. He wasn’t thinking about it, he just played his game. And that’s his game, being aggressive and going to the basket when he has the opportunities.”
“I knew I just had to keep taking it to the basket and taking it strong and eventually some would fall and that was my mindset going into the second half,” Dionizio added.
The 6-foot-1 forward was a little surprised with the difficulty of the matchup, but he and his teammates absorbed the earlier beating before seizing control.
“They came out and they played well,” Dionizio said of Prout. “We kind of played down to their level a little bit and we came out in the second half and we knew we just had to take it to ‘em.”
Despite, the slow start, Monahan was thrilled with his team’s resilience and glad they were able to come back and pull out the win.
“The guys stayed calm, focused, played together, and rode the storm,” Monahan said. “And they bought into the defensive side of the game and that’s what got us the victory.”
The Falcons improved to 7-2 in the league with the win while Prout fell to 2-8.
West traveled to East Greenwich on Tuesday to battle the Avengers (8-2), but the score was unavailable at press time.
“That’s a big game for us,” Monahan said. “They’re at the top of the division and they’re a tough team. They’re outstanding. So, we’ve got to be ready to play.”