PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School boys’ basketball team squared off against the number one overall seed in the Open State Tournament Hendricken, the Hawks proving to be too much to handle as the Townies were defeated 74-55 Sunday afternoon, March 12, at Brown University’s Pizzitola Center in the ‘Elite 8’ round.
In the first half, E.P. stayed right with Hendricken point for point until the Hawks went on an impressive 28-9 run to end the half. If it wasn’t for Ben Sears, who finished with eleven points in the first half, the Townies deficit could have been larger than 49-29.
In the second half, the Hawks maintained their lead all the way through and coasted to a win as Deyshawn Tengbeh finished with a team-high 13 points for the Townies.
“They are physical and aggressive,” East Providence head coach Joe Andrade said. “We did what we wanted to against their pressure, but what killed us was we didn’t make a shot or two and that killed us defensively.”
To start the game, the two teams came out firing as back-to-back buckets from Tengbeh allowed the Townies to keep pace early with Hendricken. As the Hawks continued to be consistent offensively, back-to-back threes from Ben Sears gave E.P. their first lead of the game, 12-11.
Six points unanswered from Hendricken proceeded which forced the Townies to call a timeout as they found themselves in a 21-15 hole. A steal and bucket from Tengbeh was followed by a three from Dion Hazard which brought the Townies within one. Two more points from Sears on a baseline jumper and E.P’s deficit was just 27-26. A three from Hendricken’s Jalen Watson, his fourth of the game at the time, gave the Hawks a 32-26 before a Hawks’ timeout. Back on the floor, Hazard picked up his third foul of the game before Watson scored once more for Hendricken as the Hawks started to go on a run with the score now set at 39-26.
E.P. continued to be in foul trouble as their leading scorer, Tengbeh, picked up his third foul as well as Watson scored two more of his 19 point first half performance. This all allowed Hendricken to head into the locker room with all the momentum and a 49-29 lead.
“That was putting our head down offensively and not stopping them defensively,” Coach Andrade said. “I knew Watson was a shooter, but I didn’t expect him to do that, but you have to tip your hat to them.”
To begin the second half, E.P. went on a 9-4 run that was sparked by a corner three from Kyerstan Casey that brought the Townies’ deficit down to 53-38 which forced the Hawks to call a timeout. After the break in action, Hendricken scored five unanswered points as the Townies missed open shots that forced E.P. to call a timeout with the Hawks’ lead now at 58-38.
E.P. proceeded to sub in bench players as Hendricken continued to pile it on as their lead increased to 64-42 with just five minutes remaining. Over the waining minutes, the Hawks subbed in their bench players as well and were able to maintain their lead over the Townies as they went onto celebrate a victory and a trip to the ‘Final 4’ while E.P’s season came to an end.
The Townies finished 14-8 in league and postseason play combined and won a round in the Open State Tournament in their first year under new head coach Joe Andrade.
“It was interesting to say the least,” he said. “I think there are things people don’t see everyday so they make assumptions, but a great group of kids and we are going to have most of them back next year. I am excited.”