Panthers roll to title in MSC Summer League

Johnston Sun Rise ·

After learning of the news that it would be moving up to Division II this winter, the Johnston boys’ basketball team went to work to ensure that it will continue to be competitive – no matter what the division.

And the Panthers proved this summer that they can’t be taken lightly, rolling to the Mount St. Charles Summer League crown and emerging as the top squad amid a field that featured several of its upcoming divisional foes.

After dropping games to North Providence and Cumberland during the regular season, Johnston upped its defensive intensity and ran the table from there on out.

On Sunday, Johnston put an emphatic close on its summer with a 65-40 rout of Woonsocket in the championship game.

“We showed improvement throughout the course of the summer,” Johnston coach Steve DeMeo said. “We practiced a lot and played some really good competition. During the regular season, we lost to North Providence by a point and then lost to Cumberland. After the loss to Cumberland, we clamped down defensively and ran the table from there.”

The Panthers were led by three soon-to-be seniors in the title game against the Novans, as Ryan Yankee paced all scorers with 22 points, while Mike Sabitoni poured in 20 and Nas Vasquez added 17.

Those three players will be relied upon to shoulder the load in their senior campaigns.

“They’re the foundation,” DeMeo said of Yankee, Sabitoni and Vasquez. “That big three knows what’s ahead of us this season.”

DeMeo noted that his team also got steady contributions from Andrew Zalisk, Bobby Russo and Nick Mollicone en route to capturing the championship.

The full roster included: Yankee, Vasquez, Sabitoni, Mollicone, Russo, Zalisk, Jaxson Tavares, Kyle Nelson, Dylan Janoske, Noah Jean-Laurent and Bryan Contreras.