NEWPORT — West Warwick forward Ryan Lawton’s 25 points kept his team in Monday’s night game with Division II’s top team, Rogers. His 21 rebounds created numerous second-chance and transition opportunities for the Wizards. And his six blocks intimidated the Vikings in the lane.
But the junior’s biggest play in the 60-57 victory over Rogers came on one of his three assists.
With Lawton and fellow junior Max Motroni playing a two-man game on the left side of the court, Lawton kicked the ball out from the post and Motroni hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 36.1 seconds remaining in the contest.
“They were doubling down because they knew I was owning the paint and (coach Richard Grenier) told me to look in the corner because they were leaving the corner guy open,” Lawton said. “He was wide open and I have confidence in Max all day.”
“Ryan was having a great game and he was posting up on a smaller guard,” said Motroni. “I gave him the ball and my guy happened to double down on him and he made a great pass back to me. I shot it and luckily hit it.”
The Wizards (13-4 II-South) can now claim the Division II-South title by themselves with a victory at Federico Gymnasium against Westerly Tuesday night. The Bulldogs, who are 11-4, still have to visit the Vikings (14-3 I-East) to end the regular season Wednesday night.
West Warwick, after dropping a disheartening contest to Barrington at home on Jan. 31, have won their last four road games. The Wizards have won the road with defense as three of their four opponents haven’t reached 60 points.
“I told the kids that I wanted this game to get down to the last six minutes as a one-possession game,” Grenier said. “I felt that we had a lot of determination to get the ‘W’ that would offset a bad week a couple of weeks ago where we lost to Tiverton and Barrington at home.”
The game was anything but a one-possession game with six minutes remaining because the Vikings had gone on a 20-7 run to turn a six-point deficit into a 51-44 lead after Reeyon Watts buried a corner 3-pointer.
Lawton, who was as assertive as he’s ever been in a West Warwick uniform, ignited a 9-0 run by pounding the ball inside and forcing the Vikings to foul him or give him a good look in the paint. Lawton hit two free throws at 4:40 to make it 51-48 and he made it a one-point game less than a minute later with a pretty post move.
“I was hoping to get my shots in the paint because their big man (Divon Bailey) was in foul trouble,” Lawton said. “Once he got in foul trouble they had no one big who could cover me. I hope I can do more of this.”
Lawton tied the game with a free throw and then he scored his final points of the game in the paint to put the Wizards ahead for the first time in over nine minutes.
Rogers bounced back and tied the game at 53 and 55 before Lawton and Motroni combined for the game-winning 3-pointer. Motroni hit a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to ice the contest.
“We stepped it up defensively and we gave it all our heart,” Motroni said. “We kept them off the glass and we played better defense and that helped our offense.
Motroni, who was 7-for-8 from the foul line, delivered 14 points. John Morrison scored 12 important points in the first half to keep his team in the game.