COVENTRY- The road to the finals of the Ocean State Credit Union Holiday Classic for the North Smithfield boys basketball team followed a drastically different path than the one for the hometown Oakers.
While Coventry sailed past Exeter/West Greenwich, 46-29 in their semifinal, the Northmen needed all hands on deck in order to edge out Central Falls, 61-60, setting up Friday’s meeting with the Oakers in the title game.
The effort was there, but the result was not for North Smithfield, as Coventry, fueled by Troy Osterhout’s breakout performance, jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, prevailing by an 81-55 final.
Osterhout led the way with a game-high 33 points, 24 of them coming in the first half, one that saw him hit five three-pointers en route to an MVP award after the game.
“I thought our team spread the ball around a lot. Our coaches did a good job of scouting them last game and getting open shots for us and we hit them today,” the senior co-captain said of his outing.
Northmen head coach Brandon DiPaola, a graduate of Coventry High School, credited his alma mater for a game well-played.
“They’re always a good program. (Jim) Moretti does a great job with them and they’ve got some shooters. Troy’s a hell of a player, Lucas (Garcia) does a great job at the point and they defend really well,” he said.
Garcia, Osterhout’s co-captain finished the night with seven points, while transfer Reece Bullock added 14 for the home team, earning himself an All-Tournament recognition afterwards.
The Oakers jumped out to an early 17-8 lead and were able to extend it to 15 points at the half with a comfortable 51-36 cushion.
“They bothered us right away, they got a nice lead and they knocked some shots down. We struggled to get it inside, but all credit to them. They played a great game,” DiPaola said of the Oakers.
Steve Goulet provided the visitors with the bulk of their offense, capping the game with 25 points and an All-Tournament award, while teammates Ethan Savoie contributed 16 and Aldrec Viera-Dones, 14 in the losing effort.
Despite the outcome, the chance to play a team like the Oakers could only benefit North Smithfield in their coach’s eyes.
“This is definitely a good tournament for us,” he said. “It’s a non-league game, so we play against a Division I team. They’re obviously a lot bigger school than us and we come in and there’s really nothing to lose for us. We’re just playing, trying to get better and it’s only going to help us for league play.”
The Northmen return to league play next Thursday as they travel to Central Falls to take on the Warriors for the second time in as many weeks.
For Coventry, the win completed a hometown sweep for the tournament with the girls team rolling to a 30-point victory over Pilgrim in their finals contest.
Head coach Jim Moretti started Jay Pino on the night, looking to apply as much defensive pressure as he could.
“We wanted to go full court man-to-man and be aggressive. I thought Jay Pino starting, putting him out there as a top player was a good thing to get us going,” he said.
He credited his top-scorer Osterhout on his outing, but was pleased to see contributions throughout the lineup as well.
“Troy was on fire, yes, but other guys were hitting shots too. It was nice to see. We distributed the ball well and that’s how you have to win in Division I, you can’t depend on one guy.”
Dionisio Cepeda capped the night with nine points, while Tyler Cicione had six in a game that saw point production from all but two players on the roster.
The Oakers have a bye next week, but will face a strong Barrington squad in a non-league showdown on Thursday before returning to league action on January 7 with a road contest at Smithfield.