EAST GREENWICH- Clutch free throws down the stretch capped a resurgent second half for the West Warwick High School boys’ basketball team on Monday night in a thrilling 57-56 win over East Greenwich, a win that spoiled Senior Night for the hometown Avengers.
Senior Ryan Craine hit three of four foul shots inside the final minute in front of a raucous fanbase, helping West Warwick pick up their tenth league win of the year (10-7).
“The last time we won ten league games was over five years ago when we were 17-1,” head coach Richard Grenier pointed out. “We had gone nine years in a row winning ten or more, but the last four years we haven’t, so it’s nice to say that you’ve won ten in the league.”
Ja’khai Rose led the way with 12 points in the win, while Kyle DaSilva went off from three-point land in the second half as part of a 10-point performance for the visitors.
Seniors Jaden Clark, Mason Brunette and Ryan Craine had eight, seven and six points respectively.
Jack McMullen led all scorers on the night with 17 for EG in the losing effort, while seniors Pat Shea and Sam Lewin each had 12.
A slow start to play put the Wizards in an early hole, but the team managed to gain some traction before halftime, as they found themselves trailing just 30-21 at the break.
“First half, we really came out tentative shooting, but we weathered that storm and we were able to get it to single digits headed into the locker room,” said Grenier.
The second half saw West Warwick outscore the Avengers, 36-26, with Grenier complimenting his players on their defensive display.
“I thought we played some good half court defense in the second half,” he said. “We held a good shooter for them (McMullen), I believe to one three. We wanted to make him a dribbler today and I thought we did. We did a good job on Pat Shea also.”
On his own team’s end, DaSilva hitting three separate threes went a long way in secure the victory.
“We have confidence in him and it’s just that he needs to get confidence in himself,” he said of the sophomore.
“We needed him in the second half, Johnny Pina hit a big three (five points), but I really think the big ones were Ryan Craine hitting those foul shots at the end.”
Grant Driscoll found himself on the free throw line for EG with 1.7 second remaining and his team down by one, but missed both shots, as time expired from there, giving West Warwick the win.
On the other end of the court, EG head coach Don Bowen chalked the defeat up to his team being unable to maintain their composure throughout the duration of the game.
“We got emotional. I thought we got beat up a little bit, but I knew West Warwick would play really, really hard. We lost our composure a little bit,” he said.
The Wizards changed up their game plan after EG jumped out to an early lead, which ultimately allowed them to turn the tables.
“I think the physicality caused us to lose our composure and we got away from what we were doing in the first half, getting the ball inside,” Bowen said of the Wizards and their ability to slow his club’s offensive productivity.
“They played triangle and two on McMullen and Shea and we pushed players to shoot the ball where the openings were. It just didn’t happen for us. To West Warwick’s credit, they defended really well.
The Avengers would go on to fall the following night to Burrillville by a 64-59 final, as they now enter the playoffs with an even 9-9 record in league play.