Panther girls, boys fall to Rams

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The Johnston girls basketball team fell 54-27 to the La Salle Rams in the Sweet 16 round of the open state tournament. This came after the Panthers wrapped up a preliminary round win over Burrillville in the preliminary round.

Johnston coach Meghan Reall was proud of her team’s performance, especially considering the Panthers had to play in an empty gym due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It was tough since the girls were originally expecting to have a nice, big crowd. But I think they did a good job of hyping each other up. It was tough especially in the first half when things weren’t going our way, ball weren’t dropping so it was hard to keep their spirits up. They played hard, though, I’m proud of them, especially with the adversity they had to overcome this season. Even getting to this point with all we faced is a huge accomplishment,” said Reall.

The Lady Panthers will now shift their focus toward 2021, and will say goodbye to four seniors, including the team’s leading scorer Kaylin Zalewski.

“We lose four seniors but we do have a core coming back,” said Reall. “Abby Clesas will be back, Sarah Bandoma, Emily Iannuccilli, Tori Viau, that core is going to be big coming back and we’ll need to get even more out of them leadership-wise. I also have to give a ton of credit to our freshmen. It was tough not having a JV team, but they came to every practice and when they could, they put it all out on the floor. They’re going to be that much better as well.”

This was Reall’s first year leading the Johnston program after spending time as an assistant with Smithfield. Reall learned a lot during her first year in Johnston, and looks forward to taking another step forward in year 2.

“As a first-year coach, I couldn’t be any luckier to have the group that I had. They accepted me, they respected me, showed me love. I learned a lot,” said Reall. “Day to day, you learn a lot dealing with girls’ emotions, how to get the best out of them, the X’s and O’s, you are constantly learning. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but overall, I am very happy with this season and how far we made it.”

The Johnston boys also fell to the Rams 60-35 in their Sweet 16 matchup.

Thomas Zednik led Johnston with a game-high 14 points while Hunter Remington and Derek Salvatore each added five.

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