Johnston Panthers Unified Basketball has solid start to season

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The Johnston Panthers Unified Basketball team came up just shy of getting its first win of the season when it fell to the Scituate Spartans 23-22 on Tuesday afternoon at Johnston Senior High School.

Johnston’s Eymi Cabrera had a game-high ten points and her teammate Kalob Martino finished with eight. Kyle Bettoncourt led Scituate with nine points.

The Panthers had slow starts in both the beginning of the first and second half, but other than that, they played solid basketball.

“We always play well,” Johnston head coach Dan Mazzulla said. “Eymi started getting involved in the game. She’s our leading scorer, and so once we got her in there we played better. We did well. We had fun. Anthony Jacavone was able to get some baskets. I think everyone scored today and that’s a lot of fun.”

Johnston is trying to set up a home day game so that the entire school can come and watch.

“We did one last year,” Mazzulla said. “Smithfield just did one. We played last week in Smithfield during the day. The place was packed. They had all the students there. We’re trying to get one scheduled. It’s good for the athletes. The entire student body gets involved, the faculty gets involved, so it’s a lot of fun.”

Scituate won the opening tip and demonstrated some good ball movement out of the gate with Aiden Goulex passing inside to Miranda Paulho, who then assisted to Bettoncourt for the first bucket of the game. Scituate didn’t stop there. They tacked on four consecutive baskets after that and took a 10-0 lead midway through the first half.

Then, Johnston closed the half with an 8-0 run.

Cabrera scored three straight baskets and then Dan Shepard went coast-to-coast and buried a bank shot with 16.7 seconds remaining in the first half and pulled the Panthers within 10-8.

Nonetheless, Scituate got it going again at the beginning of the second half, scoring three straight baskets.

Bettoncourt buried a 3 ball to start and then Aiden Goulex got a bucket before Bettoncourt followed with another score and pushed Scituate’s advantage to 17-8.

Johnston ended its scoring drought when Jason Canton found Cabrera for a jump shot with 10:31 left.  

With five minutes remaining, the Panthers pulled within one, after scores from Martino, Jacavone and Shepard.   

However, Jake Catonzoro answered for Scituate, drilling a jumper and pumping his fist as he gave his team a 21-18 edge.

Down the other end, Shepard retaliated by making a bank shot and closing within 21-20. Then, Johnston took its first lead of the game with 2:08 remaining when Shepard went on a fast break and made a layup, which gave the Panthers a 22-21 lead with one minute to play.

However, Scituate’s Noah Gervaso drilled what would be the game-winning shot with 54 seconds remaining and put his team up 23-22.

Johnston had the final shot of the game, but Jacavone’s attempted buzzer-beater sailed just wide of the bucket, giving Scituate the victory.

The Panthers move to 0-3 on the season and play their next game at home on Tuesday against Ponaganset.

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