FROM STAFF REPORTS
The CCRI Knights basketball team continued paly in the 2022 NJCAA Basketball Division III National Tournament on Saturday by facing the tournament’s No. 1 seed Blue Devils …
FROM STAFF REPORTS
The CCRI Knights basketball team continued paly in the 2022 NJCAA Basketball Division III National Tournament on Saturday by facing the tournament’s No. 1 seed Blue Devils of Riverland Community College in the 5th/6th place game. In a match-up of titans the NJCAA Basketball Tournament Committee though may make it to the final we had two of the top five teams I the country facing off to see who could finish their season with a victory and claim 5th place at the National Tournament.
The Knights lost a heartbreaker to the Blue Devils 76-75. With the loss the Knights end their season with a 23-5 record and finish sixth at the 2022 NJCAA Division III Basketball National Tournament.
After the All-Star level introductions, it took both teams a couple minutes to get into a rhythm. After 2:30 minutes Riverland had a 4-0 lead. The Knights battled back to tie the game 6-6 after four free throws from Theo Jadotte (Providence) and a basket by Levi King (Westerly). Back-to-back 3-pointers by Riverland extended their lead to six points 12-6 with 15 minutes left.
The Knights had answers as well and continued to battle with the Blue Devils and cut their lead to one point 15-14 with 12:52 and a media timeout.
The teams were beginning to settle into the game and with 7:10 left King cut the Blue Devil lead to just three points with the score 23-26, followed shortly by a Mitchel Noresca put back made it 26-25 Riverland with 6:30 left in the half. The Knights were facing a very high-powered Blue Devils squad but at the half they only trailed 39-35.
At the half the Knights are being led by RJ Pina with 10 first half points with two rebounds and two assist, Jadotte who has eight points two rebounds and an assist and Levi King added seven points and five rebounds while Noresca added six points with four rebounds. Both teams have been pushing the ball up and down the court but have not been as efficient as they would like. The Knights are benefitting from 12 points off turnovers while Riverland has done an excellent job sharing the ball with 14 first half assists.
The Knights started the second half with a 6-2 run to cut the Riverland lead to 41-39 with 17 minutes left. At the 15:45 mark we were tied 44-44 after a basket from Pina.
The Blue Devils made a basket and a 3-pointer to extend their lead back to five points 49-44 with 14:57 remaining in the game. The Knights cut the Blue Devil lead to three points again 53-50 on a jumper from Jadotte with 12 minutes remaining. However, very time the Knights got close the Blue Devils would make a 3-pointer, Lajarrion Spinks was feeling it shooting 3-for-4 from the land of plenty. But your CCRI Knights do not quit, and Noresca made a basket with 9:36 left once again cut the Riverland lead to two points 58-56.
Mike Resnick tied the score at 58 with 7:50 remaining. A couple minutes past with some up-and-down play by both teams but within a 25-second span The Blue Devils sank back-to-back threes to take a 64-58 lead with 5:40 remaining the game and a media timeout. Noresca cut the lead to 64-60 with 5:00 left but another 3-pointer from Riverland once again extended their lead to seven points 67-60 with 4:27 left.
A Jadotte dunk on a feed from Levi King cut the lead to five points 67-65 with 3:35 remaining in the game. With 31.8 remaining the game CCRI trails Riverland 74-69 after a basket from Teo Jadotte. The Knights cut the lead to three points 75-72 after a 3-pointer from Pina with 23.2 left in the game forcing a Riverland timeout. After a made free throw from Riverland the score was 76-72 Blue Devils. Luke Fusaro was found open and drained a HUGE 3-pointer and was fouled to cut the lead to 75-76 with 4.5 left and a free throw still to come, timeout Riverland.
Unfortunately, Fusaro could not convert the free throw and complete the 4-point play, rebound Riverland with 1.7 remaining. Knights had to foul sending The Blue Devils to the line where they made 1-2, rebounded by Jadotte with 1.4 remaining, timeout CCRI. The Knights drew up a final play to inbound to RJ Pina who heaved it from half court but came-up just short. Knights fall by the final count of 76-75.
The Knights were led by Pina who had a game-high 22 points, including two 3-pointers with three steals, two rebounds, and two assists. Jadotte scored 19 points with 14 rebounds with two steals a blocked shot, and an assist. Noresca added 15 points with nine rebounds and a steal. King added 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a steal.
Fusaro was very good as well with five points and dishing out a team-high six assists with a steal.
After the game Head coach Rick Harris commented: “Another gutty performance by our young men, they always play with so much determination and heart and I couldn’t be prouder of them! Proud of our coaching staff: Coach Jackson, Coach Perry, Coach Douthit, and all the players for season to remember. They continue to set the bar high for a future CCRI teams winning the Region XXI and East District Titles and being so competitive here in the NJCAA National Tournament. I couldn’t be prouder! A great season to remember!”
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