By ALEX SPONSELLER
The No. 4 Bishop Hendricken basketball team edged No. 5 Smithfield 50-40 in the Elite 8 round of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League State Tournament, punching its ticket to …
By ALEX SPONSELLER
The No. 4 Bishop Hendricken basketball team edged No. 5 Smithfield 50-40 in the Elite 8 round of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League State Tournament, punching its ticket to this weekend’s Final Four showdown against rival La Salle.
Smithfield trailed by just six points at halftime and would come up with big shots in the early going to keep pace with the Hawks, however, Hendricken would roll in the second half to create some room to work and grab the victory.
Eze Wali stayed hot with a team-leading 16 points while David Lynch added 11 and Azmar Abdullah nine.
Next up are the Rams, who dealt Hendricken a buzzer-beating loss in the regular season.
La Salle’s starting five features arguably the state’s most potent offense. Although the Rams enter Saturday’s matchup as the favorite, the Hawks are plenty confident and feel that they have all the pieces necessary to get the job done this time around.
“We’re not nervous, we’re not scared, the last time we played them was tough, but we’re ready. We don’t care about the rankings. We’ve had some tough losses, but we’ve also had some big wins, so we’re not worried about that. We know that we’re a strong team,” Wali said.
Hendricken coach Jamal Gomes added: “We have no choice but to be focused. La Salle is a fantastic team and there’s a reason they were the No. 1 seed heading into the state tournament.”
The key to getting the win will be tight defense. Few teams have been able to slow down the Rams’ attack, but Gomes feels that success in the paint will help his defense come up with the necessary stops.
“Our defense is always first and our defense doesn’t end until we rebound. We need to defend, we need to rebound, and once we do that, we will control the tempo. (The Rams) have some fire power, so defense is No. 1.”
Lynch is looking forward to the challenge, as well as playing his first career game at the Ryan Center after having to wait his entire high school career due to the pandemic.
“They are a great team and so are we. We’re one of the last four teams in the state so we’re confident. We have to go in there and play as hard as we can see what happens,” said Lynch. “It’s unbelievable, no one in the state has been able to play the Ryan Center because of COVID. It’s exciting to play under the big lights to take that next step toward a championship.”
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here