JHS hoops headed to DI



For the first time in program history, the Johnston boys basketball team will be playing in the Division I ranks next winter season.
In its realignment for next season, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League used a formula that ranked every team in the state based on winning percentage and quality wins over the past four years. The Panthers ranked 14th overall, with the top 17 teams making up the new Division I.
Johnston has been on one of its best runs in school history, bringing home its first state championship in two decades in 2023 and then returning to the Division II semifinals this past winter.
“Kudos to our alumni that have come through these past few years. They had nothing but championship on their minds and this past year, we gave it another good run. They bought into what the coaches wanted to do and they exceeded expectations and brought us to where we are,” said Johnston coach Mike Bedrosian.
The Panthers will have their work cut out for them as they are set to graduate all five starters from this past year‘s team. The coaching staff has already begun meeting and laying the groundwork for the bump up in competition. Regardless, the staff is thrilled to now be in the state’s best group, which they hope will help it build for the future and attract greater numbers moving forward.
“I think the most important part of this is getting kids to stay in Johnston. I think with us moving up to DI and the new school being built, it will help keep kids here. Kids see that DI banner and they want to play with the best.”
Prior to his passing, longtime coach Dan Mazzulla was adamant on bringing the program to the Division I level. The Johnston staff is made up of coaches that played under Mazzulla, bringing pride to the group as its continues to carry out his vision.
“His fingerprints are all over this. He is the reason that I am the coach I am today, many of our systems are his. That’s why that championship run was so emotional, he was all we were thinking about. We are here today because of the foundation that he built with guys like me and (assistant coach) Mark (Livingston).
Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. was also thrilled when he heard the news, saying, “Coach Mike Bedrosian and his staff have taken this program to the next level. From winning state championships to sending players off to play at the NCAA level, Johnston basketball has proven it belongs with the other top teams at the RIIL Division I level. I’m excited to see how the switch further shows that this is one of the best basketball programs in the state.”
For more news regarding the JHS basketball team, check out new week’s Johnston Sun Rise.


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