FAIRFIELD, Ct. â Through all the ups and downs, the good times and the hardships, the smile still comes naturally.
The widespread grin of Rakim Sanders has come to embody his innocence and easygoing temperament. Scratch beneath the surface and youâll find a compassionate young man, someone who possesses the necessary zeal and resolve which made sure he didnât become symbolic of the Pawtucket housing project of his youth.
PAWTUCKET â Cumberland High made enough big plays on Saturday night to knock Tolman out of the Division II playoffs.
The Clippers got a 75-yard touchdown run by Erik Travers in the first quarter and then pulled out a 13-9 victory with a scoring drive in the final 4-1/2 minutes that was capped by Ryan Gaumondâs game-winning one-yard plunge with 1:36 left in the contest.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN â With an endless flow of bodies crashing to the floor and countless near-impossible saves, Ponaganset High never backed down from Coventry in the Division I finals.
Not one bit.
It just wasn't enough.
The Chieftains did everything in their power to dethrone I-South's top-seeded Knotty Oakers Saturday afternoon at Keaney Gymnasium. But in the end, it may have been the experience of a senior-laden Coventry squad that made the difference in a narrow, 3-2 win with scores of 24-26, 28-26, 25-17, 21-25, 15-11.
SOUTH KINGSTOWN â Sixteen times this season, defending state champion Exeter/West Greenwich has faced an opponent in Division II. Sixteen times, it has won handily.
No. 17 proved to be it toughest.
Seeking its first team crown in the school's history Saturday at Keaney Gymnasium, No. 3 seed Cumberland battled the top-seeded Scarlet Knights to a five-set thriller in the state finals before succumbing to scores of 22-25, 25-16, 21-25, 25-20 and 15-10.
EAST GREENWICH â Jillian DeSimone had a feeling something good was about to happen upon sending a crossing feed toward the Mt. Hope net.
Why was DeSimone confident? Letâs just say Friday night wasnât the first time the Lincoln senior captain shoveled off a pass with the intention of setting up one of her teammates. Turns out that teammate was junior Annie Carrol, who sacrificed her body en route to producing the only goal Lincoln would need in a 1-0 victory against Mt. Hope in the Division II semifinals. Carrol's tally came with just over six minutes remaining in second half.
NORTH SMITHFIELD â North Smithfield is heading back in the Division IV playoffs, and the Northmen earned their return trip the hard way â with a five-game win streak loaded with victories over the divisionâs top teams.
The Northmen celebrated their âSenior Nightâ and officially stamped their ticket to the postseason on Friday by putting away the divisionâs top scoring team, Central Falls, by a 20-6 score.
Theyâve spent the past eight weeks working hard and overcoming some tough league opponents for the right to play in a meaningful game on Veteranâs Day weekend.
For neighboring schools Tolman, Cumberland, and St. Raphael, that weekend has finally arrived, and the meaningful games that they will participate in will be their quarterfinal-round games of the Division II playoffs.
Rick Pitino, sage that he is, shared this little anecdote at last monthâs Big East media day â one that illustrates the waves new Providence College head coach Ed Cooley is making on the recruiting trail.
âHeâs already attracting âŠ he beat us out on a player recruiting-wise,â said Pitino point blank, his eyes lighting up as if they were filled with fire. âI would have said, when it got to Providence and us [Louisville], he would have had no shot in getting this player, but Ed got him. So heâs already made an impact.â
WOONSOCKET â During their truly exceptional high school careers on the Mount St. Charles Academy softball team, Emily and Olivia Hendricks have established themselves as the very best at their positions in the state.
Emily earned back-to-back All-State honors as a slick fielding shortstop who batted second and was an offensive threat from the left side of the plate, while Olivia posted a 36-15 mark as the Mountiesâ ace pitcher, and offensively, was a bonafide run producer in the heart of the lineup.
KINGSTON â For the first time in its long history, Cumberland will play for a state championship.
The Clippers earned a berth in Saturdayâs Division II championship match on Wednesday night by surviving a hard-fought 3-1 triumph over a Central Falls team that was determined to spring its second upset victory of the playoffs at URIâs Keaney Gymnasium.
Senior standouts Micaela Malboeuf (13 kills, 25 digs) and Michelle Malboeuf (11 kills, 20 digs) had big games for the Clippers, who defeated the Warriors by scored of 25-18, 25-19, 22-25, and 27-25 to advance.