A dozen teams from the Blackstone Valley will be shooting for the same goal â a strong postseason run that hopefully leads them to a state championship â these next two weeks when the R.I. playoffs take flight.
In two of the three division tournaments, there are clear favorites â unbeaten Barrington High is the team to beat in Division I, while powerful Middletown High leads the way in Division III.
But Division II appears to be wide-open, with a handful of teams capable of rising above the pack and winning the title.
PROVIDENCE â Regular season dual-meet results donât carry over into the tournament season. Each wrestler, no matter how big his reputation and how long his list of accomplishments, must begin anew when the opening whistle sounds to start a tournament match.
Thatâs the beauty of this sport, which focuses on a team aspect during the dual-meet season. The emphasis changes to individual results during the postseason.
As the regular season winds down, the discussion for postseason awards and other laurels heats up. Suddenly the office water cooler or neighborhood establishment becomes the spot to discuss and dissect the merits of potential candidates, while those given autonomy to cast a vote sit down with pen, paper and DVD player, study tea leaves and rub the Magic 8-Ball before filling out the ballot.
WOONOCKET â Three years ago, George Briggs retired from a more than three-decade career as a educator in the Woonsocket school system.
Briggs was also contemplating doing the same from his post as the longtime (and successful) track and cross-country coach at the high school level.
But one dedicated individual, one person he's had the opportunity to work alongside for the past four years has made him think otherwise â his good friend and girls' head cross-country, track coach Dan Richard.
PROVIDENCE â In Saturdayâs semifinal round of the R.I. state championship meet, Cumberland High won four of five bouts to take some of the sting out of its slow start to the tourney on Friday evening.
Cumberland suffered a huge loss on Friday night when two-time state champion Shai Lariviere defaulted in his second match, giving in to a sprained ankle suffered on Monday at practice.
âI tried to wrestle but I couldnât do it,â Lariviere said later.
PROVIDENCE â Defending champion Cumberland capped an uneven and perhaps snake-bitten performance at this yearâs state championship meet by going 0-for-4 in Saturday nightâs individual finals.
Two-time defending champion Shoneil Lariviere was upset in the 125-pound finals by East Providenceâs Joao Vicente, who pulled off a stunning 11-5 win over an opponent who had pinned him last month during the dual-meet season.
WOONSOCKET â Hope High eventually found a way to slow down Maria Saia and her Mount St. Charles teammates in the first half.
The Blue Wave werenât quite so lucky in the second half.
A strong spurt to begin action after the break broke open a tight game and enabled the first-place Mounties to enjoy Senior Night with a 58-44 victory over Hope in their Division II-North contest on Friday. Saia, one of seven seniors on this yearâs squad, finished with a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Senior teammate Adrianna Maurano chipped in 14.
NORTH SMITHFIELD â A win on Senior Night for North Smithfield turned out to be more than just a nice way to honor its lone 12th grader, Anissa Robitaille.
It earned the Northmen a few extra daysâ rest for the upcoming Division III playoffs.
Jamie LaFazia scored 14 points and teammate Sidra Ethier netted nine and grabbed 11 rebounds as North Smithfield avenged an earlier loss and held off visiting Central, 48-44, at Lovett Gymnasium.
Over the years, the final weekend of the high school hockey regular season had always featured plenty of drama and storylines. Regular-season titles on the line. Teams pursuing higher seeds. Others fighting for late playoff berths.
Unfortunately for local fans, there wonât be much suspense this weekend.
A big reason is because only five boysâ teams from the area qualified for their respective tournaments. Four of the five teams that didnât make it were long eliminated from postseason consideration, while a fifth, Lincoln, saw its run at a playoff berth come to an end last weekend.
NORTH SMITHFIELD --- A very difficult season for Lincoln High came to a rough end on Wednesday afternoon at the hands of a tough non-tough team -- St. Johnâs High of Shrewsbury, Mass.
The 12th-ranked team in the Eastern Mass. polls showed the small gathering at the Rhode Island Sports Center why they are among the teams vying for a berth in their stateâs Division IA âSuper Eightâ tournament by skating to a 6-1 victory over the Lions.