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NORTH SMITHFIELD â€“ Monday night saw North Smithfield come close to handing The Prout School its first league loss of the season. The Northmen managed to keep the contest close, but a strong push down the stretch enabled the Crusaders to waltz out of Lovett Gymnasium with a 69-61 triumph.
The game was tied at 61-all after North Smithfieldâ€™s Carlos Guzman came up with the steal and subsequent layup with 2:17 remaining. Guzmanâ€™s hoop proved to be the last basket of the game for the home team as the Crusaders (10-0, Division III-South) closed the game out on an 8-zip run, scoring all but two of their points at the foul line.
Prout ended up shooting 15-of-26 from the charity stripe while North Smithfield managed just five trips with two makes. In a nutshell, the wide disparity represents why the Northmen couldnâ€™t quite get over the hump.
North Smithfield slips to 6-4, good for second place in III-North.
Northmen head coach T.J. Ciolfi pointed out another reason why his team fell at home for the first time this season. North Smithfield was forced to play the majority of crunch time without the services of leading scorer Matt Walkow, who was saddled in foul trouble. The junior forward finished with 11 points.
â€śNot having him on the floor hurt because whenever weâ€™re in a jam, heâ€™s the guy the rest of the players look to. We ended up having different guys taking shots who normally donâ€™t take them,â€ť noted Ciolfi, whoâ€™s in his first season at North Smithfield. â€ś(Walkow) hasnâ€™t practiced much this past week and I donâ€™t think (Monday) was a good example of what kind of player he is.â€ť
The game was close for much of the first half before the Crusaders made a push late to take a 37-27 lead into intermission. The Northmen fought back to within two (53-51) with 7:15 left and stayed within striking distance after Walkow nailed a 3-pointer to cut the visiting teamâ€™s lead to 57-55.
Peter Keenan led North Smithfield with 12 points while Dan Jordan added 11. Ciolfi noted that Jordan was nearly flawless at point guard. â€śHe played all 32 minutes and was very efficient,â€ť praised the coach.
Eric Rameika and Justin Bristol each scored 17 points to power the Crusaders while Joseph Bove pumped in 16 points. It was Bove who helped seal up the win when the senior forward grabbed an offensive rebound after teammate Douglas Buonanno missed a free throw with 33.7 seconds remaining. The end result was two more free throws for Buonanno at a point in the game where the Northmen could ill afford to fall behind any further.
PROUT (69): Eric Rameika 6 4-6 17, Justin Bristol 6 5-10 17, Chris DiClemente 3 1-2 7, Joseph Bove 8 0-0 16, Jack Lambrecht 2 1-2 6, Douglas Buonanno 1 4-6 6. Totals: 26 15-26 69.
NORTH SMITHFIELD (61): Carols Guzman 3 1-2 8, Matt Walkow 5 0-2 11, Peter Keenan 6 0-0 12, Walker Strick 5 0-0 11, Jake Walkow 2 0-0 6, Dan Jordan 5 1-1 11, Matthew Lachance 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26 2-5 61.
Halftime: P 37-27.
Three-point field goals: P 2 (Eric Rameika, Jack Lambrecht); NS 5 (Jake Walkow 2, Carlos Guzman, Matt Walkow, Walker Strick).