Shea High's Michael Neal lays in two points as Cumberland's Ben Proctor applies defensive pressure on Tuesday night. (ERNEST A. BROWN photo)
CUMBERLAND --- Shea coach Matt Pita got exactly what he wanted from his ballclub on Tuesday night â 32 minutes of smart basketball â and because of that, his Raiders picked up a surprisingly-lopsided victory over Cumberland.
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Six-foot-six center Michael Neal produced a game-high 15 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocked shots to power a balanced scoring assault by the Raiders and help them bus home with a resounding 77-46 triumph at the Clippersâ Wellness Center.
The Raiders, who improve to 9-3 in Division II-Central play and 13-4 overall, were fresh off a 77-74 win last Friday over always-tough Westerly that saw the Bulldogs rally back from a 20-point halftime deficit to make it a five-point contest with 5:06 to play and force the Raiders to work extra hard for their âWâ.
After that game, Pita stressed the significance of playing two full halves of basketball to his players, and they responded in a big way over a Clippers team that was hoping to nail down a playoff berth with a win on their home floor.
âWe played two halves,â offered Pita. âWe played good defense, we rebounded the ball, and we executed very well tonight. We worked on some things, and tonight, we played smart basketball. When you play smart basketball, good things happen, and thatâs what we tell the guys.â
The Raiders, who had 27 turnovers in their win over Westerly, dramatically trimmed that number to a dozen, with the final five coming in the final 8Â˝ minutes of the game and the visitors ahead by 23 and substituting liberally.
As for the Clippers, they didnât take care of the ball very well and turned it over 26 times, 15 in the first half, which saw them trudge into the locker room down by a 45-22 score.
âThey came to play,â Cumberland coach Gary Reedy noted of the Raiders. âI think their gameplan was to come out with a 1-3-1 (zone) and we couldnât get it going. They pretty much just blew us out and they were the better team tonight.â
The Clippers led just twice all night, and after they took their last lead (11-10) on back-to-back three-pointers by Rob Reedy, the Raiders responded with a 16-2 run that saw the Clippers turn the ball over on five straight possessions.
The Raiders eventually went into the break with their 23-point command after they netted the halfâs final nine points, and point guard Jordy Brito, who scored all 14 of his points in this half, put an exclamation point on the run with an NBA-range three-pointer with two seconds on the clock.
The Clippers managed to cut their deficit to 17 (58-41) midway through the second half, but came no closer to the lead.
Kenric Carter and Malcolm Rosa each added 10 points to the Raidersâ cause, with Carter also contributing four steals, Christian Malave adding eight points, and Eli Itkin handing out six assists.
For the Clippers, who lead the Division II-North ranks with a 7-5 mark and are also 10-7 overall, Dylan Boisclair and Tyler Diedrich each scored 10 points and Ben Proctor added eight. Boisclair and Proctor also played well on the boards.
The defeat was also the fourth in the last six games for the Clippers and the third straight game they have failed to score more than 50 points.
Both clubs are back in action on Friday, with the Clippers heading to Pawtucket for a key 8 p.m. showdown against Tolman, which beat Central Falls last night, the same team that sits a game behind them in the standings. The Raiders, meanwhile, will entertain winless Scituate at 7 p.m.
SHEA (77): Michael Neal 5 5-6 15, Christian Malave 3 0-2 8, Jordy Brito 6 1-2 14, Eli Itkin 2 0-0 5, Kenric Carter 5 0-0 10, Malcolm Rosa 4 2-2 10, Alvin Semedo 1 0-0 2, Tito DoCouto 0 0-0 0, Nathan Lopes 2 1-2 5, Chris Mainville 0 2-2 2, Ellis Smith 2 0-0 6, Devonn Eisom 0 0-0 0. Totals: 30 11-16 77.
CUMBERLAND (46): Ben Bradley 3 1-1 7, Joshua Velazquez 1 1-2 3, Chris Antunes 0 0-0 0, Mitchell Baxter 0 0-0 0, Tyler Diedrich 4 0-0 10, Nate Reedy 0 0-0 0, Christian Spader 1 0-0 2, Robert Reedy 2 0-0 6, Dylan Boisclair 5 0-0 10, Ben Proctor 4 0-0 8. Totals: 20 2-3 46.
Halftime: Shea, 45-22. Three-point field goals: Shea 6 (Malave 2, Smith 2, Brito, Itkin), Cumberland 4 (Diedrich 2, R. Reedy 2).