NORTH SMITHFIELD — Burrillville High starters and subs stormed the floor after manufacturing a thrilling 38-35 triumph over rival North Smithfield before approximately 300 fans at the Lovett Memorial Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
They had stellar reason: With the victory, the Broncos sealed the Division III-North crown, which is pretty much a rarity for them.
Senior tri-captain David Reynolds paced the visitors with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while sophomore guard Jared Cabral chipped in 10 points. Junior center Isaiah DeSilva only netted a pair, but pulled down nine boards with five blocks.
“We just won III-North, and it feels great,” stated head coach Kevin Randall after the victory, one that closed the league campaign at 10-8. “We won four here at the end, and we needed to win the last three just to set up this game.
“I told the kids afterward that we’re going to hang in a banner in the gym, and each and every one of them carved a piece of themselves on that banner in the Broncodome. I couldn’t be happier for our guys.”
On its “Senior Night,” North Smithfield closed its season at 8-10.
Usual stalwart Peter Keenan, a senior forward, mustered only eight points – that after having notched his 1,000th career point in a tilt at Warwick Vets on Valentine’s Day. (He received a commemorative basketball from mentor T.J. Ciolfi for that feat prior to the game).
Classmate Matt Lachance led the Northmen with 10 points, while senior captains Breno Pena and Mike Cicerone drained eight and four, respectively.
The two combatants had entered the break tied at 20-20, but North Smithfield took a 26-20 cushion just 3:17 into the half, the final bucket Keenan’s turnaround hook. When Lachance dropped a putback with 10:22 to go, the Northmen pushed the lead to 29-22.
Burrillville, however, stormed back, courtesy of its 3-2 zone defense and eight second-half points from Reynolds., not to mention a pair of Cabral’s two treys.
He hit both in the span of 1:17, with the last slicing the deficit to 29-28 with 7:59 remaining.
With 5:04 left, Cabral hit a layup off a steal, giving the Broncos a 30-29 advantage. They wouldn’t trail again.
Several free throws later – on both sides – DeSilva delivered a foul shot to lift BHS to a 37-34 cushion with 1:12 remaining. NS sophomore Nick Cicerone then robbed a Bronco near mid-court and rushed in for the layup, but officials called him for a travel.
Down the stretch, the Northmen couldn’t hit their charity stripers, and ended up falling despite a furious effort.
Burrillville turned the ball over 24 times, including 14 in the final stanza, while North Smithfield closed with 19, but hung on for the win.
“We started the second half just terribly, turning the ball over; I took a timeout early on and told the guys they had to keep their composure and remain incredibly tough, given all the crowd noise,” Randall noted. “Our defense was unbelievable. We played the 3-2 zone the whole time because we had to keep an eye on Keenan down low, but also Pena and Cicerone outside. They’re pretty good at landing the three.
“In the second half, we played out of our minds on the defensive side,” he added. “If we had lost, it would’ve been a co-championship, but it didn’t end that way.”