PAWTUCKET – As players and members of the St. Raphael basketball family sat in the film room of Alumni Hall, enjoying pizza and soda while viewing Cox Sports’ presentation of the unveiling of the brackets of the 30-team open state tournament, a feeling of uneasiness engulfed head coach Tom “Saar” Sorrentine.
The North and South brackets had been announced with SRA’s name nowhere to be found in either instance. Knowing that there were teams still out there that could potentially pose problems for his club, Sorrentine’s mind started to race with all sorts of scenarios. At about 9:40 Wednesday night, the bracket that the fourth-seeded Saints will have to navigate through and around was released, the first step taking place Friday night in an opening-round game on school grounds against No. 29 Narragansett, a Division II-South club that went 8-10 during the regular season.
Rounding out SRA’s bracket are Division I foes Classical (No. 13 seed) and 20th-seeded Smithfield. The Purple and Sentinels will square off Friday with the winner facing the SRA-Narragansett survivor either next Tuesday or Wednesday in the Round of 16. The South tier also involves first-round matchups pitting No. 21 Barrington and No. 21 Westerly and No. 28 Central Falls at No. 5 Central.
The Warriors-Knights tilt will take place Monday at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house. The facility is being used this weekend for the state wrestling championships.
In the West region, the local game of note involves Tolman, a No. 22 seed faced with the task of facing No. 6 Hendricken in a contest set for Saturday night. At No. 3, West Warwick is the region’s top seed.
In the North, No. 17 Cumberland will travel to 16th-seeded Toll Gate Friday. This is also the region where top seed North Kingstown resides, the Skippers one of two teams to receive an opening-round bye with fellow Division I member La Salle Academy being the other.
Staying in the North, No. 25 Johnston travels to eighth-seeded Shea for a 7 p.m. game Friday night with No. 24 Middletown heading to No. 9 Rogers for an Aquidneck Island showdown. Should things play out accordingly, the Raiders and Vikings would face off in the Round of 16. In the team’s lone meeting of the season on Jan. 6, Shea held on for a 64-62 win in a contest that took place at “The Cage.”
Moving on to the South region where No. 26 North Smithfield, a team finished as co-champion of Division III-North with Johnston, draws the assignment of facing North Providence, a No. 7 seed that captured the Division II-Central crown with a 16-2 mark.
The field includes 11 teams from Division I, 11 from Division II and eight from Division III. All Sweet 16 games will take place next Tuesday or Wednesday at either CCRI-Warwick or Bryant University. The regional finals are set for Sunday, March 4 at Providence College’s Alumni Hall with the Final Four and championship round on the docket for March 9-10 at URI’s Ryan Center.