BURRILLVILLE — Apparently, Sam Clifford wanted to do something nice for Burrillville High head coach Kevin Randall’s son’s third birthday on Friday night, and did he ever.
The gift came in the form that not only would enthuse the Grayson, but also the elder Randall, Clifford, his teammates and most of the folks in town.
Clifford netted a career-high 42 points as the Broncos posted a 80-70 upset victory over Division II foe Shea inside the Broncodome, leaving the hosts extremely satisfied but the visitors visibly upset at what they deemed inconsistent, irresponsible officiating.
“This was kind of a party for Grayson; I was thinking about that before the game,” Clifford stated after his squad improved to 8-11 overall, most importantly 6-10 in league play; the Broncos now need only one more triumph to earn a much-desired playoff berth.
“Doing this against a team like Shea, it feels amazing,” he added. “I had scored 35 earlier this season, so for me to get 42, that’s phenomenal, but – more importantly – we got the win.”
When asked about holding the Raiders’ spectacular senior guard Erickson Bans – a standout heading to Bryant University after his graduation – to six in the first half and 20 overall, he grinned, “This is the first time we’ve ever beaten Bans. I mean, we expected to win this game, but I never thought it would happen this way.”
Clifford probably was referring to the officials whistling Bans’ fifth personal foul with 3:57 left in regulation and the Broncos trying to protect a 67-60 cushion. One ref issued a technical to head coach Steve DeMeo, and just about 90 game seconds later, Shea assistant Michael Neal suffered the same fate and was escorted off the court by a Burrillville police officer.
To summarize, with 5:23 left in the tilt, Malik Monteiro’s putback gave the Raiders their first lead at 60-59, but Burrillville needed just 34 ticks to get it back when senior Ethan Lambert tickled the twine with a trey. From there, sophomore Wes Cournoyer hit a layup off a turnover and Clifford nailed an awkward left-hander to make it 66-60 with 4:12 remaining.
Fifteen ticks later, DeMeo took the “T,” Clifford landed to free throws, and – with 2:24 on the clock – Neal complained to officials about a call, and he received the heave. Clifford splashed four straight from the charity stripe, and – just like that – Burrillville had a 72-60 advantage.
Besides Clifford’ special evening, Cournoyer finished with 13 points, Lambert nine (on three bombs), junior Colby Bouzan nine more and sophomore Dean Ayotte an unexpected trifecta.
For Shea (12-4 league), Bans had 20, though classmate DeJuan Hayes dropped 13, junior Monteiro and senior DeJuan Hayes 11 each, and sophomores Enrique Sosa and Elijah Evora five apiece.
“The ref called Erickson for his fourth foul, and that was one that hadn’t been called the whole night,” DeMeo said. “I expressed my dissatisfaction with the call, and – when he picked up his fifth – I thought that was a worthy call, but I did tell him that if he hadn’t called the previous foul, Erickson would still be in the game.
“I explained it to him, and apparently, he didn’t like it; that’s when I got the ‘T,’” he added. “Later, Mike Neal was talking to the kids, and I’m not sure if he was in earshot or not, but I don’t think anyone could have heard him. I guess he did, though, and he got the tech.
“I still think we were sluggish coming out, and Burrillville did a lot of things to throw us off. I always knew we’d get back into it, and we did, but that’s when all hell broke loose.”
Randall seemed most pleased with his Broncos’ ability to take care of the basketball (only 12 turnovers overall and four in the opening 16), not to mention rebounding.
“We put in a whole new defense for Bans; he’s the most talented player I’ve ever coached against, and I’ve been doing it for a while, but Sam Clifford was the best player on the floor (Friday night),” he offered. “Bans is a kid you can’t play straight up against.
“I told the kids beforehand, ‘Regardless of how good Erickson Bans is, you have to rebound the ball,” he added.
“In a playoff game last year, the destroyed us on the boards and put us away, even though we trailed by only three at halftime.
“The story of the game, I think, is that my son Grayson turns three (Friday), and Sam wears No. 3 – how cool is that?” he smiled. “He had the best game of his career on Grayson’s birthday. That’s something Hollywood be interested in!”
SHEA (70) – Erickson Bans 9 0-2 20, DeJuan Hayes 3 6-7 13, Jacob Lopes 3 5-5 11, Enrique Sosa 2 0-0 5, Malik Monteiro 4 0-0 11, Elijah Evora 1 2-2 5, Jaylen Andrade 2 1-1 5, Pedro Tavares 0 0-0 0; totals 24 14-17 70.
BURRILLVILLE (80) – Sam Clifford 11 16-19 42; Wes Cournoyer 4 3-4 13, Ethan Lambert 3 0-0 9, Colby Bouzan 2 5-6 9, Logan Tupper 1 0-0 2, Dean Ayotte 1 0-0 3, Jeff Cabral 0 1-2 1, Jack Bergin 0 1-2 1, Riley Chamberlin 0 0-0 0, Jared Deschamps 0 0-0 0, Cam Dickey 0 0-0 0, Jake Keens 0 0-0 0; totals 22 26-33 80.
Three-point field goals: Bans 2, Hayes, Sosa, Monteiro 3, Clifford 4, Cournoyer 2, Lambert 3, Ayotte.
Halftime: Burrillville, 41-30.