2009-02-12 / News

Boys' high school hoops head into final stretch

By Stephanie Heelan Cotsonas

Steve Santos makes his move around the defense in the Skippers game against Bishop Hendricken. Photo by Caitlin Downing Steve Santos makes his move around the defense in the Skippers game against Bishop Hendricken. Photo by Caitlin Downing The North Kingstown High School boys' basketball teams are heading into their season's home stretch while prepping for playoff games scheduled over the next few weeks.

The varsity team is led by three captains, one of whom is islander Dom Anderson, who his coach calls "the best screener in the program" while also being strong on defense. Head Coach Aaron Thomas said Anderson has been a major contributor, and as one of five seniors on the team, he has been one of the few with experience. "We are a very young team and I am happy with where we are right now, but we are hoping for the big finish. With five games left, we play the teams where we have the same or better record than them," Thomas said.

North has a league record of 7-6 and is in first place in the southern division ahead of South Kingstown. The Skippers are hoping to win the division for the third straight year. North plays South again on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at home. "We are looking forward to that one. The first time we played them (in December) we went down there and didn't play particularly well and that one was one of the first away games and we had a lot of young kids. We are a much different team now," Thomas said.

"It takes eight wins to make it into the playoffs. Our next win will put us in. If we can continue to win, we get a home playoff game on March 3."

Islander and junior John Rafanelli is also on the varsity roster although he spends most of his time playing for the JV team after taking last season off to recover from an injury. Head JV Coach Chris Carty said Rafanelli has been a major contributor this year. Coach Thomas said Rafanelli "hustles and works hard."

In addition to Rafanelli, islanders Romil Patel and Steve Santos are also on the JV roster and Carty said all three Jamestowners have been in his starting lineup this season.

The JV squad currently has a league record of 7-6.

The JV tournament schedule is different from the varsity teams as it is a running tournament for three weekends while regular season games are ongoing. The first playoff game for North is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 21 against Cranston East at North Providence.

Although Carty is looking forward to the playoffs, he is still focused on finishing up the regular season. "We are starting to play better now. We started the year playing the southern division teams and did very well, then as we played Cranston East and West, Central, Hope and Hendricken, we had some tougher games. Right now we are in the toughest part of the schedule and then we hope to finish strong against the southern division again," Carty said.

The boys' freshman team wrapped up their season with a league record of 8-3 and an overall record of 10-4. They finished second in the southern division behind Hendricken. According to Head Coach Jim Simmons, islanders Dan Bailey, Christian Ellerbe and Jacob Morris were key members of the team. "They did very well. They worked hard all year and got some good playing time towards the end of the year. Their contributions made our team a much better team," Simmons said.

The North freshman won their preliminary playoff game against Lincoln, and then had a disappointing loss, 65-58, to Cranston West in their quarterfinal matchup last week. "It was very close. We were tied with a minute left and we were ahead most of the game. It was kind of the game we let slip away," Simmons said.

The JV and varsity teams play tomorrow night at home against La Salle at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.

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