Sentinels down Cougars in first outing

Sentinels down Cougars in first outing

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Coach Paul Rizzo knew heading into last week's Injury Fund game that his North Providence High School boys basketball team would have its hands full.

As usual, the Cougars opened their season by playing neighboring Smithfield High.

"We knew going in that Smithfield is a Division I school and that they were returning a lot of very good players from last year," said Rizzo. "I was pleasantly surprised because we stayed with them."

Despite an entirely new starting five, North Providence went to the Sentinels home gym and fell behind early, but battled back and closed to within single digits on several occasions before losing, 58-48.

The Sentinels led at the turn, 30-25.

Senior Ryan McCluskie was the big gun for North Providence, canning 22 points, including five three-pointers. Chris Coro added eight points.

"We knew that we would have to collapse on them inside because they have a strong presence there with Nate Patenaude," said Rizzo. "We wanted to force them to make outside shots and they did. They've got some kids who can put it in from long range."

Joe DelRicci led the long-range sniping, canning a trio of three-pointers and finishing with 13 points in a very balanced scoring attack for Smithfield. Connor Connole added 11 points, Sergio Dalomba, 10, and Lorenzo Fernandes and Steve Aiello, eight apiece.

"We lost all five starters from last year's team and only have a few players who had any meaningful time on the court a year ago, but even with that, I was pleased with the way that we hustled and played," said Rizzo. "Our guards, Nick Geremia and Chris Corin both came up from Jayvee last year and did a nice job, and our bigs, Connor Nesbitt, Alex Wagoner, Joe Coro and Nick Sollitto, did a really nice job rebounding."

Rizzo said his team has to develop additional scoring to accompany McCluskie's outside sniping.

"We know that we have a long haul ahead of us, but I'm encouraged by what I saw," said the coach. "This season is going to be a nice challenge for us so we just have to keep working hard on improving."

The Cougars defeated Lincoln, 66-43 in their first league game.