Sentinel boys eliminated in overtime

Sentinel boys eliminated in overtime

Smithfield High School's Connor Connole, left, tries to drive around Central High's Marcus Mitchell during their Division I state tournament playoff game last week. Central won the game, 58-50, ending Smithfield's season. (Valley Breeze & Observer photo by Kayla Panu)

WARWICK - The playoffs are a whole different ballgame, case-in-point being Thursday night's matchup in the 2014 Credit Unions of Rhode Island Boys' Basketball State Championships, where 10th-seeded Central High School upended seventh-seeded Smithfield in overtime, 58-50, to close out the Sentinels season.

In this open-form single-elimination tournament, Smithfield and Central were two of the few teams to face an opponent in their own division which could either be a good thing or go against you.

In Smithfield's case it went against them. The Sentinels had just faced Central about two weeks ago on Feb. 23 and put on a shooting clinic, taking the 81-51 victory.

This time around at the Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick, things went very differently. While the Sentinels usually rely on their three-point shooting, especially counting on Joe Delricci, the Knights were the team banking three's all day, hitting eight. Instead, the Sentinels had to get creative with their scoring chances especially since Delricci did not have many opportunities.

"(Juan) Guerrero and (Wayne) McKinney hurt us by taking away Joey (Delricci)," Smithfield head coach Joe Bennett said. "And when that happens not just Joey gets down but the rest of the team does as they are used to him getting lots of hits."

It was a tale of two halves and an overtime period as Smithfield could not put into play their complete game plan throughout the game. In the second half the Knights continued where they left off in the first while it took Smithfield some time to get going. The Sentinels fought their way back to be within four points of Central with 47.9 seconds remaining.

"The kids fought," Bennett said. "It was different from the Hendricken game. We were down and Central was up by seven points with three to four minutes. It showed our maturity to push to an overtime. But I wish it ended differently."

After a timeout Smithfield had possession and Sergio Dalomba quickly tried to get one step closer to the Knights. He was not able to make his shot but Nate Patenaude grabbed the rebound and was fouled in the process of putting it back up. He went to the line and made both free throws to get his team within a basket.

Another timeout was taken this time with 39.9 seconds left. Again Smithfield had possession and this time Dalomba naled his shot to tie the score 48-48.

With 25.7 seconds remaining Delricci reached in for the steal on Guerrero and was called for the foul sending Guerrero to the line for a one-and-one. He missed as the Smithfield crowd let out a collective breath of relief.

Patenaude got the rebound as another timeout was taken. With seconds left, Dalomba threw up the ball as the buzzer sounded to signal overtime.

"We were behind the whole game and we thought we had a new lease on life in overtime," Bennett said. "We set up a new play with three and a half seconds left but that's tough for a better shot. "Our short comings this year has been we don't run our plays. With that short of time, the odds weren't high of making the shot. But we could have gotten the win."

In the four minute overtime period, Smithfield grabbed the ball as Patenaude knocked it Dalomba's way.

Connor Connole got the pass from Dalomba and then lost the ball. He regained it but on the floor and a Central player was there to cause a jump call. That gave the ball to Central who also could not score on its first possession.

The Knights did end up scoring first and keeping the lead limiting the Sentinels to just two points.

"It was a game that could have gone either way," Bennett said. "Usually the first to score in overtime wins. We got the first look and didn't score.

To start things off the Knights jumped out to the 7-2 advantage before Smithfield tied things up 10-10 with 10 minutes to play in the first. Even though they were not able to put the Knights away, the Sentinels put up a fight as the lead changed seven times the last time was Central going ahead 22-21 with about three minutes left. The Knights added five more points to their halftime total taking the 27-21 advantage.

"I'm proud of the young group," Bennett said. "I felt like we could do some damage in the tournament. It's disappointing for seniors Serge (Dalomba) and Pa (Kebbeh) with the season ending."

Bennett went on to say, "At the end of the day we have a young group of guys. I hope they remember how this feels. And we will try to do a better job to get ready for the playoffs (in the future)."

Three Sentinels players all finished the game scoring 11 points including Patenaude, Lorenzo Fernandes and Steven Aiello. Dalomba finished with 10 points.