Pawtucket Panthers fall to RABC in B&GC tourney

Pawtucket Panthers fall to RABC in B&GC tourney

Tashon Sanders, of the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club Panthers basketball team, drives toward the basket during his team's 6th-grade game in the Bloom Bus Tournament last week against RABC. RABC won the game, 44-28. (Valley Breeze photo by Kayla Panu)

PAWTUCKET - Despite being younger and shorter than their opponent, the 6th-grade Pawtucket Panthers put up a fight against RABC but ultimately fell, 44-28, last week in the 100th annual Bloom Bus Invitational youth basketball tournament at the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket.

"The kids played well with only having two practices," Panthers coach Luke McLaughlin said. "RABC is an AAU team and a good team. We have mostly recreational players."

McLaughlin added that it was good for the recreational teams to see outside competition.

Things were slow for the Panthers in the first half as RABC started on a 6-0 run. Abdoulaye Sall scored the first bucket for Pawtucket but RABC picked up right where they left off. They scored eight more points before the Panthers could add another basket.

Drew Silva got a steal and burst down the court for the fast break layup to give the Panthers four points. RABC still had the 14-4 advantage.

"Drew Silva played hard the whole game," McLaughlin said.

With help from Tashon Sanders and Jaden Delomba, the Panthers were able to break into double figures before the half with 11 points. However, RABC had kept up its pace and held an 11-point advantage, 22-11.

The Panthers faired a little better in the second half as they were able to score 17 points and were more aggressive on defense.

"We made a little run," McLaughlin said. "And we left everything on the court."

As RABC breached 30 points, the Panthers were still plugging along. Delomba was fouled and made both free throws to put Pawtucket at 21 points. With over four minutes left the Panthers started to make a run.

Sall stole the ball, went to Sanders and then got the ball back shooting a three. That was the only three the Panthers made despite numerous attempts.

An RABC player kept blocking Sanders' attempts at layups and stealing the ball away. Sanders did make the last two baskets for the Panthers. Salim Chaksi was fouled but he was not able to make either shot. Sanders had two more opportunities to give the Panthers 30 points but he could not make his free throws either.

"Salim Chaksi contributed a lot of energy off the bench," McLaughlin said.

RABC made a shot at the buzzer to end the game with the 44-28 win and continued on in the single-elimination tournament.

While everyone contributed, five players scored for the Panthers. Sall led the way scoring nine points despite being ill in the second half. Sanders put up eight points while Delomba had seven.

The Panthers were five-for-12 from the foul line while RABC was two for three.