CUMBERLAND – After winning the Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland-Lincoln’s Roadshow Holiday Classic the last time it was played in 2019, the Tolman High boys’ basketball team fell short this season, but still won the consolation game by posting a 56-50 victory over Cumberland last Wednesday, Dec. 29, at the Clippers’ Wellness Center.

“I reminded (the players) of (the championship), so we’ve had some success here,” Tolman head coach Bill Coughlin said. “We had some mixed results this week, but I’m just really happy they played hard and they played unselfish. It was nice.”

The Tigers’ win over the Clippers surprisingly concluded the 48th annual holiday tournament, which is the oldest in the state, because the championship game between Lincoln and Woonsocket was postponed because of COVID issues on Lincoln’s team. That game has yet to be rescheduled, but it will be up to those two teams if it gets played.

Getting to the consolation game, the Clippers fell to Lincoln, 55-47, in an overtime bout, while the Tigers were severely lacking in numbers in their 55-46 loss to Woonsocket.

“We had six (players),” Coughlin said. “We had 11 tonight, but we were a little shorthanded (against Woonsocket). Five guys came back from a number of things – not all COVID-related – and it was good to have them back. I think the guys (in the loss) got some good experience, but it’s good to have the family more full.”

The Tigers were firing on all cylinders against the Clippers, taking 10-point leads after both the first and second quarters. Tolman carried a 39-29 lead into the half and continued to keep up the pressure in the third quarter to take a 50-37 lead. Despite being down by 13 to start the fourth, the Clippers battled back to within six points, but got no closer to the lead.

Not only were they on point on the offensive side of the ball, they were also physical on defense, getting steals and rebounds.

“We take a lot of pride in our man-to-man,” Coughlin said. “We think that defense travels. Even on nights when shots don’t fall, you can always kind of control that end of the floor. They buy in and do a nice job. We’re a little bit undersized, but they really work at getting the rebounds.”

Leading the way for the Tigers was senior guard Maarten Lopes, who scored 15 points; his classmate, guard Jaylin Baptista, who added 13, and sophomore forward Malik Gelinas, who also had 10. Coughlin highlighted Lopes, Baptista, and senior guard Jayel Rodrigues, who picked up where they left off last year as All-Division players.

He also praised senior forward Rodney Wilson, who was on the team as a sophomore, but missed his entire junior year with an injury. Coughlin is happy Wilson is back and contributing again.

Cumberland junior guard Kalil Fofana, who scored a game-high 18 points, and Lopes, who also had a game-high 22 points in his team’s loss to Woonsocket, were named to the Jim Marsland Memorial All-Tournament team.

The Tigers returned to their Division II schedule on Tuesday night by visiting Middletown by busing home with a 68-58 victory over the Islanders that saw Lopes (23 points) and Wilson (20) provide the bulk of their scoring.

Tolman had kicked off its league season on Dec. 16 with a 54-47 victory at Johnston, as sophomore Isaiah Gois scored 23 points, Baptista added 18, and Lopes had 11.

On Thursday at 7 p.m., the Tigers will host neighboring North Providence in its first game in two seasons inside their Donaldson Gymnasium. During last year’s shortened two-month season, they played all their home games at Jenks Junior High because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s awesome,” Coughlin said about being back at Tolman. “It’s a very unique gym with a lot of character.”

As for the D-II season, Coughlin said that his team will take it one game at a time, “but I do think they have the talent, the work ethic, and the character to make a run at it,” he added.

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