Rams end East Providence's run in girls' state hoops tourney

LaSalle lands semifinal bid as Townies' expense

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PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School girls’ basketball team met its match Saturday afternoon, March 11, at Brown University’s Pizzitola Center in the quarterfinal round of the 2017 Open State Tournament as the Division II Townies fell to second-seeded, rival and D-I LaSalle, 47-34.

In the first half, E.P. stayed competitive thanks to their good defense as Courtney Dorr scored seven points of her team-best 16 points to put their deficit at 24-15. After the intermission, the Townies hung tough until the very final minutes when LaSalle pulled away.

“They never stopped, they never do, and I didn’t expect anything less of them today,” EPHS interim head coach Zach Roche said. “We were right there with them at the end and that is all we can ask for.”

To start the game, LaSalle come out fast as they scored six unanswered points before Shaniah Hazard put an end to the Rams run with two made free throws to put E.P’s deficit at 6-2 early on.

After a timeout, LaSalle continued to lead but the Townies’ 1-3-1 defense kept them in it until Dorr hit a three to bring E.P’s hole down to 9-5 with just under eight minutes remaining in the half.

“Our 1-3-1 is what we have hung our hat on all season long and I have never seen a team do it this well at the varsity level,” Coach Roche said. “They were incredible which starts with Julia Andrade at the back playing the whole game.”

The Townies started to find their shot as Hazard scored off an offensively rebound and Conti tied the game at nine on a fast break score.

LaSalle proceeded to score six unanswered points on three consecutive possessions that earned the Rams a 15-9 lead that forced E.P. to call a timeout.

Back on the court, Dorr drove to the basket and earned a trip to the line where she hit both to shrink the Townies’ hole to 17-11.

Amber Drainville then earned a trip to the line herself where she drilled both to keep LaSalle within striking distance, 20-15.

LaSalle then earned two more points from Allyson Desrosiers which was just part of her eight point first half that helped put E.P. in a a 24-15 hole heading into the locker room.

To start the second half, Drainville hit a hook shot and Hazard hit her two free throws to bring LaSalle’s lead down to 26-22. This was before the Rams scored nine in a row including four at the line to increase their lead again to 37-22, causing E.P. to call a timeout.

After the break, Hazard drove to the basket where she was fouled and made her shot before Dorr made another three from the corner to bring the Rams’ lead down to 39-27 which forced LaSalle to call a timeout.

Back on the court, Lily Conti hit a three to help E.P. keep pace with the Rams before Coach Roche called a timeout with the Townies down 41-30 with 5:25 remaining.

Dorr continued to stay hot from beyond the arc as she hit another three to bring the Rams’ lead down to 41-33. After another E.P. timeout, with just a couple minute remaining, LaSalle continued to hit their free throws which is all they needed to seal the deal over the Townies and advance to the ‘Final Four’ later this week at the University of Rhode Island’s Ryan Center.

Meanwhile for E.P., the loss marked the end of a superb season that included the program’s first-ever appearance in the D-II championship game and winning a round in the Open State Tournament. The Townies finished with an 18-5 record in league and playoff games.

“We our set our goal at the beginning of the season to make it to the Open State Tournament and not only did we make it here, but we won a game,” Coach Roche said. “I don’t know if I could have asked anything more.”

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.