East Providence rallies for crucial Division I boys' hoops win

Townies triumph over Narragansett on the road after trailing by double digits in the second half

By Mike Rego
Posted 2/8/24

The East Providence High School boys' basketball team rallied from a double-digit, second-half deficit then hung on in the final seconds to edge Narragansett 70-69 in an important late season …

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East Providence rallies for crucial Division I boys' hoops win

Townies triumph over Narragansett on the road after trailing by double digits in the second half

Posted

The East Providence High School boys' basketball team rallied from a double-digit, second-half deficit then hung on in the final seconds to edge Narragansett 70-69 in an important late season Division I outing on the road Wednesday night, Feb. 7.

The Townies used a 15-4 run early in the fourth quarter to turn the tide on the Mariners. EP did not trail the rest of the way after Kenaz Ochgwu completed an old-fashioned three-point play to put the locals up 57-56 with just over three minutes left in the game.

Ochgwu led the response for EP, scoring all 15 of his points after the break when the locals found themselves down by 11, 34-23. The locals also trailed by 10, 50-40, heading into the final period. The Townies outscored their hosts 30-19 over the last eight minutes of play.

Levi Jacobs actually had a team-best 18 points for East Providence, which improved to 10-6 in the D-I standings with two games left on its regular season schedule: Friday, Feb. 9, vs. East Greenwich at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 13, in Providence against LaSalle at 7 p.m.

The Townies are jousting with Cumberland and Portsmouth, both 9-6 as of February 8, for fifth place in the final 2023-24 standings. All three are eyeing home playoff games in the opening round of the league championship tourney and a spot in the Open State Tournament.

Of note, EP has the tiebreaker with Portsmouth with a victory over the Patriots this year while Cumberland maintains that edge over the Townies for the same reason.

"I think it was a gutsy win, to comeback from 11 at half and 10 at the end of the third quarter to win...wow," EPHS head coach Joe Andrade said of the Narragansett victory.

"They're extremely physical, so I was proud of the guys to fight back. And 'Gansett plays well at home. I believe they were 7-1, so I knew it was going to be a battle," Andrade added.

EP handed Narragansett its second home loss. The Mariners actually entered game 6-1 as hosts. Their only other loss came to 14-1 Barrington in early January. Narragansett fell to 6-9 in D-I games with the setback.

The hosts were first to open up a workable margin Wednesday. Narragansett scored the last five points of the opening period to build a 17-12 lead.

The Mariners gradually added to their edge in the second quarter, building their initial double-digit lead (25-14) with a 3 pointer midway through the period.

Shortly thereafter Ochgwu was whistled for this his second foul on what could be termed a dubious offensive infraction, sending him to the bench for the rest of the half.

Sophomore Jaydason Barros  came off the bench to score all nine of his points and help the Townies remain within striking distance, draining three 3s. But the locals still found themselves down by 11 at intermission.

Ochgwu set the tone for his second-half explosion moments into the third quarter, raising up for a thunderous, stand-still two-hand slam for EP's first points.

The Mariners, though, managed to hang on to their double-figure margin at the end of the quarter, using a quick, 6-0 spurt with about two minutes left to do so.

Narragansett's last lead of note came early in the fourth, 52-44. From there, East Providence scored 15 of the next 19 points to take its first edge since it was 12-10 back in the opening period.

A Christian Torres free throw started the spree for the Townies. Tyler Gomez had a 3, Ochgwu had the first of his OG three-point plays and Jacobs had a rebound-putback layup.

Ochgwu next hit a sweet turn-around jumper in the paint then made the free throw to put the Townies on top 57-56 with 3:08 to play. Jacobs followed with another old-fashioned three-point play to put the locals up 60-56.

EP's lead would grow to as many as six, 66-60, on a Tyler Gomez (5 points) layup, but the Mariners hung around until the very end.

Two more free throws by Torres (11 points) give the Townies a 70-65 edge with just under a minute left. 'Gansett next hit a three then turned EP over.

The Mariners were fouled on a drive, making only one from the line to trail 70-69. They got the offensive rebound off the miss, but fell out of bounds to give the ball back to the visitors.

Narragansett then fouled the Townies with about four seconds showing. EP missed twice. 'Gansett got the ball over half court and a shot off, but it clanged off the rim.

The Townies now turn their attention to an East Greenwich team they narrowly beat 37-36 to open their 2023-24 league slate on the road back on December 14.

Their February 9 rematch is East Providence's senior night when Ochgwu, Jacobs, Derrell Liggins, Cam Evora and Brandyn Van Wagner will be honored prior to their final regular season home game.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.