Boys basketball: Narragansett too much for weakened Bulldogs in D-II semifinals

Boys basketball: Narragansett too much for weakened Bulldogs in D-II semifinals

The Westerly Sun
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NORTH KINGSTOWN — It was an inopportune time for illness to spread through the Westerly High boys basketball team.

Three senior starters missed practice all week, coach Mike Gleason said, and with guards Taber Gates and John Luzzi and forward David Tiedemann weakened by a flu-like bug, the Bulldogs were no match for Narragansett in the Division II tournament semifinals Friday night at North Kingstown High’s Cranston Gymnasium.

The second-seeded Mariners closed the first half with a huge run and defeated the No. 2 Bulldogs, 62-43. They will face East Greenwich in Saturday’s finals. No. 4 EG upset top-seeded Cumberland in Friday’s first semi, 58-48.

“We did what we could,” Gleason said. “… Life’s not always fair. We’ve just got to regroup. We’ve got nothing to lose in the Open tournament.”

Gates, Luzzi and Tiedemann did not start the game. Cole Riley and Anthony Serluca were the guards and forward Bereket Janat joined Chas Morgan and Vinny Giorno for the opening tip.

Nevertheless, Westerly was leading 4-2 when Gates, Luzzi and Tiedemann entered the game about four minutes into the contest. Tiedemann promptly hit a 3, and later, after Tiedemann scored inside, the Bulldogs were up 16-10.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs (17-7), they would score only two more points in the half. With Westerly leading 20-14 with under six minutes remaining in the period, Tiedemann went to the bench for a break. Narragansett (18-3) proceeded to go on a 17-0 run to end the first half leading 31-20.

The Bulldogs never recovered.

“I think the jitters came out,” said Mariners coach Kyle Boddington, who was unaware of the Bulldogs’ illnesses at the start of the game. “We buckled down defensively, because they came at us hard and we didn’t know how to respond in the beginning. We just found a way.”

“We were rolling, and we were playing with a lot of energy,” Gleason said. “We knew it was going to be a game where we would have to count the minutes and use timeouts to get breathers, and we hung tough.”

Point guard London Sudduth (19 points) started and finished the Mariners’ big run with layups. He also had a deep 3-pointer.

Westerly also had trouble containing Narragansett center Thomaz Whitford (21 points), who dominated the paint.

“Narragansett just has so many weapons,” Gleason said. “They can hurt you in so many ways. I thought we did a good job defending [Whitford] on the block, but he did a great job on the offensive glass.”

Tiedemann, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, scored four straight points to open the second half and make it 31-26. But that was as close as the Bulldogs got.

With 8:09 left and Narragansett up 47-29, Gates left the game for good in obvious discomfort. Gleason said he “couldn’t breathe.” Gates, who came in averaging 18.7 points per contest, scored just two.

Narragansett continued to pour it on late in the second half. After Whitford hit two free throws with about two minutes left, the lead was 60-38.

Boddington never emptied his bench.

“I was pretty upset about the way I got treated by the [Westerly] fans at the end of that game,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘You kept your starters in when this team’s got the flu.’ I don’t know they’ve got the flu. I’m not the team doctor for Westerly. I’m here to take care of Narragansett basketball and it’s a playoff.

“And I feel bad for Taber Gates. He’s a class act. He’s a great player and he’s got a lot of heart. I wish he was healthy. We don’t want to see anyone sick whether its our team or anybody else’s team.”

“The good news is we do live to see another day,” said Gleason. “Hopefully, the guys have a few days rest over the weekend, a few days off. We’ll get healthy, get back to practice and make a run in the Open. We know we have it in us.”



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