WESTERLY — Westerly High is all too familiar with its opponent in the semifinals of the District II boys basketball tournament.
And the Bulldogs’ recent history against Narragansett isn’t a particularly good one.
They are 0-8 against the Mariners since 2013, and twice in the past three seasons the Narragansett has eliminated the Bulldogs from the D-II playoffs, including a 59-52 loss in the 2015-16 title game.
Westerly guard Taber Gates was a sophomore in that finals matchup, and he remembers it well. It’s the last time he went an entire game without scoring a point.
“They beat us and I had a really bad game,” he said. “So I’d like to play them, actually. I feel we could have a good game against them.”
The third-seeded Bulldogs (17-6) and No. 2 Mariners (17-3) meet on Friday at North Kingstown High. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Narragansett beat Westerly, 70-61, on Jan. 17. Mariners’ big man Thomaz Whitford, 6 feet 5 and built like a linebacker, was plagued by fouls and limited to 10 points, but Jack Lurgio went for 28 in the win. Four players scored in double figures, including standout point guard London Sudduth, who had 13.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, were without starting sophomore guard Chas Morgan, who was nursing an injured ankle, and 6-8 forward David Tiedemann got into early foul trouble. Also, Tiedemann was playing in just his fifth game after missing the early part of the season with a knee injury.
“We were competitive,” Westerly coach Mike Gleason said. “We hung with them despite very difficult circumstances. But we know how good they are. They made it to the semis last year and they have their whole team back.
“They have a good big guy in Whitford and excellent guards as well, so they cause a lot of problems. But I think we play them tough. I think we’ll be ready to go.”
The Mariners advanced to the semis with a 69-33 rout of Shea in the quarterfinals on Monday. This is the fourth straight season they’ve reached at least the division semifinals, including the aforementioned title in 2016.
The Bulldogs are healthy and riding a seven-game winning streak. They beat rival Chariho, 52-45, on Monday. Gates, a senior, leads the team in scoring at 18.7 points per game, followed by Tiedemann, also a senior, who is averaging 15.9 points and 7.2 rebounds. Senior point guard John Luzzi is averaging 5.0 assists.
“I think we’re in a good spot now,” said Gates, who scored 23 in the Jan. 17 game against Narragansett.
Said Gleason, “At this point, we know what it takes to survive and advance, as they say in the NCAA, and that’s what we hope to do Friday.”