WESTERLY — Westerly High’s boys basketball team shook off a sluggish opening eight minutes, receiving a spark off the bench from Jawarie Hamelin, for a 90-51 Senior Night win against North Providence on Tuesday.
Hamelin finished with a team-high 15 points, one of five Bulldogs in double figures, along with Cole Riley (14), Connor Warner (12), Patrick Murphy (12) and Chas Morgan (11).
Westerly (18-4, 15-3 Division II) led 46-27 at the half, and the Bulldogs took off their signature press and mostly played out the clock in the second half against North Providence (6-15, 5-13 Division II).
“Senior Night is always a little bit like that, with the seniors trying to do a little bit too much, and everyone is trying to help the seniors get points,” coach Mike Gleason said. “Once we settled down, and again, got our press going, we kind of got into the rhythm and never really let up until we got up by 30 with 10 minutes left.”
With 7:35 left in the half, Westerly held a slim 20-18 lead, after a drive and layup by North Providence’s Ty Jones. However, Haemlin scored nine of the next 11 points for the Bulldogs, which saw the Bulldogs take a 31-21 lead with 4:26 left in the first half.
The sequence was capped off with three straight high-energy highlights for Hamelin. The sophomore guard finished a fastbreak for the Bulldogs, stole the inbound pass for another layup, and then jumped on a loose ball, with the Bulldogs securing the turnover via a timeout.
“As soon as I came in, coach Austin [Cilley] and coach Gleason said to bring the energy, and I just worked as hard as I could and got the Dawg Pound into it,” Hamelin said. “After that, everyone was into it, getting on the floor and everything, and I think that really helped us out a lot.”
Westerly’s depth, with a lineup that went nine deep in the first half, clearly wore down the Cougars as the half went on. Murphy and Jones traded a pair of free throws, but Hamelin had another pair of buckets, and the Bulldogs extended the lead, 37-23.
In the final seven minutes of the half, Westerly outscored North Providence 32-11. The Bulldogs put the game out of reach with a 7-0 run to start the second half.
Westerly took a 31-point lead on a 3-point shot by Riley with 13 minutes left, and held a 40-point lead for most of the second half.
Gleason praised the work his team did in sharing the ball. Westerly finished with 19 assists and 13 steals, with most of their points coming in transition or on layups, as North Providence defenders struggled to stick with cutting Bulldogs.
“I thought for that 10 minutes, it was as well as we had played all year, playing really unselfishly and sharing the ball,” Gleason said. “People have been saying all year, you can look at the boxscore and it is any given player on any given night … I think a bunch of guys had between eight and 12 points.”
With the game in-hand at the half and Westerly playing conservatively from that point on, two other moments got the biggest cheers from the crowd.
At halftime, Westerly dance team member and senior Macie Woycik banked a 3-point shot to end their routine with the cheerleaders, much to the surprise of the crowd and her own team. Woycik, a soccer and lacrosse player, said she doesn’t regularly play, and only practiced the shot the previous day.
Also, the Bulldogs’ unselfishness wasn’t contained to their own team, oddly enough.
With less than 10 seconds remaining, Westerly’s Jalen Valentin intentionally passed the ball to North Providence senior Xavier Chaplin. The big man then dunked the ball just before the clock expired, and the two high-fived after the game ended.
Westerly will look to extend its win streak to 13 with its next game, which will take place in the quarterfinals of the Division II tournament.
The second-seeded Bulldogs have a bye past the preliminary round. On Monday, they will host the winner of the 7-10 game, which will take place Friday or Saturday.
“I think tonight was one of our more unselfish games, and it we want to make a big run that’s what we’ll have to do, to continue to play like that,” Gleason said. “We need to keep plugging along, and we’re going to have a tough opponent whoever it is on Monday.”