Bishop Hendricken Wins 4th Straight RI State Title

NewEnglandBasketballServices.com | Friday, March 9th, 2007

Four years and four state titles…that’s a pretty impressive accomplish for any team. Last season after their third consecutive crown many people may have thought it was the end of an era as Bishop Hendricken was set to graduate four of their starters. But those naysayers obviously underestimated a talented, albeit somewhat young, returning roster. Led by 6’4” all-state forward David Rufful, Hendricken came into Saturday night’s championship game with only Hope High School standing between them and a four-peat.

It was a little more then a month ago when these two teams last squared off with Hope utilizing their transition attack to earn an 83-72 victory on Hendricken’s home floor. In order to avoid a similar outcome the defending state champions needed to make a concerted effort to slow the pace of the game and utilize their height advantage on the interior beginning with Rufful and 6’5” senior center Brendan O’Brien. The senior tandem did not disappoint as they led the way with 19 points 12 rebounds and 18 points 9 rebounds respectively, and Rufful was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

But as is typically the case with this Bishop Hendricken team it was a balanced offensive effort as two other players, 6’0” junior guard Brendan Degnan and 5’10 sophomore guard Billy Baron, also finished in double figures. Degnan went 7 of 8 from the free through line in addition to converting 4 times from the field for 15 points while Baron knocked down two three-pointers on his way to 13 points. It must have been a bitter sweet day for Baron, whose father is the head coach at URI, as he earned his second state title only to see his father’s team be denied a ticket to the NCAA tournament as they fell to George Washington in the Atlantic 10 title game. Hope was led by 6’1” guard Jeremi Hall who finished with 20 points including three three-pointers.

So now the question becomes can Bishop Hendricken keep the streak alive next year as the go after their fifth consecutive title. While the frontcourt losses of Rufful and O’Brien will leave a void, they will return what may be the state’s best backcourt in Degnan and Baron, in addition to sophomore guard Nick Maglio, 6’6” sophomore forward Matt Barbosa, and one of the top freshmen in the state in guard Nick Manning.

In the case of Rufful, he ends his high school playing career with an incredible four state titles. But before he continues on to college, a post-graduate stop is probable at a place like Northfield Mount Hermon, where he can showcase his perimeter skills at his natural wing position in hopes of earning an opportunity to play in the Ivy League beginning in 2008.

Feinstein Defeats Rogers 82-53 to Win Division II State Championship

Behind a balanced offensive attack, led by two of the best juniors in the state in Adalberto Bueno and Jerrel Gomes, Feinstein won their second straight state title, after winning on the Division III level a year earlier. Bueno and Gomes both finished with 16 points and even shared post-game honors as well as Bueno was designated as his team’s player of the game while Gomes was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Similar to the Division I title game, this game was a rematch of a contest played earlier in the season when Feinstein held of Rogers 70-62 despite trailing late in the game. But on Saturday, there was no doubt down the stretch as the verdict was in little doubt by the time the second half started.

In addition to Bueno and Gomes, Feinstein also received solid performances from senior Roosevelt Dale who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds, as well as junior Josh Hilario who scored 13 and pulled down 8 rebounds. Rogers was led by team MVP Bryan Dewitt who finished with 18 points and the team’s player of the game Joseph Saunders who scored 15.

Being named to the All-Tournament team were Bueno, Gomes, Dewitt, Saunders, Westerly’s Ben Correia, and Tolman’s Timothy Jackson.