RIIL Season Preview
The 2011-2012 season is set to get underway in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and lots has changed since St. Raphael Academy took last year's state crown. Seven players have hit the road, jumping on the prep school route, leaving the spotlight left to be taken.
The RIIL has made their latest change as well, as this year's standings formula will assess value to each win based on the division of the opponent.
With all of that in mind, here are some of the teams with the personnel to make their way to the Ryan Center:
Saint Raphael Academy - The reigning champs will get back to business this season to secure another state title. Championship MVP Charles Correa brings an extreme threat as one of the state’s elite players while senior Cesar Meijia adds the exclamation point to the Saints’ squad this season.
North Providence - The Cougars were held up last year by the combination of endless offense from current guards Austin Van Bemmelen and Mike Ferrante. Now they’ll add big time transfers to the equation in explosive guard Rob Hazard and junior Taylor Rivers, who will act as a huge resource down low for the guard heavy team.
LaSalle Academy – Marc Bayha looks to bring stability as the new head coach while lights out shooter Tom Hunt could employ an electrician in his tracks. Opposing defenses could be left frantic by the scoring options in the Rams’ arsenal as Hunt is joined by junior Jared Thompson and high flying sophomores Dexter Thompson and Keon Wilson.
Bishop Hendricken – The streak finally ended after seven consecutive state titles but the Hawks will look to start another run this year. Lee Messier’s clean crossover and slick jumpshot are yet to be stopped while senior Corey Polumbo and junior Kazre Cummings will also aid the Hawks’ renewal aspirations.
Barrington High School - The yellow and blue Eagles fly with a young team and one big leader. Junior forward Ben Engvall can play above the rim or lace it from beyond the arc. He’ll need help from the underclassmen, most especially, freshman point guard Corey Daugherty.
Classical High School - Kwami Moreno awaits the opportunity to make his debut with his ability to get off the ground and provide a presence in the post. Ismael Batista has more options to work with after going for big numbers last year while Kealen Ives is one of the state’s top playmakers.
Shea High School - Experienced seniors run Shea's squad, imposing an attitude to win. Mike Neal returns from Marianapolis after averaging double figures in the NEPSAC. He joins long swingman Johlon Hazard and Malik Moody, who adds the final threat for a dangerous Shea team.
Johnston High School - The division III powerhouse will remain strong this year, relying on strong guard play from senior Ryan Anderson, who will fit nicely with powerful transfer Evan Hopson. Given the chance, Johnston has a shot to surprise in this year’s playoffs.
Central High School - The black and gold have all the tools for a successful team this year. They’ll look to replace their graduated leader, Rob Lewis, with depth and consistency. Daniel Mendez will run the floor, Steve Ajao will provide athleticism in the post, while Jerrelle Washington and Brownell Dennis will also boost the break.
Coventry High School - The Oakers will depend on their senior stars to lead them to a winning season. Aaron Greenwood looks poised for a big year while Garrett Douglas is a sniper. Sean Roles also appears to be progressing down low with his ability to shake defenders in the post.
West Warwick High School – Even while sustaining the loss of Max Motroni, the Wizards will still have a threatening attack. Ryan Lawton has a chance to be a dominant post player while John Morrison will work the back court with his individual ability and long range shooting.
Prout School - Last year’s Division III champs continue to operate efficiently under Coach Simonelli and his staff. Prout has an inside out game with shooters surrounding post player Justin Bristol, who projects to be one of the state’s top interior threats.
Mount Pleasant - The Kilties lay out a solid back court this season. Senior Jovel Beckford will aid the offense with his shooting and length to attack. Running the break is Zdahmond Dale, who will rise up on command for some air max slams.
Narragansett High School – The Piers will rely on three talented freshmen this year and it will be interesting to see just how quickly Eric Daquanno, Dan Doyle, and Chris Diclemente can grow up.