Top Players & Teams in the RIIL
Rhode Island Interscholastic League play has been under way for a few weeks and already the season is off to a bustling start. Here is a look at some key teams and players to watch out for as we move into the heart of the 2015-2016 basketball season.
La Salle – Seniors Mike McCourt and Lawrence Sabir headline a Rams squad that captured the 2015 Division I and Open State Tournaments. McCourt, a hard-nosed guard with an ability to bang underneath the glass with big bodies also has a nice touch from the outside. Sabir is one of the most athletic players in the state who shows a great combination of strength and speed, especially in the open court. The Rams opened league play with a convincing win over Cranston West (67-30) where they held the Falcons to 6 first half points.
Smithfield – The well-coached and disciplined Sentinels team is always a tough out in the Rhode Island State Tournament and this year should be no different. 6’4’’ senior Nathan Patenaude has great length and an ability to make big defensive plays, which will definitely help Smithfield out in those meaningful games in February and March.
Hendricken – Senior Kyle Henseler, junior Justin Mazzulla, and sophomore Preston Santos represent the solid core of a Hawks squad that is eager to reclaim its spot as Rhode Island State Champion. Henseler is an experienced four year point guard. Joining him in the backcourt is the 6’3’’ Mazzulla who scores well off the dribble, and they are complimented on the perimeter with Santos who has a great stroke from the outside. No doubt that Hendricken is already eye-balling an early January meeting with defending state champion and rival La Salle.
Classical – The Purple are led by 6’3’’ junior point guard David Duke and 6’5’’ junior Jamari Johnson – two guys that will create havoc in their own way in RIIL play. Duke has tremendous length as a point guard, which he puts to great use on the offensive and defensive ends of the court. He gets into the paint with ease and has no problem getting his shot off anywhere on the court, while on the defensive end he can guard opposing players with various skill sets. Johnson is a solid rebounder who seems to alter just about every shot near the hoop. Surrounding Duke and Johnson is a group of seniors that have played together for 3 years and are hungry for and capable of a deep tournament run.
Cumberland – Junior guard Brandon Kolek is joined in the backcourt with his brother, freshman Tyler Kolek, and they will lead a Clippers squad that is looking to work themselves back into a division 2 contenders.
Portsmouth –The Patriots are off to a hot start and are led by sophomore scorer Chris Herren. The 6’2’’ guard can score the ball in a variety of ways and will be a major matchup problem for RIIL Division 2 schools. Herren has already registered a pair of 30 point games and has a solid nucleus of athletes around him, so expect to see the Patriots making noise in March.
Tolman – The Pawtucket school has historically used its smaller high school gym as a home court advantage, and they will look to continue to do so with the addition of 6’4’’ freshman Dyondre Dominguez. The freshman scores in the post, off the bounce, and on the outside. Dominguez already has a pair of 25 point games under his belt this season.
Pilgrim – Headlined by sophomore big man, Tyrone Weeks, the reigning RIIL D3 champion is off to a strong start in league play. Weeks, the son of former UMASS Minuteman Tyrone Weeks, has a natural presence on the court. In addition to put backs and post scoring, he consistently knocks down 15 footers. However, his knack for tracking down defensive rebounds stands out most about his game.