The top-seeded Bishop Hendricken Hawks ousted the No. 9 Cumberland Clippers from the Division I Boys Basketball Tournament after beating them 61-53 on Tuesday night during the Quarterfinal round.
Hendricken sophomore Sebastian Thomas led the Hawks with 19 points while his teammate Andre De Los Santos finished with 12. Cumberland senior Jackson Zancan scored a game-high 24 points and Dante Aviles-Santos, a junior, tallied 14.
The Clippers jumped out to an 8-0 lead early, which started with a layup from Zancan, a putback from Seth Anderson, and a 3-pointer from Aviles-Santos.
But, the Hawks talked it over, and then answered with a 6-0 run and pulled within two.
That spurt saw two layups from Sanchez and another from De Los Santos.
Then with 11:30 left in the half, Hendricken knotted the game at 10 when Robert Fiorito, a senior guard, made a steal and heaved the ball ahead to De Los Santos for a breakaway basket.
Forty seconds after that, Hendricken seized a 14-12 edge before Cumberland’s Zancan drilled a 3-pointer and put the Clippers up one.
The clubs continued their back-and-forth battle for the remainder of the half and Hendricken owned a 38-34 lead heading into the break.
Cumberland scored the first bucket of the second half and pulled within two, but then, the Hawks were able to pull away.
“I think it was our speed in transition,” Hendricken head coach Jamal Gomes said. “We were able to get some stops on defense, and then get out in transition and score. When we’re able to do that, we’re tough.”
Fiorito answered Cumberland’s basket with a pull up jumper, and then, Hendricken got a transition bucket from Thomas and went up six.
With 13:21 left, Thomas earned a steal and made a fast break layup, and then De Los Santos scored a bucket and extended the Hawks advantage to ten.
Two minutes later, Hendricken’s advantage escalated to 55-41 after Thomas made an old-fashioned 3-point play, and then the sophomore, followed it with a layup on his next trip down.
The Clippers cut the deficit to six with just over five minutes to play, but that’s as close as they would get.
Coach Gomes was thrilled with the victory, but he feels his team still has some areas that need improvement.
“I thought it was a good team effort,” Gomes said. “I would have liked for us to play a little bit smarter down the stretch, in terms of making our free throws and just making good decisions, but, it’s a good win.”
“When you get to the playoffs, you’ve got to win by a point,” Gomes continued. “You just got to survive and you got to move on. So, I’m proud of our guys. Very proud.”
Next, Hendricken moves on to the D-I semifinals to face No. 5 Woonsocket at East Greenwich High School on Friday at 5:30 pm.
“We have to defend and we have to rebound,” Gomes said. “If we do that, we’ll be in good shape, win or lose.”