Huskies come back to beat Titans in D3 final

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The top-seeded Toll Gate boys basketball team fell to Mt. Hope 54-50 in the Division III Championship at the Community College of Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon. Despite leading 40-35 midway through the second half, the Titans would fall victim to a 14-4 Mt. Hope run which would give the Huskies the late lead. The two teams traded blows down the stretch, but Mt. Hope would hit key free throws in the final seconds to wrap up the win and title. The loss put an end to Toll Gate’s winning streak, as the Titans boasted an undefeated record heading into the contest. Although the Titans led for periods at a time and controlled the pace early in the second, the Huskies’ momentum was too much too overcome down in the final minutes. “They made a couple shots and when we saw the score change we got a little tighter. We called a timeout but still didn’t recover and still got a little bit tighter, that was the hard part about the position that we were in. (Mt. Hope) was a little bit looser and had the momentum which slowed down ours,” said Toll Gate coach Tom Rayko of the second half. “We recovered in the end but just ran out of time.” Mt. Hope was led by Jalen Kopecky-Morton with a game-high 26 points, which earned him player of the game honors. Kopecky-Morton’s versatility on the court was a challenge for the Titans, according to Rayko. “He was playing well. He played inside and outside. We knew he could shoot 3’s and we tried to limit his touches in the post and tried to make him take some tougher jump shots. But he played well, he had a great game,” said Rayko. Kavi Simpson led Toll Gate with 25 points, 16 of which coming in the first half. Austin Noon also chipped in 10 points for the Titans, while Brandon Scott added seven. “Kavi played great. He was all over the place and really played phenomenal. This was the kind of game that I thought it would be. I figured it would be a back and forth game,” said Rayko. Although Toll Gate’s perfect season came to an end, the Titans still qualified for a spot in the open state tournament which begins this week. The 9th-seeded Titans will take on 8th-seeded Wheeler on Thursday evening in the preliminary round. Rayko and company hope to shake off the tough loss and put their best foot forward. “This is obviously tough, but we just need to get back to practice and get our heads straight and ready to play,” said Rayko. “We just need to focus on the open tournament and our first round matchup.”

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