On to semis

Toll Gate cruises past EWG in quarters

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The top-seeded, undefeated Toll Gate boys basketball team cruised past visiting Exeter-West Greenwich, 76-41 on Tuesday night in the Division III quarterfinals.

Brandon Scott and Kavi Simpson led the way for the high-flying Titans, scoring a combined 50 points on offense. The Toll Gate defense stifled the Scarlet Knights down the stretch as well, holding them to a mere 14 points in the second half.

“They were huge. The three seniors captains really do pilot the ship. Brandon and Kavi are our big scorers, (Aidan) Areson is huge on the inside as our big man and does all those little things that we need,” said Toll Gate coach Tom Rayko of his captains’ performances.

The Titans also topped EWG twice in the regular season, cruising to 76-36 and 74-63 wins. Size and experience were key in all wins, according to Rayko.

“I think we have experience and I think we just have some size over them. Their individual players just aren’t as big as ours which helps out,” said Rayko. “It was one of our better games this season, midway through the first half we really turned it on. We came out and scored three straight times in the second half which really put the game away in my opinion. We just kept building from there.”

Scott led Toll Gate with 27 points while Simpson added 23. Austin Noon also chipped in 11 while Francisco Lopez finished with 10. Alex Burdon led EWG with 12 points while Dave Hanna added 10.

The Titans will now head to Johnston High School this Friday, where they will take on No. 5 Lincoln. Toll Gate won their regular season matchup 61-54, and look to fire on all cylinders in the semifinals.

“Lincoln is a solid team. They shoot the ball well, they play good defense, those are going to be two things that they will be looking to do to beat us. We don’t want to give them many open shots because they have some good 3-point shooters. We always try to keep the ball moving on offense, keep Brandon and Kavi moving so that they can get open shots. Overall, we’re looking to win in the paint and to win the rebounding war,” said Rayko.

2018-19 marks perhaps Toll Gate’s best season ever, as the Titans boast a perfect 19-0 record heading into Friday. The Titans are confident, but also grounded when thinking about the big picture.

“When we finished the regular season 18-0, I never had a team finish undefeated in league play like that. It’s a great accomplishment, but now we’re looking to run the table because it’s win or go home,” said Rayko. “It’s one game at a time, we’re just looking at Lincoln. We hope to win and get to CCRI and hopefully raise a banner, but we don’t really talk about it, it doesn’t come up.”

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