SPORTS

A wild finish and a budding rivalry

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 2/18/21

Last Friday night, I was lucky enough to cover two very exciting games that each went to overtime. The first was Bishop Hendricken basketball, who managed to tie the score on a buzzer-beating shot at the end of regulation to send it to the extra period.

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SPORTS

A wild finish and a budding rivalry

Posted

Last Friday night, I was lucky enough to cover two very exciting games that each went to overtime.

The first was Bishop Hendricken basketball, who managed to tie the score on a buzzer-beating shot at the end of regulation to send it to the extra period. The Hawks went on to roll in overtime to collect the win over Barrington.

The next was the Warwick and Cranston boys hockey game. The visiting Falcons were up two goals heading into the final period, but Warwick surged back to knot things up and send the contest to overtime. The two teams battled hard in the extra period and each had its moments to take control, but the game ultimately led to a tie and allowed each team to remain unbeaten.

As a journalist, overtime periods can be tricky.

Fortunately as the editor of weekly papers, my deadline schedules are not quite as strict as a daily. I am not looking at my watch quite as intently as other reporters. However, I gave myself very little time in between the two games, so when the Hawks went to overtime I began sweating a little bit.

Once I got my interviews, I ran to my car, hopped in, and drove like Jeff Gordon to the Thayer Arena and was able to get there in time to watch the majority of the game. It was a hectic hour or so.

Once the game ended and I did my reporting, something hit me … how lucky we are to have sports back even if things are different than the norm. Sure, my head was spinning and things became kind of blurry as I rushed from one event to the other. But looking back on it, the two games I covered were each outstanding and made my night a fun one.

Now, in terms of the actual games, I have a lot to touch on here.

First off, the Hendricken basketball program continues to be the gold standard in the state. That is not breaking news or anything, but I feel like every time I have the pleasure of covering the team, I leave more impressed than the time before.

Barrington was shooting lights out for most of the game and seemed to have the Hawks on the ropes in both the second and fourth quarters. The Hawks remained composed, upped their defensive efforts, made some plays on offense and pulled themselves out of the hole twice.

Hendricken was down two points with one second on the clock. It had the ball in its own end and was ready to inbound. The Hawks had a shot, but really, we all knew Barrington would hold on to the win. The upset was just so unlikely.

However, the Hawks took the court and executed the play … a throw in that was tipped in by big man Cam Hughes that sent the game to overtime. They were confident, poised, and kind of made it look easy.

I then found out after the game that not only had the team never run that play before, it never even practiced it. Coach Jamal Gomes drew it up in the timeout prior to the inbound and the players pulled it off. Crazy.

It’s times like that where you have to just tip your hat to the team. Gomes is the state’s best tone setter, and his kids all buy in to what he’s selling. Not to take away from the kids, they’re the ones that actually hit the court and play, but it all begins with Gomes.

Back to the kids though, what a play and what an effort. Considering the circumstances and the fact that every bit of it was in the moment and on the fly, it showed a tremendous amount of smarts and athleticism, as well as discipline, to get it done the way they did. What a game.

Then with hockey.

Similarly, Warwick showed a lot of guts in the tie as well. The Falcons were in control for the first two periods and forced Warwick to come back from a three-goal deficit.

For a team that is new as a co-op, against a team like Cranston that has been atop the standings all year, what an effort to pull themselves back into it. One thing that I adore about hockey is the importance of momentum.

In fact, I would say the momentum plays more of a role in hockey than any other sport out there. The swings are just so strong sometimes and that is what you saw all night at Thayer.

Leaving that game, I also came to the realization that these two teams seem destined to square off again. As of this writing, each team is still undefeated and near the top of the Division II standings. Now that Division II essentially absorbed Division III in the realignment, there are plenty of great teams and it will surely be competitive down the stretch.

But when it is all said and done, at the halfway point of the winter, it is clear that these two neighboring clubs are contenders. When looking at how great of a game it was, I just feel like they will be seeing each other again and probably when the lights are even brighter. Can’t wait.

One last tidbit here.

The Providence Journal pointed out last week that schedules have been made for the upcoming football season which is supposed to take place during the third season in March and April. At the same time, the state has yet to clear football from its high risk designation, so things are kind of at a stalemate.

I’ve been asked a few times over the last couple weeks what my thoughts are regarding the season and whatnot. To be honest with you, it’s hard to really have thoughts on it when we are all at the mercy of the state.

I would love to see the season kick off on time and to give the kids their chance to compete. I missed the Friday night lights in the fall and would be ecstatic to get a season in.

Ultimately, not much has changed, but I am happy to see the league start putting plans in place in the event the sport does get cleared for action. Better off being prepared than falling behind.

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