The 2nd seeded Bishop Hendricken Hawks are headed back to the Final Four of the state basketball tournament after clobbering the 10th seeded Cumberland Clippers 57-38 on Sunday at the Murray Center …
The 2nd seeded Bishop Hendricken Hawks are headed back to the Final Four of the state basketball tournament after clobbering the 10th seeded Cumberland Clippers 57-38 on Sunday at the Murray Center during the Elite Eight round.
The Hawks were led by senior guards Eze Wali, and Azmar Abdullah, who contributed 20 points each.
Kalil Fofana, a senior, led the Clippers with 17 points, while Joseph Parenteau, a junior, chipped in ten points.
It was an intense battle at times and Hendricken head coach Jamal Gomes had a ton of respect for the Clippers.
“I talked to Gary Reedy after the game,” Gomes said. “His team is a class act. Cumberland had a great season. They were the one team in the regular season that took us to the limit and beat us in the regular season. My hat’s off to Cumberland. They had a great year, a great season, and he’s a great coach and they a have great players.”
The Hawks took an early 4-0 lead after baskets from Wali and Abdullah. Cumberland cut its deficit in half at 4-2 when Parenteau buried a jump shot.
Parenteau added an old-fashioned 3-point play after that, and pulled the Clippers within 6-5. Cumberland took a brief 8-6 lead when Connor Allard, a junior, sank a corner trey.
Hendricken took a 14-8 lead, nevertheless, after closing the first quarter on an 8-0 run. That spurt featured five points from Wali and three points from Lynch.
“For us, we knew this game was going to come down to toughness,” Gomes said. “Defensive toughness, rebounding toughness, good decision-making, and team work. And our guys did that.”
Abdullah opened the second quarter with an uncontested layup and it upped the Hendricken margin to 16-8. Then, Fofana answered with an And-1 and pulled the Clippers within 16-11.
Wali buried a corner trey next, and then, Matt Brock, a senior, tacked on a couple of free throws and got the Hawks margin to 21-11.
The teams traded baskets for the rest of the quarter and Fofana ended the first half with a buzzer-beating jumper, and pulled Cumberland within 32-22.
Clippers senior Taye Meerbott drained a right-wing trey, 39 seconds into the third quarter, and cut the Cumberland deficit to 32-25.
But that’s as close as the Clippers would get because next the Hawks would go on another 8-0 run.
Wali started that spurt with a layup, and then Lynch added four points, before James Caldarella, a sophomore, buried a jump shot, and gave the Hawks a 40-25 buffer, with 40 seconds remaining in the third frame.
Abdullah closed the quarter with a buzzer-beating 3ball, which handed the Hawks a 43-27 margin.
With under three minutes to play, the Hawks grabbed their largest lead of the contest at 53-33, when Abdullah recorded four points, and Wali, two points, during a 6-0 Hendricken run.
The Hawks starting five of Abdullah, Brock, Lynch, Wali, and Michael Paquette were in sync for most of the night.
“That’s our core group of guys,” Gomes said. “I thought James Calderella came in and gave us some great minutes. We are a senior team. We have eight seniors on our team with our five starters being seniors. This is their moment. And I’m so happy they get that opportunity to play at the Ryan Center this coming weekend. We’re excited.”
There, the Hawks will face off against the 11th seeded East Providence Townies on Saturday at 6 p.m.
“It’s a very special moment for me because my daughters’ team at Bay View Academy, they made the Ryan Center too,” Gomes explained. “So, it’s going to be Bay View playing in the early game and Hendricken playing in the late game, and it’s just a special moment. I really want to thank God. I’m so grateful for that opportunity for my family and I. And I’m so proud of our guys and their effort today.”
Avery Gomes is a freshman point guard on Bay View and Madison Gomes is a junior guard.
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