For decades, Central High ruled boys’ basketball in Rhode Island.
The Knights won eight Division I state championships from the late 1960s through the late 1970s, including seven straight from the 1968-69 season through the 1974-75 campaign.
Central added two more crowns in the late 1980s and won its last title in 1992.
At the dawn of the next decade, Hendricken supplanted Central as the king of the boys’ basketball hill. Entering this season, the Hawks have won six consecutive state titles under coach Jamal Gomes.
Central gave notice it might supplant the Hawks on Jan. 20 when it routed Hendricken, 76-61, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. But barely 48 hours later, Central received a dose of its own medicine when it was shocked, 65-61 by North Kingstown.
Central’s Robert Lewis was a factor in both games although against the Skippers not in the way he’s accustomed to being a factor.
Lewis dropped 36 points on Hendricken, which included five 3-point shots, and raised his season scoring average to 23.9 points. But against North Kingstown, the Skippers clamped down on Lewis and held him to 10 points while the winners’ Derryck Kilgore scored a game-high 23 points.
Despite the loss to North Kingstown, Central is making strides under first-year head coach Todd Keefe to restore some its past luster.
Ironically, Keefe coached Classical to a pair of state titles before accepting the position at Central.
Among other things, he’s instilled a sense of discipline and respect for opponents and officials which, in turn, has gained the Knights the respect of the Interscholastic League. And while run-and-gun ball has been a staple of past Central team’s, Keefe has his team operating more in a half-court game.
As a result, through games of January 25, Central led Division I-West with a 9-2 record and was 10-3 overall.
North Smithfield senior Kayla Kiernan broke the state record for most goals in a career when she popped home four during a 5-2 win over Cranston’s co-op team on January 22.
Kiernan’s outburst raised her career total to 100 and broke the record set four years ago by Lincoln School’s Mary Rogers.
But earlier in the day, Kiernan’s father was hospitalized after suffering a stroke.
Fortunately, her father is on track for recovery and with a souvenir since Kayla presented him the puck which she put in the net for the state record.
SCOTT GAVE IT HER BEST
As the saying goes, La Salle Academy goalie Holly Scott did everything except stand on her head during a key Division I game against Mount St. Charles.
Scott, a junior, made a whopping 53 saves and kept the Rams in the game before Mount prevailed, 4-2. Scott made 44 of her saves in the first two periods but Mount’s offense (Mount ranks second in the state with 44 goals) simply was too much.
Sophomore defender Meredith Peppes scored twice for the Mounties who remained undefeated with a 9-0-0 record while La Salle remained in second place at 7-3-0.
Moses Brown School has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the boys’ hockey season.
In fact, through games of January 25, the Quakers led Division I with a 10-1-1 record for 22 points – three more than second-place Mount St. Charles (9-0-1). But the Quakers ran afoul of the Interscholastic League, and were slapped with a one-year probation.
In addition, the school was fined $400 and head coach Larry Tremblay was suspended for two games.
According to the Interscholastic League, Moses Brown violated a rule that prohibits students below Grade 9 from practicing or playing with any school freshman, junior varsity or varsity team.
Three Moses Brown Middle School boys practiced a couple of times with the varsity last December and also played in two junior varsity scrimmages.
The penalties also were meted out because Moses Brown was deemed to have recruited the aforementioned players. In this case, Moses Brown was accused of having exerted “undue influence” via direct or indirect communication to “encourage” a prospective student in that school to participate in interscholastic athletics.
What irked school officials was the fact the boys in question are considered students because the middle school is part of the overall institution.
East Providence’s Michaela Wiggins recently became the first player in school history to pull down 1,000 career rebounds when she snared 12 during a 57-46 non-league victory over Narragansett.
Wiggins earlier this season scored her 1,000th career point – the first Townie ever to do so.
Then, barely 10 miles down the road in Barrington, senior Kelly Mannix became the first girl in school history also to grab 1,000 rebounds during a 55-26 romp over Ponaganset.
Ironically, Mannix scored her 1,000th career point during a first-round playoff game last season against Lincoln. Mannix now has just over 1,200 points for her career.
Hope’s Mikaela Garvin also joined the 1,000-point club recently when she scored a total of 37 points in games against Scituate and Johnston. Garvin is only the fourth player in school history to accomplish this feat.
RUN TO GLORY
Hendricken senior Ryan Meehan recently was named the Rhode Island Gatorade Boys’ Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Meehan placed second in the state championships meet – which the Hawks captured – and ran 13th at the Nike Cross Country Northeast Regional Championships.
As if to underscore his academic proficiency, Meehan will enroll in Harvard come the fall.
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey, plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y. he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.