Raiders rounding into playoff form
Shea senior forward Nathan Lopes (21) battles Lincoln defenders Tyge Joyce (14) and Osel-lie Saine for control under the boards at Shea during first-half action Tuesday night. PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN
PAWTUCKET â€” For a ballclub hoping to be one of the deserving 16 teams in the stateâ€™s Open Tournament at the end of February, Sheaâ€™s been doing its part these days by turning in some excellent basketball.
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On Tuesday night, the Raiders put together another splendid outing to sew up their fourth straight victory, this one coming at â€śThe Cageâ€ť against neighboring Division II crossover foe Lincoln.
Junior guard Chris Mainvilleâ€™s contest-high 21 points and nine assists and senior forward Alvin Semedoâ€™s double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds led the way for the Raiders in their 63-48 triumph.
The win improves the Raidersâ€™ Division II-Central mark to 8-4 and overall record to 10-5, but the schedule doesnâ€™t get any easier for them. Their next two games are against the iron of the Division II-North in North Providence (11-2) and Cumberland (9-2).
â€śHopefully, we can keep it together and keep playing hard,â€ť added Shea coach Matt Pita. â€śDivision II is no letup. North Providence is coming in Friday night, and then we have Cumberland next Tuesday night. Theyâ€™re tough games. Anybody can win in this league, so you have to bring it.â€ť
The Raiders certainly brought it last night, and they needed to do so, because the Lions, who fell to 5-8 in the division (6-11 overall), refused to go away quietly.
Lincoln trailed by as many as 15 (35-20) in the opening half, but outscored its host, 10-2, down the stretch to soar into the break down by a 37-30 score.
Again, the Raiders brought their lead back into the teens (46-33) in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Lions fought back with three quick layups to again make it a seven-point game with 9:57 still to play.
But the Raiders broke away from their visitors for good with a 10-1 run, with Mainville leading the charge with six straight points, followed by a nice assist on Eli Itkinâ€™s three-pointer that capped the run.
â€śWe found a way to win,â€ť said Pita. â€śLincoln played tough, but we hit some key shots at the right times, we executed our gameplan, and we ran as much as we could.â€ť
The Raiders also did a great job tremendously defensively and played a large role in the Lionsâ€™ 27 turnovers on the night. They also shined in the blocked shots department with 14 and got a great game off the defensive glass from Tito DoCouto (eight rebounds, five blocks).
The other two members of the Raidersâ€™ starting five also contributed to the cause, with Nathan Lopes finishing with a dozen points and Itkin also excelling defensively with five steals.
The bulk of the Lionsâ€™ offense came from three players. Jon McCourt scored a team-high 19 points to go with six steals, Ryan Kelly contributed 15 points and a dozen rebounds, and Oseh-Lie Saine added eight points and 10 boards.
The Lions, who are looking to secure a playoff spot and join the Raiders in next monthâ€™s Division II tournament, will return to Pawtucket on Friday for an 8 p.m. contest against another team in the playoff hunt, Tolman (5-6), and then host Exeter/West Greenwich (7-5) the following Tuesday.