After the four, four-team regions that comprise the R.I. boys’ basketball open tournament were revealed, clever minds declared Region IV “The Blackstone Valley Invitational.”
The folks at The Prout School may feel slighted with such a bold declaration, but look at the rest of the region’s participants. Here you have two of the three division champions in Cumberland and North Smithfield along with Shea.
In other words, the moniker fits.
The Rhode Island Interscholastic League released the pairings Monday night after reviewing the Power Point standings and tie-breaking procedures for one last time. The region with the most local flavor is also the one that will use Roger Williams University as its opening-round site.
Thursday night’s doubleheader on the Bristol campus will feature No. 5 North Smithfield vs. 12th seeded Shea at 6 p.m. followed by fourth seeded Cumberland against No. 13 Prout at 8. The quarterfinal winners will meet next Sunday at Providence College’s Alumni Hall. The state semifinals will be Friday, March 8 at URI’s Ryan Center and the final Sunday, March 10 at URI at 7:30 p.m.
Region IV holds the distinction as the only one not to feature a team hailing from Division I. All told, eight tournament bids were scooped up by Division I teams with seven going to Division II schools. North Smithfield will carry the torch for Division III as the Northmen seek to keep their magical season – one that’s featured 24 wins in 24 opportunities – going.
This marks the third consecutive season that boys’ basketball has staged an open tournament. St. Raphael captured the inaugural event in 2011 when the field featured 16 teams. Last year saw the field expanded to 30 teams with Central emerging as the victor.
“Having the divisional championships, that’s very important, but this (open) tournament is gaining notoriety,” said Shea head coach Matt Pita. “It gets better every year and I think (the RIIL) has found something that works.”
In Region I, which will hold quarterfinal games Wednesday at Rhode Island College, you have top overall seed Classical against No. 16 West Warwick along with No. 8 Westerly taking on No. 9 North Providence. The Bulldogs-Cougars game tips off at 6 p.m. with the Purple-Wizards clash set for 8 o’clock.
Region II games are scheduled for Wednesday night at CCRI-Warwick and will see No. 2 La Salle take on No. 15 Bishop Hendricken at 6:30 p.m. followed by No. 7 Hope against No. 10 Coventry at 8:15.
Thursday night will see Region III swing into action with CCRI-Warwick featuring sixth seeded Mount Pleasant versus No. 11 Barrington at 6:15 p.m. with third seeded North Kingstown squaring off against No. 14 Cranston West at 8:15 p.m.