A group of young men playing basketball in a gym.

Central Boys Basketball gets RI season off to a running start – John Cardullo

by John Cardullo, sportswriter

Photos: Michelle Rawcliffe, AD, Central High School

For the Central Boys’ basketball team, a last second basket over the Barrington Eagles gets the 2022-23 season off to a running start!

The start of the 2022-23 Boys’ basketball season was promoted as the season “Tip-off” celebration. Central was hosting the Barrington Eagles at their home, the PCTA Center next door to Central High School. Showing off their new Scoreboard (with capabilities to show the game live, or to run replays on command) and the graphically enhanced scorers table. But neither could out-do the game between the Barrington Eagles and Central Knight’s.

When these two teams played last season, it was Barrington that was a team full of under classmen, led by sophomores Matt Raffa and Nick Scandura who marched into the PCTA center and walked away with a double digit win. Earlier in this game it looked as if history was about to repeat itself. Barrington’s head coach, Mike Raffa, watched as his Eagles raced off to an early 14 point lead. Once again led by his son, Mike, and Scandura, who was joined by Sean Bonneau, Dan Coogan and Evan Anderson. The team looked in mid-season form as they ran their offense with precision and was very physical on the defensive end. Barrington went into the first half with an 11-point edge.

Central, at times during the first half, was unable to match up with the Eagles. Where Barrington was successful running the floor, Central couldn’t get open shots to fall. Encouraged by their Head Coach, Michael Reed (who is in his third year at the helm of the Knight’s basketball team) to keep playing hard and running their offense. “I knew if we just stayed to the game plan, things were going to start turning around for us.” Reed said. “We were a little too loose and began to panic when we were unable to score. All we had to do is relax and play our game like we’re capable of playing!”

As the 3rd quarter started, Central began to settle into an offensive rhythm and stepped up their defense. Led by Steven Jaquez who came into his own as a Junior last season, veteran Derrick Montgomery, Rayquan Cannon who was joined by Lestor Rodriguez, Jason Gomez and both Justin Odsen and Jesus Folger, Central began chipping away at the Barrington lead getting it down to 4 points late in the game. It was at the 3-minute left in the game when Central unrelenting defense began to wear down the Barrington offense. As Central rotated defenders on the two big Barrington scorers, Raffa and Scandura. Central was getting huge contributions from their bench. Christian Rosario, JJ Joseph and Moises Acevedo either made big defensive plays or came up with big baskets down the stretch run.

Central’s Jason Cannon gave Central their first lead when he went to the foul line to shot 3 free throws after being foul trying to make a 3-point basket. Cannon went to the foul line and made all three foul shots. Barrington pulled ahead with ten seconds on the clock taking a 53-52 lead. After several time outs and substitutions, Central hit the go ahead basket with just 4.9 seconds left on the game clock. Barrington was unable to get the ball past half court when a made scramble ensued and Central came up the ball to close out the game taking a victory out of the jaws of defeat. Coach Reed said after the game, “The team never gave up! They fought hard to stay in the game early. They came out of the halftime break confident and kept chipping away. They turned the tables on Barrington with their aggressive defense and scrambling offense.” He went on to add, “we took a step closer to becoming a good team, Players came off the bench and made a huge contribution to this win and the veteran players kept everyone calm as we climbed back into the game. I was very proud tonight, there was absolutely no quitting in this team tonight!” Coach Reed concluded, “Barrington is a very good team. Last season they came in here with virtually the same team and beat us up! We remember that and we took that lesson and turned it into an experience that made us a better team tonight”.

So, the 2022-23 season has begun and if the Barrington and Central game is any indication of what we can expect, it is going to be one exciting high school basketball season to look forward to!


John Cardullo, sportswriter
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