Townies Drop Title Game to Johnston 60-45
Rhode Island College - Johnston High School hadn't won a girls basketball championship in 15 years and East Providence High had never won a state title. In a chance for both teams to do so on Saturday, March 4th at Rhode Island College, it was the undefeated Johnston Panthers who took home the honors with a 60-45 win. The Townies were never really in the game after falling behind by a 10-2 score early in the first half. The Panther's Jordan Moretti hit on two 3 point bombs in the first minute of play and Johnston never lost the lead. Moretti was the game's high scorer with 14 points.
The Townies had some chances early on but couldn't quite finish on several drives to the basket. EP's Jasmyne Ivy scored the team's first basket in a nifty bank shot off the glass and then Lillian Conti drove in for a layup making the score 10-2. EP made a little noise after Shaniah Hazard's drive and layup made the score 13-7, Johnston.
Johnston showed a full court press on defense and Conti broke free and was fouled as she drove toward the basket. Conti hit both free throws and the Townies closed to 13-9. The game went back and forth for a bit and a jump shot by Courtney Dorr brought the Townies to within 2 points at 15-13.
Little by little the Panthers showed why they were undefeated all year as they opened up a 22-15 gap on another 3 pointer by Bianca Robbins. EP clawed back to a 23-17 score on a Hazard rebound and put-back basket but the game was slipping away.
Starting the second half with some cold shooting didn't help EP and every time the Townies would look like they were coming back, Johnston would roar back to widen their lead. EP began to make some desperation shots and the game became beyond reach for the Townies.
With a minute left in the game, Coach Mike Solitro substituted to get his bench seniors in the game. With the Johnston crowd cheering "It's all over," the Panthers celebrated with their first title in 15 years. The Townies will have to wait another year.
East Providence is young with only three seniors and should be competitive again next year. However, Johnston boasts of only 1 senior on their roster and will be very good for a while.
"I'm proud of our players," said coach Solitro after the game. "We got in a hole and they (Johnston) were hot from the start. We're a young team and will get better, we still have the open tournament to look forward too," added the coach on an upbeat note. The Townies and Johnston may face each other again as the open tournament features all schools regardless of division.
Photos in this story were taken and provided by Tyler Maxwell.