Townies Joe Andrade Named a RI Basketball Coach of the Year
All Five EP Starters Garner Awards Also
The East Providence High School boys basketball program continues to receive accolades in a shortened season due to the Covid-19 pandemic gripping the world. Once the season had been officially declared over, some statewide awards were issued. The RI Basketball Coaches Association named Townie Head Coach Joe Andrade as a 2020 Division I Basketball Coach of the Year. All five starters on the team also received honors also. Andrade also won the award in 2017. R.J. Pina and Brian Taylor were first team All-Division I and second team all-league selections. Justin Pena, Josh Kauffman and Zach Russell were second team all-division.
“I definitely appreciate the award because it's your coaching peers who are voting. Obviously, it has been a good year even though it ended too early,” said Andrade. “This team was easy to coach, no discipline problems in or out of the classroom. It made my job easy and I appreciate that,” he added.
The season has been bitter-sweet as the most successful EPHS boys basketball team in some 20 years was hoping for a chance to play for the RI state championship. With its exciting 57-54 homecourt win over Cumberland High on senior night, the Townies boys basketball team had achieved the most wins in Division I play since 1979. East Providence has also played well in other seasons winning 12 times on five other occasions. The Townies were expected to handle Cumberland on senior night, but the Clippers had upset in mind when they outplayed EP and led at halftime 29-24. “We regrouped at the half and realized that we were rushing things. The team played better in the 2nd half and held on at the end,” said Townie coach Joe Andrade.
With the Townies struggling at times, Richard Pina kept them in the game with 21 points and several key rebounds and relentless play. Brian Taylor tossed in 10 points and Justin Pena had 8 key points. Josh Kauffman and Zach Russell each contributed 7 points for the Townies come from behind win. The Townie basketball fans have noticed the boys surge as each game is near capacity at the Townie gym.
In Division I playoffs the team, coached by EPHS teacher Joe Andrade, knocked off a strong LaSalle team at LSA and made it to the state divisional final four bracket. Hendricken would eventually win that title. At that divisional final four game against Hendricken at CCRI, close to 1,000 or more Townie fans comprised a standing room only crowd on the Townie side of the fieldhouse to cheer on East Providence. “Hendricken played a very scrappy game and they got a lot of hustle points,” said East Providence head coach Joe Andrade. “We have to execute better on offense and do the little things teams like Hendricken does, box out and take a charge,” added Andrade after the game.
East Providence looked good in the opening minutes of the game but the Hawks played steady, were hot on offense and widened their lead in the second half, to which EP could not recover. EP made a slight run late in the game cutting the deficit to 10 points but a third consecutive come from behind win was not in the cards. In the end, East Providence just missed too many shots and was out hustled by Hendricken. The Townies had three players reach double-digit scoring. Justin Pena (17), Brian Taylor (15) and Richard Pena (14).
FANS RESTRICTED FROM ATTENDING PLAYOFF GAME AT EPHS:
In their run to the open state championship, Before a mostly empty EPHS gymnasium on Thursday night, March 12th, the Townies dominated 20-4 Division 3 champion Lincoln High, 103-82. The fan-restricted game had officials allowing mostly parents to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally East Providence brings as many and usually more fans to interscholastic games as any school in Rhode Island, so it was certainly disappointing to hundreds of Townie fans that they could not attend the Sweet-16 basketball game. School officials arranged to have the game live-streamed so fans could watch at home. “Because tickets are limited for the Townie basketball playoff game vs. Lincoln, we are offering live stream coverage. Thanks to Asst. Superintendent Dr. Sandra Forand for organizing,” said East Providence Athletic Director Gregg Amore.
The game had a small crowd in the stands but players from both teams played with enthusiasm and didn’t hold back. East Providence, as they have done throughout the playoffs, started a bit slow and led at halftime 49-40. However, the Townies raced ahead in the second half to a blowout 21-point victory. A good portion of the second half saw many of the Townie non-starters in the game. All East Providence players saw action and were enthusiastically cheered on by the usual starters.
“Actually I planned to play some guys off the bench to hopefully wear Lincoln down as I knew they only play 5 guys as a rule. I was hoping our size and depth would wear them down,” said EP head Coach Joe Andrade. “Late in the game I was able to get a few more guys in.”
East Providence Director of Athletics, Gregg Amore was also impressed with his basketball coach. “Joe has the respect of his players, his fellow coaches in the league and our school administration,” said Amore. “He is a very good X’s and O’s coach but he also communicates well with his guys and that’s why he is a success,” Amore added.