April 15, 2024

Mayor’s Cup Games this Friday. Martin-Riverside Girls & Boys Basketball

Boys at 4:30, Girls at 6PM. EPHS is the site. Excitement building. Can MMS boys stop RMS' 6'6" Center? MMS has its own 6' plus center.

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Call it the Mayor’s Cup, call it the Future’s Showcase, call it anything you want but call it a lot of fun at East Providence High School this Friday afternoon if you like school rivalry sports. In this instance on Friday, February 3rd, it’s middle school rivalry basketball. Since the earliest days of East Providence athletics, the city’s two junior high/middle schools have enjoyed a rich history. It started out as Central Junior high vs Riverside Junior high school. The former Central Junior high on Taunton/Wheldon Avenues and Riverside Junior high on Pawtucket Avenue,  overlooking Narragansett Bay.  The Central Blue Devils became the Edward R. Martin “Wildcats” as they moved to a new school on Brown Street in 1977. The Riverside football team became the “Vikings” as they moved into their new building on Forbes Street in 1967.

There were many memorable athletic contests between Central-Riverside including the annual Central-Riverside Football game held at Pierce Stadium. The late sixties into the seventies saw some classic football clashes at Pierce with Central/Martin and Riverside players eventually joining together to form those powerhouse EPHS Townie champion football teams.  By the middle nineties, the two junior highs became middle schools sending the 9th grade to the high school configuration and pulling in the 6th grade from elementary.  Some photos accompanying this article are from a video of the 1994 Martin vs. Riverside game at Pierce.  Martin was undefeated that year and won the RI Junior High football championship.  Both schools were talented and sent many eventual all-staters to EPHS which then won a few state titles.  Central/MartinRiverside, a rivalry from the very early fifties.

But fast-forward to 2023. The two schools are now middle schools, football doesn’t exist for RI middle schools but basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, track are still competitive. This year both schools have seen exciting boys and girls basketball games. Earlier the soccer teams played each other in a Mayor’s Cup city game and now basketball is featured. The community is urged to come out Friday at 4:30 at EPHS to support Martin and Riverside student-athletes. The players will play on the brand-new high school gym floor and it is a chance for parents and others to see some of the new $189M high school campus.

EPHS athletic director Alex Butler is as excited about the Mayor’s Cup game as the teams are. “It's a great opportunity for the middle school athletes to play a game at the high school and get a feel for what the future could look like for them. Just like our high school games, there will be starting lineups and music and the kids will play with a shot clock, which doesn't exist in middle school. It will be a fun evening for the athletes and their families,” said AD Butler. Butler was a top student-athlete in his EP high school days and still holds the top scoring record for Rhode Island College as an All-American basketball player. Butler has coached basketball and volleyball at EPHS and took over as Athletic Director with Gregg Amore becoming the RI Secretary of State.
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RMS Boys have two “Bigs” -  Head Coach: Scott Breault              Fans will get a chance to see Riverside’s “twin towers” in brothers Jayden and Jehuriel Fernandes. Jayden is an 8th grader and stands at 6’6” tall. Jehuriel is in the 7th grade and is 6’3.” Most middle school players are generally well under 6’ in height. The Fernandes brothers are young and gaining experience with each game. Both seem to be at an awkward stage of athletic growth for middle schoolers and show signs of dominance but not all the time. “It’s a learning process and they have great potential,” said RMS coach Scott Breault. “Jayden has really developed over the year both offensively and defensively. He is becoming more and more of a presence in the middle. Jehuriel has great length to affect outside shots and is coming along offensively.”

The Vikings also feature a key player in Aidan Martins. “Martins does a little bit of everything for the team,” said Breault. He is very athletic and this is his first season of organized basketball.” Martins can be a prolific scorer with a couple of 30-point games to his stats.

Coach Breault went on to outline others in the Viking squad:
“Jacob Stover also does a little bit of everything. He is a three-year player on the team and his shown great work on and off the ball.

John Wooten is the energy guy and doesn't score a lot but is great at rebounding and very strong defensively.

Jonathan “JJ” Renaud is a good defender and his offense has been coming along nicely. He is good at staying within his game.

Eamonn Reddy & Future Patrick are good defenders, play well and with lots of energy that can be used often as the team needs.

“Our team has shown steady improvement. We defeated Martin earlier in a league game but they are a good team and Friday’s re-match should be exciting.” - Head coach Breault -

Riverside Middle Girls - Head Coach: Katie Kenahan
The RMS girls have eight 8th graders. The team is led by Captains, Zarae Hall and Jamie Andrews. “Both girls are team players who strive to do their best in every single game,” said head coach Katie Kenahan. “Zarae is my leading scorer this year and a fierce defensive competitor. She has a range on her shot that makes her a threat from behind the three point line, but she has the skill to drive in and be a threat in the paint as well.”
“Jamie is our point guard and main distributor. She is in every play on an assist, grabbing a rebound, or getting in the middle of a play and causing a turnover. Both of our captains bring an undeniable presence and passion to our team.”

8th grader Shelby Quinn is another fierce competitor for RMS. Quinn came back about halfway through the season after recovering from an ankle injury. “Shelby has made her presence known since her return and has added to our strength both on and off the court. Her ball handling skills give us a depth we were missing, and she continues to strive to contribute on both sides of the court.”

“Lailah Valles is another 8th grader who adds to our program. Defensively she constantly works to add to our game - stealing the ball, causing turnovers, or just playing defense to keep the other team contained. Lailah has the ability to go to the rim and score, and when she is confident in herself, her possibilities are endless.”

Another 8th grader is Layla Bates. “Layla has continued to improve every year she has returned, and contributes defensively constantly, hustling anytime she steps foot on the floor. More recently, Layla has discovered her offensive threat, which has significantly helped us this season.”

“Abby Raphael, our center, is another 8th grader with endless potential. She has raw talent that goes beyond the court and is going to be a huge threat come high school if she keeps working on her craft. Abby is another fierce competitor who rebounds for us constantly and helps contain major players on other teams. She continues to realize her potentially offensively, which has helped us greatly throughout the second half of our season.”

“Jazyah Dugan is an 8th grader we look to for depth in our line-up. Jazyah has a naturally great shot and is a threat offensively both behind the three-point line and in the paint. Our final 8th grader is Chloe Sullo. Chloe came to us this year never playing basketball before, but a natural athlete whose presence rounds out our 8th grade team in a fantastic way. She continues to impress me with how quickly she has picked up the game. Our 7th graders who have contributed in a major way this year have been newcomer, Genna Dos Santos, whose defensive showings frustrate and isolate major players on other teams, and 8th grader Envyie Hull, who we look to add depth to our roster as well.” - Head coach Kenahan -
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Martin Middle Girls –  Head Coach: Damian Ramos
“For the first time in years Martin Middle School girls are heading to the playoffs,” says an excited head coach Damian Ramos. “I am so proud of these girls. They ended the regular season 6-4. We stumbled a bit, but we finished the season with a win. We are led by the solid defensive play of team captain, Audrey Bernard. 7th Grader, Eva Fontaine has led the team in scoring all season and has been, at times, difficult for opponents to stop. We have also received solid play from a bunch of players when called upon. 8th graders Justice Blyther, Jada Amado, Caroline Cowgur, and Mazie Baraf have all aided in the Wildcats success. Martin also has a group of 7th graders Melissa Telavi, Victoria Capelo, and Isabel Guerra who have also seen quality minutes for the team. This group has given Martin our first winning season in a long time. We still continue to learn but I'm so happy that girls basketball overall in East Providence continues to grow! Now on to the playoffs.” Ramos is a popular youth sports coach throughout East Providence and also assists with EPHS football. “I’ll be ready and so will my Wildcat team this Friday,” added Ramos. “Riverside is a great team.”

Martin Middle Boys – Head Coach: Chris Kennedy
Martin features one of the league’s best basketball centers and should present as a good match up with Riverside’s 6’6” center. Jervon Brown, at well over 6’ tall, will present a challenge to Riverside’s twin towers. “We're led by really good guard play, and I think, one of the best big centers in RI middle school. After starting the season losing 3 of our first 4 games, we've rolled off 5 of 6 to finish the season on a high note with a 6-4 record,” said Martin coach Chris Kennedy. “We qualified for the playoffs and seem to be playing good ball late in the season. We should be a team to be reckoned with the rest of this season,” added Kennedy. “The Mayor’s cup game will be a good one against Riverside. Our team is looking forward to the big venue at the new high school gymnasium.” - Coach Kennedy.

The stage is set. The venue is the state-of-the-art new East Providence High campus and the local four middle school teams are ready to compete for the Mayor’s Cup. Familiar rivals, Martin and Riverside, boys and girls, will continue a decades long tradition of facing each other.

Quoting the late Fred Ferrara, respected coach of Riverside Junior High in the 1994 Riverside-Central football game, “… the real winner in these series is EPHS, where most of these student-athletes will be going.”

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