BY CHARLIE ADAMS, TSM LEAD WRITER
(Cranston, RI) - The Cranston East boys basketball team came into this game against the Westerly Bulldogs on a five-game skid. An abysmal 1-7 record in January has brought their playoff aspirations to a screeching halt. Their chances dwindle with every loss, and it is nearing do-or-die time for the ‘Bolts. Similarly, Westerly also held a 1-7 record in January heading into the matchup. In a roller coaster game with both teams looking for their second win, the Thunderbolts pulled out a close victory, 66-59.
Cranston East was led by Naz Milien pitching in with 25 points. Delwin Montan’s eight first-quarter points helped the Bolts race out to a 14-0 lead, and Davien Barry’s 12 third-quarter points helped out in crucial times. Early smothering defense and later three-point shooting also played major roles in the ‘Bolts victory.
The Thunderbolts came out swinging to kick off the game, forcing back-to-back turnovers to start the game and pounding the paint. Each starter scored in the paint in the first quarter, led by Montan’s eight points in their best first quarter this season. With Westerly’s shooting struggles and the ‘Bolts ball movement, East took a commanding 23-9 lead.
The Bulldogs proved in the next quarter they were far from out of it, as they warmed up their shooting while the Thunderbolts got sloppy. The ‘Bolts began to abandon the aggressiveness that put them in the lead, settling for lower percentage looks instead of finding the open man. Uncommonly, it was their rebounding - an achilles heel for them all season - that kept them ahead as they ventured to halftime, leading 30-29.
Following halftime, the ‘Bolts made it rain early from deep, scoring four straight 3-pointers in a dizzying stretch. Milien (nine points) and Barry (four 3-pointers in period) shined from deep. They fully recovered from their previous shaky quarter as they led by 15 points heading into the fourth quarter, 55-40.
The Thunderbolts appeared to continue their trend of on-and-off quarters in the fourth. Luckily for the ‘Bolts, the Bulldogs weren’t taking the chances given to them to make a comeback. Albany Torres-Carrasco’s free-throw and offensive rebound and score put the game out of reach with under a minute remaining. The game finished up 66-59, with time running out before Westerly could finish off their comeback.
The ‘Bolts did what they needed to do: beat a struggling team. They will have another chance to beat a team trending down when they travel to face the 3-9 North Kingstown Skippers next Tuesday, that game will tip off at 7 PM.
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