My Pitch

Pats on right track despite loss

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The Pilgrim boys basketball team had a measuring stick game last Friday night when it hosted defending champion East Greenwich for an early-season bout.

Long story short, the Avengers gained a big lead early and made enough plays down the stretch to hold off the Pats and get the win.

There was a lot to chew on in this game and there are many points to be made … overall, though, I believe that this was a strong showing for Pilgrim despite the loss and I believe the Pats are heading in the right direction.

It was a tight opening few minutes, but EG would catch fire in the later part of the first half and at one point score 24 straight points. EG’s shooters could not miss in the run while Pilgrim’s interior players were shut down, and their shooters hit a rough patch from beyond the arc.

Down 25 points at half and carrying zero momentum, it looked like Pilgrim was cooked.

But right out of the gate in the second half, it was clear that the Pats would not back down. Tyriek Weeks shined, scoring 22 points in the second half and helping Pilgrim cut the deficit to single digits. However, the Avengers would settle down in the final 5, 6 minutes to hold off the Pilgrim attack and come up with some big shots of their own to wrap up the 63-52 victory.

First off, Weeks has been the difference maker that we all expected him to be so far this season. He was poised to be one of the top Division I players in the state this winter for Hendricken and is now a force in Division II after transferring. When he hits his rhythm, he can’t be stopped … just merely slowed down.

It was clear in the second half that the biggest adjustment was to get the ball in his hands as much as possible and to flat out just let him do his thing. It paid dividends, as Pilgrim climbed back into the contest and had EG on its toes down the stretch.

The other thing that stood out to me with Pilgrim was its ability to maintain its composure. Even in the midst of EG’s 24-0 run in the first half, the Pats never seemed rattled or discouraged. It showed in the second half, and if Pilgrim played that way in the first period, the result would have likely been different.

Obviously, it’s easy for us to say “what if” and to point out each and every area that Pilgrim could have improved. At the end of the day, EG was the better team that night and played a better 32 minutes.

Moving forward though, teams in Division II should be worried about Pilgrim. What we learned from that game was that Weeks is the best player in the division and the Pats are mentally tough.

Pilgrim faced West Warwick on Monday, but the results were not available at press time. That game will also be a telling sign of what this team is made of coming off the loss.

I think the key moving forward will be the rest of the team stepping up and demonstrating the ability to get everyone’s best game on the same night.

Peter Kay, another Hendricken transfer, has what it takes to be one of the top guards in DII, along with Dana Baptiste, who hit four 3’s in the loss.

Jared Reminder and Ethan Asadorian are quality forwards for Pilgrim and when Kenny Rix returns, he will provide even more depth to the lineup. Pilgrim can legitimately run seven, eight men deep. It will just be about all players showing up in unison. There were times last Friday when players seemed to fade in and out, but if all can play their best for 32 minutes, I think the Pats can make a serious run at this thing.

Next up, the Hendricken swim team hasn’t skipped a beat since last year’s state championship run, or swim.

Sure, the Hawks lost a few of their top swimmers to graduation, and this year’s group doesn’t look to have quite the same depth as last season.

Make no mistake about it though, Hendricken has plenty to work with at the top and have already begun integrating some of its younger athletes into the mix.

Hendricken returns studs like Aidan Blanchette and CJ Sheldon, and will also be led by the likes of John Walden, Ryan McPherson, Lucas Senecal, Grant Dator, and a few others. When I said earlier that this team doesn’t have the same depth at last year, by no means did I say it wasn’t deep … last season was just ridiculous.

As always, Hendricken is the favorite to win yet another title, and has more than enough talent to do it with relative ease.

Of course there are other powerhouses, like Barrington for example, that might have something to say about it, but Hendricken is in great shape to defend its title for another year, and I fully expect it to do just that.

Let me hit on one final topic: the New England Patriots. It was clear that they just did not have the talent to make a serious run at another Super Bowl and ran out of gas in the second half of the season.

Will Tom Brady stay next year? Signs are beginning to point toward “no” … but it is truly a toss up in my eyes. He wants the big payday, which he has never truly asked for, and Bill Belichick seems reluctant to give him one. Either way, regardless of what transpires in the next few months, you can’t complain with six Super Bowls in 19 years.

I’m actually a bit excited to watch the upcoming Super Bowl without a dog in the fight. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to see the Pats go for No. 7, but it’ll be nice to be able to enjoy the game and relax. I’m looking forward to it.

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