Shea girls' basketball team seeks second seed in Div. III playoffs

Shea girls' basketball team seeks second seed in Div. III playoffs

Shea’s Denesha Lomba does her best to stay inbounds with the ball as Tiverton’s Jillian DaSilva plays tight defense on her during the first half of last week’s Division III-East showdown at the Raiders’ gym. Lomba scored nine points, but the visiting Tigers escaped with a 49-46 victory. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Raiders lose first-place clash with Tiverton, but come back to beat Central Falls

PAWTUCKET – The Shea High girls’ basketball team faced arguably its toughest week of the regular season, battling neighboring rival Central Falls in a crossover game last Friday night and Division III-East foe Tiverton three nights earlier.

The Raiders were able to overcome a slow start and come back from an seven-point deficit with four minutes to play to top the Warriors, 57-53. But against the Tigers, in a showdown for first place in the division, Shea had trouble sinking its shots down the stretch and suffered a 49-46 loss. Mariah Ramos, the Tigers’ talented freshman, scored 23 points and hit some important free throws near the end of the game to seal the win.

“We were up six with six minutes left, and then all of a sudden, we turned the ball over like three or four times in a row and (Tiverton) got layups,” Shea head coach John Lickert said after the loss. “And you can’t give (Ramos) the ball in open court because you can’t stop her.”

The Tigers recently ended their regular season with a 17-1 mark (and a 16-game win streak) and will be the top seed in the Division III playoffs, which will begin on Friday night.

Classical’s final record is 16-2, and Shea went into its regular-season finale on Tuesday at Mount Hope with a 15-2 mark. If the Raiders won that game, they will be the second seed and Classical will be the third because Shea holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Classical, due to the Raiders’ 47-46 victory over them on Jan. 20.

“The big thing is the playoffs,” Lickert added. “That’s when you want to win. But (Tiverton) is going to be tough.”

The Raiders’ loss to the Tigers was their second of the season to them. The first matchup came at Tiverton on Jan. 8 and the Raiders lost, 53-43, but Shea went on to win its next 11 games before losing last week’s rematch.

“We didn’t play well down there,” Lickert said. “They beat us pretty easily, but at least we gave them a game tonight.”

Last week’s game was a back-and-forth affair, and a low-scoring first half, as turnovers and missed shots got the best of Shea. By the end of the half, the Tigers held onto a 17-16 lead, with the Raiders getting the ball to start the second.

But then came a bizarre scene, as Shea inbounded the ball and six players appeared on the court. Play was quickly whistled dead, and the Raiders were called for a technical foul. Ramos shot the two technical free throws, and seconds later, she sank a three to give her team a 22-16 advantage.

The Raiders eventually battled back, and Yasmine Santos, who led Shea with 14 points, gave them a 25-24 lead by putting in a layup. Ashley Torres then extended that lead with a three-point play in the paint, and with six minutes left in the game, Shea took a 37-31 lead on a three by Kaylisse Depina.

But the Tigers also came back, and after they tied the score at 39-39, they went ahead to stay. Twice, the Raiders cut their deficit to a point in the final 80 seconds, but that was as close as they came to the lead.

“We made a run, but I think we just ran out of gas,” added Lickert. “I don’t know how we ran out of gas; (Tiverton) played last night and we didn’t. There’s no excuse for it. I think (Tiverton) just wanted it a little more than we did.

“We are a young team, but (Tiverton) is young too, so that’s no excuse,” continued Lickert. “We just didn’t execute down the stretch, when the game was on the line, and they did. They made the shots.”

Three nights later, the Raiders came back to top the Warriors, as Torres scored 15 points, Santos added 14, and Depina had 12. Jenna Merhi also sank a pair of three-pointers late in the game to help the comeback.

Shea’s Kaylisse Depina, left, has her sights set on tossing in a layup as Tiverton’s Aja Caldwell tries to get her hand on the ball during last week’s contest at the Raiders’ gym. The Tigers posted a 49-46 victory that helped them wrap up the top seed in the Division III playoffs, which are expected to begin Friday night.