Warwick, R.I. – February 29, 2016: The CCRI Knights Men’s Basketball team traveled to Franklin, MA on Saturday afternoon to play for the Region XXI Championship against No. 10 ranked (NJCAA DII basketball poll) Dean College. CCRI had previously lost to Dean three times on the season but that would not be the result from this game. The Knights took home the win by the score of 94-87 in a thrilling high scoring affair.
The Knights jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead in the game thanks to Jordan Grant (New London, CT) and Edvaldo Ferreira (Cape Verde), who were able to get some buckets close to the basket. This was a key early for the Knights as it would open up the outside shots for their shooters. Adrian La Fleur (Sydney, Australia) took advantage of just that hitting some outside shots early to get the CCRI scoring.
Dean did not have any trouble scoring on their end though as they were able to put respond to the Knights hot start with a 10-4 run of their own to take the lead 25-24. Dean held that lead throughout the first and led by double digits at one point. La Fleur and Grant kept the Knights in it on offense as Grant scored 11 points in the half and La Fleur dropped 14. La Fleur also connected on four 3-pointers to really help the Knights stay within striking range, including a late one to cut the deficit from 10 to seven just before halftime. Dean went into the break with a 46-39 advantage.
After the strong start by the Knights, they trailed from about 8:30 in the first half all the way until about four minutes remained in the second half. Every time the Knights got close, Dean would go on a mini-run to maintain their lead. La Fleur hit a 3-pointer for the Knights to cut the lead to three, 58-61, with 12 minutes to go, but Dean responded with a run to go back up eight. Elijah Vazquez (Woonsocket, RI), after going scoreless in the first half, decided it was time to hit some shots. Vazquez hit a barrage of 3-pointers in the final six minutes that propelled the Knights to take the lead. The first 3-pointer tied the game at 76, which was followed by a made 3-pointer by Dean, which was then followed by another Vazquez three to tie it back up at 79. After a missed shot by Dean, Vazquez drilled another 3-pointer to give the Knights an 82-79 lead, their first lead of the half.
Those 3-pointers sent the Knights on an 18-8 run to finish the game. The Knights held that lead strong thanks to excellent free throw shooting, 21-26, which included La Fleur’s 10-13 from the line on the nights. La Fleur and Vazquez combined to make five in a row down the stretch to put the game away. Final Score 94-87, Knights Win!
Adrian La Fleur was amazing in the win for the Knights. He dropped a season high 35 points while shooting an impressive 7-10 from beyond the arc. La Fleur hit big shot after big shot to keep the Knights in the game while once again being the team’s best passer as he recorded six assists. He also scored 21 points in the second half to which included a number of clutch free throws late in the game.
Elijah Vazquez scored 16 points in the game, all in the second half. 11 of those points came within the final four minutes as he chose the right time to get hot. The sharpshooter also added four steals and four rebounds to fill out his stat line. Jordan Grant and Edvaldo Ferreira were both forces down low as they each recorded 15 points and 14 rebounds. They were able to protect the paint and limit second chance points for the opposition while Grant added eight offensive rebounds of his own, to keep possessions alive for the Knights.
Head Coach Rick Harris had this to say about his team’s big win, “So special seeing these young men come together and taking the New England Championship from a powerful Dean team on their own home court. Our guys played as one and played the best team defense I have seen them play all season. Between our zone and man to man we never let Dean play how they wanted. Offensively we played unselfish ball as evident with 23 assists on our 30 made baskets. We got high percentage shots and played with excellent basketball IQ. Really was for me a game for the ages to be part of. It is a coach’s greatest wish to see his team play as one and that is what I saw today. Great enjoyment working together for a common cause was evident in our players approach to the game. And it was what was needed as Dean is an excellent opponent who badly wanted to go out on top in their last season before moving to NCAA DIII. Will enjoy this special moment for a day or two and then begin preparing for our District Championship game next Saturday.”
CCRI will host Monroe College on Saturday at 1 pm for the District Championship. The game will be played, as always, at the Vincent A. Cullen Fieldhouse on the Warwick Campus.
The Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest comprehensive community college, enrolls nearly 18,000 students in credit courses and thousands more in non-credit and job training classes. Its athletic program boasts 12 varsity programs and an academic support program for all student-athletes.
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