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Knights fall to Mott 70-60, finish second at Nationals!
The CCRI Knights basketball team’s dream season came to an end in the final game of “Championship Saturday” at the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Division II National Championship. The Knights fell to heavy favorite and No.1 seed Bears of Mott Community College from Flint, Michigan 70-60. With the loss the Knight end the season with the best record ever in CCRI Basketball history with at 31-5 and were the national runner-up for the second time in CCRI history (1991 under Vin Cullen). In addition, three Knights earned tournament awards: Desmond Williams (Torrington, CT) and Roger Livramento (Central Falls, RI) were selected to the All- Tournament Team and Bryan Yarce (Cranston, RI) was honored with the Fred Pohlman Sportsmanship Award.
Mott arrived at the National Tournament as the prohibitive favorite with a 34-1 record coming into the game. In addition, The Bears have been to Danville almost every year and beyond their home fans have acquired many Danville natives as fans, if you looked through the crowd you would have thought you were in Flint, MI. The Knights however, came into the game riding a season-high 13-game winning streak and had been playing their best team basketball of the season so this was not going to be a walkover.
The Bears lived-up to their billing jumping out to a quick 8-2 lead after a Ralph Eason lay-up four minute into the game. The Knights battled back to cut the lead to one point 8-7 on a Desmond Williams 3-pointer with 15:10 left in the half. The Bears, though not tall are extremely fast and quick and used that athleticism to go on another run over the next five minutes to extend their lead to 23-10 with 9:37 left in the half. Their lead reached as much as 17 points 27-10 with 7:17 left in the half. However, the Knights would not just roll over and showed that competitive spirit that the Danville fans have come to expect from the Knights. From there Williams, Livramento along with Isaac Medeiros (Johnston, RI) helped get the Knights back into the game as they helped the Knights out-score the Bears 13-2 over the final seven and a half minutes to close the half trailing by only six points with the score 29-23 Mott at halftime.
As the second half began the Knights had more adversity to overcome as their leading scorer, Williams, was under the weather and was the last to emerge for the locker room. He was not himself yet still attempted to battle through it for his teammates. As the half began Mott quickly extended their lead back to 12 points with the score 36-24 with 19:00 left in the game. Williams, like the warrior he is, helped battle his team back to within five points with back-to-back old fashioned three point plays to make the score 41-36 Mott with15:54 left. However, that is a close as the Knights would get. The Knights kept battling as a team even after losing Williams at the 10 minute mark. The Knights kept the game close and fought with the heart of a champion though they could not get over the hump to take a lead. In the end, Mott had a little too much fire power and ended up with the 70-60 victory and 2012 NJCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. The Knights have nothing to hang their heads about as they had the best season in CCRI basketball history, they have acquired a multitude of new fans and they were the final basketball team playing from Rhode Island for weeks.
Leading the way for the Knights was Desmond Williams with 16 points and six rebounds, giving him 116 points during his four-game tournament run and an All-Tournament selection. Williams was helped by fellow All-Tournament member Roger Livramento who also battled through multiple ailments to chart his fourth double-double in four tournament games, scoring 13 points with 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. Also helping the Knights was Isaac Medeiros with 15 points and nine rebounds and Bryan Yarce added six assists and six steals to go with four rebounds and three points. Yarce was a shining light for the Knights all season and was honored with the Fred Pohlman Sportsmanship Award which signified, that he played hard but with the most class and sportsmanship while being the floor General for the Knights.
Head Coach Rick Harris commented after the game “Every team loses their last game of the season but one, yet this Knight team is still Champions to me and my staff. Overall, I have never been more proud of a team than this team. They got better with each game and practice and achieved things that we only dreamed of when the season first began. Their comeback vs. South Suburban in the National Semifinals was a game for the ages. This team just never gave up! They can hold their heads high knowing that though they did not win a National Championship, they will always be known as the team that did play in a National Championship game. They always gave 100 % physically and mentally and always played as a team, and that is the big reason I am so proud to have coached them. Also very happy that the tournament committee named Desmond and Roger All-Tourney, very well deserved. In addition, Bryan earning the Sportsmanship Award makes me proud that our staff recruits kids who play the game hard and the right. Truly, this is a season to always be remembered!”