03.02.13: The CCRI Knights men’s basketball team traveled to Franklin, Ma on Saturday to play the No. 18 ranked (NJCAA DII poll) Bulldogs of Dean College in the Region XXI Division II Championship game. The Knights returned home with their 5th Region XXI (New England) Championship in the past seven years. Dean College (17-6) hosted the game due to their 3-1 conference record and CCRI (20-11) was 2-2 in conference play but came away Saturday with the 68-53 victory. With the victory the Knights advance to the District 2 Men’s basketball Championship to be played at and versus No. 5 ranked Monroe College from Rochester, NY next Saturday the 9th time still TBD.
The Knights trailed in this one just once as Dean opened the game with a three point shot to go up 3-0. CCRI responded by pounding the ball inside throughout the first half, taking advantage of their superior size advantage. This strategy led to a CCRI 41-17 lead at the half. Sophomore Co-Captain Point Guard Bryan Yarce (Cranston, RI) led the way in the first half scoring 10 of his game-high 17 in the opening frame helped by Center Pat Marchand (Cranston, RI) who scored 10 of his 12 points. The second half saw Dean come out with extreme full court pressure but they were never able to get the CCRI lead to less than 12 points. CCRI continued to patiently work the ball inside but also received solid perimeter play from their guards Desmond Williams (Torrington, CT), Steve Bevilacqua (Exeter, RI) , Chris Light (Derry, NH) and of course Yarce.
Bryan Yarce was the game's high scorer with 17 points and he delivered eight assists and two steals. Besides Marchand, CCRI’s front court got a big boost from 6' 8" Elijah Okagbare (Bourne, MA) who altered numerous Dean’s shots as well as chipping in with four points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. All-American Desmond Williams was under pressure all day from Dean but still finished with 14 points, six rebounds, and two blocked shots of his own.
Head Coach Rick Harris commented "Today we followed the game plan and played our best defensive game of the season. Two weeks ago we let Dean score 82 points against us in an 82-70 defeat. Today our guys were locked-in on the defensive end. Giving up just 53 points today is a testament to our guys’ commitment to defending the opponent. This is what gave us a chance to win this Championship and I could not be prouder of them."
The Knights will face No. 5 ranked Monroe College from Rochester, NY next Saturday the 9th in the District 2 Championship time still TBD. A win in that game will stamp a ticket to the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball National Tournament in Danville, IL March 19-23rd.
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.