As we've pointed out several times during the course of the basketball season, a coach - any coach, of any team, at any level - never truly knows what he has until a certain point in the season, a point that can be hard to identify and define. It's all about coaching 'em up, practicing, game experience...and then watching to see if, at some point, it all begins to come together. Certainly last season, we saw that with our basketball team, as late in the season it all started to reach that special point, but unfortunately and ironically, the run that the Hawks put together in both the division and state playoffs were stopped by Classical, the eventual state champion.
Last night, however, was a different story.
This edition of the basketball Hawks, with another year of experience and development under its belt and a solid core of talent, is, indeed, beginning to develop into something special. Only time will tell just how finely-tuned they'll become, but for now, they're beginning to separate themselves from a portion of the pack in Division I. Obviously, there are still elite teams out there - namely LaSalle and North Kingstown, amongst others - with whom the Hawks will have to contend at some point, but last night's game against the Purple - broadcast live right here on The Network - was truly a great game to watch, as our guys took care of business in a 75-60 win and are now at 8-1 in Division I play.
The majority of the second half of the game (which will be explained momentarily) can still be seen in the central Ustream viewer at the top of the page, and the entire first half can be seen right here:
Video streaming by Ustream
First, let's start by giving credit where credit's due - if you haven't had the opportunity to see Kelan Ives play, try to make it happen. The Purple's point guard is truly the best player in the state and is incredible to watch. Last night he hit eight three-pointers - a few of them from NBA distance, and most that barely made the net move - on his way to a game-high 38 points. Even as the Hawks began to pull away in the second half, he never stopped competing and is absolutely the heart and soul of their team. Kelan is also the brother of DuJuan Ives, a Hendricken graduate of a few years ago and a pretty good point guard in his own right, and a great kid, too. DuJuan had a hand in more than a few Hawks' hoops victories while he was here. It's no doubt that the little brother sharpened his skills somewhere along the line by being pushed around on the court by his big brother. DuJuan is on track to graduate from Rhode Island College with a major in Physical Education this spring.
Coming into the game, there was a lot of excitement, since the Purple are the defending state champions and still one of the elite teams in the state. The Hawks lost to North Kingstown early in the season, so this was going to be their real first chance to test themselves against some of the state's iron and to see the extent to which they've developed. Pepin gym was rockin' last night, from warm-ups right through the end of the game.
One of The Network's newest members, freshman Dylan Barron, worked as one of our sideline photographers during last night's game and turned in some nice shots of the action:
And, of course, the always-relaible Max Zweiner was there to capture some quality video as well.
As expected the game was closely contested early on, and the Hawks held only a five-point advantage at the half, despite playing what might be termed one of, if not their best, halves of basketball of the season. Then, two interesting things happened.
First, The Network experienced some maddening problems with the Ustream service, which prevented viewers from seeing the first five or six minutes of the second half; second, what the viewing audience missed was that the Hawks came out of the gate fast and by the time we had the stream back up, our guys had opened their lead to 11 points. From there, the Hawks continued to methodically extend their lead, until the game reached the point at which the outcome was all but academic.
There were more than a handful of Hawks who were key contributors, namely Matt Duffie, who had an incredible game with 31 points (17 of 22 at the free-throw line). One of Matt's buckets can be seen here:
Garfield Coustard continued his great play with his second consecutive 14-point game. Some of Garfield's highlights can be seen here:
Will Parmlee (11 points) and Ira Lough (10) also made their presence felt as the Hawks continued to grind the Purple down.
So, from beginning to end, it was a great night and a great win for the Hawks. Max Zweiner caught up with Coach Gomes after the game and got his thoughts on the contest:
The Hawks are in action next on Monday night, when they take on the Townies of East Providence at Pepin Gym, and The Network will be there, broadcasting live. Game time is 7pm.