There's an old expression in sports that goes something like this: It's not always the best team that wins championships; sometimes, it's the team playing the best at the best time."
Clearly, the Hawks are one of the best basketball teams in Rhode Island high school basketball. If they're to be the team wearing the belt at the end of the season, however, they're going to have to go through the team with the best record, their archrival, the LaSalle Rams.
The Hawks' first step in being the 'team playing the best at the best time' came yesterday afternoon at East Providence High School, and it was a good first step. In a game broadcast live right here on The Network, our guys did stumble just a bit out of the gate by missing their first seven shots but started rolling once they started clamping down defensively and converting turnovers into points. By halftime the Hawks had doubled the Sentinels' output, going into the locker room with a 38-19 lead; shortly into the second half the lead was 50-23, and by that time it just seemed to be a matter of waiting for the final score, which turned out to be Hawks 59, Sentinels 42.
With the exception of a minor wi-fi interruption at the tail end of halftime and the beginning of the second half, the entire second half can be seen in the first Ustream viewer at the top of the page; the entire first half and all but the last minute or two of halftime can be seen here:
Video streaming by Ustream
The Providence Journal's slideshow of the game can be seen HERE.
At the very outset of the game, it seemed as though Smithfield had some control of the game's tempo. As this was the 4-5 matchup in the D1 playoffs, it wouldn't have been too surprising to see a hard-fought game, simply because the two teams that occupy the middle two seeds are usually pretty evenly matched. Indeed, the Hawks and Sentinels ended the season with identical 13-5 marks, and the Sentinels were the only squad this season to knock off LaSalle, the top seed with a 17-1 slate. The Hawks, therefore, had every reason to consider Smithfield a very dangerous team, despite having knocked them off by 19 back on December 30th at Pepin Gym.
Once our guys overcame the missed shots out of the gate, they found themselves and were led by the outstanding play of senior Garfield Coustard, who scored 19 points. Time and again the Sentinels had no answer inside for Garfield and Will Parmlee, who were routinely able to turn short, quick passes inside into layups. Some of Garfield's highlights can be seen here:
So, behind the play of Garfield, the Hawks advance to the D1 semis, against LaSalle tomorrow night at 8:15, at CCRI. As of right now, we're planning on having that game live, right here on The Network.
The last time these two met it was at LaSalle, a game that we carried live right here on The Network. LaSalle's gym was packed, and while it was a very good game, it was a game that the Maroon largely controlled from about the mid-way point of the first half. LaSalle came out on top in that one, 76-66. That entire first game can be seen right here:
Video streaming by Ustream
In addition to the semi-final basketball game against the Rams, we here at The Network have also opened up a Hawks Sports Network 2 in an effort to be able to bring the viewers Game 1 of the state semi-final hockey game as well, which will be going on at the same time across town at Thayer Arena. There, the hockey Hawks will be pitted against, ironically, the Smithfield Sentinels. It should be noted, however, that the hockey game will be an audio stream only, as we are limited right now to a single camera. At the top of The Network site, the first screen will have the Hawks-Rams basketball semi-final; the second screen will have the audio stream of the Hawks-Sentinels Game 1 matchup in the state hockey semi-finals.
Hopefully, as many fans as possible will be able to get to the games to support our guys. If you can't get there, however, tune in here and show your support that way. Remember, you can interact with both broadcast teams throughout the contests via Twitter.