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Rams Shock Tigers

Newport — Apparently, Raymond did not read the script.

While Newport High’s boys basketball team was aware the Rams have had a season that saw several of their players disciplined, the fourth-seeded Tigers still figured to be the favorite against the 13th-seeded Rams. It didn’t turn out that way, as Raymond jumped out early, stayed the course through the middle of the game, then pulled away to a somewhat stunning 59-51 win over the Tigers in am NHIAA Division III second-round game at Wheeler Gym on Thursday night.

Newport’s coaches were in attendance for Raymond’s first-round win over Bow, and they saw the Rams that started the season were not the same Rams that finished it.

“Raymond is a tough town sometimes, and we had seven kids suspended for four games,” said Raymond coach Rich Winget, who couldn’t stop his heart from pounding and the smile from leaving his face.

The Rams’ 11-9 record is a bit deceiving as they have won eight in a row and take on Campbell in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Campbell was a 58-38 winner over Fall Mountain on Thursday night.

“I’m very surprised what happened here tonight,” Winget said. “We just pushed all the adversity aside and played with heart and desire.”

Raymond also played with 6-foot-5 Colby Malo, who often had control of the defensive boards. The Rams also had a slick ballhandling, unselfish point guard in senior Mitchell Styulek, who blitzed the Newport press and found his friends underneath for easy baskets.

If there was one thing that bothered Newport coach Steve Lavolpicelo, it was the energy level the Tigers displayed at times.

“I just couldn’t understand why we didn’t fight harder,” Lavolpicelo said. “We were lethargic at times.”

Winget said he was well aware of the one-two-punch of Newport juniors Andrew Houde and Spencer Coronis, adding Houde “could be the player of the year in Division III,” he said.

Houde finished with 28 points, paced by a 13-for-16 night from the foul line. He had six field goals, three from beyond the arc. Coronis was kept pretty much in check with a 10-point night. Zack Whalen added 10 for the Tigers, but the rest of the team had just three points, all from Jason Teeter.

The Rams made their presence felt early taking a 6-0 lead, forcing Lavolpicelo to take a quick timeout. The Tigers recovered well enough as Raymond got into foul trouble in the second quarter and Newport took advantage of the Raymond bench to get in front at the half, 27-24.

If there was a swing in the game, it came in first moments of the third quarter when the Rams went on an 8-0 run and grabbed a 32-27 lead. But again the Tigers got it together. A block from Houde on a Sytulek breakaway was followed by a Coronis 3-pointer and the game was tied at 34-34. Raymond eventually took a 42-40 edge after three periods.

The game remained tight, with Raymond in front 53-50 with 2:19 to go. Raymond then scored the next six points, with Malo making four free throws as the Tigers were forced to foul. The Rams converted to put an end to the game and a 15-4 season for the Tigers.