The Smithfield High School girls’ basketball team starts the Division I playoffs at 7 p.m. tonight as they host the Cranston West Falcons in a preliminary round game.
Smithfield (13-9, 11-7 Division I-North) are seeded at No. 6, while the Falcons (6-15, 6-12 Division I-Central) are No. 11. The Sentinels won the only regular season matchup between the two teams, 45-43, on Jan. 5. For a recap and a box score, check out The Providence Journal.
While the Falcons have a deceiving record thanks to a tougher division – they have Barrington, Bay View and Portsmouth twice a year – the Sentinels should still be heavy favorites.
Looming for the victor is a showdown with No. 3 Barrington. The Eagles are 16-2 in Division I play, and 20-2 overall. Barrington’s only losses this year are to No. 4 Westerly and No. 1 Exeter-West Greenwich.
The Scarlet Knights are the favorite to take the state title, earning a gaudy 21-1 overall record this year thanks to a plethora of skilled post players. EWG starts several six-footers, and has several on the bench as well.
If Smithfield can get past Cranston West tonight, they play Barrington 12 p.m. at Rhode Island College on Saturday. The semifinals are 6 p.m. Tuesday at RIC, and the state final is 4 p.m. Sunday, March 10 at the Ryan Center on the University of Rhode Island campus in Kingston.
Although Smithfield has had nine straight winning seasons, the Sentinels haven’t advanced to the finals in the Division I or Division II playoffs since the 1980s. Smithfield was Class A champions in 1984-85, 1985-86 and 1987-1988. The Sentinels also won the state title in the RIIL’s first year in 1971-72.
Last year, Smithfield was seeded No. 4N, and lost 69-47 to eventual state champion La Salle in the quarterfinals. Westerly beat Smithfield 57-20 in the quarterfinals in 2011, and in 2010, Smithfield again lost to an eventual champion, 46-35 to Prout, in the Division II playoffs.