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February 2, 2021 | by bbennett
Many don’t know it because they haven’t seen it, but there’s a lot of terrific boys basketball talent in Division III.
Times2, in its third year since rejoining the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, happens to have a lot of it. Now it will have to see if it can figure out how to turn that talent into a championship.
It should be an interesting season for the small Providence charter school. The Eagles have a known commodity in 20-plus points per game scorer Jason Peters, but they’re far from a one-person team. Times2’s success or failure this season will come down to the group understanding its got something special going on. So far, the Eagles are off to a 3-0 start.
“I told them we’re coming in to win the whole thing,” said first-year coach Dwayne Monroe, who was the JV coach the last two seasons. “That’s just how I am; that’s the confidence I have in them. They’ve bought in.”
Peters is the most familiar name because of his proficiency at scoring as a sophomore last year.
But Peters’ game has evolved this season and while he could go out and force shots to get his 20-plus, he hasn’t needed to. As a junior, he’s finding distributing the basketball is just as helpful as getting his own buckets.
“Even as a little kid playing rec he was the person that just wanted to score. Now he’s developing into a basketball player,” Monroe said. “He knows colleges don’t want to see you just score. They want to see you facilitate and that you know how to defend and he’s doing both of those now.”
Peters doesn’t have to be the team’s top scorer anymore because the Eagles have plenty of options who have no problem dropping 20 a night.
The biggest surprise in the first week of the season has been Kobe Pena, who primarily played on the JV team last year. In the team’s season opener against Ponaganset, Pena scored 24 points.
It wasn’t by chance. From the end of last season, Monroe said Pena got himself in the gym working on his game at least four days a week hoping to have the type of season he’s having so far.
“It gives us another weapon,” Monroe said. “With his progress, the sky is the limit for that kid.”
Josh Ojuri is another talented newcomer who’s showing up in a big way. He scored 17 in his varsity debut and has become a reliable option as he gets accustomed to the rigors of high school basketball.
“It’s a new thing for us. He was saying he’s used to being the first option and it was like ‘Josh, you’re a freshman. You have to learn to work your way into the system,’ ” Monroe said. “The other day against St. Patrick he hit a big 3 and we wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for him.”
With the newcomers also comes a steady senior in Paul Pinkrah, the team’s resident muscle. He was there for the 6-10 season two years ago and was a crucial part of last year’s playoff team.
Now, as one of the players who helped build the foundation, he’s able to reap the rewards and contributes a double-double just about every night.
“He’s a great vocal leader. He’s the kid who’s like ‘let’s do this in practice’ and everyone listens,” Monroe said. “He’s not worried about scoring points, just doing what he has to do to get wins.”
Depth isn’t something Times2 — or any D-III team, for that matter — has much of, but the Eagles have and will rely on seniors George Kizekai, Biniam Sale and Efrain Valle to play valuable minutes. There’s no concern about egos among the group because the players understand what they’re playing for.
“This year, the mindset is this is going to be our year,” Monroe said. “And we’re going to do whatever we have to to prove Times2 is someone to be talked about.”