Pawtucket Times

PC’s Henton has fond memories of Mohegan Sun Arena

- By BRENDAN McGAIR bmcgair@pawtuckett­ Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Ask LaDontae Henton about the rims inside Mohegan Sun Arena resembling the size of the ocean.

It wasn’t the points that provided the supreme thrill in a game back on Nov. 23, 2014. It was a game-clinching defensive sequence serving as a fitting capper to one of Henton’s finest games during his four seasons at Providence College.

An unstoppabl­e offensive tour de force against Notre Dame, Henton sealed the Friars’ 75-74 win over the Irish with a block of future NBA champion Pat Connaughto­n with two seconds remaining. Without that supreme challenge, perhaps the go-ahead three-pointer that Henton drained as part of a Friar-career best 38 points would be remembered for coming in a game where the Friars fell short.

“To make a big play at the end, it was one of those days when everything was going well for myself and my teammates,” said Henton. “Every game that year, I felt it was on my back and that it was up to me to help us win.

“The leadership part of it … we were either going to win on my back or lose on my back,” he added. “That’s just the player I was.”

Now in his second season as PC’s Special Assistant to the Head Coach, the memories Henton made

at Mohegan during his senior season are definitely worth revisiting.

The Friars spend the next two days in the Connecticu­t woods beginning with Saturday’s 4 p.m. game against Miami. They’ll face either Maryland or St. Louis Sunday as part of a multi-team event called the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, a tournament that PC first participat­ed in during the Henton heroics of 2014 and again in 2018.

“I told the guys [meaning the current crop of Friar players] that it’s going to bring back a lot of memo

ries,” said Henton. “I just hope that one of our guys can have games in the tournament like I did and live out their dreams like I did back in 2014.

“Going back [to Mohegan], it’s going to make me want to suit up,” Henton continued with a laugh.

Taking a stroll down memory lane when reached on Friday, Henton recalled the energy that he and his Friar teammates felt from the pro-PC crowd that made the relatively short trek to Mohegan Sun. The former star player went as far as to declare that the court located inside the Connecticu­t casino served as a home away from home – a label that falls in line with coach Ed Cooley on previous occasions labeling Mohegan Sun Arena as “Dunkin’ Donuts Center South.”

It stands to reason that Providence will have the most fans on site this weekend. To Henton, it’s an advantage that’s practicall­y – borrowing from the gaming world – begging to be parlayed.

“Just enjoy the energy. It will carry you,” said Henton.

It certainly propelled Henton to a higher stratosphe­re some eight years ago. He scored PC’s final seven points with the Friars needing every last drop on a day when Kris Dunn battled foul trouble and was limited to 21 minutes.

For Henton to break every timeout huddle with the mindset that he was going to be the first option on the offensive end of the court … he wanted to be the guy to drag Providence across the finish line and celebrate an in-season championsh­ip.

“I thrived in situations like that. Coach [Cooley] just kept dialing up my number. He saw that I had it going early in the game and kept running plays for me,” said Henton. “My teammates were egging me on with that energy, telling me to shoot it every time I touched it.

Henton’s spellbindi­ng performanc­e included 14-of-19 from the field, 4-of-8 from three, and 10 rebounds. Now and again, he’ll see a reminder on social media of the zone he was in against the Irish.

“It’s one of those games that I’ll always remember. It was great,” he said. “Notre Dame had NBA-caliber players but we were up to the task. We were prepared and locked into the scouting reports. That was one of our first true tests that [2014-15] season.”

Speaking of tests, Henton believes the test the Friars passed back in 2014 at Mohegan helped set the tone for a season that culminated in a second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

“The camaraderi­e we got out of that tournament was special,” said Henton.

This year’s PC heads to Mohegan with three games under its belt and fully aware that a significan­t step up in weight class awaits.

“It’s hard to grasp who you are until you have those high-major opponents where you can test your team. That’s what happened for us back in 2014 and I think that’s what is going to happen for us this weekend,” said Henton. “Miami is a tough team. It’s our first high-major test of the season, but we get to grasp where we’re at.”

 ?? File photo ?? Former Providence College forward LaDontae Henton enjoyed Mohegan Sund Arena, where the Friars will play the next two days.
File photo Former Providence College forward LaDontae Henton enjoyed Mohegan Sund Arena, where the Friars will play the next two days.

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