Raponey had plenty of support during Division III boys final with Lewis Mills

Lewis Mills boys basketball head coach Ryan Raponey, left, calls out to his team during Saturday’s Division III state championship game against Bunnell-Stratford at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville. To his right are assistants Mike O’Keefe, Isaiah Rascoe and Xavier Wade. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

When it came to support on state championship Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Ryan Raponey had a ton of it.

Raponey, a Class of 2003 Bristol Eastern graduate and former coach with the Lancers, led Lewis Mills into the Division III boys basketball final against Bunnell-Stratford. The Spartans were looking for their first state championship since 1996, but they came up short against the Bulldogs, 45-40.

Raponey had plenty of family and friends on hand. There was godfather Mike Giovinazzo. Giovinazzo gave Raponey his start as a coach on the Bristol Eastern coaching staff. When Giovinazzo retired, Raponey stayed on with current Lancer head coach Bunty Ray before taking over at Lewis Mills. Raponey just completed his fifth season as the Spartan head coach.

Ryan’s father David was by his side at the scorers’ table. Uncle Armand Raponey, a former St. Paul assistant coach under Steve Phelps, was in attendance with Ryan’s Aunt Leann. Uncle Michael Raponey was also there. Eric Zukauskas, current freshman coach at St. Paul, showed his support, as did Mike Lodovico, another Phelps assistant.

Ryan Raponey has a trio of locals on his coaching staff. There’s former Holy Cross player Mike O’Keefe (Class of 2005), who has been with Raponey since he started at Lewis Mills. There’s former Sacred Heart High School player Isaiah Rascoe (Class of 2015), and there’s also former Bristol Eastern player Xavier Wade (Class of 2010).

Raponey and his staff coached Lewis Mills to a CCC South Region title (7-0) and a No. 2 seed in the Division III state tournament. The Spartans won three state games before losing to Bunnell in the final and finishing at 19-6.