WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho High struggled mightily on offense, particularly against Tolman’s zone defense, and fell to the Tigers, 43-39, in a Division II boys basketball game Monday night.
Chariho’s 39 points were well below its season average of 57.3. Chariho (6-7, 3-5 Division II) scored just 14 points in the first half against the Tigers’ 2-3 zone defense and was fortunate to only trail by six points, 20-14.
What did the Chargers need to do better?
“Attack the basket. We chucked up too many shots in the first half,” coach Corey Downey said. “We didn’t initiate our offense by attacking the basket. We were just passing it around the top of the key. You can’t do that against them. Disappointing effort, for sure.”
Chariho still had a chance in the final minutes of the game.
Levi King (21 points, 13 rebounds, six steals) tied the game at 39 after coming up with a steal and throwing down a two-handed breakaway dunk with 1:40 remaining.
But Tolman’s Maarten Lopes (12 points) answered with a driving basket to put the Tigers ahead, 41-39, with 1:10 left.
Chariho turned the ball over on its next possession — the Chargers were called for traveling with 39.8 seconds left.
The Chargers forced a turnover on Tolman’s next possession, but failed to convert a contested layup in transition with 20.3 seconds left. The Chargers were forced to foul, and Tolman’s Su Faal (11 points) made two big free throws to give his team a four-point lead, 43-39, with 16.7 seconds left.
A long 3-pointer by the Chargers with about 7 seconds left was off, and Tolman had the rebound and the road win. Chariho is 2-4 at home this season.
The Chargers, who had nine turnovers in the first half, did play better in the second half. They outscored the Tigers, 14-4, to open the period, with Tolman playing man-to-man defense during the run. Consecutive 3-pointers by Nate Dauray, Tyler LaBelle and John Pellegrino gave Chariho a four-point lead, 28-24, with 10:01 remaining.
“They started hitting some shots and you can’t zone a team like that,” Tolman coach Bill Coughlin said.
Coughlin agreed the Tolman zone was effective in the first half.
“I think we have a lot of length on the back line. Three guys are about 6-2 with long arms. They are all football players. They are used to defending in a zone,” Coughlin said.
Dauray followed King in scoring with six points and also contributed eight rebounds. Pellegrino had six rebounds, and Nathaniel Felicetti contributed seven assists.
Chariho will try to get back on track at Burrillville on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“I can’t keep saying, ‘Good effort at the end. We played hard,’” Downey said. “You need to win some of those games. We need to get better in those spots.
“Defensively, we did a real good job, and defensive rebounding we did a good job. Offensively, we were just too slow and methodical. We just need to do a better job of getting to the paint and getting our offense that way.”