WESTERLY — With just five starters logging most of the minutes and one sub in the rotation, the Stonington High girls basketball team doesn’t have much room for error, such as foul trouble or off shooting nights.
A senior guard’s foul trouble and 16 missed free throws (10 for 26) spelled doom for the Bears in the 34th annual WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament title game Thursday. South Kingstown won 46-40 for its second straight championship.
Stonington senior Kate Johnson sat out the last eight minutes of the first half with three fouls in a 10-10 game. SK (6-1) capitalized to take a 27-18 halftime lead. The Bears (2-2) shot just 2 of 11 from the free-throw line in the first half. They improved slightly in the second half to make 8 of 15, but ultimately missed 16 from the line.
SK forward AnikaTomlinson earned MVP honors after scoring eight points and contributing tough inside play against Stonington’s taller frontline. She joined SK teammates Brooke Peasley (8 points) and Taylor Prout (14 points) on the all-tourney team, along with Stonington juniors Eliza Bell (10 points, 21 rebounds) and Miranda Arruda (9 points, 9 rebounds). Westerly’s Megan Albamonte and Chariho’s Sydney Davis also were selected.
“It came down to us missing 16 free throws, I believe,” Stonington coach Paulla Solar said. “We worked hard defensively and on the boards to stay with a good team, but you can’t expect to win a game missing 16 from the line.”
Prout, an offensive-minded sixth man, hit a basket and two 3s in an SK 10-0 run to turn a 12-11 Bears lead to a Rebel 21-12 edge late in the first half.
With Johnson back in the second half, Stonington intensified its defense and crept back in the game after two Tomlinson buckets gave SK a 31-22 edge. Johnson’s three-point play keyed a 10-4 Stonington run to cut the gap to 35-32 with seven minutes left. In the mini-spurt, Stonington senior guard Kate Hall, the Bears’ leading scorer at 14 a game last year, made her first basket after a scoreless first half.
SK was hit with a technical foul as the game got more physical. Hall and Bell each made two free throws before Hall sank a short jumper to tie the score at 38 with 2:31 left.
SK freshman CarleyFewlass scored on a putback to give the Rebels a 40-38 lead with 1:21 left. Stonington followed with two missed free throws and Johnson’s fifth foul with 1:10 left. Prout scored off a runner with 55 seconds remaining to make it 42-38, but Hall answered to make it 44-42 with 45 left.
Peasley added a basket and two free throws in the final minute.
“We escaped with a hard-fought win, but Stonington is a very good team and very balanced,” SK coach Henry Herbermann said.
“Anika held strong under the boards being undersized against their bigger two post players. We played with a lot more intensity than we did in the opening round, but we needed it because Stonington is big and has fast guards.”
Hall and Bell each scored 10 points to lead Stonington. Six-foot-2 center IzzyYarnall, who was named the WCCU sportsmanship winner, added 12 rebounds.