“It was a fun game,” Westerly coach Holly Misto said. “Fun to play, fun to coach.
“It’s always tough to play here at Chariho. We knew we’d have a battle. The kids were pumped up. Everyone was excited.”
The first half was a barn-burner. The game was tied six times. Westerly’s biggest lead was six on a layup by Maddy McLaughlin with about two minutes left. Chariho closed to one on a putback by Abby Cuddy with 34 seconds left.
The Bulldogs made three free throws to lead 24-21 at halftime.
“The physical play later got to us,” Chariho coach Arianna Dolock said. “We had a couple of turnovers at key times near the end of the game. A couple of mistakes hurt us.”
The teams battled ferociously in the second half. But the Bulldogs had a six-point run to take their biggest game-lead of 10 points with 7:38 left in the game.
The Chargers cut that to five in the next four minutes. Julianna Moore hit two free throws with 30 seconds left to up the Westerly lead again to 10. Jenna Brierly hit the second of her 3-pointers 15 seconds later for the final points of the game.
McLaughlin scored a game-high 15 points for the Bulldogs and also led the team with seven assists.She and Rachel Jaques each had five steals. Morrone had a team-high eight rebounds.
Morrone at 5-foot-8 defended 6-foot Abby Cuddy. She said she’s been doing that since middle school.
“I remember guarding her in middle school and have been ever since,” Morrone said. “Defense is my favorite part. I like the aggressive aspect of it. I just love defense.”
Abby Cuddy had another double-double for the Chargers. She led the Chargers with 12 points (only three field goals, but six free throws). She grabbed 17 rebounds. Katie Cuddy had six points, six rebounds and a team-high four steals.
“This was a tough, physical game,” Abby Cuddy said. “It was well played on both sides. We just couldn’t pull it off. Maybe we can in the playoffs.”
Chariho plays next at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at I-South leader North Kingstown. The Chargers close the regular season by hosting South Kingstown (second place, I-South) on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Westerly ends the regular season at Exeter-West Greenwich (fifth-place I-South) on at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Seedings for the Division I playoffs will be announced next weekend. First-round games at the home sites of higher seeds will start on Monday, March 10.