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Westerly's Alyssa Valentini controls the ball as Stonington's Reilly Walker defends her. Valentini was named MVP. |  (Grace White/Westerly Sun)
Stonington's Summer Wojtas tries to maintain possession while under pressure from Westerly's Bella Malvinni. |  (Grace White/Westerly Sun) Westerly's Bella Malvinni puts up a shot. Westerly and Stonington  girls' junior varsity teams squared off in the finals of the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament.  (Grace White/Westerly Sun) Westerly's Abigail Murdock tries to get past Stonington's Clare Schlink in the first period. Westerly and Stonington  girls' junior varsity teams squared off in the finals of the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament.  (Grace White/Westerly Sun) Stonington's Reilly Walker looks for an open teammate as she is pressured by Westerly's Olivia Riley. Westerly and Stonington  girls' junior varsity teams squared off in the finals of the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament.  (Grace White/Westerly Sun) Westerly's Jenna Bowdy puts up a shot. Westerly and Stonington  girls' junior varsity teams squared off in the finals of the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament.  (Grace White/Westerly Sun) Westerly's Alissa Haik looks to put up a shot as she is defended by Stonington's Jessica Atkins. Westerly and Stonington  girls' junior varsity teams squared off in the finals of the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament.  (Grace White/Westerly Sun) Stonington's Taylor Hertlein moves the ball down the court as she is defended by Westerly's Bella Malvinni. Westerly and Stonington  girls' junior varsity teams squared off in the finals of the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament.  (Grace White/Westerly Sun) Westerly's Laura Cruso tries to get the ball past Stonington's Cameron Dreber. Westerly and Stonington  girls' junior varsity teams squared off in the finals of the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament.  (Grace White/Westerly Sun)

Bulldogs top short-handed Bears


WESTERLY — It was a war of attrition and Westerly High outmanned and out-gunned defending champion Stonington to win the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament junior varsity title on Saturday.

Westerly led 29-19 at halftime and won 58-40.

“Our aggressiveness was key,” Westerly coach Sue Haik said. “Our defense definitely won it for us. We want to put on as much pressure as possible to force turnovers. And that got us a lot of fast-break opportunities.”

The Bulldogs (2-2) suited up 14 players to start the game. All played and only Lindsay Walker fouled out.

The Bears (1-4) fielded seven JV players (down two from their initial squad of nine due to injuries). Reilly Walker, Taylor Hertlein and Cameron Dreher fouled out. And Clare Schlink played only the first half, to preserve her eligibility to play both halves in the varsity game later that evening. No player can play more than three halves in a single day.

At a 14-7 squad-size disadvantage from the outset, the Bears wound up with only five players with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left in the game. They were forced to play 4-on-5 with 2:22 left and were reduced to 3-on-5 as the final 16.3 seconds ticked down.

“That was a first for me (to play 4-on-5 and 3-on-5),” Stonington JV coach Kaitlyn Sullivan said. “We started with seven and I had to play one (Schlink) for only one half to save her for the varsity game.

“Turnovers hurt us. And we need to work on our defense and on not fouling as much.”

Stonington never led. Westerly raced to runs of six, eight and seven in the first half to lead 6-0, 14-6 and 21-13. The Bears came closed the gap to one at 14-13 with 5:15 left in the first half.

The Bulldogs ran off six straight points at the start of the second half for a 16-point lead. That lead never fell below double digits the rest of the way.

Hertlein had a game-high 15 points for Stonington. Reilly Walker scored 10 and Dreher had nine.

Megan Lacey, Bella Malvinni and Olivia Riley each scored 10 points for Westerly. Alyssa Valentini scored eight. Each played only a single half.

“Their fouls hurt them,” Valentini said. “We had more subs and weren’t as tired as they were.

“The (championship) win feels great. They beat us last year. I think we all played good.”

Valentini was voted the most valuable player. Westerly teammate Sophie Read was named to the All-Tourney team.

Stonington’s Hertlein and Summer Wojtas also were All-Tourney selections. They were joined by Jessica Rego from Chariho and Emily Pagliarini from Exeter-West Greenwich.

Westerly had beaten Exeter-West Greenwich 49-16 in the opening game of the first round. Stonington beat Chariho 47-17 in the nightcap.

Chariho.......................... 46

Exeter-WG...................... 15

Consolation game

WESTERLY — The Chargers raced to a 31-17 halftime lead and never looked back in Saturday’s consolation game.

Dakota Morehouse and Pam Lelli each scored a game-high 13 points to lead Chariho (2-2). Teammates Jessica Rego had nine points and Tabitha King scored six.

Makayla Brady scored eight points to pace EWG (0-3). Chiara Christafaro had five for the Scarlet Knights.



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