WESTERLY — What a difference one day made for the Westerly High girls’ basketball team.
One day after struggling to beat winless Cranston East, 46-44, Monday, the Bulldogs produced one of their most impressive all-around performances to date Tuesday to rout Ponagansett 60-33, in a Division I crossover game.
Ponaganset (4-2, 2-1 Division I-North) entered the game in first place in its division, but was outplayed from the start as Westerly (3-4, 2-1 Division I-South) took a 35-11 halftime lead. The return of Maddy McLaughlin, who played just the first three minutes Monday against Cranston East after leaving with a minor injury, bolstered the Bulldogs as the junior scored 19 points and paced an all-around strong defensive effort with seven steals.
Westerly coach Holly Misto credited the Bulldog defense, citing Olivia Riley and Megan Lacey for holding Ponaganset’s Chandler Williams, a Division I-North first-team pick last year, to seven points — less than half of her scoring average.
“When we play defense, good things happen,” Misto said. “We did a much better job tonight putting our hands in the shooters’ faces. Riley and Lacey shut down Williams tonight. We also did a much better job taking care of the basketball, sharing the ball and getting transition baskets. Of course, having Maddy back makes a big difference.”
Alyssa Valentini and Carey joined McLaughlin in double-figure scoring with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Julianna Morrone led Westerly in rebounding with eight. McLaughlin and Carey chipped in five and four assists, respectively.
The only area lacking for Westerly was the second straight poor free-throw performance. The Bulldogs made just seven of 20 (35 percent) from the free-throw line against Ponagansett after making just six of 22 (27 percent) against Cranston East.
“We’ll work on that,” Misto said, “but this was a very positive game for us. We’re building confidence after two wins in a row.”
Westerly plays at South Kingstown 7 p.m. Thursday.