SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Spencer Shiels is likely the only player on the Chariho High girls basketball team who could have made the play that gave her the 1,000th point of her career.
With less than a minute remaining in Thursday's state tournament Sweet 16 game with South Kingstown, a 61-41 Chariho loss, the junior guard was still two points short of the milestone.
Chariho's Eliah King had just come down with a rebound under the South basket when she fired a baseball pass in an attempt to get Shiels the ball for a breakout layup.
It appeared the pass had too much juice on it and would sail out of bounds. But Shiels used her speed to run down the ball and snare it at the end line on the Chariho half of the floor.
She was still 4 or 5 feet from the basket on the right side. Somehow, she kept her balance while tightroping the sideline and dribbling under the basket.
She came out the other side about 7 feet from the basket and then drove back into the lane for a running hook shot for her 999th and 1,000th points with 34.4 seconds left in the contest.
She was mobbed by her teammates as players from South and fans from both schools gave her a rousing ovation.
"The feeling is exhilarating and, honestly, it's just amazing to feel it," said Shiels, whose father, Mike, is the school's athletic director and a former coach and athlete at Chariho. "I've gotten a lot of talk that I only play sports and I made varsity because my dad's the athletic director. But it's nice to do something and show them that's not why."
Coach Chris Piasczyk said the play demonstrates why Shiels is such an effective player.
"She had to race from about a step beyond half-court to get it because it was so far ahead of her. Then to collect herself and make a nice move like that shows off her athleticism," Piasczyk said. "Then she had to make a hook shot over a 5-foot-10 girl trying to block it. That was a real nice play."
Shiels, who led the team with 22 points, is the sixth Chariho girl to score 1,000 points. Teammate Kate Powers scored her 1,000th earlier this season.
"I just wanted to get it over with now rather than later," Shiels said. "I feel like things happen for a reason and it was meant to happen today. I am just so excited to get this. I have been dreaming of this forever."
South, which defeated La Salle for its first Division I title on Sunday, was in control from the beginning. The second-seeded Rebels led 11-1 and then made it 28-3 with about six minutes left in the half.
Coach Henry Herbermann was substituting liberally by then, and the Rebels were no longer pressing. South built the big lead on Chariho turnovers, grabbing offensive rebounds and driving to the basket.
South (26-2) was up 38-10 at the half and pushed the lead to 43-12 early in the second half. The Rebels never played their starters together in the second half and never pressed again.
Sydni Vesterholm led South with 13 points, and Carley Fewlass followed with 12.
Powers finished with 14 points and 19 rebounds for 15th-seeded Chariho, which finished the season 13-12.
Coach Herbermann said the Rebels are intent on adding the state title to their divisional crown.
"The sense I get is they want to keep playing and win the next round," Herbermann said. "We are really loose right now. The focus and determination is still very much there."
The game was a ticket-only event and was played before fewer than 250 spectators due to restrictions imposed by the RIIL as a result of the coronavirus threat. Those in attendance had their temperatures checked by South Kingstown officials before they could be admitted to the contest.
South next faces Portsmouth in the quarterfinals on Sunday at Rhode Island College at 11 a.m. No spectators will be allowed; only essential personnel will be admitted. The RIIL will inform schools who qualifies as essential personnel.
The same policy will be in place for the semifinals and the title game at the University of Rhode Island on March 21-22.