WOOD RIVER JCT. — It was a case of one scoring drought too many for Chariho High on Friday night.
The fifth-seeded Chargers, playing without All-Division II guard Dylan LaBelle, couldn't overcome their final lull, in overtime, and fell to No. 12 Tolman, 71-64, in the preliminary round of the Division II boys basketball tournament.
After regulation ended 56-all, Ben Harrison gave the Chargers a quick 60-56 lead in the four-minute overtime, hitting back-to-back 15-footers. But they didn't score again until it was too late — Harrison had a putback with five seconds left that made it 70-64.
"That's high school basketball," Chariho coach Corey Downey said. "We just didn't hit shots. And we turned the basketball over a couple times. But again, give Tolman credit. I thought they did a good job just, defensively, getting stops."
With the score tied at 62, Chariho made a costly turnover with 1:31 remaining. Tolman's Isai Prince followed with a big 3-pointer from the corner, and the Chargers never responded.
Tolman's standout guard, Justin Carvalho, went 8 for 10 from the free-throw line in the extra period to keep Chariho at bay. The senior finished with 33 points, including the 1,000th of his career on a layup in the second half. He was 19 for 22 from the free-throw line overall.
"We're gonna miss him next year," Tigers coach Bill Coughlin said. "He was really clutch down the stretch."
The Chargers, who came in having won seven of their last eight, clearly missed LaBelle, their leading scorer at 16.1 points per game, who was sidelined by a concussion suffered in Tuesday's win over Barrington.
Without him, Chariho went long stretches without scoring.
In the first half, Levi King gave Chariho a 21-16 lead on a scoop shot with about four minutes to go. But on their next five possessions, the Chargers missed three field-goal attempts and turned it over twice. Tolman capitalized during that three-minute span by going on a 9-0 run, including two free throws courtesy of a Chariho technical foul.
The Tigers would lead 30-27 at the half.
In the second half, the lead seesawed until Lucas Santos hit two 3-pointers sandwiched around a turnover to put Chariho up 50-45 with 6:42 left. Later, with 3:26 remaining, Luke Fusaro made two free throws to make it 54-49 Chargers.
Then, nothing — Chariho didn't score until Santos fed King for a pick-and-roll basket with 45.2 remaining in regulation to tie it at 56.
"We know they're short-handed," Coughlin said. "You don't replace a kid like Dylan. That kid is unbelievable. He's been torturing teams for a lot of years. And we knew that [he was out]. But I think their guys stepped up, though. I was really impressed with [Nathaniel] Felicetti. He came in and gave them big minutes."
The Tigers (10-12) had a chance to win it in regulation when a foul was called on Chariho with 0.7 seconds left. But both free throws, preceded each time by a Charger timeout, were missed, sending the game to overtime and setting the stage for Tolman to come back from the early four-point deficit.
"I give Tolman a ton of credit," Downey said. "They played hard and they made their free throws. Down four early in overtime, [they were] able to battle back. ... I'm proud of our effort. We had a chance to win it but just couldn't.
"I thought we had good looks. We just didn't finish," Downey added. "We didn't get to the free-throw line as much as we normally do so that kind of affected us. We're a pretty good free-throw shooting team."
Said Coughlin: "We just feel fortunate to survive."
King led Chariho (13-10) with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Harrison added 15 points and 10 boards, Santos had 10 points and five assists, and Felicetti, starting in place of LaBelle, had five rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
Chariho will have to see how the rest of the postseason field shakes out to see if it qualifies for the state tournament.
"This could be our last game; we could play 12 days from now," Downey said. "I think we'll know after the weekend. We'll just have to wait and see."