WOOD RIVER JUNCTION — Chariho High didn’t start or finish the boys basketball season the way that it had hoped.
Through their first eight games, the Chargers were 2-6. They managed to finish 13-10 but lost in the Division II tournament’s preliminary-round game to Tolman, 71-64 in overtime, and failed to qualify for the state tournament.
Still, the Chargers had some success, including a six-game winning streak that was part of an 11-3 run after their difficult start.
And they were recognized for it when it came time to dole out postseason honors.
Senior guard Dylan LaBelle was named second-team All-Division II and first-team Division II Subdivision C, senior guard Luke Fusaro was a first-team Subdivision C pick, and senior center Ben Harrison and junior forward Levi King were named to the subdivision’s second team.
For postseason honors this year, the 19 Division II teams were divided into four subdivisions based on how they finished in the regular season. The other teams in Subdivision C are Cranston West, Prout, Tolman and Wheeler School.
LaBelle repeated as an All-Division II second-team selection. He led the team in scoring at 16.1 points per game, and had a season high of 32 points. LaBelle could hit the 3 (he made 28) as well as penetrate and get to the free-throw line. And once he got to the stripe he was accurate, shooting 80 percent (92 of 115). But his game was more than just putting the ball in the basket.
“He’s really a special player, a really good scorer,” Chariho coach Corey Downey said. “But his defense is what makes him a complete player, and his ability to get offensive rebounds was really key for us.”
LaBelle missed three games during the early part of the season with an injured knee, and he was forced to sit out the Chargers’ tournament game with a concussion. The team’s slow start and playoff loss were no coincidence.
“I think people could see we were a different team with him not out there,” Downey said. “He’s the best scorer I’ve ever coached.”
LaBelle finished his career with 1,030 points.
Fusaro made for a nice complement to LaBelle on the perimeter. He could drive to the hoop and make the 3, just like his backcourt mate.
For the season, Fusaro made 36 from beyond the arc and averaged 12.0 points.
“He took a huge jump from last year to this year,” Downey said. “He’s really tough in attacking the basket. He’s a really good case of how much you can improve from one year to the next with hard work. He really improved on his 3-pointers and attacking the basket, and it’s really a testament to his work ethic.”
The 6-3 Harrison led the team in rebounding at 6.4 per contest and averaged 8.4 points. His play late in the playoff game against Tolman almost propelled the Chargers to a win. He finished the night with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The 6-5 King did a little bit of everything. He averaged 10.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, was a capable shot blocker and came up with steals in critical moments. He closed the season with six straight games scoring in double figures, and had 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the Tolman game.
“Obviously we didn’t want to lose in the first round of the playoffs,” Downey said as reflected on the season, his eighth leading the Chargers. “That part was tough. But I’m really proud that after we started 2-6 we were as successful as we were to get the five seed [for the D-II tournament]. I thought we had a really good season. Unfortunately, it didn’t end the way we wanted.”