WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho High girls basketball coach Tom Gilligan wants guards Spencer Shiels and Caitlin O'Leary involved on offense right from the opening tap.
When the Chargers fail to get them involved early, it's very difficult to make that happen as the game progresses, according to Gilligan.
Both players were involved from the first minute as the Chargers downed Shea, 63-42, in a Division II contest Thursday night.
Shiels finished with a career-high 28 points, 19 of them in the first half. O'Leary had 16, nine in the first half.
They combined for 12 of Chariho's first 14 points with four 3-pointers.
"We have to get Spencer and O'Leary shots early in the game to get them into the flow of the game. We've been struggling with that lately. I have to do a better job with that," Gilligan said. "Then the other team can't sag on Kate [Powers]. It helps spread out the defense."
Chariho was coming off a 20-point loss to Scituate on Monday. Shiels had one point in that game, and O'Leary did not score. But Powers had 32.
"Tonight, I thought we shot the ball well," said O'Leary, who made three 3-pointers in the first half. "They played a zone, so we had the opportunity to take the 3-point shot. We really moved the ball and got it to the wings really well."
In addition to her 28 points, Shiels finished with seven rebounds, five assists and 11 steals. She was able to convert a number of layups off the steals.
"We did OK on fast breaks, but our passing could have been better. We did drive to the basket and our shooting was actually really good today," Shiels said.
O'Leary's 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half gave the Chargers an 11-point lead, 33-22, at intermission.
The Raiders did not make much of a dent in the second half — the lead stayed in doubled digits. A drive by Powers with 8:34 left in the game put the Chargers ahead, 48-30.
Shea (9-7, 7-7 Division II) was able to cut the lead to 12 points with 5:31 left in the game on a long 3-pointer by guard Kaylisse Depina, who finished with 20 points, including three 3s. But Chariho outscored Shea 11-2 to end the game. Shiels scored six of those points, including a pair of steals that led to uncontested layups.
"We pushed the ball when we could," Gilligan said. "I knew they had a thin bench, and the last thing I wanted to do was walk the ball up the court and get in a slow-paced game."
Shea played without Yasmine Santos due to an injury. Gilligan said she is a strong inside player. Shea's Allison Dos Santos Soares, a good rebounder, picked up her fourth foul with four minutes to go in the first half. She missed quite a bit of the game, which also benefited the Chargers.
"We were fortunate that Santos didn't play. She finishes well," Gilligan said.
Chariho moved to 8-8 overall and 8-5 in the league. Gilligan is hoping for a few more wins so the Chargers can get a home game in the D-II playoffs.
"For the playoffs, we really have to focus in on defense," O'Leary said. "We are kind of on the shorter side, so we have to rebound more, too. Rebounding and crashing the boards is really big for us."
Shelby Roode contributed seven points, four rebounds and four assists. Powers did not play in the first half for an unspecified reason, but scored six points in the second half. Annaliese Kenney also scored six points.
Chariho next hosts Prout on Monday at 7 p.m.