WESTERLY — South Kingstown's girls basketball team has won four straight WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournaments, and after a year off for the pandemic, the Rebels look poised to extend their championship run out to the half-decade mark.
On Tuesday, the Rebels ran right past Chariho High in the first game of the girls tournament, 57-24. It was the first win of the season for South (1-3) after starting 0-3 in Division I.
“South Kingstown, Division I opponent, they move the basketball very well,” Chargers coach Dan LaBelle said. “They have a lot of good shooters and that was a point of emphasis coming into this game. Even still, good teams sometimes find ways to get open shots.”
It was a balanced, spread-out offensive attack that helped the Rebels past the first round of the annual event. Mackenzie Mahar was the only double-figure scorer (10 points), but Victoria Hancock (nine), and Abigail McDonald (eight) were also consistent scoring threats for the winning side.
Megan Ballard’s seven points was the team high for Chariho (1-5). Jules White added six points.
“Our girls fought,” LaBelle said. “We score more, we’re right in that basketball game. At the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for. They didn’t quit till the end.”
Lexi Cole scored on an old-fashioned 3-point play to start the game, and give the Chargers a lead, but the rest of the evening belonged to the Rebels.
An Avery Martin 3-pointer kicked off the second quarter, and the Rebels used that momentum to build a 14-point halftime edge.
Neither team managed to cleanly control the ball on offense for any considerable stretch of play, with possession ricocheting back and forth between the two sides at times. The Chargers turned it over 21 times in the loss, and even the victorious Rebels had 17 miscues.
“We have to limit our turnovers and box out better,” LaBelle said. “We left some shooters wide open in the first half, which against this team, you can’t do. We’re young and we’re learning.”
The Rebels hit seven 3-pointers. Celine Barbera had one of the makes in the early third quarter, a shot that set the tempo for the final 16 minutes of play. Despite limiting the Rebels to only seven points in the third quarter, the Chargers failed to make up any ground, scoring just four points over that same span.
The Rebels move on to play Westerly, a 48-37 winner against Stonington on Tuesday, in the title game on Thursday at 8 p.m.
Chariho will play Stonington in the consolation game at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday. LaBelle spoke postgame of how exciting it was to coach in a tournament that he was playing in not too long ago.
“It’s something,” he said. “I never thought it would be this quick of a turnaround. I graduated [from Chariho] in 2018. I love this tournament. I loved playing in it, and I loved going to it when I was younger. It’s a great tournament. I’m glad they were able to have it this year.”
The Chargers' run in the tournament will end after another varsity game on Thursday night.
“Looking to get better,” LaBelle said. “We want to compete, and work on our stuff, too. Some of our offensive stuff is shaky; we need to get stronger with the basketball.”