WESTERLY — Stonington High's boys basketball team just could not afford to leave the WCCU Holiday Basketball Tournament with another close loss.
After falling to South Kingstown by a single point with 0.1 second remaining two nights prior, the Bears rebounded Friday with a 59-57 win over Chariho High in a well-played game by both teams.
R.J. Parrilla's two free throws with 9.3 seconds left proved to be the margin of victory. Chariho did get off a 3-pointer with just a second or two left that was short, hitting the front of the rim.
"As a team, we felt like we had to come out here and prove something tonight," said Parrilla, who led the Bears with 18 points. "And that's exactly what we did. We came back after a tough loss like that. And we were down in this game and came back to do what we had to do to win."
Stonington's had a chance to take the lead with 37.9 seconds left, but missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw situation to leave the game tied at 57.
Chariho rebounded and called a timeout with 23.6 seconds remaining. The Chargers inbounded the ball, but with Parrilla applying the defensive pressure, Marquis Jackson came up with his sixth steal of the game.
"We were playing hard defense and they dribbled it off their knee and Marquis came up with a big steal," Parrilla said.
The Bears rushed down court and Parrilla was fouled going to the basket to set up the winning free throws.
Stonington had struggled offensively down the stretch against South Kingstown. But junior guard Zach Scott (12 points) did a good job attacking the basket against Chariho in the final 10 minutes.
The Bears led 53-45 with 5:20 left in the game, but two minutes later, Chariho closed to 53-51.
Scott and Jackson (13 points, nine rebounds) hit big 3-pointers in the final five minutes.
"I thought we persevered much better tonight," Stonington coach John Luzzi said. "We fought back. We kept our composure, and I think the game the other night had a little to do with that."
Stonington also received some quality minutes from freshman guard Cole DeVoe. DeVoe made two baskets and found Scott open for a layup during a three-minute stretch midway through the second half.
DeVoe finished with six points and three rebounds.
"He showed us a lot tonight," Luzzi said. "He showed us he can be a spark off the bench."
Luke Fusaro led Chariho with 15 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Guard Dylan LaBelle, playing his second game after an injury earlier in the season, finished with 11 points. Ben Harrison also had 11.
"I think this was the best game we've played this year," Chariho coach Corey Downey said. "We did a great job on the defensive boards, which we didn't do the other day [in a loss to Westerly]. I thought we took care of the basketball much better than we did the other day, all year, to be honest with you."
Chariho is 2-5 overall with four of the losses coming by a combined 15 points.
"I was really happy with the way we responded after three games in a row where we just didn't play our game," Downey said. "We didn't get the result we wanted, but we took a big step forward. We should feel confident going into the rest of the regular season that we can play with anybody."
Stonington is 4-1, and unlike their Rhode Island counterparts, all games count for state tournament qualification.
"I knew coming in this was going to be a whale of a tournament," Luzzi said. "Every team is good, well-coached and prepared. Every win in Connecticut is so important. This is where our season really starts."
Stonington next visits Fitch on Friday for a 7 p.m. game. Chariho also plays Friday at 7 p.m., traveling to Shea.