JOHNSTON — Megan Albamonti scored 17 of her game-high 20 points in the first half, Isis Hamelin and Lauren Dobson each hit two 3-pointers during a key run just before intermission and sixth-seeded Westerly High rolled past No. 11 Tolman, 62-39, in the opening round of the state girls basketball tournament Wednesday.
Tolman, the Division III tournament champion, hung with Division II Westerly for the game's first eight minutes, trailing 15-11. But the Bulldogs pulled away in the final six minutes of the period, starting with Jaime Murray's open 3-pointer.
On Westerly's next possession, Albamonti scored with a putback from just inside the free-throw line. She then scored with cuts to the basket on subsequent possessions to give Westerly a 24-12 lead with 5:06 left in the half.
Tolman cut the lead to eight on a 3-pointer and a free throw on subsequent possessions. But the Bulldogs ended the half on a 12-4 run — thanks to back-to-back 3s by Hamelin and two 3s by Dobson — to take a commanding 36-20 lead.
Tolman center Victoria Percy had the size to match up with Albamonti, but Westerly coach Sue Haik said the Tigers made a concentrated effort to make Albamonti work hard, to try to run and match her speed.
“We had to keep moving the ball, in and out, in and out, because they kept collapsing on Megan,” Haik said. “Meg is quick. [Percy] is a solid big girl, but Megan just kept moving and moving, and usually good things happen when she's moving around."
In the second half, Albamonti worked as more of a facilitator, dishing to cutters and wings for open 3s. She scored only three points after halftime, but Westerly (18-7) was never threatened by the Tigers (20-4).
“She's taken that role,” Haik said of Albamonti. “She doesn't mind being a passer if they're doubling on her, and we're going to have to do that on Saturday [in quarterfinals]. It opens up things for us and things in the middle for us."
The lead never got below the halftime margin of 16, and hovered between 20 and 25 for most of the second period. Dobson hit another 3, and finished with 14 points. Hamelin scored 10 points off the bench.
Offensively, Tolman struggled to find any consistent rhythm against Westerly's press. The Tigers didn't have a player score in double figures. Westerly's depth again paid off — Tolman only went about seven players deep. The Bulldogs had 15 steals in addition to forcing nine errant passes by Tolman for turnovers.
“We play hard-nosed defense, and make adjustments when needed,” Haik said.
The Bulldogs will next play No. 3 seeded St. Raphael's (19-5) on Saturday in the quarterfinals at Rhode Island College's Murray Center. A time for that game has not been announced. The Division I Saints beat No. 14 North Kingstown earlier on Wednesday.