WOOD RIVER JCT. — Early in this girls basketball season, Chariho High sophomore Brianna DeGiacomo had a conversation with coach Dan LaBelle.

DeGiacomo was primarily a junior varsity player at the time who did not make the floor in the varsity team's first three games of the season. She didn't appear to figure much in the team's plans for the year.

"We were at a middle school game and I asked him what I had to do in practice to become better and play varsity, " DeGiacomo said. "He told me I needed to work on the little things like boxing out and just moving the ball around."

DeGiacomo did what LaBelle told her to do. She soon saw her varsity minutes increase and began to play a more prominent role for the Chargers as the season progressed. She seemed to improve with every game.

And here she was Monday night in the quarterfinals of the Division II tournament against East Greenwich, making one of the biggest shots of the night and the season as the Chargers topped the Avengers, 50-44.

It has been quite a journey.

"I'm pretty proud of myself," DeGiacomo said. "I'm a more confident as a player. I'm not stressed out in the game."

Fourth-seeded Chariho was clinging to a 44-42 lead with 56 seconds left in the contest. Fifth-seeded East Greenwich had the ball near midcourt, but was called for an over-and-back violation under heavy defensive pressure from the Chargers.

Chariho found DeGiacomo open on the left wing on the ensuing possession, and she hit a critical 3-pointer with 49 seconds left to put the Chargers up 47-42, delighting a packed house.

"I don't really know what I was thinking, I was just wide open so I shot it and it ended up going it," DeGiacomo said. "It feels really good, especially in front of everybody. We don't usually have big crowds for our games, but today we did."

East Greenwich (12-10) had a shot in the lane with 26 seconds remaining, but Chariho's Emily Ballard made a big block to deny the Avengers.

DeGiacomo was fouled with 22 seconds left. She missed the front end of a one-and-one, but came up with the loose ball on the rebound and was fouled again. She made one free throw to put the Chargers up 48-42 with 18 seconds left.

East Greenwich star Alex Mega, who finished with 25 points, hit a layup to make it 48-44 with eight seconds remaining.

DeGiacomo then threw a baseball pass to Keira Frias on the ensuing out-of-bounds play and she scored to make it 50-44 and seal the win.

DeGiacomo, who led the team with 11 points, is the third-leading scorer on the squad at 7.5 points per game and is the leading free throw shooter at 72% (18 of 25).

Chariho didn't start the game well, trailing 13-6 at the end of the first quarter and 23-19 at the half.

"I think it was a lot of nerves," guard Tori Babineau said. "This is the first time we've been in a big playoff game at home. So we were all definitely pretty nervous about it."

Babineau was the primary defender against Mega, a first-team All-State selection last season who became the all-time leading scorer at East Greenwich earlier this season with more than 1,500 career points. Frias also defended Mega at times.

"We were just trying to deny her," said Babineau, who also scored nine points. "She can shoot from anywhere; she's a great player. I thought we did pretty decent. We had some lapses here and there."

LaBelle was pleased with Chariho's effort against Mega.

"We knew she would get some points in transition because she is so fast, but we just wanted to contain her in the half-court, and I thought the entire team did a good job with that," he said.

Chariho got some key minutes from Charlie Edmunds, who converted a three-point play and hit a baseline jumper late in the third quarter to tie the game at 33. She finished with six points and gave the Chargers a boost in energy.

"She played her best game of the season tonight," LaBelle said. "She was all over the glass like she usually is, but she added the scoring. She was smart with her cuts. She was creating so much space not only for herself but for her teammates as well. She was a major part of why we won the basketball game tonight."

Ballard finished with eight points, and Frias and Jules White each had seven.

Chariho (12-7) will next travel to East Providence on Wednesday to take on top-seeded Moses Brown at 5 p.m. in the semifinals. The Quakers beat Cumberland, 54-34, on Monday.

Mount St. Charles and West Warwick will play in the other semifinal at 7:30 p.m. at East Providence.

Mount beat Tiverton, 51-43, and West Warwick got past Smithfield, 47-37, in the remaining quarterfinal games.

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