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Short game pays off for Pandas in convincing Diamond State win over William Penn

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Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON – William Penn was willing to concede the key to Padua during the teams’ meeting Dec. 28 in the Diamond State Classic, and the Pandas gratefully accepted to gift. The Pandas feasted in the paint on their way to a 61-33 win over the Colonials. The win gave them the New Castle Insurance Cup championship at the annual girls basketball tournament.

Rachel Delate drives toward the hoop for Padua during Thursday’s game against William Penn. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Padua has been a long-distance shooting machine this season, and indeed the second field goal of the afternoon was a three-pointer by Bella Julian. But that would be the only triple of the day for the Pandas.

The Colonials were able to hang with Padua through the first quarter thanks to the play of Shawnee Sykes and Micah Yarbray. That pair scored all 15 of William Penn’s first-stanza points, and the Colonials led, 6-2, very early on. Sykes went for nine in the period, including one three-pointer, while Yarbray added a pair of three balls. Cam Scully paced the Pandas in the first, scoring eight.

The Pandas went through, over and around the Colonials’ man-to-man defense in the second, scoring 10 field goals, none from more than six feet from the hoop. They scored on set plays and used a dominating effort defensively – rebounding and causing turnovers – to create chances in transition. Five players got in on the scoring, led by Rachel Delate, who had three layups and a pair of free throws. Julian had four points in the quarter, but her most memorable play was a no-look behind-the-back bounce pass to Brooke Emmi driving toward the hoop for a layup. Penn, meanwhile, went cold from distance, and they scored just six in the quarter.

Bella Julian lays in two points. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Padua put the game out of reach in the third, when they held William Penn scoreless. The Pandas scored the final four points of the second quarter and all 12 in the third quarter to extend the advantage to 50-21, and Pandas coach Sheila DiNardo was able to get her entire roster valuable playing time in the fourth.

Scully led the Pandas with 14, while Delate finished with 11. Julian, who had nine, was named the most valuable player of the New Castle Insurance Cup bracket. Padua is now 5-3, matching the team’s win total from last season. They are back on the court next Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at St. Mark’s in a battle between resurgent Catholic Conference rivals.

Sykes had 16 and Yarbray 12 for the Colonials, who dropped to 4-4. They will travel to Hodgson on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Heley Scott defends against William Penn’s Micah Yarbray. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)