For The Dialog
NEWARK – No. 7 St. Elizabeth put together a strong second half to defeat second-seeded Caesar Rodney, 58-36, on March 4 in the quarterfinal round of the DIAA girls basketball tournament. The tide turned in the third quarter, when the Vikings scored the first 17 points, while the Riders could manage just 14 for the entire half.
“We picked up our defense and we kept up our intensity up,” said Vikings senior Alanna Speaks. “We told each other that we were not going to let our guard down on this team like we did the first time.”
The first time came in early December, in St. Elizabeth’s first game of the season. That night at Caesar Rodney, the Vikings fell in overtime, 50-48, after surrendering a first-half lead.
In Saturday’s game, the Riders got into early foul trouble as starters Kylie Kornegay-Lucas and Zoe Scott each picked up two early fouls. The Vikings took advantage of their rebounding edge, and Speaks scored six quick points for a 15-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Alexis Reid hit a pair of three-pointers as the Riders chipped away at the Vikings’ lead and trailed, 27-22, at the half. St. Elizabeth coach Dan Cooney was not pleased with his team’s play in the opening two quarters.
“That was out-of-control basketball in my opinion. We got too sloppy, and we needed to try and calm down,” he said.
Senior Sarah Metz (11 points, 10 rebounds) scored on a layup and then hit a deep three to start the 17-0 run to give the Vikings a 44-22 lead. The Riders got the next six, including four from Kornegay-Lucas, but she fouled St. Elizabeth guard Lexi Bromwell on a half-court attempt with .4 seconds left in the third quarter. Kornegay-Lucas fouled out on the play, and Bromwell made all three free throws for a 47-28 lead.
The Vikings kept their composure in the fourth quarter as Julie McCarron scored on a sweet crossover dribble drive, and Alexis Lee (15 points) scored on two layups to seal the win. The Vikings (15-7) will face Caravel on Wednesday night in the first semifinal at the Bob Carpenter Center at 6:30 p.m. They beat Caravel, 50-49, on Jan. 13. Tickets are $8 and are available at statechamps.com/diaa. They are good for both semifinal games.
The Riders (21-2) got 15 points from Reid in the loss.