WILMINGTON – St. Elizabeth held Salesianum to single digits in each of the first three quarters of the Catholic rivals’ meeting Jan. 6, then withstood the Sals’ offensive outburst in the fourth to take a 46-36 win at the St. E Center.
The Vikings held a 31-17 lead after three quarters, using a stifling pressure defense and shaky Sals shooting. But things changed in the final eight minutes, and St. Elizabeth had to work for their fifth win of the season.
“We were being a little bit lazy,” senior Jordan Money said. “We lost a little bit of focus, but we gained it back toward the end of the game.”
They were helped by a sellout crowd, including a large number of St. Elizabeth students dressed in black. Money said they were noticed.
“We had a great crowd. We haven’t played at home in so long. This was our second home game, so I’m looking forward to more,” he said.
The fourth started with a steal by the Sals, resulting in a layup for Joe Nowak. A few minutes later, Tariq Ingraham, who terrorized the Vikings all night in the paint, hit back-to-back bunnies to cut the Sals’ deficit to six at 34-28. Salesianum then pulled as close as they had been since the opening minutes when Desmond Bagley drained a three-pointer.
St. Elizabeth’s next shot was blocked by the Sals’ Paul Brown, but Nate Thomas was in the right spot to pick up the loose ball and get the putback, ending Salesianum’s run at seven points and providing a bit of breathing room for the hosts. The Vikings scored their final eight points from the free-throw line, taking a total of 17 during the fourth quarter alone, to pull away with the victory.
Money was six of eight from the line in the game, all in the fourth quarter, on his way to a team-leading 17 points.
“At the end of practice every night, we work on free throws. Shoot about a hundred apiece, and we have to make a certain amount or we run, so that helps us in games,” he said.
Early on, it looked like this would be the Vikings’ night. Elijah Dockery opened the game with a three-point shot, and he added a field goal after a steal. In a sold-out St. E Center, with a loud and energetic crowd on hand, the teams did a lot of running up and down the court, but the shots weren’t falling, and it was 9-6 St. Elizabeth after one.
Money and Ryan Hockenbrock sandwiched three-pointers around a putback for Ingraham early in the second, and the Vikings had a 21-13 lead at the break. Paul Brown scored Salesianum’s only four points of the third, while five Vikings each had two, setting up the final stretch.
Thomas and Dockery each had eight for St. Elizabeth (5-2). The Vikings travel to William Penn on Tuesday for a 5:15 p.m. start. They then return home for two before playing six straight away from home.
For Salesianum, which fell to 5-3, Ingraham led the way with 16. The Sals face a daunting challenge on Tuesday, when they visit Smyrna at 7:15 p.m.