WILMINGTON — Playing most of the game without their leading scorer and tallest player, Saint Mark’s girls basketball team opened up a big lead at Delcastle, watched it disappear, then rebounded for a 50-47 win on Feb. 13. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Spartans.
Serena Pluta spent three-plus quarters on the bench, recuperating from some bumps and bruises. But as the Spartans’ lead, which had stretched to 16 early in the third quarter, steadily shrank, coach Jim Freel called on his senior. She responded with six points in the fourth, including four free throws on six attempts. She also helped keep Cougars center Emani Lucas-Davis to just two field goals and six points in the fourth.
That Spartans and Cougars were in a tight game midway through the first quarter when Maddie Lenick helped them create some separation. Lenick grabbed a steal and turned that into a transition layup to push the Saint Mark’s lead to 12-8, and her 10-foot baseline jumper a minute later extended that to six points. Delcastle cut three points off that lead before the end of the quarter.
Lucas-Davis, a 6-3 sophomore, brought the Cougars to within a point on a lay-in that marked the first points of the second, but the Spartans responded. Lenick scored again, and Ellie Cummings drilled three-pointers on consecutive possessions to make it 22-13. Alyssa Cresto pushed the Spartans’ run to 10 points with a baseline drive.
After another Lucas-Davis bucket, Ava Berardi hit two straight field goals, and a buzzer-beating three-point shot from Sophia Messick lifted the Spartans to a 31-17 halftime advantage.
Delcastle, which had been plagued by turnovers in the first half, committed another to open the second half. That turned into a mid-range baseline jumper for Ally McGonigle, giving Saint Mark’s its biggest lead at 33-17. After that, however, the Spartans struggled with turnovers, and the Cougars began the march back.
Lucas-Davis kicked off an 11-point run with a transition layup. In fact, she scored nine of the 11 points, and the other two – on a layup by Ny-Asia Brown – came following a Lucas-Davis blocked shot. Cresto restored an eight-point cushion for the Spartans with a field goal with two seconds left in the third.
Cresto led the Spartans with 14 points, while Lenick had eight. Three players had six each. Saint Mark’s (12-5) is on the road Saturday at St. Elizabeth at 4 p.m. at the St. E Center.
For Delcastle, Lucas-Davis had a game-high 30 points. The Cougars fell to 9-10 and wrap up the regular season on Wednesday at home against Caravel at 5:15 p.m.