Home Local Sports Hot shooting, stout defense help Conrad girls end St. Elizabeth winning streak

Hot shooting, stout defense help Conrad girls end St. Elizabeth winning streak

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Naia Pulliam of St. Elizabeth is guarded by Conrad's Erin Ranegan. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

WILMINGTON – St. Elizabeth’s girls basketball team entered its game Feb. 15 at Conrad with a 12-game winning streak. Many of those had come against the toughest competition Delaware has to offer. But Conrad, the state’s top-ranked team, came out firing and went on to a 79-53 win in an electric atmosphere in the Wolves Den.

Despite the scoring proficiency showed by the Red Wolves, the first quarter was marked more by their defense and rebounding. Conrad forced several Vikings turnovers, converting them into points, and they held St. Elizabeth to one shot on most possessions. Stefanie Kulesza provided a significant portion of the offense, scoring eight in the first quarter on mid-range jumpers, as the Red Wolves opened up a 20-14 lead after a quarter.

The Vikings’ Ashley Campbell makes a move to her left against Conrad. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

There was good news for the Vikings in the first. They did score 14 points, nine of those coming on a trio of three-point shots. Arianna Henry swished two of those, and Julie McCarron hit the other.

The Red Wolves continued their offensive assault into the second quarter. Julie Kulesza opened the scoring with a second-chance bucket following a miss. McCarron scored off a feed from Ashley Campbell, but Julie Kulesza hit an off-balance three. The Vikings twice got to within eight points in the final two minutes, but a Ja’Nylah Whittlesey eight-footer in the final seconds put Conrad on top by a dozen at the break.

The third quarter opened on a positive note for the third-ranked Vikings. Ber’Nyah Mayo grabbed a defensive rebound and started down the court with Naia Pulliam on her left. Mayo went behind the back with a pass, hitting Pulliam in stride, and Pulliam’s layup was true. The Red Wolves’ lead grew to 14, but following a St. Elizabeth timeout, hit two identical baseline triples, and the Vikings were back to within eight at 42-34. They were able to cut one more point off the lead when Mayo hit a contested three-pointer with 2:50 left, but that’s when the Red Wolves turned up the heat.

Julie Kulesza scored 24 points for the Red Wolves.

Julie Kulesza hit a long three, followed by a steal and layup by Stefanie Kulesza. Following another steal, Stefanie Kulesza drove the lane and kicked left to her sister, who nailed another triple. It was the Alyssa Faville show in the final 40 seconds of the quarter, hitting a three-pointer before scoring on a fast-break layup. The lead was 20 at the end of the third. Conrad added two more to open the fourth quarter; this time, Julie Kulesza found Stefanie underneath, and the 13-0 run put the game out of reach.

The teams combined for 17 three-point shots, nine for St. Elizabeth. There were just 11 free throws total.

Ber’Nyah Mayo, who scored 16 points, puts up an off-balance shot.

Julie Kulesza led all scorers with 24, including four three-pointers. Stefanie Kulesza had 18, Faville 14 and Whittlesey 11. The Red Wolves remained undefeated against Delaware competition and are now 14-5. They conclude the regular season at home on Tuesday at 5 p.m. against St. Thomas More.

For the Vikings, Mayo had 16 points, while Henry added 15, all on three-point shots. St. Elizabeth (15-3) wraps up the regular season with two Catholic Conference games. St. Mark’s visits the St. E Center on Sunday at 2:15 p.m., and the Vikings travel to Padua on Tuesday night at 7:15.

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