GLASGOW – Gabby Liberio took an inbounds pass from Aubrey Ennis and laid in the winning field goal as time expired as Upper Darby (Pa.) edged St. Mark’s, 52-51, in girls basketball at the Dragon Winter Classic at Glasgow High School on Dec. 22.
The final play overshadowed an impressive comeback effort by the Spartans in the fourth quarter. St. Mark’s trailed by six points at halftime and also at the end of the third quarter, but the visitors from Pennsylvania scored five quick ones at the opening of the fourth to extend their lead to 44-33.
The Spartans responded with nine straight. Kayla Wolff scored the first three on a field goal, then a free throw. Delaney Carey took a nice pass while cutting to the hoop for a layup. The Royals turned the ball over by stepping on to the court on the next inbounds, and Wolff made them pay with a 15-footer to make it 44-40 with 5:20 to go. They weren’t done. Serena Pluta hit from 15 feet before a Liberio jumper ended the run.
The put the Royals ahead, 46-42, but the Spartans went on another run. Maddie Lenick scored, followed by a three-point shot from DD Shepherd to give St. Mark’s its first lead of the game at 47-46 with 2:32 remaining. Pluta added another two points on a layup. Upper Darby scored the next four, including an Ennis transition layup that put the Royals back in front by a point.
Carey took a pass from Ava Berardi with 15 ticks on the clock and scored on a nice spin move to make it 51-50 Spartans. The Royals misfired on a shot, but the rebound deflected off the hands of a St. Mark’s player and rolled out of bounds, setting up the final play. Ennis took her spot on the end line and waited for Liberio, who eluded a defender and caught the inbounds pass in stride, kissing it off the glass and in.
The Spartans’ offense got going after a slow first quarter during which they had just two buckets. They struggled with turnovers into the second, taking few shots until the middle of the quarter. Berardi hit two free throws with 4:44 to go for the team’s first points since early in the first, and Pluta added a layup 20 seconds later to jump start the offense. That set up an entertaining third quarter during which seven Spartans got on the scoreboard, while the Royals hit all three of their three-pointers in the third.
Carey scored 12 points to lead the Spartans, with Shepherd adding 10. St. Mark’s lost for just the second time this season, falling to 5-2. They are off until Jan. 5, when they host A.I. duPont at noon.
Liberio had 16 for the Royals to lead all scorers. Jasmine Forrester contributed 12.