WILMINGTON — Saint Mark’s stayed with Wilmington Charter throughout the teams’ game on the afternoon of Jan. 12, but the Force scored the final five points to take a 41-36 victory. It was the season opener for both squads.
The Force overcame a one-point halftime deficit with a big third quarter. Emma Brown gave Charter its first lead of the second half after converting a steal into points, but the Spartans’ Sophia Messick responded with an old-fashioned three-point play on the next possession. Freshman Catie Cole restored the Force’s lead with a field goal that made it 24-22, and Charter took a 31-28 lead into the final quarter.
Messick and Brown continued their scoring into the early going of the fourth. Messick drained a three, her second of the game, to tie the score, but Brown picked up the and-one to put the Force back on top by three. Charter extended the lead to five at 36-31, but Saint Mark’s had a run left in them. The Spartans turned up the defensive pressure, and Allie McGonigle provided the offense. She hit consecutive field goals, the second one a triple, to knot the score at 36 with 2:30 to go in regulation.
Those, however, would be the final points for the Spartans. They had an opportunity off a steal, but after holding the ball for nearly a minute, they were unable to score. Claire Stella made one of two free throws to make the score 37-36 in favor of the home team, and they would add one more field goal by Brown, then a pair of late free throws from Cole to seal the win.
After a slow start for both offenses, the Spartans found a groove midway through the first. Alyssa Cresto scored the first five points of the afternoon, and a three-pointer from freshman Lauren McDonald boosted the lead to 12-6.
Charter, however, would score the final four points of the first quarter and the first four of the second, taking a 14-12 lead. The Force scored many of their points on second chances, as they picked up a number of offensive rebounds. Messick scored all seven of Saint Mark’s points in the second quarter, including a pair of free throws that ended the Force’s run.
Messick, a sophomore, led all scorers with 17 points. McGonigle added seven. The Spartans (0-1) visit Padua on Thursday at 7:15 p.m.
For the Force, Brown had 15 and Cole had 10. Wilmington Charter (1-0) hosts Newark Charter on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.