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Defense helps Raiders overcome Vikings’ hot start

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Dialog reporter

 

WILMINGTON — The inclement weather kept some folks at home, but those who did venture to the St. E Center on Tuesday night were treated to an entertaining Catholic Conference girls basketball game. St. Elizabeth led after one, but the state’s top-ranked team, the Ursuline Raiders, turned it around in the second and took control after that in a 62-50 win.

The Raiders had a five-point halftime lead but put distance between themselves and the No. 4 Vikings after halftime. Ursuline opened the third on a 9-2 run and outscored St. Elizabeth, 19-7, in the quarter. Maggie Connolly scored three of her team-best 17 points on a triple, and Alisha Lewis added two slashing field goals.

Ursuline's Alisha Lewis drives for two of her 15 points against St. Elizabeth on Tuesday night. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)
Ursuline’s Alisha Lewis drives for two of her 15 points against St. Elizabeth on Tuesday night. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

St. Elizabeth, meanwhile, could not find the range from the field. After scoring 19 points in the opening eight minutes, the Vikings totaled 13 in the middle quarters. Ursuline employed its normal pressure defense and also enjoyed a sizeable rebounding advantage. The Raiders turned Vikings turnovers and their own second chances into points time after time. They hit two three-pointers during the game but did most of their damage inside.

Lewis said the press is an integral part of the Raiders’ game. “We work on it in practice and want to apply it to the game.”

The Vikings trailed by 19 after three, but they did not give up. Alexis Bromwell, who scored 10 points in the first quarter, regained her touch, and the trio of Alanna Speaks, Alexis Lee and Julie McCarron each scored inside as the team got as close as seven at 54-47.

Ursuline grew its lead, however, thanks to excellent foul shooting. The Raiders were 18 of 25 for the game. Fifteen of those came in the fourth, and the Raiders made 11. Connolly went to the line 12 times in the final eight minutes, converting nine of them.

Julie McCarron of St. Elizabeth tries to get Alyssa Irons to bite on a move. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)
Julie McCarron of St. Elizabeth tries to get Alyssa Irons to bite on a move. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

The game got off to a blistering start, with two five-point runs by St. Elizabeth sandwiched around a six-point Ursuline streak. Bromwell hit four field goals, including two from distance, as the Vikings took their biggest lead of the night at 19-11. Ursuline trimmed four points off that lead before the quarter ended. The teams went back and forth in the second, with a three-pointer from Ya-kyra Smith-Hines giving St. Elizabeth its last lead at 25-24. The Raiders finished the second on a six-point run to lead, 30-25, at the half.

Lewis said the Raiders needed to change some things after the hot start from the Vikings. “They came out with high energy, so we had to pick it up offensively and defensively. That’s what really boosted our confidence and our scoring, and we caught up.”

Lewis joined Connolly in double figures with 15 points, while Olivia Mason had nine. The Raiders improved to 11-5 and are at home on Saturday at 7 p.m. against St. Mark’s for Senior Night.

For St. Elizabeth, Bromwell finished with a game-high 19. Lee added 10, and Speaks had nine. The Vikings (10-3) travel to Cape Henlopen on Thursday for a 6:15 p.m. tip.