WILMINGTON – When St. Elizabeth came out with Sarah Metz covering Adrianna Hahn in a box-and-one defense, Ursuline turned to Plan B. That Plan B was everyone else, as the top-ranked Raiders used a balanced attack to defeat their rival, the No. 3 Vikings, 51-38, Tuesday night at sold-out Ursuline.
Raiders coach John Noonan said his team needs to have other options.
“It’s really hard to guard five people. It’s really easy to guard one,” he said. “It’s simple. We’ve got to get everybody on board. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Hahn wasn’t invisible. The senior guard scored 12 points, including six in the second quarter on three straight drives down the lane, but the other six points came on second-half free throws. She was held without a three-point shot, something of a rarity over the last four-plus seasons. She was content to distribute the ball to her teammates, including ascending eighth-grader Alisha Lewis, who finished with 13 to lead the Raiders.
Noonan said he’s seen a lot of growth from Lewis this season. What people need to remember, he said, is that she just turned 14 a few weeks ago.
“I think anyone who’s seen her play knows she’s a special talent. She’s extremely comfortable with the ball, she’s extremely skilled. The thing with her was trying to get her to be more of an attack player as opposed to being passive and deferring to her teammates. We want her to take shots,” he said.
Tuesday’s game was not one of Ursuline’s signature romps, in which the Raiders build up a large first-half lead while pressing and defending the opponent into turnover after turnover. The teams played fairly evenly in the first half, with the Raiders enjoying a 26-21 halftime advantage. Other than Hahn’s stretch midway through the second, Ursuline’s offense was largely long-distance, as Alyssa Irons and Maggie Connolly each drained a pair of treys. The Raiders could have had a larger lead as they dominated the offensive rebounding, but they had trouble converting those into second-chance points.
After Lewis opened the third quarter with the first of her third three-pointers, Noonan unveiled a new wrinkle. The Raiders began running a four corners-type offense, holding the ball for a minute or more on each possession and not allowing the Vikings to cut into the lead. Ursuline scored the first 10 points of the second half, stretching the lead to 36-21, before Olivia Tucker hit a layup in transition to end the run nearly five minutes into the quarter.
Noonan said the delay offense was designed partly to counter the absence of Kryshell Gordy, the Raiders’ primary inside weapon, and to keep Hahn out of foul trouble. He has wanted to run this offense in a game to see how his team would handle it.
“Practicing it in practice is one thing, practicing it in a game is another. So, why not tonight?” he said.
The stall continued throughout the fourth quarter, as the Raiders waited for St. Elizabeth to start fouling in order to end possessions. Nine of Ursuline’s 14 points in the final stanza came from the line, although Lewis added her third three-point field goal for good measure. The Vikings could get no closer than nine.
The Raiders also forced the Vikings into several turnovers, with Lewis grabbing a number of steals. She said the key to her defense was to “just stay in front of them and be aggressive.”
Hahn finished with 12 points and Kailyn Kampert added nine in the win. Ursuline improved to 17-1 with the win and clinched the Catholic Conference title. Next up on the schedule is a visit to St. Mark’s on Saturday at 7 p.m., followed by a showdown with No. 2 Sanford next Wednesday at home.
Alex Thomas continued her fine senior season, leading her team with 18 points. The Vikings (12-6) are off until next Wednesday, when they travel to Delaware Military Academy for a 7:15 p.m. start.