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Raiders struggle in Diamond State finale


Dialog reporter


WILMINGTON – John Noonan had an inkling something was not right with his Ursuline basketball team on Wednesday afternoon long before the Raiders met St. Rose (N.J.) in the third-place game of the St. Francis Healthcare Cup at the Diamond State Classic at the St. E Center. That feeling was proven correct as Delaware’s top-ranked girls team struggled to get anything going in a 47-31 loss.

Yanni Hendley of Ursuline takes to the air to get this shot attempt off. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)
Yanni Hendley of Ursuline takes to the air to get this shot attempt off. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

“Today for me was just an energy game, and we didn’t have any energy,” the Ursuline coach said. “I’m not mad at the kids, I’m not disappointed in them. I’m a little disappointed in the effort, but three games in four days, sometimes it happens. We just didn’t have it today.”

The Raiders did receive some welcome news prior to the game, as freshman point guard Alisha Lewis was cleared to play despite an injured right thumb. Noonan wasn’t sure he wanted Lewis to play, but he received reassurance that the injury presented no serious risk to Lewis’ long-term availability.

The teams came out running, and they were tied at seven at one point, but St. Rose pulled away after that. The Purple Roses, who are quick and have height, owned the boards and got points from all five starters in the opening eight minutes. They took control with an 18-4 run spanning two periods; Mikayla Markham scored 10 of those points on four field goals, two of which were from beyond the arc. The 5-6 guard would be a thorn in the Raiders’ side all afternoon, getting open looks the entire game and finishing with a game-high 18 points.

Olivia Mason takes a shot against St. Rose's Alex Pendergrass. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)
Olivia Mason takes a shot against St. Rose’s Alex Pendergrass. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

“St. Rose is a tremendous basketball team. They shoot it well, they space it well, they have good sets,” he said. The Purple Roses, he continued, are very adept at turning defensive lapses by their opponents into offensive opportunities.

Ursuline cranked up the pressure after halftime, cutting the 12-point halftime deficit to five, at 30-25. St. Rose scored the next nine points, including another three-pointer for Markham when she grabbed a long rebound of a teammate’s missed three-point attempt. The Raiders’ Kailyn Kampert ended the run with a layup, but there would be no comeback on this day.

Ursuline finished the Diamond State with a 1-2 record against three challenging foes. Noonan said the tournament could be very valuable to his team going forward.

“There’s things that we learned in terms of fundamentals, the basics. Boxing out, really challenging shooters, closing out with high hands. We have to work on our defensive rotations. So it’s back to the lab,” he said.

Kampert led the Raiders (4-3) with 12 points, while Maggie Connolly had seven. Ursuline has a few days off before hosting Catholic Conference rival St. Elizabeth on Jan. 5 at 7:30 p.m. That will be the team’s last home game until Feb. 6.