WILMINGTON – To say St. Elizabeth got off to a slow start against Concord Thursday night at the St. E Center would be a substantial understatement. The Vikings scored just 10 points in the first half and trailed by 10 at the half. But a different team emerged from the locker room after the intermission, and the Vikings defeated Concord, 40-37, in nonconference boys basketball.
“We got in the locker room, I got my whole team together and I was like, let’s come together. We’ve been down before. I told them, keep your heads up. And we came out with energy. I had to be that spark on the team,” said Brian Miles, who led the Vikings with 11 points, all in the second half.
St. Elizabeth (3-0) playing its home opener, applied intense pressure as the third quarter opened, forcing the Raiders into several turnovers. Miles hit an early three-pointer, and when Money converted a steal with a breakaway dunk, the Vikings were within 22-16, sending the sizable St. Elizabeth student section into a frenzy and prompting Concord coach Ralph Flowers to call a timeout.
The Vikings continued the pressure, and Miles tied the game at 24 with another triple with 3:10 to go in the third. Concord’s Brandon Dennis answered with a shot in the paint to restore the Raiders’ lead, and Noah Rivera followed with a three-pointer to make the advantage five points. The third ended with St. Elizabeth down, 31-30.
Miles changed that on his team’s first possession of the fourth, hitting a three-point shot from the left baseline to make it 33-31. It was the Vikings’ first lead since 8-7 midway through the second quarter. The teams stayed tight and were tied at 37 when Elijah Dockery gave St. Elizabeth the lead for good on a free throw. There were no points in the final three minutes until Jordan Money hit two free throws with 45 seconds to go to provide the final margin.
Concord had a few chances to tie as time ran out. Their final opportunity was snuffed when the Vikings’ Chris Cropper blocked a three-point attempt by Rivera in the final seconds.
“I think we played with a lot of intensity. We started a little slow, but we came out in the second half, and that defense is what helps us win games. Coach keeps saying, defense wins games,” Miles said.
Neither team played particularly well in the first, which ended with the score tied at 5. After Money gave St. Elizabeth its 8-7 lead on a free throw, the Raiders scored the next 11, including consecutive three-pointers from Danny Wise, Robert White and Matthew Arrabal.
Concord (2-1) got a game-high 14 points from Wise, while Rivera added seven. The Raiders are off until Tuesday, when they take to the road to meet district rival Mount Pleasant at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are available by presale only. Concord’s 67-52 win at Mount last year was the Green Knights’ only loss of the regular season.
For the Vikings, Miles was the only double-figure scorer. Cropper had nine, while Money – who missed significant time with foul problems – had eight. They visit Howard on Monday at 5 p.m.