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Vikings’ coach sees Diamond State Classic loss chance to learn, grow

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Staff reporter

 

WILMINGTON – Monday afternoon’s game started out so promising for St. Elizabeth’s girls’ basketball team. The Vikings were playing at home in the St. E Center for the St. Francis Healthcare Cup, the main draw of the annual Diamond State Classic. In front of a near-capacity crowd, they jumped out to a 7-2 lead over McDonogh School from Owings Mills, Md., midway through the first period after Jordyn Humes hit a fast-break layup.

But after that, McDonogh turned up the pressure, and the Vikings could never really find their footing. McDonogh recovered for a 9-9 tie after one quarter, then took control in the second, thanks to a suffocating defense and the offense of guard Danielle Edwards, who scored eight points in the quarter to help McDonogh to a 23-14 halftime advantage.

St. Elizabeth’s Alex Thomas looks for an opening as she is defended by the McDonogh School’s Andrea Robinson in Diamond State Classic action Monday afternoon. Thomas’ teammate, Sabrina Hackendorn, waits to her right. The Dialog/Mike Lang

After Humes’ first-period layup, St. Elizabeth would hit just one more field goal in the first half in addition to five free throws. The Eagles disrupted the St. E’s offense time and again, and when they didn’t make their shots, they often grabbed an offensive rebound, chewing up the clock along the way. McDonogh scored the first 14 points of the second quarter, with the Vikings going without a point until Macy Robinson hit a driving layup with 2:10 to go before intermission.

Vikings coach Frank Aiello said his team is searching for a court leader in the mold of Jocelyn Rodriguez, the point guard and team captain who graduated last year after leading St. Elizabeth to the state title.

“Right now we’re struggling to find somebody who’s going to handle the ball for us and take charge out there, but we think we have some young kids in mind who are going to get that experience. When we feel they’re ready, they’re going to get the opportunity,” he said.

St. Elizabeth’s struggles continued throughout the second half. They managed just three field goals in the final two quarters – a three-point shot by Gabby Julian, and two-pointers from Robinson and Sabrina Hackendorn. Their other eight second-half points came from the line, seven of those from Hackendorn, who finished with nine points.

Aiello said the level of competition his team faced during the Diamond State Classic can only help as St. E’s moves into the meat of the schedule, which continues Friday night at 7:15 p.m. at Catholic Conference foe Padua.

“You don’t see this kind of competition throughout Delaware. By playing these teams early, I think it’s going to prepare us for our regular season and Catholic League and, hopefully, the state tournament at the end of the year,” he said.

Edwards scored all 13 of her points in the first half to lead McDonogh. Dajah Logan added 10; in all, eight players scored for the Eagles. Robinson led the Vikings with 11.