For The Dialog
NEWARK — The St. Elizabeth Vikings have reached the last step to defend their girls’ state basketball title after a 55-38 win over top-seeded Ursuline Wednesday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.
After three-point shots by Adrianna Hahn and Alyssa Irons gave the Raiders a 6-4 lead, the Vikings reined in the outside shooting, holding Ursuline to 6-for-18 from distance. That was the game plan Vikings coach Frank Aiello had laid out.
“We wanted them to take two-point field goals, and we did not want to leave their shooters open,” Aiello said.
After Irons’ trey, St. Elizabeth scored the next nine points and held Ursuline scoreless the rest of the quarter until Hahn hit two free throws with a tenth of a second remaining.
Seniors Macy Robinson and Sabrina Hackendorn helped the Vikings extend the lead in the second quarter. They scored seven of the team’s 14 points, while the defense held Ursuline to just three field goals. At the half, it was 27-19 in favor of St. Elizabeth.
The game really turned in the third quarter. Robinson and junior Alex Thomas each had two hoops and a pair of free throws, while Hackendorn scored four more points. When that eight minutes ended, St. Elizabeth had outscored the Raiders, 20-10, and took an 18-point lead into the fourth.
The Vikings avenged two regular-season losses to Ursuline with the win.
“It is always nice to win a game against your rivals, and I compare this rivalry to Duke and North Carolina,” Aiello said.
Robinson led the way with 16 points, with Thomas adding 14 and Hackendorn 11. St. Elizabeth (18-5) will meet Sanford in the championship game Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Bob. The Vikings are the only team to defeat Sanford (22-1) this season, taking a 53-47 decision in the second game of the year in December. Tickets are $8 and available at diaa.ticketleap.com or at the door.
Hahn led Ursuline with 17 points. Eighth-grader Maggie Connolly had 11. The Raiders finished the season at 18-5.