CLAYMONT – Archmere’s girls basketball team has played prettier games from an offensive standpoint, but the Auks turned up the defense and managed a 34-26 win over Wilmington Friends Feb. 28 in the first round of the DIAA tournament.
Archmere held the Quakers to just eight first-half points and resisted comeback attempts after the break, but the team’s start offensively was sluggish.
The first minutes of the contest displayed what would become a common theme throughout. An Archmere steal led to two layup attempts, both of which rolled off the rim. Wilmington Friends struggled with ball security all night, but the Auks was unable to convert those numerous turnovers into points. The Quakers scored just three points in the first, and a late layup by Emma McCann – coming after yet another steal – gave the Auks an 8-3 lead after one.
“We got a lot of good shots up early. Missed some layups, missed some free throws,” Auks coach Dan Pisani said. “We’ve been off now for about two weeks, and I think that got us a little bit. It’s still a win. We still get to play Thursday.”
The teams combined for just three field goals in the second quarter, one of those a three-pointer by McCann. Archmere continued with the smothering defense, keeping the Quakers from getting many quality looks.
The turnover bug continued to bite Friends into the third, but the Quakers’ shooting improved somewhat. Jayna Jones scored on a drive over Amanda Denning, but Denning answered with a nice spin move for an 18-10 Archmere lead. Friends’ Margaret Sullivan cut the lead to 20-14 when she followed her own missed three-point attempt for a layup, and the margin remained at six heading into the final stanza.
Denning scored two field goals in close in the third to help keep her team in front by a healthy margin.
“I knew our shots weren’t exactly falling throughout the first quarter. I knew I had to do what I could to get more points on the board. Posting up was working for me,” she said.
The Auks opened the fourth strong to put the game out of reach. Denning scored on Archmere’s first possession, then Danaziah Brown had her only points of the night – a three-pointer – to make it 27-16 Auks.
“Coach was just telling us to be aggressive and go to the basket. That little spurt really turned the game around for us,” McCann said.
Natalie DePaulo did her best to keep the Quakers close in the fourth. The junior capped a fine season by scoring eight points in the quarter; she finished with 12 before fouling out. The deficit was too large and the defense too strong, however, for Friends to make a serious run.
McCann scored nine to lead the Auks, while Denning added six. Archmere (15-6) advances to meet St. Elizabeth on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the St. E Center. The teams met at Archmere during the regular season, with the Vikings claiming a 45-41 win.
“We’ve got to execute, and we’ve got to finish. It’s a tough draw, but there are no easy draws,” Pisani said. “They know how close we were last time, and they’re not going to take us lightly. And we know how close we were, and we’re going to come back looking for it.”
Wilmington Friends’ season ended at 12-9.