GREENVILLE – St. Elizabeth’s boys basketball team fought back from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie A.I. duPont on Dec. 1, but the host Tigers hit 11 of 16 free throws in the closing minutes to take a 58-52 decision in the championship game of the Tiger Tip-Off Classic.
A.I. used a 9-2 run in the middle of the third quarter to take a 39-30 lead. It was still a five-point deficit for the Vikings as the fourth started, but two field goals by Daniel Bernard helped the Tigers restore the nine-point advantage at 48-39 when the Vikings made their run.
Justin Money started it with two free throws. Andrew Spychalski converted a three-point play to make the score 48-44 with 4:10 to go. Nasir Brown picked off a Tigers pass on the next possession and went coast to coast for a layup. A.I. duPont then double-dribbled the ball back to St. Elizabeth, and Money slashed his way to the hoop to tie the score.
Jamir Dantley hit one of two free throws to put A.I. back on top, this time to stay. The Vikings had a few opportunities to take the lead, but they could not find the range. The Tigers started heading to the free-throw line and extending the lead, while St. Elizabeth lost its shooting touch. Money made four free throws in the final minutes, but those were not enough to keep pace with the Tigers.
The first half was very different for the Tigers, who led, 30-24, at the break. They won the opening tip and got the ball to Maxwell Johnson, who nailed a three-point shot four seconds into the game in a sign of things to come. Johnson would hit one more three during the first, and the Vikings also had two treys – from Brown and Spychalski – and a 15-14 lead after one.
Money hit a floater to open the second and increasing the lead to three, but Johnson knotted the score on his third three-pointer, this one going in as the shooter was falling to the ground. Then it was Kyle Morgan’s turn to light it up from distance. He drained four triples, and he also added a free throw. The five three-pointers and a Morgan free throw accounted for all of A.I duPont’s scoring in the second.
Morgan finished with five three-pointers and 20 points to lead the way for the Tigers. Johnson joined him in double figures with 14. Dantley and Bernard added nine each. A.I. improved to 2-0 and stays home to host Newark on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
For the Vikings, Money scored 24 for the second time in as many games. Brown had 12. St. Elizabeth (1-1) hosts Wilmington Friends in their home opener next Saturday at 2:15 p.m.