PENNY HILL – Archmere found enough offense in the second half and was accurate from the free throw line in a 35-27 win at Mount Pleasant on Feb. 27 in the opening round of the DIAA girls basketball tournament. The Auks advanced to a second-round date with third-seeded Sanford on Friday night at 7 in Hockessin.
The 18th-seeded Auks were taking on No. 15 Green Knights for the second time this year, only this matchup featured the defenses of both teams. Mount senior Zaria Newson patrolled the inside, altering or blocking several Archmere shots, while the Auks did a good job clogging passing lanes and denying the Knights a clear path to the hoop. Both teams, meanwhile, struggled with their shooting.
In fact, neither team scored until Madison Stewart poked the ball loose from a Green Knight and took the turnover in for a left-handed layup with 5:14 left in the first quarter. It took the Green Knights another 75 seconds before they got on the board, but Brennah Scott was able to drain a three-point shot from the top of the key to give the home team a lead it would keep until the middle of the third period.
The Auks regained the lead, 6-5, on a Julia Jogani floater and two free throws from Stewart, both with under a minute to go, but Mount responded. Ayanna Obey added two field goals in the final 13 seconds of the quarter, including a buzzer-beater, for the 9-6 lead.
Newson added some offense to open the second, hitting a turnaround from 10 feet after an offensive rebound. She spent most of the rest of the second swatting shots and collecting rebounds, but a follow shot by Isabella Gioffre brought the Auks within one at 13-12 with three minutes and change left in the half. But a swarming Green Knights defense prevented Archmere from scoring again, and Mount added two more buckets, taking the 17-12 lead into intermission.
The tables turned in the third quarter. Newson started the half on the bench, but Archmere had three opportunities on its first possession, with Sydney Niumataiwalu scoring to cut the lead to three, and Mount’s center quickly reported to the scorer’s table. Stewart went to the bench with her fourth foul, but the Auks played well in her absence.
Emma McCann tied the game at 17, but Obey twisted around a few Auks defenders for a nice field goal. Isabella Gioffre went back and hit at the other end, and the teams were tied again at 19. But Newson picked up her fourth foul with 2:35 left in the third, and the Auks took advantage. Kylie Lutz went down the lane and banked home a runner to put Archmere in front, 21-19. They scored the final five points of the quarter on free throws to take a 26-20 lead into the final eight minutes.
Newson’s absence was felt early in the fourth. Archmere burned the better part of 40 seconds off the clock before Gioffre found an opening in the middle for a short runner. Newson returned, but she had to be careful not to pick up her fifth foul, and the Auks picked up the rebounding. The Green Knights got as close as 28-24, but that would be it.
Stewart and Gioffre each scored eight to lead the Auks, while Niumataiwalu added seven. Archmere improved to 13-8 and visits No. 2 Sanford at 7 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are $5 and will be sold at the door beginning at 6 p.m.
For Mount Pleasant, Newson and Obey led the way with eight points apiece. The Green Knights finished the season 12-9.