MILLTOWN — Saint Mark’s withstood a Tower Hill rally in the third quarter, responding with an extended scoring run on the way to a 56-43 victory over the Hillers on Jan. 5 on Tom Rosa Court.
The teams went toe-to-toe in an entertaining first quarter in which 11 different players scored — six for the Spartans, five for the Hillers. Sophia Karch got things started with a steal and transition layup, but Tower bounced back from an early 8-2 deficit to tie it at 9-9 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Hannah Graveline. Tower finally took the lead when Graveline hit a three-pointer with seven seconds left in the quarter to make the score 17-16, which is where it stood at the horn.
Saint Mark’s dominated the second, however, as the Hillers went cold from the field, and the Spartans turned defense into offense on a number of occasions. A transition layup by Lauren McDonald put the Spartans on top early, but Tessa Mullins got that back with a follow shot after an offensive rebound. The Spartans took a 21-19 lead on a triple by Sophia Baffone, and they would not trail again.
McDonald would sprinkle another three in there before halftime, but Saint Mark’s did most of its damage inside and from the mid-range. They led, 34-23, at halftime.
The Hillers, coached by former Ursuline all-stater Adrianna Hahn, upped the intensity in the third quarter, and they climbed back into the game. Mullins had a pair of conventional three-point plays to lead the way, with her second cutting the Spartans’ lead to just 38-33. The teams traded buckets before Saint Mark’s pulled away.
Ava Frohnapfel, playing her first game of the season after battling an injury, began a 14-0 run with an 12-footer with 1:14 left in the third. Leah DePaul fired up a three, and, after a defensive rebound with about 5 seconds on the clock, McDonald got ahead of the defense for a layup with 1.2 to go.
Saint Mark’s scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, getting the lead to 19, before Addison Rice hit a free throw for Tower with 4:34 remaining.
McDonald had 16 and Baffone 15 for the Spartans, who improved to 7-1. Saint Mark’s travels to Padua on Jan. 9 for a 6:30 p.m. tip.
For Tower Hill, Graveline led the way with 14, and Mullins added 11. The Hillers (2-5) are home on Tuesday vs. Sanford. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m.
Photos by Mike Lang.