WILMINGTON — The top-ranked St. Elizabeth’s girls basketball team went into its showdown with No. 2 Conrad down two starters, and the Red Wolves took advantage. Ja’Nylah Whittlesey scored 20 points and was a force on the offensive and defensive boards all afternoon.
The Vikings were staked to an early 2-0 lead thanks to a short turnaround jumper by Arianna Henry, but the Red Wolves gave a sign of things to come on their third possession. Stafanie Kulesza missed a three-point attempt, but Whittlsey snagged the offensive rebound. Her six-footer bounced off the back of the rim and right back to her, and she drained the third-chance shot.
A three-pointer from Rory Ciszkowski put the Vikings back on top, and the lead went up to 7-4, but Conrad eventually found its stroke. After connecting on just one field goal in the first six minutes of the quarter, the Red Wolves put up nine consecutive points in the final two minutes.
Kulesza started it with a three. Alyssa Faville then stole the ball mid-dribble and went three-fourths of the length of the court for a layup that tied the score. Conrad took the lead on a 12-footer by Whittlesey, and Kulesza added a layup with less than 10 seconds on the clock. Farrah White pulled the Vikings to within two with a buzzer-beating layup.
The Vikings remained four points down after a three-pointer from Henry with 5:42 left, but, again, the Red Wolves’ offense picked up later in the quarter. Julie Kulesza drove for her first field goal, followed by a baby hook bank shot from Whittlesey. Stefanie Kulesza drained a triple, and the Vikings called a timeout. A slashing layup from Naia Pulliam ended Conrad’s run at seven.
Whittlesey finished the first-half scoring, taking a pass from Stefanie Kulesza under the bucket and laying it in. The Red Wolves led by 16 at the break.
The Vikings’ offense picked up after the intermission. Julie McCarron hit a pair of threes in the third, and Pulliam added another. They were able to trim two points off their deficit heading into the fourth.
But Conrad remained in control. Whittlesey had eight points in the final quarter, with the only other Red Wolves field goal coming from Stefanie Kulesza.
St. Elizabeth played without injured starters Ber’Nyah Mayo and Ashley Campbell and reserve Januarie Tate. McCarron and Pulliam each scored 10 to lead the team. The Vikings (1-1) travel to Westtown School (Pa.) on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Stefanie Kulesza had 19 and Julie Kulesza had 17 for Conrad, which improved to 2-0. The Red Wolves play Sunday at 2:30 p.m. against North Catholic (Pa.) at the She Got Game tourney at the St. James Sports Complex in Springfield, Va.