WILMINGTON — Archmere’s girls basketball team had its work cut out for themselves on the evening of March 9. The ninth-seeded Auks were matched up against the top seed, Conrad, in the quarterfinal round of the DIAA girls state basketball tournament.
If that wasn’t enough, the Auks had to wonder what was going on when the Red Wolves 6-4 center, Ja’Nylah Whittlesey, swished a three-pointer from the top of the circle in the middle of the first quarter. It was that kind of night, and Conrad went on to a 59-24 victory in their home gym, the Wolves’ Den.
Whittlesey helped set the tone on the first possession, hitting a short jumper inside to open the scoring. The Auks, making their first appearance in the quarterfinals since 2014, were hurt by early turnovers that the Red Wolves turned into points. Senior Julie Kulesza hit a pair of triples to extend the lead to 8-0 before Fiona Teaney made a three-pointer of her own to get the Auks on the board halfway through the first.
The Auks would add two more field goals – one each from Izzy Gioffre and Lauren Kim – in the first, but they struggled shooting all evening and would not make another until the 2:38 mark of the third quarter. The Red Wolves, meanwhile, displayed the spacing and ball movement that has placed them among Delaware’s elite teams the past three seasons.
The score was 19-9 after a quarter, but it didn’t take long for the Red Wolves to open the game up. Kulesza began the second with a bucket. Whittlesey made a follow shot, and Alyssa Faville scored off glass after a Red Wolves steal. Kulesza added two more points after intercepting an Auks pass in the midcourt circle. The final points of the half came on the first of three three-point shots by Stefanie Kulesza.
The Kulesza sisters each scored 17 to lead Conrad, who improved to 18-4 on the season. Whittlesey added 11. The Red Wolves will meet the fifth seed, St. Elizabeth, in one semifinal on Wednesday at approximately 8 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware. That game will follow No. 3 Sanford vs. No. 2 Cape Henlopen, which tips at 6:30.
The Red Wolves and Vikings met early in the season, on Dec. 12, with Conrad scoring a 60-44 victory.
For the Auks, Gioffre finished with seven to lead the way, while fellow senior Teaney had five. Archmere’s season ended with a 16-7 record.