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Padua Academy basketball holds off Saint Mark’s for win at SL24 Memorial Classic opener: Photo gallery

Lilianna DiMarco lines up a shot for the Pandas. She led the team with 16 points. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — The sixth annual SL24 Memorial Classic, the basketball tournament dedicated to the memory of the late Sean Locke, got underway with a close game between rivals Padua and Saint Mark’s. The Spartans overcame an 11-point halftime deficit and led early in the fourth quarter, but the Pandas found their offense down the stretch and captured the 52-49 win at the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington.

The Spartans opened the second half on a 10-0 run to cut the Padua lead to 34-33 before Abigail Hayes ended the drought with a layup for the Pandas with 1:56 to go in the quarter. Lauren McDonald, the senior who had a monster night for the Spartans, promptly tied it with a three-point shot, and after a McDonald free throw, Ava Frohnapfel ended the third with a layup to put Saint Mark’s on top, 39-36, after three.

Lilianna DiMarco followed her own blocked shot to score to open the fourth, then Grace Trerotola found Abby Grillo open underneath for a bunny that gave Padua a one-point advantage. Grillo was fouled on the play. She missed the free throw, but Hayes was there for the rebound and putback high off the glass. A held ball returned possession to the Pandas, and DiMarco drained a corner three to extend Padua’s quarter-opening run to 9-0 and put them up by six.

Three straight buckets by the Spartans, the last a layup for McDonald, tied the game at 45 with four minutes remaining. Grillo restored the Pandas’ lead with a pair of free throws, and Hayes added another with 2:54 to go. Hailey Short battled in the paint before laying the ball in to cut it to a one-point Pandas lead, and the Spartans had a chance to take the lead, but could not get a shot to fall.

Hayes extended the lead to 51-47 with 39 seconds to go, but Sophia Karch turned an offensive rebound into a short field goal with 20 seconds left. The Pandas turned the ball over on the inbounds play, giving the Spartans a chance to tie or take the lead. Padua had two fouls to give, and they used one after the Spartans had burned eight of the final 20 seconds.

The Spartans got a shot off that missed, and Trerotola came up with the rebound. She made one free throw with 5.4 seconds to go, leaving the door open for the Spartans to tie. A three-point attempt at the buzzer, however, hit off the glass, and the Pandas had their second win over the Spartans this season.

Three Pandas reached double figures: DiMarco (16), Hayes (13) and Grillo (10). Padua improved to 11-4 and hosts A.I. DuPont on Feb. 6 at 6:45 p.m.

For Saint Mark’s, McDonald finished with 26. Karch added 13. The Spartans (9-7) visit Delcastle on Feb. 6 for a 4 p.m. tipoff.

Photos by Mike Lang.