Home Local Sports Saint Mark’s girls crank up the defense in basketball win vs. Middletown:...

Saint Mark’s girls crank up the defense in basketball win vs. Middletown: Photo gallery

Saint Mark's Sophia Karch splits the Cavaliers' Alayna Dorst (23) and Sani Savage. Dialog photo/Jason Winchell

WILMINGTON — Saint Mark’s girls basketball team was in a defensive mood on Feb. 3, coming up with turnover after turnover in a 36-26 victory over Middletown in the opening game of the fifth annual SL24 UnLocke the Light Memorial Classic at the Chase Fieldhouse. The Spartans held the Cavaliers to their lowest point total of the season; their previous low was 37.

The Spartans took a bit to get untracked while the Cavaliers built and early lead. After two early buckets by Sani Savage, a steal and layup by Summer Montgomery and a slashing layup from Bria Harding gave Middletown an 8-2 lead with three minutes remaining in the first. But those would be the Cavaliers’ last points until halfway through the second quarter.

In the meantime, the Spartans turned the momentum of the game. After failing to take advantage of some early Middletown turnovers, their fortunes changed. Lauren McDonald converted a steal into a three-point field goal. Hailey Short then turned a theft into an assist on a bucket by Sophia Messick. Short pilfered another ball, this time feeding McDonald, whose field goal gave the Spartans a 9-8 lead after one.

Saint Mark’s scoring streak continued into the second. Messick connected from deep to open the quarter, and Leah DePaul made a mid-range jumper. Next up was Ava Frohnapfel, who scored on a follow shot. Middletown went cold from the field, missing on several opportunities. Gillian Cantagallo’s shot with 3:25 to go in the half pushed the lead to 18-8.

Savage ended the 16-0 Spartans run with consecutive field goals, but the Cavaliers would spent the remainder of the evening playing catch-up.

Harding hit a field goal to open the second half, cutting the Spartans’ lead to four, which was also the margin after a traditional three-point play from Savage with 45 seconds to go in the third. Cantagallo extended the lead to six for Saint Mark’s with a teardrop baseline jumper just before the quarter ended.

Field goals from Keira Benoit and Sophia Karch neutralized the contributions of Savage at the outset of the fourth quarter. Alayna Dorst scored underneath with 4:55 to go to once again bring Middletown to within five at 31-26, but those would be the Cavs’ final points. The Spartans came up with a number of steals lat in the game, and the team made five free throws down the stretch to get to the final margin.

Eight different Spartans scored. McDonald had 9 and Messick 7. The Spartans (12-4) are back in action Feb. 11 at Brandywine at 12:15 p.m.

For the Cavaliers, Savage scored 18. Middletown (9-6) visits Brandywine on Monday at 5:15 p.m.

All photos by Jason Winchell.