GREENVILLE — Saint Mark’s shook off a sluggish start and steadily pulled away from Mount Pleasant in a 56-44 girls basketball victory Dec. 3 in the Tiger Tip-Off Tournament at A.I DuPont High School. It was the first game of the season for both the Spartans and Green Knights.
Mount junior Ja’Mai Benson wreaked havoc for Saint Mark’s in the early going. She went inside consistently and scored eight first-quarter points, and freshman Sabrina Washington added four more. The Spartans, meanwhile, couldn’t get anything to fall, but they drew several fouls and scored five of their first seven points from the free throw line, and a late three-pointer from Gillian Cantagallo kept the Green Knights’ lead at three after the first.
The Spartans turned up the defensive pressure in the second, and their offense heated up. Sophia Messick scored Saint Mark’s first points of the second, and Lauren McDonald followed with a three-point shot. Mount led, 20-17, when the Spartans reeled off eight straight to end the half.
McDonald took a long outlet pass and hit a layup to give her team a 21-20 lead with 1:50 remaining, and Messick knocked down a pair of free throws. The final field goal of the half came on a follow shot by McDonald for a five-point lead at intermission.
It was an offensive show in the third quarter. Bella Prado did damage inside, getting open underneath for four field goals, while Messick added her first triple. Benson had six points in the third to keep the Knights close, but the Spartans led, 43-32, as the game entered the final eight minutes.
Five Spartans scored in the final quarter, with Messick and McDonald hitting from deep, and Mount, despite eight more points from Benson, could not close the gap.
Messick led the Spartans with 21 points. She was joined in double figures by McDonald (12) and Prado (10). Saint Mark’s (1-0) takes on host A.I. DuPont on Saturday at 4:45 p.m. in the tournament championship game.
Benson topped all scorers with 25 points. The Green Knights (0-1) will battle Brandywine School District rival Concord in the third-place game on Saturday at 1:15 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.