GREENVILLE — As the Saint Mark’s girls basketball team readied for the tipoff in their game Dec. 1 against Concord, coach Jim Freel told Bella Prado, who was there for the jump ball, exactly where to send the play.
Prado worked the plan to perfection, smacking the ball to Sophia Messick. Messick turned toward the basket and dished to wide-open freshman Sophia Baffone, who laid in the first bucket of her high school career. That gave the Spartans a 2-0 lead seconds into the contest, and they were on their way to a 54-24 victory over the Raiders at A.I. DuPont Tip-Off Tournament at A.I. DuPont High School.
Twelve Spartans scored in the win, with the big margin allowing Freel to get the entire roster significant minutes. Saint Mark’s left no doubt about the direction of the game, scoring the first 16 points.
Lauren McDonald scored after Baffone, and Messick followed with her first three of the season. Prado was next on the board, banking an 8-footer off the glass, prompting a Concord timeout with the Spartans leading, 9-0.
McDonald hit a corner triple, and Messick connected on a follow-up as the lead grew to 14. Finally, Katie Lennon knocked down a shot. The Raiders ended the run with 1:20 left in the quarter when MacKenzie Weinkowitz hit a short field goal. She added another before the quarter ended.
Messick added two more three-pointers during the second quarter as the lead continued to grow. Concord took nine free throws in the quarter as the Spartans committed several fouls, but the Raiders were not able to cut into the deficit. The Raiders shot much better during the third, turning a few Spartans turnovers into points. But the game was already well out of reach.
Messick had 13 to lead all scorers. Baffone finished with 8, and McDonald had 7. The Spartans (1-0) will take on host A.I. DuPont on Saturday at 4:15 p.m. in the tournament championship game.
Weinkowitz led the Raiders with 9. Concord (0-1) will meet Mount Pleasant on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the consolation game.
All photos by Mike Lang.