WILMINGTON — The excitement was palpable inside Laffey-McHugh Gymnasium at Ursuline Academy on Feb. 10. People filled every available nook to watch the top-ranked Raiders take on the No. 2 team, Sanford. The Warriors controlled play inside and left with a 59-51 victory.
Sanford held the lead throughout much of the first half, but the game started off on a good note for the Raiders. Gigi Banks drained a long three-pointer to open the scoring, but Zoe Kashner answered with a layup, with Zy Kilgoe getting the assist. Kilgoe put the Warriors on top with a three-pointer a minute later.
The Warriors took an 8-7 lead on a Jada Snow free throw, and they kept the lead until almost the end of the half. The lead grew to 21-13 early in the second as the Warriors had multiple opportunities on several possessions. Taylor Brown of the Raiders stopped a Sanford run with a tree, sparking a comeback.
Chamira Marshall Brothers dialed long distance to get the Raiders to within one at 24-23, and Hannah Kelley turned an offensive rebound of a missed free throw into a short field goal, giving Ursuline the 25-24 lead and getting the decibel level from the Ursuline students up several notches. But Ellie Carter-Soriano beat the halftime buzzer with a three to send the Warriors into the locker room up two.
Sanford carried the momentum into the second half, scoring 10 of the first 12 points to extend the lead to double digits. The Warriors controlled the boards, often limiting Ursuline to a single shot while getting more than one themselves. Taylor Brown hit a three-pointer to get the Raiders within nine after three quarters.
Down 13 a few minutes into the fourth, Banks fed Emma Anthony in the corner for a three. Banks grabbed a rebound at the other end, raced up the floor and found Anthony for a wing three, cutting the Warriors’ lead to 7.
The Warriors cooled a bit on offense, but they still led by 9 with a minute to go when Brown drained another three to make it 55-49. Brown also scored on a scoop shot, cutting the lead to 4, but the Warriors hit free throws in the final seconds to seal the win.
Kilgoe and Dallas Pierce each scored 14, and Tyler Edwards had 23 for the Warriors. Sanford (14-3) is home against Tatnall on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
For Ursuline, Brown finished with 15, and Banks had 11. The Raiders (17-1) play their home finale on Wednesday against St. Elizabeth at 6:15 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.