WILMINGTON — All night long on March 6 at the St. E Center, Tatnall had gone to its standout senior guard, Omari Banks, when it needed a basket. But with a trip to the DIAA boys basketball quarterfinals on the line, the Hornets turned to another senior, Za’an Burrell, and he rewarded them with his lone points of the game.
Trailing St. Elizabeth, 40-39, with 53.4 to go, and with possession under their offensive basket, Caleb Sales found Burrell in the right corner. His shot found only net, and the 10th-seeded Hornets had a two-point lead. The Vikings lost the ball twice on turnovers after that, and the Hornets added three free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Tatnall will travel to No. 2 Salesianum on Tuesday in one quarterfinal matchup.
The Hornets and Vikings played a tight one throughout, and they entered the final quarter tied at 30. The teams traded the lead a few times. Jaden Dickerson put the Vikings on top, 34-32, with a layup, but Tatnall scored the next four, with a Banks field goal giving the lead back to the Hornets with 4:40 to go.
Blake Bryant drilled a three-pointer with three minutes remaining, and it was the Vikings with the single-point advantage. No matter. Banks scored on a follow shot as the seesaw continued its motion. Dickerson struck again, getting the home-court bounce off the rim on a mid-range jumper with 90 seconds left to put St. Elizabeth ahead, 38-37. Banks and Dickerson each added a free throw over the next 30 seconds to set up Burrell’s heroics.
It was a thrilling conclusion to a game that had been tight throughout. Banks scored eight of the Hornets’ 10 12 first-quarter points. The visitors drove into the lane over and over, with only the final shot of the first coming from outside the paint. That was a three from Banks at the buzzer. The Vikings stuck around thanks mainly to their long-distance shooting. Kye Rawls scored the team’s first six points on a pair of triples, and Bryant and Jermai Herring each hit from deep in the second. St. Elizabeth held the Hornets to one second-quarter field goal and took a 19-17 lead into intermission.
Dickerson heated up after halftime. The Vikings led, 21-19, when the senior guard scored seven straight to give the Vikings their biggest lead of the night, 28-21. The second and third buckets of that run came on a transition layup after a steal, another steal and another layup.
The Hornets took a timeout, and Banks went to work. He hit a layup to end the fun, the nailed his second three-pointer of the evening to cut the St. E’s lead to four. Jack Wilkonson extended the Tatnall run to six with his only points of the night. Dickerson scored once more, but Banks and Bryce Scott connected to knot the score at 30.
Dickerson had 19 points in his final high school game. Blake and Rawls had eight each, while Herring had the team’s remining five points. The Vikings finished the season with a 7-5 record.
For the Hornets, Banks had 26 and Scott 11. The Hornets improved to 11-4. Their quarterfinal game against Salesianum is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.