Home Local Sports St. Elizabeth girls battle, but fall in Viking Invitational basketball: Photo gallery

St. Elizabeth girls battle, but fall in Viking Invitational basketball: Photo gallery

Milan Paulin makes a move for St. Elizabeth against South Fayette at the Viking Invitational. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — The South Fayette (Pa.) girls basketball team sprinted to a layup off the opening tip during their visit to the St. E Center on Dec. 27, and the Lions ran their way to a 68-51 victory over St. Elizabeth during the Viking Invitational’s opening day.

Ava Leroux, the Lions’ 6-4 center, tapped the ball to teammate Erica Hall, who beat everyone to the basket for the 2-0 lead. That track meet pace would continue throughout the first quarter, with the Lions jumping out to a 7-0 lead. Sydney Hilliard got the Vikings on the board with a three-pointer, and the race was on.

South Fayette, out of suburban Pittsburgh, went to the running game early and often. They used their height advantage to grab rebounds and spring their arsenal of weapons. The visitors got points inside from Rachel Black, Leroux and Maddie Webber, while St. Elizabeth hung tough thanks to a pair of threes from Ericka Huggins and Milan Paulin, plus some inside ventures from Farrah White. It was 21-17 Lions after eight minutes.

South Fayette’s scoring slowed in the second, at least for a few minutes, and Hilliard took advantage with a triple that cut the Lions’ lead to a single point. But Hall scored the next three points for the Lions, only to see Hilliard drain a runner to pull the Vikings to within two at 24-22.

Over the last few minutes of the first half, however, the tenor of the game changed. Webber answered Hilliard’s field goal with one of her own, sending the Lions on their way on a 19-2 run that ran into the opening minutes of the second half. Webber began the run and had eight of the 19 points. The Lions kept the fast pace going the entire time.

The Vikings responded with a 9-2 stretch of their own, beginning with a three for Ariel Garcia and ending with a long two from Huggins to cut the South Fayette lead to 12 at 45-33. But the Lions would assert themselves once more, building a lead of 23 points early in the fourth quarter on their way to the win.

Webber finished with a game-high 21 points, and she also had several rebounds and assists. Black scored 16. The Lions will face St. Thomas Aquinas (N.J.) on Wednesday at 11:45 a.m.

Huggins had 19 to pace the Vikings. White (14) and Hilliard (12) also scored in double digits. St. Elizabeth (2-1) will battle Holy Cross (N.Y.) on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

All photos by Mike Lang.