NEWARK – St. Elizabeth played the outside game, and Caravel went inside, and in the end the Buccaneers had too many weapons and outstanding free-throw shooting in a DIAA girls semifinal basketball game March 6 at the Bob Carpenter Center. The fifth-seeded Buccaneers scored a 67-58 win over the No. 1 Vikings and advanced to the championship game for the third straight season.
The Bucs will meet the second seed, Sanford. The Warriors moved on with a 52-41 victory over the defending champions and third-seeded Conrad.
The Vikings’ first two field goals of the night were from three-point land, but their overall shooting percentage in the first half was not enough to overcome the Bucs’ aggressive, driving offense. Six different players scored for Caravel in the first quarter, with most of those coming from inside the paint. Miranda Porretta had six points, and India Johnston hit the team’s lone three-pointer of the quarter as they took a 21-15 lead after a first quarter played at a blistering pace.
The Buccaneers’ scoring slowed in the second quarter, but they were able to add two points to the lead before halftime. Caravel was able to gain the rebounding advantage over the Vikings, and St. Elizabeth could not find the range offensively. The Vikings managed just eight points – a three-pointer by Ber’Nyah Mayo, a Julie McCarron field goal, and three free throws.
St. Elizabeth trailed, 31-23, at halftime, but Ashley Campbell nailed a three-pointer to open the third. Caravel answered as it did all night, pounding the ball inside to Kendra Warren and others, keeping the lead around eight to 10 points for most of the quarter. A slashing layup by Sasha Marvel and a runner off the glass by India Johnston pushed the advantage to 44-31.
After a timeout, Campbell hit another three, and Mayo went for two to cut the deficit back to eight. A few defensive stops later, Naia Pulliam made a pair of free throws, and with 1:44 to go in the third, the Vikings were within six. Caravel’s lead was 48-40 after three.
The Buccaneers began the fourth quarter with two free throws each from Ondia Brown and Sasha Marvel, and after a missed Vikings layup, Karli Cauley grabbed one of her eight rebounds and went the length of the floor for a contested layup that extended the lead to 11. Arianna Henry swished another three-pointer for St. Elizabeth, but the Bucs would protect that lead at the free-throw line. They scored 15 of their 19 fourth-quarter points from the line, including their final nine.
Not that it didn’t get hairy for Caravel for a few minutes. Mayo made it 58-53 with 2:20 to go on her fourth three-ball of the night. The Bucs went one-for-two from the line, and Mayo scored again, this time from 15 feet, to cut Caravel’s lead to 59-55 with 1:24 on the clock. But they would get no closer.
Mayo had five three-pointers on her way to a game-high 21. McCarron added 11 for the Vikings, whose season ended with a 19-4 record. All five starters are scheduled to return for the team.
For Caravel, Marvel led in both points (18) and rebounds (nine). Joining her in double figures were Cauley with 16 and Warren with 11. The Buccaneers, who were 27 of 33 from the free-throw line, avenged a 70-60 regular-season loss to St. Elizabeth and are now 15-8.