WILMINGTON — Maybe it was the uniforms. St. Elizabeth was playing in its home gym, but the Vikings were wearing their road maroon sets against Appoquinimink in their bracket championship game of the Viking Invitational. After the Jaguars’ Riley Buzby connected from three-point land, then again for two, Appo had a 17-7 lead.
More likely, it was simply the talent. The tide began to turn, and a buzzer-beating layup by Juilus Wright at the end of the first quarter ignited a 22-0 run that covered all of the second quarter and into the third. That launched the Vikings to a convincing 71-38 win in front of a big crowd Dec. 30 at the St. E Center.
Kenneth Hunter Jr. opened the second quarter with a corner three, and the Vikings caused the first of many Jags turnovers in the quarter after the bucket. The pressure resulted in another Hunter field goal, and after a steal, Wright drove to the hoop for two, giving St. Elizabeth a 20-19 lead.
Aiden Tobiason took advantage of another steal, scoring on a finger roll in transition as the lead began to expand. Tobiason’s next score came after he picked a loose ball from a scrum at midcourt, went down and threw down a two-handed jam. Wright scored the final seven points of the half as the Vikings ran the floor incessantly. On the other end, Appo couldn’t buy a bucket; shots that fell in the first disappeared in the second.
Tobiason scored on a follow shot as the second half opened. A free throw by Appoquinimink’s Kaleb Ra’Ifa ended the Jags’ drought, and Dillon Griffith hit a shot with 5:13 left in the third. The Vikings, however, were in a groove and continued to pull away.
Wright and Tobiason each scored 20 for the Vikings. Wright had 16 of his in the first half, while Tobiason scored 14 in the second half. Hunter finished with 13. St. Elizabeth (5-0) is home for its next three games, beginning Jan. 4 against First State Military at 7:15 p.m. after a girls game at 6 between the same two schools.
Ra’Ifa led the Jaguars with 13, with 10 of those coming in the first quarter. Buzby also reached double figures with 10. Appo (3-2) is home Jan. 4 against William Penn at 6 p.m.
Photos by Mike Lang.