CLAYMONT — The Archmere girls basketball team used an 11-0 third-quarter rally to open up a tight game with Saint Mark’s, then the sixth-seeded Auks cranked up the defense to defeat the 22nd-seeded Spartans, 46-37, in a DIAA third-round tournament game March 5 at Moglia Fieldhouse. The win sends the Auks to the state quarterfinal round for the second consecutive season.
Field goals by Ava Berardi and Sophia Messick put Saint Mark’s on top, 28-26, as the Spartans opened up the third on a 7-2 run. That was when Archmere made its move.
Ava Scarpaci struck first, making an inside shot with 3:27 to go in the third. She was fouled on the play, and her free throw put the Auks on top by a point. This time, they stayed there. Their defense led the way, forcing the Spartans to work diligently to find open looks, but their shots stopped falling. Lauren Kim hit next. She was left wide open on the foul line extended right buried a three-pointer to push the lead to four.
Kim played distributor the next time, finding a cutting Sara Denning for two more, then Brigid Hamberger nailed another triple. That sent the run to 11 points, a streak ended by a Messick scoop shot, and Archmere took a 38-30 lead into the final stanza.
Both teams struggled for points in the fourth. The first four minutes and four seconds of the quarter yielded just four points, two for each team. The Auks did not make a field goal in the quarter, and they made six of 13 free-throw attempts in the final three minutes. But that, coupled with solid defense, was enough to keep the Spartans at bay.
The game mirrored the first one the teams played this season. In that one, which was on DATE, the Spartans had a one-point halftime lead before the Auks took control in the second half. In Friday night’s first half, the teams traded the lead in the first quarter, with the Spartans holding an 11-10 lead after one.
Berardi heated up in the second, scoring seven of her 10 points. Lucy Oliver banked in a three-pointer for the Auks’ first points of the quarter, and Ellie Angiullo hit a triple for the team’s final points. That three made the score 22-21 Saint Mark’s, but Maddie Lenick hit a jumper just before the halftime buzzer to put the Spartans on top by three at the break.
Angiullo said coach Dan Pisani had a simple message during the halftime break. “He just told us we’ve been in that situation before, and we can bring it back. We’re a really strong, tight-knit team. We can rely on each other, and we did.”
Angiullo finished with 12 to lead the Auks (10-2), who also received nine from Oliver. They will travel to third-seeded Sanford on Monday at 6:30 p.m. Angiullo said the Warriors are formidable, but the Auks will be ready.
“They’re really athletic, and they’re really talented, but I think we have a closer team and a really positive bench,” she said.
Her classmate, Bridget McGonigle, said the team’s experience with COVID-19 will help the Auks.
“We definitely know adversity, going through two quarantines,” she said. McGonigle added that they need to be their second-half selves for four quarters on Monday. They’re thrilled to be back in the quarters after losing four starters from last year’s team to graduation.
“We really put an emphasis on working as hard as we have in the past. We’re just happy to get as far as we did last year and hopefully further,” she said.
For the Spartans, Messick also had 10 points. Saint Mark’s closed the season with a 6-9 record.
All photos by Mike Lang.