DOVER – Several Catholic high schools have earned berths in the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association girls and boys basketball tournaments, which will begin Tuesday at eight campus sites.
Five girls teams made the tournament, led by St. Elizabeth, the fifth seed. The Vikings, along with No. 6 Padua, will have the first round off, both getting a bye into the second round in the 24-team bracket. The other Catholic schools that will be vying for a state title are Archmere, the ninth seed; Saint Mark’s, the 13th seed; and Ursuline, the 19th seed.
In the first round, Ursuline will travel to the 14th seed, Newark Charter on March 4 at 7 p.m. The Raiders finished with a 9-10 record after winning their final three regular-season games. Ursuline has just one senior, Kaleigh White, and some of the younger players they rely on are Emily Rzucidlo, Emma Raftovich and Hannah Kelley.
Their opponents, Newark Charter, finished the season 14-6. Guards Lanay Smith and Ritika Mandavilli are among the top scorers, along with Tristan Snellings. They are members of the Diamond State Athletic Conference. The winner will meet the third seed, Sanford, on March 6 at 7 p.m.
The Spartans finished the regular season 13-7. They will host the 20th seed, Caravel, on March 4 at 7 p.m. Led by senior forward Serena Pluta, the Spartans won their first 10 games this season. Pluta is the lone senior, and among her supporting cast are four juniors – Ava Berardi, Maddie Lenick, Ally McGonigle and McKenzie Beamer – and a host of younger players.
Caravel is another young team. Their leading scorer is sophomore India Johnston, who gets help from a bunch of players, including freshman Giniah Gale and sophomore Taylor Wilkins. The Buccaneers went 9-11 against a very tough schedule. The winner of this one travels to No. 4 Delmarva Christian on March 6 at 7 p.m.
Archmere is looking to win at least one game in the state tournament for the eighth consecutive season. To do that, the Auks will have to get by the final team to make the bracket, No. 24 Sussex Tech. The Auks began the season 4-4 before winning 10 straight. They finished 14-6. They are a veteran group led by seniors Izzy Gioffre, Fiona Teaney, Maddie Wallace and Madison Stewart.
Sussex Tech went 7-13 but a strong schedule gave them enough bonus points to make the field. Their leading scorers are Daniya Dashiell, Ciara Wilson and Keilani Bradham-Gibbs.
The game is on March 4 at 7 p.m. The winner meets the eighth seed, Woodbridge, two nights later in Greenwood.
St. Elizabeth and Padua will await the first-round results before knowing their opponents. The Vikings will host the winner of No. 21 Appoquinimink at No. 12 Lake Forest, and Padua plays the victor of No. 22 St. Georges at No. 11 Polytech. That game will be played at Salesianum School; both are on March 6 at 7 p.m.
The girls’ quarterfinals will be March 9 at sites to be determined. The semifinals are March 11 and the final March 13 at the Bob Carpenter Center.
On the boys’ side, St. Elizabeth and Salesianum made the 24-team field. The Vikings earned the 16th seed, while the Sals are the sixth seed.
The Vikings will host No. 17 Tower Hill on March 3 at 7 p.m. St. Elizabeth went 14-6, finishing the season with a win over McKean. The Vikings rely on a number of players, with seniors Nasir Brown and Colin Hockenbrock, along with junior Jaden Dickerson, leading the way.
Their foe, Tower Hill, also went 14-6 as members of the competitive Independent Conference. The Hillers have a pair of dynamic players in Donoven Mack and Ricky Deadwyler, but their supporting cast can be dangerous as well.
The winner will play the top seed, Sanford, on March 5 at 7 p.m.
Salesianum earned a first-round bye after posting a 12-8 record against a tough schedule. The Sals are winners of nine of their last 10 games after opening the season 3-7. They will host the winner of No. 22 Lake Forest at No. 11 Middletown.
The boys’ quarterfinals will be March 7 at sites to be determined. The semifinals are March 12 and the final March 14 at the Bob Carpenter Center.