WILMINGTON — Ursuline and St. Elizabeth have played some memorable games in the St. E Center over the past 20 years, and that was the case again on Jan. 6. This time, the Raiders prevailed, using their typical taut defense to pull away for a 57-45 victory in front of a large, loud crowd.
The Raiders were running early, taking a 4-0 lead on buckets by Gigi Banks and Jordin Tate, and they harassed the Vikings into three turnovers. But St. Elizabeth, playing with just seven girls available, overcame those troubles to stick close. The Vikings found success driving to the hoop, and they took a 6-4 lead when Ericka Huggins rebounded a ball on the defensive end and drove the length of the floor for a scoop layup with 4:22 remaining.
An Abby Grillo three-pointer staked the Raiders to a 12-8 lead late in the first, but Huggins scored after rebounding her own miss, and Farrah White drained two free throws to tie the score at the end of a quarter.
Ursuline went on the attack as the second quarter opened, with Tate taking a feed from Banks for a layup, and Taylor Brown and Tate adding single free throws for a four-point advantage. The Vikings pulled close, but a runout field goal for Sklyar Bolden, followed by a Banks triple, pushed the lead to 21-15 and prompted a timeout by the Vikings.
Ariel Garcia hit a baseline jumper out of the timeout, and Huggins made the next hoop possible, blocking a shot at one end, then racing down to hit a mid-range jumper at the other. Another Huggins basket got St. Elizabeth within three late in the half, but Hannah Kelley hit from 14 feet, Banks drained a pair of free throws after a steal, and Jazzlyn Wesley hit from close range as Ursuline closed with a 6-0 run.
A six-point run capped by a spinning layup by Bolden grew the Raiders’ lead to 42-30, and the visitors would get the margin to 13 at 48-35 early in the fourth after Brown poked the ball from a Vikings player and took it in for a layup. Ursuline’s fans were excited, but Huggins stole the spotlight after that.
She made three foul shots after after taking a bump on a long-distance attempt. After a defensive stop, she nailed a three-pointer, and she grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled the other way and swished a jumper from just inside the three-point arc. With 6:15 to go, the Vikings trailed by just five, and the St. E Center was electric.
Those, however, were the final points for either team for more than four minutes as he shooting cooled off and the defenses kept working. Kelley hit from 17 feet to end the scoring drought, and the Raiders finished the game on a 9-2 run to capture the victory.
Banks and Tate each scored 13 to lead the Raiders. Ursuline (9-0) will be at Jefferson University in Philadelphia on Sunday for a meeting with Neumann-Goretti (Pa.) in the Blue Star High School Showcase.
For the Vikings, Huggins had 27, and White added 12. St. Elizabeth (2-4) visits Newark Charter on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.