WILMINGTON — Ursuline led Cape Henlopen by 17 after three quarters when the teams met on the hardwood in Wilmington on Feb. 21, but as the Raiders would find out, a lot can happen in eight minutes. The Vikings, utilizing a withering pressure defense, pulled to within three points in the final minute before falling to the Raiders, 54-50.
Ursuline held a 16-12 lead after one quarter, but Cape quickly tied the score on field goals by Julia Saleur and Lauren Head. Saleur then extended the Vikings’ run to six points and put them in the lead with a pair of free throws as Ursuline struggled against the relentless Cape defense, committing a number of turnovers.
Mekhia Applewhite’s baseline drive put the Vikings ahead, 23-20, before the Raiders found some momentum. Ella Gordon tied the score with a corner three, and Jordin Tate made her presence known after that. The Raiders fed the forward steadily, and Tate responded with a 6-0 run of her own, all on short shots. They ended the half on that 9-0 streak.
Applewhite opened the second half by stripping the ball away from an Ursuline player and taking it the other way for a layup, but that would be Cape’s lone field goal of the quarter. The Raiders responded with a jumper by Abigail Grillo, and Sophia Filipowski followed with an old-fashioned three-point play, extending the lead to 34-25.
Grillo would add a three a bit later on, and Hannah Kelley contributed back-to-back buckets down low. The Vikings, meanwhile, were limited to three free throws after Applewhite’s layup. The third ended on a high note for the Raiders when Chamira Marshall-Brothers sank an eight-foot floater as the horn sounded.
But the game was far from over. Cape continued with the smothering pressure, and the Raiders began turning the ball over. The Vikings opened the fourth on an 8-2 run, with six of those points coming from the free throw line, and had cut the lead to a dozen at the 5:49 mark.
Much of the damage in the fourth was done by Cape’s forwards: Applewhite, Saleur and Morgan Mahoney. Saleur’s steal and transition layup made it a 10-point game, and after a rebound of an Ursuline miss, Mahoney went off glass at the other end to cut two more off the lead.
The Raiders led, 50-42, with just over a minute to go, but even then, the lead wasn’t safe. Saleur made two free throws, and Applewhite turned a steal into two more points, and the Raiders’ lead was just four. Applewhite came up with one more steal, was fouled and went one for two from the line to get the Vikings within one possession with 55 seconds to go.
Grillo made both ends of a one-and-one to get the lead back to five, and Kelley got open underneath for a field goal that allowed the home fans to breathe a bit easier.
Grillo was the lone Raider in double figures with 13; she went six for six from the free throw line. Tate finished with nine. The Raiders finished the regular season 12-7.
For the Vikings, Applewhite led the way with 16, while Saleur added 12. Cape closed out the season at 15-5.
Both teams will find out their seeding in the state tournament when the bracket is released on Friday.
All photos by Mike Lang.