NEWARK — Ursuline spent a great deal of the DIAA girls basketball championship game playing catch-up, and with 4:54 to go, the Raiders finally forged a tie. But after Sanford guard Zy Kilgoe left the game after bumping her head on the floor, it was the Warriors who went on the offensive, scoring the last 12 points of the game en route to a 58-46 victory on March 10 at the Bob Carpenter Center.
The top-seeded Warriors, appearing in their fourth consecutive final, won their first title since 2019. They fell in 2021 and 2022. The 2020 tournament was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Raiders, the No. 2 team in the field, fell behind early but stayed in the game with a series of small runs. GG Banks got Ursuline to within five at 34-29 midway through the third, but the Warriors responded with the next six points, extending the lead to 11 late in the third. Banks hit Skylar Bolden with a long pass that became a layup, and Emma Anthony hit a contested three-pointer, cutting the Sanford lead to six entering the fourth quarter.
Jada Snow opened the fourth with a layup as part of an outstanding night for her, but Ursuline came roaring back to tie the score. Anthony hit another triple, and after a few Warriors misses, Banks added a three of her own. Anthony then stole a Sanford pass and fed Banks, whose fastbreak layup knotted the score at 44.
Zoe Kashner untied the game on a mid-range jumper, but Hannah Kelley was in the right spot to get it back to even. She grabbed a missed jump shot and flipped the ball over her head, off the glass and in. That sent the Raiders’ student section, dressed for battle in camouflage clothing, into a frenzy.
Kilgoe left the game after being called for a personal foul, but the Raiders were unable to take advantage of her absence. After an Ursuline turnover, Dallas Pierce drove for a layup to give the Warriors the lead for good in her final high school game. Tyler Edwards doubled the lead after a Kashner steal. Sanford then made all eight of their free throw attempts in the final 54 seconds to clinch the victory.
Sanford, featuring three senior starters, began the contest on a 9-0 run, taking advantage of Ursuline miscues, as well as a rebounding edge. Once Taylor Brown put in a layup for the Raiders, they started to find a rhythm on offense. Abby Grillo made a jumper, Banks scored on a fast break, and Kelley converted a Warriors turnover to cut the Sanford lead to a single point. The Warriors answered, hitting consecutive threes to end the first, including a buzzer-beating f27-footer rom Kilgoe.
Led on the glass by Snow, the Warriors continued their assault into the second. A 10-2 run, capped by a Pierce three, put the Warriors ahead by their greatest margin of the night at 14. But the Raiders’ youth movement would make sure that this game held the attention of the large Carpenter Center crowd until the final minutes.
Pierce finished with 24 points, and she reached 1,000 for her high school career on her last free throw. Snow had 13, along with a team-leading 7 rebounds, and Kilgoe added 12. The Warriors finished the season 20-3.
For the Raiders, who started two eighth-graders, a freshman and a sophomore, Banks led the way with 15. Bolden and Brown each contributed 8. Ursuline completed a 22-2 season, with both losses coming to Sanford.
All photos by Don Blake and Mike Lang.