St. Elizabeth's stifling defense and red-hot offense provided the winning formula in a 56-37 victory over Smyrna Thursday night in the quarterfinal round of the DIAA girls' high school basketball tournament in a game played at Glasgow High School.
The top-seeded Lady Vikings had to wait a day to advance to the semifinals at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center because the originally-scheduled Wednesday game was postponed due to inclement weather and the threat of a snow storm. St. E's will play against Ursuline Academy in one of the semifinal games. Caravel will play Sanford in the other semifinal game.
"We got off to a slow start, but this team is too good to not come out and play the way we did tonight," said St. Elizabeth coach Tom Ferrier. "We expected them to come out harder in the second half, but when you win 16 or 17 games and play a tough schedule, then your reward comes in March," he said.
The first quarter was evenly played as Macy Robinson of the Vikings and Brionna Johnson of the Eagles traded most of the baskets. The Viking led by a single point 12-11 after the well-played first quarter.
"Yes, my first few shots were falling, and I got the offense going, and my teammates followed my lead, and we all went after it," said Robinson.
The Vikings extended their lead in the second quarter, but the Eagles made a small run before halftime to keep the game close at 24-21, as Johnson and Taylor Price provided the offense for Smyrna. Taylor made a nice shot with only 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The third quarter proved to be the turning point of the game, as St. Elizabeth's outscored the Eagles 18-6. Much of the credit goes to the swarming Viking defense that controlled the boards and kept Smyrna from getting second-chance shots. Alex Thomas and Jocelyn Rodriguez scored the bulk of the points in the pivotal quarter.
"We have a strong defense, but we can shoot, we have four girls who can hit from anywhere on the court and they have the green light to shoot, and the girls played well," said Ferrier. For once the Vikings didn't have to rely on their outside shooting. "The girls are smart enough to know when to shoot and when not to shoot, when to step back or when to drive to the basket. They made good decisions all year long and they made more good decisions tonight," he said.
In the fourth quarter, Smyrna battled to the end, but couldn't connect on their long shots, and found little or no room to establish their inside game.
The Vikings' Robinson led all scorers with 19 points, but credited her teammates help for the victory. "It was all of us, we knew we had to come out here ready to go, we were prepared, we were practicing very hard for the past couple of days, and we were ready to go out there and attack tonight," she said. "Yes, we went out there and we know that we have to start with defense, and the offense will come to us, and that's what we did," added Robinson. Rodriguez, Thomas and Gabby Julian all scored 8 points for the Vikings.
Page 2 of 2 - Brionna Johnson topped the Eagles with 17 points, while Alexus Stroud totaled 10 points in the loss.