HOCKESSIN — Twice during the third quarter of Monday night’s game against Sussex Tech, Wilmington Christian had seen its lead – once at 13 points – dwindle to five.
But superior defense and rebounding kept the Ravens at bay, as Wilmington Christian advanced in the DIAA girls basketball tournament with a 57-47 victory.
The second time was at 36-31 with about 5 minutes to go in the third, but the Warriors responded. Samiyah McFarlane hit Frederica Tyler for an assist on a layup that stretched the lead to seven, and after a steal, McFarlane went one for two from the free throw line to extend the lead to eight.
The Warriors outscored the Ravens, 8-3, in the last two minutes of the third to take an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Late in the third, McFarlane took an outlet pass, drove to the hoop and scored on a layup after a pump fake. On the very next possession, she grabbed a rebound, hit Treasure Wright with a long pass, and Wright scored after a pump fake.
That drew raucous cheers from the Wilmington Christian boys team, who hosts Sussex Tech on Tuesday night. (McFarlane said the girls’ team will be watching, either in person or online.)
Daniya Dashiell opened the final quarter with a three-pointer for Tech, but a baseline jumper for Emma Fetterman began a 6-0 run for the Warriors to push the lead to 14. The Ravens could not overcome Wilmington Christian’s swarming defense, nor could they collect enough rebounds to trim the lead lower than 10 points.
Wright said the Warriors didn’t know much about Sussex Tech coming into the game, but that didn’t change their approach.
“Just come out and attack, be aggressive, put forth the work. Even if a team’s good, you have to keep the same energy. Play them like any other team,” she said.
It was an entertaining opening to the 40-team girls tournament. Both the Warriors and Ravens came out running and gunning.
The Warriors spent much of the night inside, scoring in transition after forcing a turnover. They also scored on second chances thanks to the height of Tyler and Fetterman.
Wright was the beneficiary of many of those turnovers and rebounds, as she scored 19 points in the first half, including Wilmington Christian’s lone three-pointer.
“We really like to run our trap, our press. It really lets everybody get hands on the ball, get steals,” McFarlane said. “We just play more aggressive when we press.”
Shaniya Godwin provided much of the offense for the Ravens in the first half, keeping them within striking distance with 12 points before the break.
Wright led four Warriors in double figures with 23. She was joined by McFarlane (12), Fetterman (10) and Tyler (10). Wilmington Christian improved to 3-9 and will visit the third seed, Sanford, in the second round on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Wright said it feels good to be playing in the postseason.
“You get a chance to tackle a team that you wouldn’t play all the time,” she said. “You get a mix of different pressure, different opponents. It’s fun.”
Godwin finished with 18 points for Sussex Tech, with Dashiell adding 12. The Ravens ended the season 5-10.