St Elizabeths basketball Julius Wright 23 backs down a Howard defender photo courtesy of Nick Halliday

Top seed St. Elizabeth knocks off Howard in quarter finals

Joe SinglesHeadlines, Sports

St Elizabeths basketball Julius Wright 23 backs down a Howard defender photo courtesy of Nick Halliday scaled

St Elizabeths basketball Julius Wright (23) backs down a Howard defender, photo courtesy of Nick Halliday

With the top seed in the 2024 boys’ basketball state tournament, the St. Elizabeth’s Vikings knew they would get Howard High School’s best effort Saturday night. Despite a rough start shooting, the Vikings withstood the early defensive intensity from the Wildcats and used their athleticism to take a 13-12 lead on the last possession of the quarter on a 25 foot 3-point shot by Robert Hunter Jr.

After what was arguably the Wildcats best defensive quarter of the season, they came out again strong in the 2nd quarter constantly pressuring the Viking shooters, contesting every shot and pressuring the ball handlers. Back and forth they went in what one could argue was Howard High School’s best start to a game of the season but the talented St. Elizabeth’s squad would methodically build a 5 point lead with 3:39 to go in the half. Coach Cassidy’s Viking squad would drop back into a 2-3 zone late in the half but the hot shooting of the Wildcats would pull the away team to with 1 point at the 1:05 mark as a bit of frustration sat in on the number one seed. Tie ball game, 31-31 going into halftime.

The momentum that gave Howard their best half of the season continued early in the 3rd quarter. The Wildcats gave the Viking guards fits while Tobiason and company failed to secure any type of interior presence around the basket despite their size and athleticism. Halfway through the 3rd quarter, Coach Cassidy decided to put some full court pressure on the Wildcats which included dropping into a trapping zone in the half court. The change in looks slowed the Wildcat offense down just a bit giving the Vikings a 47-44 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter.

St. Elizabeth’s stuck with their trapping defense early in the 4th and it paid dividends. Despite only having a 4 point lead with four minutes to go, the Howard offense went cold as they struggled to find good looks at the basket. 57-51 Vikings with 1:25 to go in the game. Free throws down the stretch pushed the Viking lead to 10 points with 18 seconds to go in the game which would be how it ended. Aiden Tobiason led the way for the top seed with 17 points while Julius Wright added 15 and Kenneth Hunter Jr chipped in with 13. St. Elizabeth took Howard’s best shot and came out on top with a final score of 67-57. The Vikings will now try to duplicate their win earlier in the season over Salesianum when they face off in the semi-finals Thursday evening.

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