WILMINGTON – With their leading scorer sidelined, the St. Elizabeth boys ‘basketball team needed other options to come forward in the Vikings’ home opener against Delcastle on 14 December. The main option was Jermai Herring, who put his team on their backs in the second half to help them out to a 56-55 victory over the Cougars.
Herring scored 18 of his game-high 29 points in the second half as St. Elizabeth – without Kye Rawls under time – fended off the pesky Cougars. It was a back-and-forth affair, with the biggest lead for either team being five points. St. Elizabeth had a five-point margin for the last time when the game was 52-47 in the dying minutes.
The Vikings were leading 24-23 at halftime and found an offensive weapon in Leamond Pierce as the third quarter opened. He scored six in the third until he was forced to leave after committing his third personal foul with 5:31 left.
Delcastle took advantage of his absence. The Cougars trailed, 32-29, but a 12-foot bucket from AJ Jones reduced that to a point, and Aiden Laws followed by stealing the pass and driving to put the visitors in the lead, 34- 33.
Herring, who had scored a basket before the time out, got to work after the save. He struck a blow to put the Vikings back on top, then fouled a Delcastle player and followed that up with another bucket to bring the score to 36-33 St. E. Julian Jackson tied the score with a three-point pointer, and the score was tied at 40 before the fourth.
Herring started the fourth with a triple, and Julius Wright went one-for-two from the line to give the Vikings a four-point advantage. But the offense cooled after that, and Jones finally equalized the game after a St. Elizabeth turnabout. The Vikings found their way and they scored eight of the next 11 points, capped by a Wright triple, to open the 52-47 advantage.
Delcastle reduced that to a single point with 1:30 two inside buckets remaining, but with the Vikings scoring 54-52 Pierce drained both ends of a one-and-one for a seemingly safe margin. The Vikings needed each of these points because Laws hit an imbalanced three-point pointer when the time expired.
Pierce (12) and Wright (10) joined Herring in double digits. Herring and Pierce combined 10 for 10 from the free throw line. The Vikings (3-0) will play the second of seven straight games at the St. E Center on Friday when William Penn turns in for a tip at 7.15pm.
The 11 Cougars who have played have scored, led by Laws at 16 and Jones at 11. Delcastle (0-2) hosts Delaware Military on Thursday at 5:30 pm as they begin a four-game homestand.
All photos by Mike Lang.