WILMINGTON – Ursuline led Cape Henlopen by 17 after three quarters when the teams met on the hardwood in Wilmington on Feb. 21, but as the Raiders would find out, a lot can happen in eight minutes. The Vikings, using a searing pressure defense, fell to within three points in the final minute before falling to the Raiders, 54-50.
Ursuline held a 16-12 lead after one quarter, but Cape quickly tied the score on field goals from Julia Saleur and Lauren Head. Saleur then extended the Vikings’ run to six points and put them ahead with a pair of free throws as Ursuline struggled against the relentless Cape defence, committing a number of turnovers.
Mekhia Applewhite’s base drive put the Vikings ahead, 23-20, before the Raiders found some momentum. Ella Gordon tied the score with a corner three, and Jordin Tate made his presence known after that. The Raiders fed the forward steadily and Tate responded with a 6-0 run, all on short shots. They ended the half on that streak of 9-0.
Applewhite opened the second half by stealing the ball from an Ursuline player and taking it the other way for a layup, but it would be Cape’s only basket of the quarter. The Raiders responded with a jumper from Abigail Grillo, and Sophia Filipowski followed with an old-school three-point play, extending the lead to 34-25.
Grillo would add a three a little later, and Hannah Kelley contributed back-to-back buckets down. The Vikings, meanwhile, were limited to three free throws after Applewhite’s layup. The third ended on a high note for the Raiders when Chamira Marshall-Brothers sank an eight-foot floater at the sound of the horn.
But the game was far from won. Cape continued with the stifling pressure and the Raiders started turning the ball over. The Vikings opened the fourth on an 8-2 run, with six of those points coming from the free throw line, and had cut the lead to a dozen at 5:49.
Much of the damage in the fourth was caused by Cape forwards: Applewhite, Saleur and Morgan Mahoney. Saleur’s steal and transition made it a 10-point game, and after a rebound from a miss by Ursuline, Mahoney lost the glass on the other end to clip two more off the head.
The Raiders led, 50-42, with just over a minute to go, but even then the lead was uncertain. Saleur had two free throws and Applewhite turned a steal into two extra points, and the Raiders’ lead was just four. Applewhite had another steal, was fouled and went one for two from the line to bring the Vikings within one possession with 55 seconds left.
Grillo made both ends of a one-on-one to cut the lead to five, and Kelley opened up under for a field goal that gave the home fans a little breathing room.
Grillo was the only double-digit Raider with 13; she went six-for-six from the free-throw line. Tate finished with nine. The Raiders finished the regular season 12-7.
For the Vikings, Applewhite led the way with 16, while Saleur added 12. Cape finished the season at 15-5.
Both teams will find out their top seed in the state tournament when the draw is released on Friday.
All photos by Mike Lang.