Familiar teams in DIAA Girls Basketball semifinals

Familiar teams in DIAA Girls Basketball semifinals

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Familiar teams in DIAA Girls Basketball semifinals

Sanford's Lauren Park (right) drives against Ursuline's Yanni Hendley-McCalla during Ursuline's 50-40 win on Feb. 16.

Sanford’s Lauren Park (right) drives against Ursuline’s Yanni Hendley-McCalla during Ursuline’s 50-40 win on Feb. 16.

St. Elizabeth vs. Caravel. Ursuline vs. Sanford.

Not much has changed going into Wednesday night’s semifinals of the DIAA Girls Basketball Tournament at the Bob Carpenter Center.

These four teams have occupied 20 of the 24 spots in the semifinals of the last six state tournaments. And for the sixth straight year, two of them will reach the state final.

They usually play each other once or twice during the regular season, too. So expect two good games, but don’t expect any surprises. Everybody is familiar with one another.

“Our group and their group know each other really well,” said St. Elizabeth coach Dan Cooney, whose Vikings meet Caravel in the first semi at 6:30. “These kids are friendly with each other. It’s going to be a nice little battle.”

St. Elizabeth clipped the Buccaneers 50-49 during the regular season, on Jan. 13 at the St. E Center.

“If you look back to the last four or five games that we’ve played against St. E’s, every game is a knockdown, dragout fight,” Caravel coach Kristin Caldwell said. “We beat them in overtime, they beat us by one point the last time we played. So you know you’re just in for a battle.”

The seventh-seeded Vikings are 15-7, but have won 13 of their last 15 after a 2-5 start. Senior forward Alanna Speaks, junior forward Alexis Lee and senior guard Lexi Bromwell lead a balanced attack.

“Their athleticism concerns me,” Caldwell said. “They’ve got some length, and some athletic kids.”

Third-seeded Caravel (16-6) has won 10 of its last 12. The Buccaneers are even more balanced, with junior guard Maia Bryson, sophomore guards Karli Cauley and Sasha Marvel, sophomore forward Ondia Brown, junior forward Kaylee Otlowski and senior forward Grace Lange all capable of scoring in double figures.

“They just play smart basketball,” Cooney said. “They play good defense, they work the ball around on offense, they don’t turn it over a lot. They’re a very composed team.

“They’re like us. If you look at our two teams, we mirror each other very much.”

The second semifinal may be even more compelling. Ursuline defeated Sanford 50-40 at home on Feb. 16. But the Warriors played that game without sophomore guard Olivia Tucker – their best outside shooter – and led 20-14 after one quarter before tiring down the stretch. Tucker is back for the playoffs.

“She gives us another steady body out there, somebody who has been through the fire before,” Sanford coach Marcus Thompson said. “She shoots the ball well, and she’s passing the ball well and defending. And defending is where we really need Olivia. We weren’t able to match up to their guards.”

That still won’t be an easy matchup, as junior Maggie Connolly and sophomores Alisha Lewis and Yanni Hendley-McCalla control the action for top-seeded Ursuline (21-1), which is riding a 20-game winning streak.

“We’re trying to figure things out, still,” Raiders coach John Noonan said. “I know it seems awfully late in the year for that. But we have a couple of different identities, and we think we’re going to see different things as we advance. We’re trying to prepare for everything, so we’re messing around a little bit, trying this, trying that.”

The fourth-seeded Warriors (19-3) hope to exploit a size advantage, with sophomore guard Lauren Park distributing to Tucker (5-9), sophomore Samantha Pollich (6-0) and freshmen Kendra Warren (5-10) and Allie Kubek (6-0).

“We’ll see what Marcus wants to do, what style he wants to play,” Noonan said. “We may let him throw the punches, and we’ll counterpunch.”

Contact Brad Myers at bmyers@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ

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