Basketball

Raiders push past St. E behind Mason and Connolly

WILMINGTON – Ursuline junior forward Olivia Mason has one of the more important jobs on the Raider girls’ basketball team —finishing passes from her teammates at the basket.

Mason did that pretty well Wednesday night, tying for the team lead with 14 points as top-ranked Ursuline used a massive 25-4 push to close out a 56-30 win over host St. Elizabeth, running their winning streak to six games.

“It’s really nice because they set you up with awesome passes,” Mason said of her teammates, guards Maggie Connolly, Alisha Lewis and Yanni Hendley. “I’m just in the right place at the right time.”

“Even when we miss lay-ups, Olivia and Kryshell [Gordy] are right there to put it back,” adde

Ursuline's Yanni Hendley-McCalla (left) defends a drive by St. Elizabeth's Juliann McCarron in the second half of Ursuline's 56-30 win at the St. E Center Wednesday.

Ursuline’s Yanni Hendley-McCalla (left) defends a drive by St. Elizabeth’s Juliann McCarron in the second half of Ursuline’s 56-30 win at the St. E Center Wednesday.

d Connolly, who also finished the game with 14 points. “Everyone can see that they’re incredible at crashing the boards, getting to the line and finishing.”

“Olivia’s really good defensively, so we spend time working with her on her footwork and her finishing,” Raiders head coach John Noonan said. “I’d have to say it’s paying off.”

The defending DIAA champion Raiders (7-1) jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead behind two 3-pointers from Connolly and an uncontested layup by Lewis, but senior guard Alanna Speaks kept the Vikings (2-5) close, lead the team with 12 points and knocking down two free throws with just over four minutes left in the third quarter to pull St. E within five points.

Connolly then nailed another three-pointer to trigger an 11-0 Ursuline burst heading that ran into the fourth quarter, followed by baskets from Mason, Hendley and Lewis to open up a 20-point lead late in the game.

“When you go on a run like that, getting a couple of turnovers and easy lay-ups,” Noonan explained, “The game becomes kind of easy for you and that’s what happened.”

“It’s always important to keep shooting,” Connolly said. “We needed to stay confident because the shots were going to drop.”

“Maggie brought a lot of energy and power to the team tonight,” Mason added. “She motivated us.”

“I always worry about any conference, especially St. Elizabeth because they’re a really good basketball team,” Noonan said. “We told the kids at halftime this isn’t an Xs and Os thing – it’s all about hustle, intensity and matching their effort. We were lethargic early, but we settled in.”

Ursuline's Maggie Connolly (top) is cut down by sliding Alexis Lee of St. Elizabeth in the second half of Ursuline's 56-30 win at the St. E Center Wednesday.

Ursuline’s Maggie Connolly (top) is cut down by sliding Alexis Lee of St. Elizabeth in the second half of Ursuline’s 56-30 win at the St. E Center Wednesday.