St. Elizabeth coach Tom Ferrier wanted his team to play in the top bracket of the Diamond State Classic girls basketball tournament this year. He knew the Vikings would benefit, even if they lost.
St. Elizabeth gained as much as you possibly can from a defeat on Saturday, coming back repeatedly before ultimately falling to The Bullis School (Md.) 69-67 in a consolation game in the First State Orthopaedics Cup bracket at the St. E Center.
“I’m the proudest I’ve been after a loss, probably in my entire coaching career,” Ferrier said. “… It could have turned into a blowout, and we showed a lot of character coming back.”
The Vikings (2-2), ranked No. 2 in Delaware, fell behind 12-4 in the first 4½ minutes and 21-13 after the first quarter. St. Elizabeth rallied behind four scorers in double figures and poured in nine 3-pointers, but Bullis (6-1) was too much in the end.
“That’s a pace that a lot of schools in this state will not play,” Ferrier said. “That’s an effort on our part that will beat a lot of schools in Delaware.”
The Vikings hit 7 of 10 shots in the second quarter, including four 3-pointers, to pull within 40-37 at the half. Bullis pushed the margin back to 57-48 going into the final quarter, but St. Elizabeth was far from finished.
A 16-4 run to open the fourth quarter pushed the Vikings ahead, with two free throws by Alex Thomas putting the Vikings up 64-61 with 3:05 to play. But Bullis scored eight of the final 11 points to rally for the victory.
Jocelyn Rodriguez scored 18, Macy Robinson added 17, Thomas pumped in 16 and Gabby Julian contributed 12 points for St. E. Kirby Porter led Bullis with 18 points.
It was an intense game, with three players fouling out and the teams combining for 55 free throws.
“We didn’t back down,” Ferrier said. “We’re more of a finesse team than a rough and tumble team, but we showed we could play that type of game. … Obviously, this is something we can learn from. We did a lot of nice things to score that many points on a team that puts a lot of pressure on you.”
The Vikings will play Trinity (Pa.) for seventh place in the bracket at 9:30 a.m. today. Bullis will follow against Neumann-Goretti (Pa.) for fifth place at 11:15 a.m.