Three weeks after losing to St. Mark’s in the season opener for both teams, Concord girls basketball coach John Armstrong changed the Raiders’ defense for the rematch on Sunday.
Concord used a 1-2-2 zone to shut down the Spartans’ 3-point shooters until the fourth quarter and held on for a 39-32 win in the Delaware Cup championship game of the Diamond State Classic at the St. E Center.
“Normally we play man-to-man, but we just weren’t in sync with them and the way they play,” Armstrong said of St. Mark’s. “They play excellent against the man-to-man, so I said let’s try this 1-2-2, and it seemed to work.”
Meghan Doogan led the way with 16 points and was named MVP of the bracket for fifth-ranked Concord (5-1). The Raiders appeared to be cruising, building a 29-11 lead on Holly Panchak’s bucket off an offensive rebound with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
But the Spartans (4-3) mounted a rally. Kaitlynn Wolff hit two free throws and a layup, Claire Igo tossed in two 3-pointers from the right corner and Cassidy Flanigan fired in another 3 to pull St. Mark’s within 34-28 with 3:30 remaining.
“We knew we had to play up on their shooters,” Doogan said. “When they started to hit 3s, we kind of got panicked. But once we called a timeout, we slowed down and definitely picked up our game again.”
Igo rimmed out a 3 that would have pulled the Spartans within three points with 1:19 to go, and the Raiders iced it from the line. Taylor Azer and Doogan combined to hit 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch.
“We work on them a lot,” Doogan said. “We’ll run and then we’ll do free throws, just so we’ll be ready for end-of-game situations like that.”
Azer added eight points for Concord but said stopping the Spartans’ shooters was the key.
“I think our defense was awesome today,” Azer said. “Our 1-2-2 was unstoppable. We handled them really well today.”
St. Mark’s finished 4 of 23 from the 3-point line. Flanigan led the Spartans with nine points, and Igo added eight.