The St. Elizabeth girls basketball team was determined to send off its only senior – Jocelyn Rodriguez – in style in her final home game of the regular season Monday night.
Mission accomplished. And then some.
The second-ranked Vikings built a huge lead with a nearly flawless first half and cruised to an easier-than-expected 66-41 victory over No. 6 Appoquinimink at the St. E Center.
“We were really excited, because it was Jocelyn’s senior night. We wanted to have a really good game for her,” St. E’s Sabrina Hackendorn said. “We had a lot of intensity.”
The Jaguars (15-3) came into the game on a high after a 12-0 run through Blue Hen Flight A. But they were no match for the Vikings (15-4), who shot 68 percent from the field in the first half on the way to a 44-20 lead.
“The kids put on a clinic in the first half,” St. E coach Tom Ferrier said. “They pushed the ball, they had a lot of energy. They made the easy shots, they made the open shots. It was a clinic.”
The Vikings made 10 of 13 shots in the first quarter and turned all three of their misses into points off offensive rebounds.
With 5:11 left in the second quarter, Rodriguez screamed into the lane but was called for traveling. The turnover was significant. It marked St. E’s first trip across halfcourt without scoring.
But it was the only blemish in another solid game by Rodriguez. The senior point guard followed with a three-point play a minute later and finished with 12 points.
“They kept saying, ‘We’re going to do it for you,’ ” Rodriguez said of her teammates. “With the playoffs coming up, we keep saying we want to make a statement in each game. We came out with the intensity we should have been coming out with all year.”
Macy Robinson scored 17, Hackendorn added 16 and Gabby Julian chipped in 10 for St. E. Amber Cale did some damage inside with 18 points for Appo, but the Jaguars couldn’t get many stops on defense.
“They were making everything in the first half,” Appo coach Micah Edwards said of the Vikings. “… I don’t know if it was the bus ride or what, but we’re not making any excuses. [St. Elizabeth] did a great job.”
Appo scored the first eight points of the second half to pull within 44-28. St. E missed its first six shots in the third quarter, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Rodriguez and Julian had the Vikings cruising again.
“I think they used a lot of energy in that first half,” Ferrier said. “Scoring 44 points is a big deal, and I think they probably were a little bit tired in the second half. It showed, because we didn’t push the ball in the same manner.”
The Vikings did plenty in the first half.