John Fiorelli remembered vividly the last time it had happened. Chris Zambito wasn’t sure it had ever happened at all. Either way, such occurrences have few and far between the Auks and the Spartans.
Amanda Olsen hit a 15-foot jumper with 10 seconds remaining to lift Archmere Academy to a 41-40 nonconference victory over visiting St. Mark’s in Claymont on Thursday night. It marked the first time the Auks had defeated the Spartans since, well …
“They beat us back in 1992, maybe,” said Fiorelli, St. Mark’s longtime coach, who even recalled the girl who hit the winning shot. “I remember losses like that. It was a cold Sunday afternoon in our gym. … It was the first time and maybe the only time they beat us.”
What will be remembered from Thursday’s game is how Archmere had its way for the first 14 minutes against an uncharacteristically cold-shooting St. Mark’s team. The Spartans’ full-court pressure carried into their half-court defense and sparked a 21-1 burst and momentum-changing comeback.
But the Auks stayed composed down the stretch to pull out this rarest of triumphs.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” said Zambito, whose Auks improved to 4-0. “I’m very proud of our girls. After being up as much as we were and then being down by as many as six, our girls deserve a lot of credit for hanging in there.”
Archmere led 15-3 just before the end of the first quarter behind seven points by Katelyn Payne and five by Olsen.
When Cecilia Irvine scored from the low post with 5½ minutes remaining in the half, it ignited a 7-0 run that stretched the lead to 24-7. Irvine’s shot also was the last field goal Archmere would sink for more than eight minutes.
With the St. Mark’s defense beginning to smother the Auks’ ball-handlers, the Spartans were able to close out the half with an 8-0 surge. Cassidy Flanigan’s four-point play cut the deficit to eight at the break.
Flanigan then lobbed a pair of passes to Claudia Seemans for layups, and Kaitlynn Woolf worked inside effectively to open the third quarter. Seemans scored again on a rebound, and Claire Igo sank a pair of layups as the Spartan offense cashed in on Archmere’s offensive struggles.
“They were just a very, very good defensive team,” Olsen said. “If you drove the sideline, they would trap you. Kudos to their defense. We tried to get back into it, but it was hard because they were all over us.”
Olsen’s 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter cut the St. Mark’s lead to 36-33. Her basket in transition followed by a pair of free throws gave the Auks the lead back 37-36 with 6:07 remaining.
St. Mark’s would score just four points in the fourth quarter, but it was nearly enough when Seemans flashed down the lane, corralled a missed 3-pointer by Flanigan and hit the layup for a 40-39 advantage with 29.3 seconds left.
But Olsen gave Archmere its victory, taking an inbounds pass from the side after coming around a double-pick and hitting a 15-foot jumper from the left. The Spartans were not able to get a shot away before time ran out.