In the end, it was two of Delaware’s best high school basketball players going at it, trading big shots and big plays.
Ursuline junior Adrianna Hahn, the state’s reigning player of the year, has committed to Villanova. Sanford senior Alison Lewis has signed with Boston University. They took over the final five minutes of Wednesday’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown at Sanford, combining to score 19 of the last 24 points.
The Warriors came out on top, as Lewis broke a tie with a three-point play with 1:21 left and hit two free throws with 16.2 seconds left to preserve No. 2 Sanford’s 56-53 victory.
Lewis finished with 22 points and seven rebounds as the Warriors (19-1) extended their winning streak to 17 games. Hahn had 25 points and six boards as the No. 1 Raiders (16-4) saw their 12-game winning streak end.
“They’re both comfortable with the ball in their hands, and I think they feel like they carry a lot of the load for their teams,” Ursuline coach John Noonan said of Lewis and Hahn. “You’ve got to love watching kids play that want to take the shot, or want to take the ball to the basket, or want to make the big play.”
There were six ties and five lead changes, although Sanford led by as many as eight points and Ursuline’s biggest lead was one. After watching Lewis and Hahn duel, everyone wanted more.
“They’re the two best players in the state, in my opinion,” Sanford coach Marcus Thompson said. “Johnny [Noonan] certainly has his favorite in Adrianna, but I think Alison is just as good. She’s a complete player. She does a lot of things offensively and defensively.
“For us, she had to do a lot today. I know it was taxing on her, the same as Adrianna. She played an excellent game as well.”
The Warriors put together a 6-0 run midway through the second quarter, with Lewis earning a three-point play and hitting a baseline jumper and Chrishyanah Alston hitting a free throw for a 22-14 lead. But back-to-back 3-pointers by Alyssa Irons got the Raiders right back in it.
“They always drive and kick,” said Sanford’s Taylor Samuels, who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. “They are killer shooters. All you can do is fake at them and hope you can get to the shooter before they get a shot off.”
Sanford led 25-20 at the half, only to see Ursuline cut it to 40-39 entering the fourth quarter. Hahn’s step-back 3-pointer tied it at 44 with 5:14 to play.
Alston drove for a layup, and Lewis hit four free throws after back-to-back drives into the lane to push the Warriors up 50-44 with 3:40 to play.
“[Thompson] has been telling all of us to go aggressive, and that’s a problem of mine,” Lewis said. “I see defense and I’m like, ‘Oh, gotta back up.’ But he’s telling everybody, including myself, to just keep going and try to get that foul or try to score.”
The Raiders were far from finished. Hahn drove for a layup, stepped back for another 3-ball and harassed a Warriors ball-handler right into Ursuline’s Courtney Wallace, who made a steal and drove for a layup to tie it at 51 with 2:03 remaining.
Lewis was fouled on her way to another bucket and completed the three-point play. Hahn drove for another layup, but Lewis answered with two free throws to push the Warriors ahead 56-53 with 16.2 seconds to go.
Hahn missed a 3-pointer, but the rebound skidded off a Sanford defender to give the Raiders another chance with 6 seconds left. Hahn missed again, and Wallace scrambled for the rebound but missed a desperation 3 at the buzzer.
“We just keep going. We don’t give up,” Lewis said. “We don’t look at the score or the clock. We just play until the whistle.”
Alston added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Warriors. Irons and Kailyn Kampert each scored nine for Ursuline, and freshman Kryshell Gordy was a factor inside with seven rebounds and five blocked shots.
The regular-season finale for both teams whetted everyone’s appetite for a possible rematch in the DIAA Girls Basketball State Tournament, which begins Feb. 25. Neither team will take anyone lightly.
“This is definitely momentum,” Lewis said. “But it doesn’t matter. After this today, we go back to practice and it’s just a great learning experience. It gives us what we need to go into the tournament strong.”