Saint Elizabeth came way downstate Jan. 30 for a dinnertime girls' basketball game at Sussex Central.
The final score was 59-49 favor of St. E, which pulled away from a three-point game in the final two minutes of play.
The culture clash of styles and public versus Catholic featured the perennial powerhouse Vikings, which draw kids from Dover to Chester, versus an athletically talented Central team resembling a sunburst that may go cold in a year or two.
“This team is young, all starters back, but no junior varsity, so we’re trying to get it done while we have the chance," Central coach Ron Dukes said.
St. Elizabeth was coached by veteran Frank Aiello, winner of three state titles, back at the helm for one year after the head coach was abruptly terminated before the season. Aiello said, ”The game in front of you is the most important thing. No one asks to see your scrapbook. We knew Central was very talented, but we have tough kids who have been in every situation, and they’re not afraid of the moment."
The Vikings led 33-25 at halftime, then took off to start the second half, blowing the lead out to 41-25.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to do to start the third quarter. Then we started kicking the ball around and they got back into it. Those two players [Jasmine Hudson and Taylor Pritchett] are as good as any in the state,” Aiello said.
Central got all the way back to 52-49 with two minutes left in the game, but the Vikings ran off seven unanswered points for the final 59-49 score.
Aiello backed up when asked about his young team’s chances in the postseason. ‘We don’t talk about that, still too many big games to play. I’d like to think we’re a final four team, but we’ll see,” he said.
The Vikngs are 11-3 on the season.
Sussex Central, 10-4, is seeking its first Henlopen Conference title since 1995. The Golden Knights play at Smyrna, 11-3, Monday, Feb. 10, in a showdown game that could decide the championship.
Central was paced in scoring by Hudson with 20 and Pritchett with 14.
Saint Elizabeth was led by Alex Thomas with 18 and Sabrina Hackendorn with 12.