The fifth-seeded St. Thomas More girls’ basketball team squandered a 15-point third-quarter lead but held on to defeat No. 2 Sussex Central 42-40 and secure a spot in the quarterfinals Sunday, March 4, at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark. The Ravens, the last downstate team in the DIAA tourney, will face fourth-seeded Hodgson at 4 p.m.
The Ravens scored the first 11 points of the game and finished the first quarter ahead 19-7. The Knights chipped away at the lead and cut their deficit to 40-31 at the half. After each team scored 10 points in the third, St. Thomas More opened the fourth with a deuce. That’s when the Lady Knights turned on the afterburners and put up the final nine points in the game.
The Knights got to 42-40 when Tameeyah Bowden scored off an offensive rebound with 25 seconds remaining. Sussex Central had the final possession on a throw-in with 3.6 seconds left on the clock, but simply ran out of time at the final buzzer.
“The inbound pass went a little long on us. The goal was to hit the inbound girl on the sideline and get the shot off,” said Central coach Ron Dukes.
“We were down 15 points, and when we got over that and when we got some confidence there at the end of the second quarter, we came out and had a great second half,” Dukes said. “We missed some shots. Some good shots didn’t fall for us too. We had them a little frustrated, making them do a few things they didn’t want to do, and it was just falling in our lap. We just couldn’t finish some shots at the end and tie it up or take the lead. The team kept fighting til the end.”
St. Thomas More is going to the Bob for the second time in the last three seasons.
“We struggled in the third quarter actually getting to the basket,” said Ravens coach Crystal Gordon. “So it’s not building on top of small losses or small gains. We try to build on top of them. We kind of pulled them out and played a little safe. I was a little bit more laid-back instead of aggressive. It threw our rhythm off.”
Azayah Garrison and Bowden netted 10 points apiece for Central.
St. Thomas More’s Jessica Simmons scored 12 points, while Aniah Patterson hit for 11 and freshman Olivia Lynch put in 10.