WILMINGTON – Adrianna Hahn was, as usual, the unquestioned leader on offense for Ursuline Academy on Monday night, but it was the Raiders’ rebounding and defense, and some long-distance help from Alyssa Irons, that helped make the difference in their 55-50 win over St. Elizabeth High School. Fans braved frigid cold to pack the Ursuline gymnasium for the latest chapter in the girls’ basketball rivalry, as the Raiders came in ranked second in the state, while St. Elizabeth was the only team above them.
Hahn had 29 points, but a rebound and putback of a missed free throw by Kailyn Kampert late in the fourth quarter caught the eye of her coach, John Noonan. The coach said Hahn is much more than just a scoring machine.
“She’s just a really dynamic basketball player. She can do pretty much whatever she wants to do offensively. She’s capable and comfortable with the ball in her hand, she loves to shoot the three. We’re working on her mid-range game,” Noonan said.
The Raiders trailed at halftime, 33-30, but turned the game around in the third quarter. Ursuline’s pressure defense and key shot blocking by freshman Kryshell Gordy and sophomore Kampert keyed the comeback. Irons, another sophomore, scored five points during the quarter as UA turned that three-point deficit into a four-point advantage. They took the lead for good on a long three-point shot by Hahn with 2:30 to go in the third.
Noonan said Gordy has shown steady improvement in practice, and she has moved into the starting lineup as the Raiders search for their identity. “Every day is something different. Tonight we wanted to try and start some small kids. We wanted to give Kryshell an opportunity to guard a guard, just to see how she moves her feet, to maybe make her speed up, and then when she guards a big, be in a fast mode. We’re trying to figure things out.”
Gordy, he said, “shows a lot of promise and she certainly showed a lot tonight.”
The Vikings were held scoreless in the fourth quarter until 2:09 remained, when an Alex Thomas field goal made the score 48-42. Ursuline extended the lead to seven with a free throw, but senior Sabrina Hackendorn hit a free throw, then collected an offensive rebound and layup on the Vikings’ next possession to make it 49-45.
Ursuline, however, made its free throws down the stretch, and on the miss by Kampert they gained two points as Hahn grabbed a big board underneath and laid in her final bucket of the evening.
“I’m not the tallest kid, but if I see a ball, and I know it’s short, I’m going to go get it. The game’s not over yet, even if we’re winning,” Hahn said.
The first half was an entertaining back-and-forth affair that included seven three-pointers by Ursuline, five by Hahn and two by Irons. Hahn missed her first three shots, but soon found her groove. She started hitting from all over the court, including two mid-range jumpers that Noonan said has been a focus in practice.
Hahn said given the Raiders’ lack of height, it is important that they play well in other facets of the game.
“We have to attack, kick out for the shot, or go in for a layup, and I think we did that well tonight,” she said. “On defense, we have to be on top. We have to go for a loose ball. We have to box out and get a rebound. And if we don’t do that, then we don’t have a chance to play offense.”
Her hot shooting continued into the second quarter, as she finished with 19 points in the half. She followed her own shot early in the second to tie the game at 20, but the Vikings ran off a 7-1 streak and took the small lead into halftime. Sophoore guard Gabby Julian had 10 in the first half en route to a team-high 13 points, while freshman forward Alanna Speaks showed great presence inside in scoring 12.
Irons, who rolled an ankle during practice Sunday and wasn’t cleared to play until midday Monday, finished in double figures with 11 for the Raiders.
Ursuline improved to 5-3 on the season and has yet to lose to an in-state team. The Raiders play again Thursday at home against Smyrna at 7 p.m. St. Elizabeth fell to 5-2, losing its first game to a Delaware team. They are off until Jan. 15, when they travel to Appoquinimink.