Ravens hope lean and mean roster yields success again

St. Thomas More senior Aniah Patterson scored 21 points against Hodgson. Delaware State News file photo

GLASGOW — The St. Thomas More girls’ basketball team knows the drill by now.

There are only eight players on the varsity roster. That’s what the Ravens will have for every game, so most players are expected to play a full game, or close to it, while staying out of foul trouble.

Difficult yes, but that hasn’t stopped the Ravens winning plenty of games over the last few seasons.

“I really don’t know how we do it, but we do it every year,” said senior Aniah Patterson. “There’s really no explanation.”
This year has started out the same way.

St. Thomas More has won its first two games. The Ravens earned a 44-38 road victory at Hodgson on Thursday behind Patterson’s game-high 21 points.

Patterson and senior Jessica Simmons each picked up three fouls in the first half. They were on the bench at times in the second half but the Ravens finished the contest without any of their eight players fouling out.

“It’s playing smarter, not harder,” said St. Thomas More coach Crystal Gordon.

St. Thomas More returns all but one starter from last year’s squad, which made history for the small Catholic school in Magnolia, as the Ravens reached the semifinals of the state tournament for the first time. Three seasons ago, when Patterson was a freshman, they reached their first-ever state tournament quarterfinals.

So this group is used to accomplishing a lot, no matter how many players are on the roster.

“I love the perseverance and how strong we are,” Patterson said. “We’re a family and can play together and know what we all do.”
St. Thomas More needed some of that perseverance on Thursday.

The Ravens trailed by one entering the fourth quarter. They pushed ahead, only to see Hodgson tie the game up in the final three minutes.

Patterson knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:14 left to give St. Thomas More the lead for good. Sophomore Olivia Lynch hit two layups in the final two minutes to extend the advantage.

Lynch finished with 11 points for the Ravens.

The game was a rematch of last season’s quarterfinals where St. Thomas More edged Hodgson 52-47.

“This was a huge game we were looking forward to,” Patterson said. “We knew we had to do the same thing we did last year.”

“We had to just keep our composure,” Gordon said. “We had a plan defensively and I had to tell the girls to just stick to our plan. We had to stay focused and stick to the plan. Sometimes we have a tendency to veer off, but we had to go back to what we were doing and stick to the plan.”

Like past seasons, the Ravens’ schedule is made up of more out-of-state teams than instate teams. St. Thomas More has 13 of 20 games scheduled against teams from another state.

The contest at Hodgson was important for the Ravens to see how they compare with another Delaware opponent.

“I like my guards of course but I also like the maturity,” Gordon said. “I feel like there’s so much more maturity with the players we have. Then some of the younger ones, they’ve been playing basketball before. They have some basketball IQ so now it’s just to get them conditioned and get them up to our skill level.”

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