St. Elizabeth dominates Cape Henlopen in quarterfinals

Cape freshman Morgan Mahoney knocks a rebound out of the hands of Naia Pullman of St. Elizabeth in the first half. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — Pat Woods believed his Cape Henlopen High girls’ basketball team had gotten better since the last time it faced St. Elizabeth.

The only problem was, St. E’s had gotten better, too.

Top-seeded St. Elizabeth and its talented junior guard, Ber’Nyah Ward-Mayo, turned up the pressure early and ran away to a 57-33 score over No. 8 Cape in the DIAA girls’ basketball state quarterfinals at Dover on Monday night.

Ward-Mayo netted St. E’s first 11 points of the contest before finishing with a game-high 21 points to send the Vikings (19-3) to Wednesday night’s semifinals

It will again be an all-upstate Final Four with Conrad playing Sanford and St. E’s facing Caravel.

It was a tough finish for Henlopen Conference champion Cape (19-4), which was trying to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2011. Cape lost to St. Elizabeth by nine points in a competitive regular-season matchup on Jan. 26.

But the rematch wasn’t nearly as close.

“We didn’t compete like I thought we could,” said Woods, the first-year Cape head coach. “I don’t think we fought like I wanted us to fight.

Cape’s Abby Hern pulls down a defensive rebound against St. Elizabeth. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“You’ve got to handle your business regardless of the score. I tried to tell them, ‘Forget about the score, just play in the moment. Just compete.’”

Cape led only once in the game. The Vikings took a 3-2 advantage when Abigail Hearn sank a three-pointer in the first minute and a half.

Cape then tied the score at 6-6 on a three from Mehkia Applewhite. But St. Elizabeth ran off the next 10 points to take the lead for good.

St. Elizabeth made another run after Cape closed within 19-13 on a three-point play from Alexis Watkins with 6:27 left in the second quarter. This time, St. E’s went on an 11-4 run capped off by a four-point play from Naia Pulliam, who finished with 18 points.

When Ward-Mayo buried a three-pointer in the closing minutes of the first half, St. Elizabeth owned a 35-22 lead at intermission.

“She just dominated the whole game,” Woods said about Ward-Mayo.

With Ward-Mayo able to dribble away large chunks of time off the clock, Cape was never really able to cut into St. Elizabeth’s lead in the second half. The 24-point final margin was the Vikings’ biggest advantage of the game.

Cape’s Mehkia Applewhite works the ball with Ber’Nyah Ward-Maylo guarding. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Applewhite, with 13 points, was the only Cape player to finish in double figures.

Despite the rough ending, Woods was proud of his team’s accomplishments this winter. He said he had 13 goals for the program and the Vikings reached 11 of them.

Watkins and Niyashja Mosley were the only two seniors on this year’s roster.

“I told them, ‘Don’t just remember the last 32 minutes,’” said Woods. “I thought we had a good season. We probably exceeded even other people’s expectations.

“I wish it would have gone differently, I wish I would have felt like we competed tonight.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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