CR girls rally to topple St. E’s for first time since 2011

By Andy Walter

Delaware State News

CAMDEN — As she stepped to the foul line with just 6.1 seconds left, Alexis Reid simply blocked everything out.

“I just acted like I was at practice because we do a whole bunch of free-throw shooting,” said the Caesar Rodney High junior guard. “I didn’t let the crowd or anything distract me. I took my time and took a breath.”

And then Reid calmly sank both foul shots to give the Riders a dramatic, 50-48 overtime victory over St. Elizabeth in an early-season girls’ basketball showdown on Monday night.

The Vikings had a jumper go off the rim just before the final horn as CR’s players happily celebrated their first win over St. E’s since 2011. The unbeaten Riders (4-0) had lost six in a row to the perennial state power.

CR trailed 24-14 at halftime and by as many as 12 points early in the second half against the Vikings, who were playing their season opener.

While CR did battle back to take a pair of one-point leads in the fourth quarter, it looked like St. E’s was going to win again when senior Alanna Speaks (16 points) buried a three-pointer from the corner to give the Vikings a 45-42 lead with 10.5 seconds remaining in regulation.

But, after calling timeout with 2.9 seconds on the clock, the Riders ran a perfectly-executed inbounds play. A screen left Brionna Brooks all alone in the corner and the junior swished the tying three-pointer as the horn sounded.

CR’s bench erupted in celebration as the shot sent the contest to OT.

“I shoot so much,” said Brooks, who netted a team-high 14 points, including three three-pointers. “And I needed that one to go in. It felt great.”

“They executed that thing just perfectly,” CR coach Bill Victory said with a big smile. “Just perfect. Storybook. I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight, it was such a wonderful thing.”

Both squads held narrow leads in overtime before St. E’s tied it at 48-48 on a free throw with 53.6 seconds remaining.

After that, the Riders held the ball for a last shot, calling timeout with 29.6 second remaining to set up the final play.

Finally, sophomore Kylie Kornegay-Lucas drove the lane and dished the ball off nicely to Reid at the side of the basket. Reid (6 points) was fouled as she went up for the shot to go to the free-throw line for her two deciding shots.

A number of players came up big for CR. With the Vikings leading 30-18 early in the third quarter, Brooks sank a three before Kornegay-Lucas (7 points) scored five straight points to spark a 12-0 run that pulled the Riders even at 30-30.

Then there was senior Alissa Haith, who tallied 11 of her 12 points in the final 15 minutes of the game.

While it’s still early in the schedule, the Riders hope a win like this will put their season on the right track. They lost to St. E’s twice a year ago.

“It just goes to show all the hard we’ve been putting in and how much of a team we are,” said Reid. “I feel like we have a lot of chemistry. When we went into the locker room (at halftime), we just all held our heads high and knew that we could still come back and that’s what we did.”

“We haven’t seen a picture of us yet playing well for a couple quarters,” said Victory. “We haven’t seen it. And we saw it tonight.

“I think now it makes us believe that, ‘You know what? We can really play like this. We can play like this all the time.’”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.