Banks carries Ursuline to state title

Joe SinglesHeadlines, Sports

Ursuline Academy girls basketball team raises the DIAA state championship tropy with their fellow classmates, photo courtesy of Ursuline Academy

After a slow start and a feeling out process by both teams, the girls’ state championship game between the Ursuline Raiders and the Caravel Buccaneers heated up. Larry Banks’ Caravel squad demonstrated patience and strong work on the glass to score in a variety of different ways by multiple players after the first 2 minutes. Coach Noonan of Ursuline on the other hand seemed to be content with allowing GiGi Banks to play 1 on 5 basketball at the offensive end, resulting in a number of bad looks and coupled with low energy on the part of the Raiders. Despite their struggles, Ursuline found themselves down by only 2 points at the end of the first quarter. 14-12 Caravel.

After Caravel senior Anaya Price knocked down her 3rd 3-point shot of the game, her teammate Jasiyah Price made another 3-point shot on the very next possession, extending the top seed’s lead to 20-16. Coach Noonan continued to play “Banks ball” and the sophomore didn’t disappoint. Banks would make three 3-point shots in under 45 seconds, pulling the Raiders even, 24-24 with 2:10 to go in the half. The play of Caravel’s Aniyah Price and Janiyah Crawford were the story of the first half. Beating the Ursuline zone with 3-point shots and penetrating the gaps for layups. Ursuline seemed content however to stick to the zone as long a they were able to get out in transition and put pressure on the Caravel defense. The Caravel backcourt combined for 23 points in the half while Banks and Brown for Ursuline combined for all 28 points for the #2 seed. The half ended 28-28.

Both teams came out of halftime with strong defensive adjustments. Ursuline remained in their 2-3 zone but tightened up the gaps and rebounded the basketball, which is more difficult to do in a zone defense. Pushing the ball on after every rebound, the #2 seed took their biggest lead of the game, 37-34, with 2:45 to go in the quarter. Caravel’s hot shooting cooled off due to the Ursuline defensive adjustments but they still manage to remain within one possession throughout the quarter. The Caravels low post players, Stryckning and Tate willed their squad to within 1 at the end of the quarter securing tough rebounds and giving their teammates second chance shots. 39-38 with one quarter to go.

Ursuline looked content to place the ball in GiGi Banks hands as much as possible as she continued to knock down deep three pointers and attack the basket. Her ability to see the floor and made strong decisions with the ball in her hands didn’t deter Caravel however, as the Buccaneers hung tough, making a  number of shots in the lane to finally regain the lead, 48-46 with 2:00 minutes to go in the game. With 1 minute to go, Caravel chose to run down the clock for the last shot with the game tied 48-48. After securing an errant pass, Ursuline would have possession with 5.6 seconds to go and put the ball in the hands of Banks once again. On her way to the basket, Banks would be fouled and earn a trip to the free throw line with 1.9 seconds to go. Banks would make the second of her two free throws making the score 49-48 and giving them a well earned state title.

GiGi Banks led all scorers with 29 points, shooting 5-11 from the 3 point line, while her teammate, Taylor Brown, accounted for 16 points. Caravel’s Price had 19 to lead the Buccaneers. With 12 lead changes and a tie score 7 different times throughout the game, the packed Bob Carpenter Center saw one of the best championship games in DIAA history.

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