Strong second half propels Vikings past Padua, into semifinals


For The Dialog


NEWARK – St. Elizabeth found itself in a typical Catholic Conference game with Padua on Saturday in one girls basketball quarterfinal, watching its chances of repeating as state champions slipping through its fingers. But the Vikings went on a 17-6 run at the end of the third quarter to take the lead and went on to a 58-53 win over the Pandas at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Twelfth-seeded Padua played an impressive first half, finishing the second quarter with a 30-24 lead. The Pandas shot 13 for 25 from the field and committed just four turnovers, and the bench contributed 13 points, including six from Kelly Rozenko and four from Claudia Spink. The No. 4 Vikings, meanwhile, shot just 35 percent and turned the ball over eight times.

“We were tired in the first half as we have worked these girls hard the last couple of weeks,” St. Elizabeth coach Frank Aiello said.

Padua scored the first basket of the third quarter for its biggest lead of the night at 32-24, but then St. Elizabeth, led by junior Alex Thomas, took over. Thomas scored six of her team’s points during the run that turned the score around, making it 41-38 heading into the final quarter.

In the last eight minutes, freshman Alanna Speaks’ pressure defense led to St. Elizabeth points in transition. Vikings senior Sabrina Hackendorn was a major presence, scoring nine of her 14 in the second half.

“Hackendorn takes a beaten evey night but she is so tough and she keeps us going,” Aiello said.

It’s back to the Catholic Conference on Wednesday in the semifinal round, as the Vikings will meet archrival Ursuline, which beat Hodgson on Saturday, 54-35. It is a repeat of last year’s semifinal, won the Vikings on the way to the state championship.

“Just like tonight being a tough cathloic confrence matchup wednesday night will be no different that is why we play the toughest schedule in the state,” Aiello said.

In addition to Hackendorn, three other players scored in double figures for St. Elizabeth. Senior Macy Robinson and Speaks each had 13, and Thomas had 12. For the Pandas, who finished the season 14-9, Emma Matthews led the way with 12 points. Rozenko and Rachel Liskiewicz each scored nine.

The St. Elizabeth-Ursuline game is the second of the night on Wednesday and will tip off at approximately 8 p.m. No. 3 Caravel will play second-seeded Sanford in the first game. Tickets are $8 and available at They are good for both games.