By Bernard W. Carr

For the Woodbridge varsity girls’ basketball team, a season filled with great promise came crashing down at the hands of Ursuline High School. The private school from Wilmington, which entered the DIAA Final Four contest with 22 wins and just one loss all season, defeated the lady Raiders, 62-47 on Wednesday, March 8. It was the second Final Four appearance for the Raiders in three years, the first being in 2020. 

Woodbridge came into the contest as the 11th seed and had their work cut out for them. Number two seed Ursuline defeated Woodbridge in a home court matchup earlier in the season, 64-48. The Lady Raiders hoped to make their first trip in school history to the DIAA championship. Woodbridge, typically a slow starting team with scoring, proved that this game was going to be different. 

Payton Keeler dribbles to the basket in the game against Ursuline on Wednesday, March 8 at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark. Photo by Bernard W. Carr

With 4:20 left in the first quarter, the Raiders had built their biggest lead by a 8-1 margin, with team scoring leader Reghan Robinson hitting back to back three-pointers. The score was tied at 10-10, until Ursuline’s Sophia Filipowski made a jump shot for two points. The two teams missed baskets when Woodbridge’s Payton Keeler hit a three-pointer at the 1:42 mark, making the score 13-10. 

Ursuline’s Taylor Brown responded with one made free throw, and her teammate Hannah Kelley hit a three-pointer, making the score 14-10. At 1:06, Iyanna Mims made a foul shot, and the score was tied once again at 14-14. With 54 seconds remaining in the first quarter Ursuline’s Vezelle Banks scored two points, giving her team a 16-14 advantage. It was a lead that Ursuline never relinquished as the quarter ended with the Raiders down, 21-17.

The second quarter was not very friendly to the lady Raiders, as they went cold and could only muster up three field goals, two by Robinson, and one by Kamryn Spence. With 6:50 left and Woodbridge down by only two points, 23-21, Ursuline went on a run and scored 10 unanswered points, with Woodbridge only scoring two points at the 1:45 mark, making the halftime score 33-23. 

Although the second quarter seemed dismal, at best, in the third quarter there was no quitting, and the Lady Raiders made a furious rally and fought back to close the score within four points, 33-29. With a fast break basket by De’Asya Jones, a made free throw by Mims, and a three pointer by Robinson, the Raiders were still close, 41-35, at the 2:51 mark, until Ursuline broke the game open with another 10 point run versus three points for Woodbridge, making the score 51-38.

The fourth quarter score saw Ursuline increase its biggest lead to as much as 20 points, 60-40, with 3:22 left in the contest. 

Woodbridge committed 17 turnovers, which led to 16 points for Ursuline. Additionally, the normally great defensive team, allowed Ursuline to score 20 fast break points. Further, the taller Ursuline team scored 36 points with their inside presence, led by their freshman center Skylar Bolden. The Raiders made 30.9 percent of its attempts from the field (17-55), 29.2 percent from three-point range (7-24), and 50 percent from the free throw line (6-12). The Raiders out-rebounded Ursuline, 38-32.

Robinson led the Raiders in scoring with 20 points, Mims scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Keeler scored five points with six rebounds, Jones scored four points with six rebounds, and Spence scored two points. Senior Jeliah Scott had one rebound, junior Tianna Neal scored three points with six rebounds, and junior Delaney Larrimore scored five points with four rebounds.

Woodbridge appeared in the DIAA Tournament Final Four by defeating the #22 seed Seaford Blue Jays, 68-36, on Wednesday, March 1, in the first round; the number six seed Archmere, 42-36, on Friday, March 3, in the second round; and the number three seed Cape Henlopen, 48-34, on Monday, March 6 in the quarterfinals. The team had five seniors: De’Asya Jones, Payton Keeler, Iyanna Mims, Jeliah Scott, and Kamryn Spence and return eight underclassmen.