(Jan. 4, 2019) The Worcester Prep girls’ basketball team enjoyed participating in the annual Governor’s Challenge tournament last week, competing at University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne.
“It was a great experience,” Prep Coach Scot Dailey said. “The girls had fun and learned a lot. It will make us better.”
Worcester was in a four-team bracket with Thomas Stone, Snow Hill and Kings Christian Academy.
The Lady Mallards won their first game, 61-24, over Thomas Stone, last Wednesday.
“We really looked good. We played great defense and we passed the ball well,” Dailey said. “As a whole, we played amazing.”
Worcester led 24-2 at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, the Berlin squad had pulled ahead, 34-9. After three quarters, the Mallards held a 47-16 advantage.
Senior captain Gracie Gardner was Worcester’s top producer with 25 points, seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
“It was the best game Gracie’s played in her career here,” Dailey said. “She didn’t miss much.”
Senior captain Hailey Merritt chipped in with 14 points, five steals, four rebounds and four assists.
“Hailey was feeding Gracie from the wing. She made some great passes to Gracie,” Dailey said. “It was like clockwork.”
Freshman Lily Baeurle scored eight points and senior Hannah Merritt added six points and six rebounds.
“I think we set the stage early and came out with a purpose,” Dailey said. “It got us set up to play in the championship the next day.”
Worcester met King Charles, who defeated Snow Hill, 60-4, in the championship round, last Thursday.
During the opening tip-off, Gardner jumped to get the ball and injured her ankle. When she fell she also hurt her elbow.
She played only about half the game – not her usually minutes on the floor.
“She tried to play through it. She wanted to be out there with her teammates,” Dailey said.
Dailey said sophomore CC Lizas played well in her absence.
Worcester led 11-9 at the end of the first quarter and 22-19 at halftime. The Mallards were ahead 25-22 going into the fourth quarter.
King Charles chipped away at the lead and hit a three at the buzzer to tie the score, 38-38, and force overtime. The team then edged out Worcester, 43-41.
“We played fast, but we didn’t play smart,” Dailey said. “We turned the ball over and we didn’t finish our shots around the basket. We need to find ways to win close games and be more disciplined at crunch time.
“You live and learn,” he continued. “There’s some things I wish I had done differently as a coach.”
Hailey Merritt led Worcester with 14 points, four rebounds and three assists. Gardner contributed 10 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Lizas had 10 points and six rebounds.
Returning to Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference play, Worcester will take a trip to Salisbury on Saturday to face the Salisbury School Dragons at noon.
The Dragons will then come to Berlin on Wednesday to battle the Mallards at 4 p.m.
“We had a great start [to the season]. We’re excited to be 8-1,” Dailey said. “The loss showed some glaring defects we need to work on to get better. We have to keep getting better, be more disciplined and take care of the basketball.”