With milestone reached, Alexander leads Aquinas past Nardin

Aquinas junior Chanel Alexander joined the 1,000-point club this week.

By PAUL GOTHAM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As a freshman, Chanel Alexander played the role of distributor. In an Aquinas Li’l Irish lineup with Kayla Jackson and Erica Knapp, the now junior deferred to her older teammates.

Alexander’s role has since changed, and a ceremony on Saturday afternoon marking a personal milestone only confirmed that fact.

On a day when her 1,000th career point was celebrated, Alexander poured in 28 more as the Li’l Irish downed Nardin (VI) 62-49 in non-league play from the Wegman-Napier Athletic Complex.

Alexander broke open a single-possession game with a pair of 3-pointers and an assist as AQ (9-3) won its second straight and third in the last four games.

“She’s done it her whole career,” fourth-year Aquinas coach Mark Loria said. “With the ball, without the ball she’s so good.”

Trailing 23-21, Alexander connected from long range and then she set up teammate Nora Miller for a basket. Two possessions later, Alexander struck again. Aquinas had a lead it did not relinquish at 29-22.

“At the beginning of the game they pressed us,” she explained. “They tried to put two girls on me, but we got through that.

“The game was going back and forth. My teammates got me the ball, and I drained it. That’s what our team does. We’re up and down the court, getting shots up and scoring.”

The Aquinas defense forced six turnovers in the second quarter and seven more in the third.

Sophia Hartman scored on a free-throw line drive just before the horn to end the third to give AQ its first double-digit lead of the afternoon at 42-31.

“It’s about lineups,” Loria stated. “I’m trying to find out what’s working. Every game it’s been different. I wanted to speed it up today. I wanted to get after it a little bit, trap, press and turn them over a little bit.”

Alexander connected eight times from the floor for the game and converted 10 of 12 from the free throw line.

“She’s the best athlete I’ve ever coached, boy or girl,” said Loria who spent more than a decade as an assistant coach in the East Rochester football program before coming to Aquinas.  “She’s got a motor. She’s fast. She can stop on a dime. She can change directions. She can handle the ball. She can shoot the ball. Players like her don’t come around very often. I’m really blessed to have her.”

Alexander joined former teammate Jackson on the 1,000-point club.

“It feels really good,” Alexander said of the accomplishment. “I’m really excited to have all my family and friends here supporting me. It’s a really big moment for me in my career.”

Aquinas won the Section V Class A2 title Alexander’s freshman year. Jackson, who was on hand Saturday afternoon, is now part of the women’s basketball program at UMBC. Knapp plays lacrosse at Coastal Carolina.

“It’s been interesting going from having two leaders on my team who really put us together and had us moving on the court and then to have me step in and take that position has been big,” said Alexander who scored 19 goals and added five assists with the Li’l Irish soccer team this past fall. “To lead this team and take us as far as possible. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Miller finished with 11 points for Aquinas. Hartman had 10. Isabella Testa scored six. Lydia Kaplun added four points. Hanna Fenton (2) and Jayda Henton (1) rounded out the scoring for Aquinas.

Alexander scored 31 points earlier in the week to lead Aquinas over Nichols (VI) 72-65.

Ainsley Boras paced Nardin with 27.

Aquinas beat Nardin earlier this season 57-45.

The Li’l Irish don’t play again until January 27th when they host Mynderse.

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