Concordia Prep’s Hailee Ford struggled with her shot through most of Tuesday night’s IAAM B Conference quarterfinal at Notre Dame Prep, her first game back since suffering a right elbow injury two weeks ago.

The right-handed senior fell short on most of her free throws and jumpers, but she swished a 20-footer with 2:39 left that gave the visiting Saints the lead for good as they rallied from 12 points down early in the fourth quarter to beat the fourth-seeded Blazers, 46-40.

The victory avenged last week’s loss to the Blazers that relegated the Saints to the fifth seed — a game Ford missed because of the cut and bone bruise that resulted from an accidental collision between her elbow and an opponent’s teeth after a layup.

Ford, a 5-11 forward who averages 15.7 points, scored only eight Tuesday but she managed perfect range for the 3-pointer that gave the Saints a 41-40 edge, their first lead since early in the third quarter.

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“I was struggling a lot and I was praying and praying that one would fall,” Ford said. “As soon as I let it go, I knew it would and I was just thankful and I couldn’t stop smiling. It gave me juice to finish the game. It really just ignited a fire for us to finish the game.”

Ford’s 3-pointer came amid a flurry of points from 5-10 senior guard Cori Barnes, who scored 10 in a little over five minutes to spark the Saints (19-6) to a 17-0 finishing run. Ford followed her 3-pointer by assisting a Barnes 3-pointer with 1:03 left for a 44-40 lead.

“We have great chemistry,” Barnes said. “All we need is a look to each other and we’re going to get that ball. Once I seen her coming down the court, I seen I was open. I already knew it was coming, so I had to knock it down.”

Banes, who is headed to Fort Valley State in Georgia, finished with 19 points and six rebounds. Ford, who will play at Albany, grabbed 18 rebounds.

With the victory, Concordia advances to meet top-seeded and undefeated St. Mary’s, a 46-35 quarterfinal winner over Bryn Mawr, in Thursday’s semifinals. The B Conference championship is scheduled to tip off Sunday at 4 p.m. at Harford Community College.

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The Blazers (15-7) didn’t make it easy for the Saints. NDP opened the third quarter with a 13-3 run that included six points from sophomore guard Emily Kessler, who led NDP with 12, and 3-pointers from Maya Mercadante and Ella Mercadante.

Gigi Benckini’s 16-footer gave the Blazers a 38-26 lead with 6:39 to go, but after that they would manage just two free throws from Kessler a minute later. Concordia took the next nine shots and NDP managed just five shots in the final 6:39 thanks in large part to the man-to-man press the Saints unveiled in the final quarter.

“I give them credit. They went into the press and it kind of sped us up a little bit,” NDP coach Katie Marks said. “We had two possessions in a row, I think, where we just missed layups in transition which were not smart decisions for us to make. It’s kind of uncharacteristic of us… Our composure has been amazing, but today, they hit the shots and we didn’t, but we fought hard and competed today. That’s a good team.”

It also didn’t help the Blazers to go 6-for-19 from the free-throw line. Marks said her team hasn’t been a good free throw shooting team, but it hadn’t often hurt them. They hit two more field goals than Concordia and had four 3-pointers to the Saints’ six, but the Saints were much more efficient at the line, hitting 12 of 17.

For coach John Cooney’s Saints, the win was a strong rebound after losing four of their final five regular-season games — all to the top four seeds in the B Conference tournament — St. Mary’s, St. Timothy’s, Gerstell and NDP.

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“We definitely needed it,” Ford said. “We’re just trying to take it one game at a time. St. Mary’s is going to be a battle but I think if we pull together, we’ve got it. Today was definitely a little bit of a struggle but ... we’ve had a rough few weeks and our team hasn’t backed down, so I’m kind of proud of all of us for not letting up.”



Concordia 19 8 4 20 —46

NDP 10 7 17 6 —40

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Concordia —Alira Penn 1, Briana Taylor 2, Kamryn Callahan 7, Kaitlyn Osbourn 9, Cori Barnes 19, Hailee Ford 8. Totals: 14 12-17 46.

NDP — Taylor Johnson 2, Maya Mercadante 10, Ella Mercadante 8, Gigi Benckini 11, Sophia Saccone 3, Emmy Kessler 12. Totals: 16 6-19 40.