Cape boys outlast Tech for 11th straight win

Rickards and Robertson reach 1,000 points
February 12, 2018

Ian Robertson and Randy Rickards had priorities to balance. The senior forwards were both on track to crack the 1,000-point barrier sometime during Cape’s Feb. 9 boys’ basketball clash with cross-county rival Sussex Tech. Rickards needed 13 points to hit quadruple digits, while Robertson sat 15 points shy of the milestone. Cape’s twin towers itched to join an exclusive club that includes all-time legends like Purnell Ayers and recent stars like Tyreik Burton, but they knew that a win over the 14-3 Ravens was paramount to Cape’s hopes of a Henlopen title and postseason glory.

They got to have their cake and eat it too. 

Robertson scored a game-high 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting, Rickards added 22 points and a career-best 17 rebounds, and the Vikings held off the hot-shooting Ravens 86-77 in a tense, back-and-forth battle.

Cape’s big men were happy with how things played out. 

“Randy and I have been playing together in travel ball since like third grade, so it’s cool that we got to celebrate this on the same night,” said Robertson, who scored his 1,000th point on a second-quarter lay-in.

“We’ve been together a long time – playing together and against each other during the summer,” said Rickards, who reached 1,000 points minutes after Robertson. “I’m happy to share this day with my brother.”

Sophomore wing Sh’Kai Chandler came up huge for the Vikings, scoring eight of his career-high 23 points over the final 3:17 to help bring Cape back from a one-point fourth-quarter deficit. Chandler stuffed the scorebook with seven rebounds, four assists and two steals on the night.

Head coach Steve Re was proud of his Vikings after they survived 10 Sussex Tech three-pointers and an aggressive zone defense.

“The difference between us and [Tech] year in and year out is that they tend to make us play their way and speed up, but we slowed it down and played with composure tonight,” Re said. “Tech’s a hungry team with a bunch of seniors that are ready to win ... coach [Damon] Ayers does a great job with them, and they’re relentless. When it’s Tech versus Cape, everything ratchets up. It’s like 999 miles an hour all the time.”

Cape (15-2, 9-1 Henlopen North) earned its 11th consecutive victory despite falling behind 8-2 in the early going and surrendering seven Tech three-pointers in the first half, three of them to senior guard Jaquan Burton. The Vikings stayed in contention thanks to their efficiency, hitting 14 of their first 20 field goal tries, but trailed 42-41 at intermission. Robertson and Rickards carried Cape through the first half, as they netted 15 points apiece before the break.

The Vikings created some separation in the third quarter, taking a 57-51 lead on a three-pointer from senior guard Izaiah Dadzie midway through the period. Tech closed the gap to two points entering the fourth and inched ahead 70-69 when Burton converted a three-point play in traffic with 5:27 on the clock. Robertson responded with his own “and-one” underneath to give Cape a two-point edge, but senior guard Khalil Bolden knocked down two free throws for Tech to knot the score at 72 at the 4:59 mark. The Vikings needed another answer.

They got it from Rickards, who tipped in a bucket, blocked a shot and hit a free throw in a 15-second sequence to put Cape ahead 75-72. Two Robertson freebies and a follow-up lay-in from Chandler extended the Vikings’ lead to five with 3:17 remaining. Three empty possessions later, Chandler all but ended the game with a steal and breakaway dunk, bringing a packed Big House to its feet.

Re couldn’t have been happier for his star forwards on their big night. 

“It’s awesome,” Re said. “[Rickards and Robertson] have matured in completely different ways in completely different environments, and they’re on a perfect collision course at the same time. You watch those guys interact out on the floor, and you know it makes my job so easy. Just to watch them grow up in terms of skill set, aggression, maturity and focus has been really cool.”

Burton scored 21 points for Sussex Tech (14-4, 7-4 Henlopen North), which made just 10 of its 30 field goal attempts (33 percent) in the second half after torching the Vikings early on. Sophomore guard Devon Reynolds added 14 points and four assists for the Ravens, who also got 13 points and six boards from senior forward Dominick Conquest.

Dadzie finished with six points and three assists for Cape, while sophomore guard Kris Rushin added five points from the charity stripe. Sophomore guards Skylar Johnson and Jo Jo Kirby chipped in with four and two points, respectively.

The Vikings shot 53 percent from the floor and have converted a remarkable 150 of 284 field goal attempts (52.8 percent) over their last six games. They also took care of the ball, committing just 16 turnovers after coughing up the ball 37 times in a win over Tech in January.

Cape will look to stay in the hunt for a conference title when it hosts Dover Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 6:15 p.m. The 8-9 Senators have won four straight games.