Smyrna basketball coach Mike Starkey, entering his 14th season, is known for getting the most out of his players. On Dec. 4 at Cape in the season opener, his Eagles trailed the Vikings 27-6 with five minutes left in the second quarter. If he was getting the most, his season was toast.
“That’s the first time I ever started five players with no varsity experience,” Starkey said after his upgraded-from-JV group of newbies came almost all the way back before losing to Cape 53-52.
Cape was outscored 46-26 in the second half, giving all but one point back and pocketed an ugly win to open the season.
"That was one of the hardest games I ever coached,” Cape coach Steve Re said after the game. “What you saw in the beginning was how we looked all preseason. And then we started fighting with each other on the court. We had players trying to do what they can’t do and others not doing what they’re supposed to do. Having said that, last year we would have lost a game like this, so we stayed strong and found a way to win it or not lose it at the end.”
Clinging to a 42-41 in a discombobulated game, Re sent E.J. Fountain onto the court. “That’s his game – he’s aggressive, athletic, can play defense and he'll pick up a trash bucket or two,” said Re.
Fountain ragged point guard Javon Hunter and slowed him down somewhat, although hand check fouls sent Hunter to the line to shoot 16 free throws. He finished with 19 points.
Fountain snagged two key rebounds and converted a bucket on the inside getting Cape in front 44-41.
Big baskets down the stretch from Jon Warren – 18 points on the night – and clutch free throw shooting from T.T. Hazzard and Gekwan Pritchett averted disaster for the Vikings.
Gekwan Pritchett 12 and Tyreik Burton 11 were also in double figures for Cape.
The Vikings will host two-time defending state champion Sanford on Pearl Harbor Day Friday, Dec 7.