Mayhem in the new gym, a frenzied game without rhyme or reason, each team in and out of control. The Arundel Wildcats came by Coach bus to Lewes Dec. 21, undefeated at 5-0, ready to rock Cape’s New Little Big House before going back door across the bay bridge.
But the solstice party belonged to Cape when time stood still with 1.4 seconds left and the Vikings ahead 59-57.
Tyreik Burton was on the free-throw line shooting 1 and 1. Three seconds earlier, Burton, aka Pop, dropped both ends of a 1 and 1, giving Cape a 59-57 lead.
The crowd calculated scenarios: Make one, they need three to tie, make both, game over, don’t foul on a miss. Burton calmly missed, and every player on the court stood still as the clock ran out. An Arundel player even handed the orange orb to an official. Cape wins! Cape wins 59-57!
“Arundel’s coach [Jeff Starr] was upset," Cape’s Steven Re said after the game. “He said an official told him two shots. I told him, if that happened, we can come back out, put the time back on the clock and shoot the second free throw, if the officials agree, but it was a 1 and 1 situation.”
Surges and spurts, good and bad basketball by everyone from players to coaches and officials highlighted a game where Cape kept hanging in, going ahead and falling back.
Andrew Grau had three emphatic “the dump is closed, get that weak junk outta here” rejections in the game, each whistled for a foul, the last with four minutes remaining that freaked and frenzied the local crowd.
Coach Re pointed and shouted to the home stands, "Cheer for Cape, don’t yell at them [refs]!
"We need the crowd to bring positive energy," Re said after the game. "It’s not a game of five on eight. The officials don’t care who wins. You get some calls, and some you don’t. I want Cape to be a place where the crowd is the sixth man. I honestly believe that down the stretch, the crowd spurred us on to two defensive stops.”
Solomon Cox, a defensive specialist, answered the question "Who is number 20?” when he dropped a free throw, tying the game at 53 with 2:50 remaining.
Andrew “Kountry” Grau scored on the inside, putting Cape in front 55-53 with 1:56 remaining.
The Wildcats turned it over, and Cape turned it right back to them. A free throw by Austin Carroll and a driving basket by Aaron Lewis-Cenales, and Arundel was back in front 56-55 with 1:17 remaining.
Tyreik Burton didn’t hesitate. He powered to the paint, attracted a crowd and found Jon Jon Warren alone for the go-ahead basket as Cape led 57-56 with a minute remaining.
“Our practice the day before was all about handling the adversity and intensity of late-game emotions,” Re said. “We had a crazy practice, I even called a technical on one of our players.”
Greg Gather of Arundel tied the game at 57 with a free throw.
Then Tyreik Burton was forced our of bounds right in front of the scorer's table and Cape bench as Re was calling time out. The call and ball went to Arundel with 35 seconds left in a tied ball game. The Wildcats went to the hoop, missed the shot, and Cape had the ball back with 11 seconds remaining.
Tyreik Burton popped in both ends of a 1 and 1 with 4.9 left and Arundel called time, down 59-57 having the length of the court to travel.
“We didn’t pressure the ball but dropped people back. I like our five against their four rather than an unsettled 4 on 4 when they have so many fast people,” Re said.
Arundel point guard Keaton Mack got called for a walk. Cape got the ball back and Burton was quickly fouled and on the line for 1 and 1, or was it two shots?
Cape was led in scoring by Tyreik Burton 18, Jon Warren 14 and Andrew Grau 9.
Arundel was paced by Kordel Wells with 14 points.
Cape improved to 5-1 on the season and next plays Dec. 28 at the Wicomico Civic Center in the Governor's Challenge against unbeaten Easton. The Vikings will play Flowers High School at 4:30 p.m., Saturday Dec. 29.
Notes: Arundel shot 25 free throws compared to 9 for Cape. The Vikings outscored the Wildcats 25-15 in the third quarter. Arundel led at halftime 29-24 after a run of 13 unanswered points.