The buzzer to end overtime sounded, and the scoreboard at Smyrna High read Home 66 - Visitors 65. The Cape Vikings exhaled and commenced a freestyling celebration of jubilation, having defeated favored Polytech for the Henlopen Conference championship of boys' basketball.
“We came into this game with total confidence that we could win it,” coach Steve Re said afterward from outside his locker room. “I told them, ’You are so athletic and talented. If you bring the energy over an entire game through the highs and lows, you can beat anyone. You played tonight with the heart of a champion.”
Elks Hoop Shoot champion Tyreik Burton, who had 20 points in the game, was on the free-throw line with two shots and Cape leading 55-53 with 25 seconds remaining. “Pop” made the first, missed the second. That set up a game-tying three-pointer by Polytech's Richard Hicks that hit nothing but net and sent the game into overtime.
“I coached Hicks at Milford in summer league, and that’s the first three-pointer I’ve seen him hit in three years,” Cape’s assistant Greg Smock said with a smile after the game.
Burton laughed at the mention of his Elks Hoop Shoot skill from elementary school days.
“It ended up adding more drama to the victory,” Burton said.
Cape got to overtime, then quickly fell behind by four and later three points but kept scratching and clawing as Andrew Grau went beast man on the boards and scored two crucial buckets, and Tyreik Burton added a steal and score.
Cape led 66-63 with 14 seconds remaining. Polytech had possession and time to set up another game-tying three-pointer, but Antonio DePina, apparently nervous that nothing was happening, took an inbound pass, drove to the basket and scored, cutting the lead to one with four seconds left. But the clock keeps running in high school games, and it ran out and straight into Cape’s conference championship celebration.
Tyreik Burton led Cape with 20 points, followed by Toney Floyd with 13.
E.J. Fountain came off the bench to score 8 points and grab 6 rebounds. Grau had 9 points and 8 rebounds.
Devaughn Mallory scored 20 for the Panthers while Antonio DePina added 18.
Cape will host Laurel in the opening round of the DIAA Thursday, Feb. 28. The winner moves on to play at Salesianum Saturday, March 2.