After a 7-2 start to the season, its best since 2017-18, the Cape Henlopen boys’ basketball team dropped winnable games to Polytech and Caesar Rodney. The Vikings fell victim to ill-timed injuries and inconsistent play in those contests, and those same issues threatened to send their season into a death spiral when they squared off with Dover Jan. 19 in Lewes. Taking to the hardwood minus its starting backcourt of Drew Zimmerman and Tyrone Tolson, Cape faced a stiff challenge in the Senators, who blew out a full-strength Vikings side 74-57 in December.
Cape got what it so desperately needed, coming from behind to pull off a 62-60 shocker that head coach Steve Re called “a true team effort.”
Senior wing Trey Leggins scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half and keyed an 18-3 fourth-quarter blitz that saw the Vikings turn a four-point deficit into an 11-point bulge.
Down 45-41 early in the fourth, Cape used a put-back from junior big man Jack Schell and a fast-break, alley-oop lay-in from Leggins to tie the score. After the teams traded buckets, sophomore guard Jayden Dukes dribbled around a Schell screen and popped in a quick-release three-pointer from the top of the key. A possession later, senior forward Dylan Fannin fired home a three of his own on a feed from senior center Odin Potemski. The Vikings continued the onslaught when Dukes found Leggins on the break for an acrobatic finish, pushing the margin to seven and forcing a timeout from Dover. Junior guard Kameron Trammell then pickpocketed a Senators guard and converted in transition, and Dukes followed suit 10 seconds later to all but end the game. Dover closed the gap in the waning seconds by forcing turnovers and hitting three-pointers, but its comeback bid came up short.
Re was all smiles after the victory.
“It was a great high school basketball game, and we executed really well the whole game,” Re said. “It was a true, full team effort. The way I like to coach is the way they played, and I hope people enjoyed watching that one. It was a lot of fun to coach."
Cape’s 2-3 zone defense frustrated the athletic Senators all night long, forcing them to play “hot potato” on the perimeter and limiting their opportunities to penetrate. Dover, playing without leading scorer Jaheim Harrell, attempted just 49 shots and committed 18 turnovers.
“We definitely took them out of their rhythm,” Re said. “[Playing zone] also helped us to rebound and play big. It helped us limit our turnovers, contest their shooting and battle with their rebounding.”
Cape (8-4, 6-3 Henlopen North) rode balanced scoring to its first win over Dover since 2018, as the Vikings got 12 points from Fannin, eight each from Dukes and Potemski, and seven apiece from Schell and Trammell. Dukes enjoyed a breakout night at the point guard slot, dishing out seven assists and collecting five steals, while Potemski and Schell led Cape with seven rebounds each.
Leggins emphasized the importance of the win for the Vikings.
“It was great to get this win, especially for Coach Re in his first year back,” he said. “It was a big win for the program. We knew coming in that we were gonna have a curveball with Drew and Tyrone out, so we just practiced hard and stayed focused. We knew that if we came in and played our roles and played together, we could definitely get the win.”
Fannin echoed his teammate’s sentiments.
“We constantly go at [Dover] every year and haven’t gotten them, but this year’s different,” Fannin said. “We just have a different mentality this year. We were 100% ready for this one and did what we had to do.”
Dover led throughout the first half but could never push its advantage to more than six points. The Senators were up 32-26 with just seconds left in the second period, but Fannin canned a deep three from the right wing to cut the deficit in half and give the Vikings some momentum. Leggins opened the second half with seven unanswered points, hitting a runner, converting a three-point play and knocking down two free throws to put Cape in front 36-32. The game stayed tight from there until the Vikings broke it open in the final frame.
Cape girls keep rolling
The Cape girls’ basketball team won its 10th consecutive game Jan. 19, with a 51-44 victory over Dover in the state capital.
Faith Re led the way for the Vikings, tallying 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting. She added four rebounds, an assist and a steal. Amalia Fruchtman was close to a double-double, scoring nine points and pulling down nine rebounds to go along with four blocks and three steals. Hayden Hudson recorded eight rebounds and five blocked shots. Mya Maull scored 13 points, four assists, two rebounds and a steal.