The Cape Henlopen boys’ basketball team saw its 14-game win streak come to a screeching halt in the Henlopen Northern Division title game Feb. 22, as Smyrna led wire-to-wire in a 61-34 blowout.
In a sad and surreal scene, the game was called with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter when a vicious brawl broke out between players seated on the Vikings’ bench and a group of vocal onlookers seated behind them. The melee spilled out onto the court, with several fans and players getting involved. At least one fan was arrested after exchanging blows with a Cape player.
Cape head coach Steve Re commented on the ugly situation, which might have been avoided had fans not been allowed to sit directly behind the Vikings’ bench.
“For whatever reason, every time we came to the bench, our guys were getting heckled like crazy,” Re said. “I can handle losing a basketball game. Smyrna clearly was the better team tonight. I can handle being defeated on the floor, but [the fight represents] a problem throughout our society. Every basketball game becomes personal ... When we come to the bench and we’re getting continuously heckled ... and when people are putting their feet where our players are supposed to sit, the whole setup [of the stands] was just dynamite waiting to explode.”
Following the game, Milford Police issued a press release saying the altercation is under investigation.
Junior forward Jaymeir Garnett poured in 24 points on 11-for-16 shooting for the Eagles, while junior center Nalik Veasley-Johnson out-rebounded the entire Cape squad 17-16. Sophomore wing Sh’Kai Chandler led Cape (18-3, 11-1 Henlopen North) with 14 points and a pair of three-pointers.
Smyrna (18-3, 11-1 Henlopen North) sprinted to a 25-8 lead after one period and poured it on from there, as the Eagles’ advantage ballooned to 26 points at halftime and as many as 30 after intermission. Smyrna shot a blistering 52 percent from the floor, pounded the Vikings by a 36-16 margin on the glass, and held Cape to 32 percent shooting.
The Vikings dominated the Eagles, the defending state champions, 74-51 on Jan. 2.
Cape has locked up a first-round bye in the upcoming DIAA state tournament and will play a second-round game in Lewes Thursday, March 1. Tourney seedings will be released Friday, Feb. 23.