Cape boys outlast Academy at Palumbo 66-60 in OT

December 27, 2022

In his first few weeks with the Cape Henlopen boys’ basketball program, Tyrone Tolson wasn’t quite himself. An all-state selection at Dover last year, the sharpshooting junior off-guard connected on just 30% of his field goal tries and 15% of his three-pointers over the Vikings’ first four games. Cape coaches – and Tolson himself – figured it would only be a matter of time before he found the range.

In the Vikings’ Dec. 26 matchup with The Academy at Palumbo (Pa.) during Hoophall East at Slam Dunk to the Beach, Tolson finally caught fire. He poured in 29 points, hit five threes and drilled a game-tying jumper at the end of regulation to help Cape rally for a 65-60 victory.

“Thank goodness he was hitting for us all night long,” said Cape coach Steve Re after his Vikings secured their third straight win. “He was due for that. We know he’s capable of it. He’s playing with a new group of guys, in a new place, with a new mindset. I’m glad he figured it out last night because, as a group, we were not looking real good.”

The Vikings trailed 49-39 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter before using a full-court press to mount a furious comeback. Cape forced four Palumbo turnovers during the run, which was highlighted by six points from Tolson and a pair of put-backs by senior center Odin Potemski. After a transition lay-in from senior wing Trey Leggins cut the margin to 52-51 with 44 ticks left, Mohamed Diallo split a pair of free throws for Palumbo. On the final possession of regulation, Tolson caught a Leggins pass on the right wing, dribbled left and fired in a 10-footer from the paint to knot the score at 53-53.

Cape never led in regulation but dominated the overtime period. Leggins, Potemski and junior forward Jack Schell all made lay-ups early in the frame, and the Vikings forced the Griffins into four more miscues down the stretch.

Potemski finished with nine points and 11 rebounds for Cape (4-1, 2-1 Henlopen North), while Leggins tallied nine points and five boards. Senior point guard Drew Zimmerman struggled with his shot but came close to a triple-double anyway, collecting eight points, 10 rebounds, a career-high 10 assists and four steals.

The Vikings endured a nightmare of a first half, falling behind the undersized but tough Griffins by as many as 13 points. Cape looked indecisive against Palumbo’s 1-3-1 zone, settled for ill-advised three-point heaves, and coughed up the ball again and again. Despite shooting 30% and committing 11 turnovers before intermission, the Vikings trailed just 31-23 at the break. 

Tolson drained two three-pointers in a 20-second span during a 13-6 Cape spurt midway through the third quarter. His straightaway 22-footer pulled the Vikings to 39-37 at the 3:48 mark, but Palumbo responded with a quick run of its own to regain control heading into the fourth.

Re saw growth from his team in the second half.

“One of the great things about Slam Dunk is that they bring in good, athletic teams that execute and play hard all the time,” Re said. “We’re still figuring out how to play hard all the time and play with purpose. The first half, we were all over the place, not being consistent with our effort and not following the game plan. We had to slow down and execute and play on both ends of the floor, which we started to do late. The difference ended up being our ability to cause a little chaos in the second half and dominate the boards. We really cleaned up on the glass.”

Schell notched five points and six rebounds for Cape, while senior forward Tajear Freeman had three points and four boards. Senior forward Dylan Fannin added two points.

The Vikings capitalized on a distinct size advantage, out-rebounding Palumbo 48-28 and grabbing 25 offensive boards.


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