When the Cape Henlopen and Milford boys’ basketball squads meet in Lewes, things get weird.
Back in 2010, the Vikings trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter, but a bench-clearing brawl in the final minute gave Cape 10 consecutive free throws and the victory.
The 2013 meeting saw an overmatched Buccaneers squad stun the Vikings 74-72 on the strength of 53 combined points from slashers Tikeace Harris and Jason Parker.
In this year’s showdown at The Big House, heavily favored Cape held a four-point halftime edge over a pesky, determined Milford side that threatened to go full “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” on the Vikings. Then Cape woke up.
Senior forward Randy Rickards poured in a season-high 28 points, snagged 11 rebounds and recorded five rim-rattling dunks as the Vikings used a huge third-quarter run to storm past the previously unbeaten Bucs 77-49.
"Coach got on us [at halftime], and we rallied as a team and played harder,” said the 6-foot-5 Rickards, who also connected on 13 of his 23 field goal tries, dished out four assists and added three steals. “We get nervous playing in our own gym, and I think that got us a little tonight, but we picked it up in the second half pretty good.”
Ahead 33-29 at intermission and struggling to assert itself against a weaker team, Cape opened the third period with a 22-4 blitz that blew the game wide open. Sophomore guard Skylar Johnson scored six points during the run, including a pair of layups off steals, while senior forward Ian Robertson canned a baseline jumper and a put-back. Rickards' tomahawk dunk on the Vikings' second possession of the period set the tone for the half, and he added more fuel to the fire seconds later on a coast-to-coast lay-in. Sophomore guard Sh'Kai Chandler also figured in the decisive flurry, as he hit a foul-line jumper to open the quarter and later added a strong drive to the cup. Senior guard Izaiah Dadzie got in on the action, too, drilling a corner three on a Rickards kick-out midway through the third. When Johnson pick-pocketed a Milford guard and converted a transition bucket with 1:58 left in the frame to give Cape a 55-33 lead, a once-tight game was all but over.
Robertson notched his fourth double-double in five games for the Vikings, stuffing the scorebook with 21 points, 12 boards, three assists, three steals, and three blocks. Robertson canned four three-pointers on the night, while Dadzie buried three long-balls on the way to 13 points.
Robertson credited Cape’s third-quarter surge to an attitude adjustment delivered by coach Steve Re.
“Coach really got into us at halftime and reminded us that we were in a competition,” Robertson said. “He told us that on the basketball court, we're allowed to be bullies and put our feet on people's necks. That really fired us up.”
Re, whose Vikings have reeled off four straight wins, was pleased with his team's ability to amp up its level of play in the face of adversity.
“We were pretty focused tonight,” said Re. “We know that Milford is a rival and that they're always ready to play us, and they did a good job making us work [in the first half]. Our ball movement was great in the third quarter ... and we did what we had to do on the defensive end to blow the game open.”
Cape (4-1, 2-1 Henlopen North), which shot 46 percent from the floor and converted eight of its 20 three-point tries (40 percent), also got seven points from Chandler and a six-point, four-assist, five-steal effort from Johnson. Jack Dennis, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, made his first start for the Vikings, rounding out the Cape scoring with two points.
Senior forward Parker Chandler paced Milford (2-1, 2-0 Henlopen South) with 14 points and seven boards, but his performance wasn’t enough to overcome the Bucs’ 24 turnovers or their anemic 33 percent shooting.
Cape enjoys a lengthy break before it hosts two talented foes at Slam Dunk To The Beach – California power Harvard-Westlake and upstate contender Caravel. The games are scheduled for Dec. 28 and 29, respectively.