Delmarva Christian senior center Chris Vonhof calmly sank two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining in overtime March 5 to propel the Royals past Tatnall and into the quarterfinal round of the DIAA Boys’ Basketball State Tournament. They advanced to face 2019 DIAA state champion Sanford March 7, falling 71-41.
Vonhof finished the Tatnall game with a triple-double, recording 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks.
The eighth-seeded Royals took a 15-12 first-quarter lead and went into the halftime break up 24-22. The Hornets would not go away, as the outside sharpshooting of Omari Banks and Bryce Flowers scored 14 points in the third period to put the Hornets up by five. The Royals’ stingy defense and unselfish offense tied the game at 42 to send the teams into overtime.
After freshman Gabe Herling sliced through the defense for a pair of buckets in OT, enter Vonhoff. After missing a pair of free throws in the third quarter, he would not be denied in overtime, as he called for the ball down low and was fouled going to the basket. He walked to the foul line with ice water in his veins with 3.8 seconds left and sank both free throws for the win.
“We wanted to get the ball to Chris,” said Royals head coach Micah Twedell. “It didn’t happen how we wanted, but he got it, and that’s all that mattered.”
“They were some big points,” Vonhof said. “But we had points that counted the whole entire game. I got to the line and was able to knock them down. I would have trusted anyone on our team to be there. We have one of the best shooting teams in the state. I trust anyone on our team to take the shot.”
And the Royals just didn’t hit from the charity stripe and in the paint, as the team hit six three-pointers.
“A big strength of ours this year has been the three-point shot,” said senior forward Andrew Workman. “It’s nice to play with a big man like Chris because he is such a willing passer, and because of his size and dominance, teams try to double, and sometimes triple team, and he does a really good job of finding the open man. He makes it easy for the shooters.”
”This experience is huge,” Vonhof said. “We’ve been talking about this since freshman year. To get this first win in the state tournament is huge, not just for the team, but for the school in general.”
Along with Vonhof’s 20 points, Workman picked up 15. Wyatt Kwiatkowski added eight and Herling totaled six. Seth Stevens hit a three-pointer.
Tatnall’s Omari Banks scored 19 to lead the Hornets, while Bryce Flowers added 13.
Royals fall to Sanford
The Royals stuck with the 2019 state champs for the first half, going into the locker room down just eight points at 30-22. The Warriors took advantage of turnovers in the third period to go up 51-31 at the start of the fourth. A spirited fourth period by the Warriors gave them the 71-41 victory.
The Royals were led by Andrew Workman’s 17 points. Wyatt Kwiatkowski added nine, Chase Hesson hit for eight and Chris Vonhof scored six.
“I will say, though, our guys fought as hard as they could for as long as they could,” said Royals head coach Micah Twedell. “I was so proud of them. The great thing about being in that game against Sanford is we knew they were the pinnacle of basketball in Delaware. Now we know where we have to be. Our older guys paved the way for our younger guys. I think those young guys are hungry to be back to that place again.”
The Royals won the ESIAC regular-season title and the ESIAC tournament championship in 2020. Kwiatkowski, Vonhof and Workman were voted All-ESIAC, with Workman getting ESIAC Player of the Year. Gabe Herling was voted honorable mention.