Entering its March 1 DIAA state tournament second-round match-up with Glasgow, the top-seeded Cape Henlopen boys’ basketball team were mired in an extended offensive funk.
In their previous two games – a narrow win at Caesar Rodney and a 27-point drubbing at the hands of Smyrna – the usually potent Vikings had averaged a meager 42 points on 38 percent shooting. Cape needed to find its rhythm in a hurry if it wanted to book a trip to the Bob Carpenter Center for the first time since 2014.
Up against the scrappy, athletic Dragons, the Vikings finally made some shots. They just didn’t take enough of them.
Cape knocked down 46 percent of its field goal tries, but turnovers and rebounding woes limited their looks in a 52-46 defeat that brought an abrupt end to their once-bright state title hopes.
Senior forward Ian Robertson scored a game-high 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting for Cape. The Vikings committed 16 turnovers and was outmuscled 12-0 on the offensive glass.
“This year was the most fun I’ve had playing basketball, and I’m really sad it ended like this,” said a dejected Robertson, who also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked four shots in his final game as a Viking. “They just scored more points than we did. We played really hard, but a couple things just didn’t go our way in the end.”
The game was tight from the opening tap, with the teams trading the lead throughout the first three periods. When Cape wing Sh’Kai Chandler knotted the score at 37 on a lay-in with 5:51 left in the fourth, the teams seemed destined to battle to the final possession. That’s when Glasgow asserted itself on the boards.
After David Nichols drove for an uncontested lay-up to put the Dragons back in front. Mark Bradshaw and Jaimhy Evans converted tip-ins on Glasgow’s next two possessions to give the Dragons a 43-37 lead at the four-minute mark. The Vikings closed the gap to two on a transition dunk from Robertson with 2:55 on the clock, but Bradshaw responded a minute later by tipping home his own miss to make it 45-41. Cape was forced to foul as the clock ran down, and Glasgow hit seven of nine free throws down the stretch to salt the game away.
Cape head coach Steve Re said the game came down to simple shot-making.
“How’d they beat us? 46 points - there’s your answer,” said Re, whose Vikings took just 39 field goal attempts while allowing Glasgow to fire up 58 shots. “We left 10 or 12 points on the floor in the first half. Free throws and turnovers killed us. We had so many looks at three that didn’t go down. We missed a lot of shots in transition, some point-blank looks … We just didn’t score.”
While Re lamented Cape’s inability to put points on the board, he was pleased with his team’s effort on the defensive end.
“We got enough rebounds and enough [Glasgow] turnovers [to win],” Re said after the Vikings limited the Dragons to 34 percent shooting. “We didn’t capitalize.”
Chandler scored 12 points and corralled nine rebounds for Cape, while sophomore guard Skylar Johnson added six points on two first-quarter three-pointers. Senior guard Izaiah Dadzie and sophomore guard Kris Rushin chipped in with four and two points, respectively.
Re took a moment to reflect on the careers of Robertson and Dadzie, two longtime starters whose heart and hustle will be sorely missed next season.
“They just come to work every day,” Re said. “It’s a privilege to coach those two kids. The way they work, the way they practice, the way they go at it, I was hoping for a better outcome for them. They’ve never tasted great playoff success, and that’s tough … They are what you want a student-athlete to be.”
Cape played without senior Randy Rickards, who was suspended following the brawl Feb. 22 in Milford.
Bradshaw led Glasgow (14-7) with 15 points and six rebounds, while Evans came off the bench to net 11 points and collect six boards.
Glasgow moves on to face St. Elizabeth in the DIAA quarterfinals March 3.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the full game story.