After an inexplicably lackluster opening-night loss to defending state champion Smyrna, the Cape Henlopen boys’ basketball team hoped to hit the reset button and refuel its own title hopes with a Dec. 5 visit to Sussex Central.
Senior forward Ian Robertson poured in a career-high 27 points and added 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocks to lead the Vikings to a 66-28 drubbing of the Knights. Cape taught a master class in efficiency and effort on both ends of the floor, as the Vikings hit 59 percent of their field goal tries, dished out 17 assists on 24 made shots, and held their Georgetown rivals to 27 percent shooting. They also put on a high-flying act worthy of Cirque de Soleil by hammering home eight dunks – three from Robertson and five from senior wing Randy Rickards – for what is almost certainly a school record.
Head coach Steve Re enjoyed the fireworks from his senior big men, but he was more impressed with his team’s high basketball IQ.
“We played smart and disciplined on both ends of the floor,” Re said. “We didn’t [play like this] Friday night [against Smyrna], which I was disappointed in. If we can bring this kind of fight every night – especially when we actually have to fight – the sky’s the limit. The way they played tonight is something they have to learn how to unleash every night. They have to develop that mind-set of a champion.”
Cape held the young, overmatched Knights to two points in the first 10 minutes of action and led 21-2 on two Robertson free throws with 6:23 left in the opening half. The Vikings stretched the lead to 34-8 just before the halftime horn, when Rickards caught a full-court pass from Robertson and threatened to tear the rim off its hinges with a tomahawk jam. A 24-foot three-pointer from Izaiah Dadzie, the senior guard’s second of the night, gave Cape a 46-18 advantage midway through the third quarter. The final frame brought more of the same, as Robertson went coast-to-coast for a slam and Rickards posterized a Central defender with a throwdown that would’ve made Dominique Wilkins proud.
The Vikings forced a running clock just seconds into the fourth quarter and took their biggest lead of the night at 61-22 on Rickards’ last jam of the night.
Rickards was everywhere for Cape (1-1, 1-1 Henlopen North), as he finished with 14 points, nine boards, four assists and two blocks. Dadzie, meanwhile, delivered his second straight 12-point effort, adding five assists and a pair of steals. The Vikings also got big contributions from a trio of talented sophomore guards. Defensive stopper Skylar Johnson made his first career start and hounded Central’s guards all night long, while sharpshooters Sh’Kai Chandler and Kris Rushin both hit three-pointers.
Robertson couldn’t have been happier with the Vikings’ effort, particularly on the defensive end.
“It felt great to get back out [on the court] after what happened Friday,” said the 6-foot-6 forward, who connected on 10 of 15 field goal attempts and went 7-for-7 at the charity stripe. “Our defense was really solid. We stuck to our fundamentals and rewarded ourselves with easy fast-break points. It all came easy tonight.”
Rickards echoed his fellow senior’s sentiments.
“We came out and executed,” Rickards said. “We did everything we had to do to limit [Central], and we’ll only get better from here.”
Central’s 28 points were the fewest scored against Cape since 2009, when the Vikings held Delmar to 24. Cape’s 38-point margin of victory was its largest since an 84-38 blowout of Lake Forest, also in 2009.
The revitalized Vikings will look to continue their winning ways when they visit perennial powerhouse Sanford Friday, Dec. 8. Stan Waterman’s Warriors feature 6-foot-7 guard Jyare Davis, one of the top 20 sophomores in America.