The Cape Henlopen boys’ basketball team threatened to deliver a huge upset Feb. 8 against Appoquinimink at the SL24 Classic in Wilmington, but the Vikings floundered down the stretch in a 65-52 setback.
Trailing the heavily favored Jaguars 50-38 early in the fourth quarter, Cape summoned an improbable 12-2 run to pull within two with 3:51 remaining. Junior guard Ja’Vaughn Burton scored eight of his team-high 15 points during the spurt, knocking down a pair of clutch three-pointers in the process.
Senior guard Kamal Yellowdy responded with a three-pointer from the corner to give Appo some breathing room, and the Jaguars held the Vikings scoreless over the next two-plus minutes to pull away for the win. Appoquinimink hit eight of 12 free throws in the final three minutes, while Cape squandered its late possessions with untimely turnovers.
Yellowdy and 6-foot-7 senior center Eseroghene Efekodo led the Jaguars (13-3, 5-2 Blue Hen A) with 15 points apiece. Efekodo brought the 76ers Field House to its feet with three dunks.
Burton scored 12 of his team-high 15 points in the second half to pace Cape (5-11, 4-8 Henlopen North), which dropped its fourth straight game. The Vikings got 11 points from senior guard Collin Mallet and an eight-point, five-assist effort from junior guard Nate Sivels. Senior forward Sam Luciano-Solomon, senior wing Sh’Kai Chandler, and freshman forward Dylan Fannin rounded out the Cape scoring with six points each, while senior point guard Kris Rushin chipped in with a season-high seven assists.
Appoquinimink scored the first nine points of the game and looked ready to run the Vikings out of the gym, but Mallet canned three three-pointers in a five-minute span to spearhead an 18-6 run that put his team in front. Cape stayed within a bucket until the final minute of the second quarter, when Appo ran off seven unanswered points to take a 35-26 lead into the locker room. The Jaguars extended their lead to 11 points after three frames.
Head coach Shemik Thompson saw significant growth from the Vikings, who had dropped their previous two games by a combined 78 points.
“We played well today,” Thompson said. “I thought we played to our strengths today. We limited our mistakes, but still made a few too many. Overall, I thought we did a great job of handling their press and dealing with their size.”
Thompson lamented his team’s inability to do the little things late.
“We have to do a better job with those possessions that really, really count. [Down] 52-50, we needed a stop and didn’t get a long rebound. Then they hit a three on that. Those are the possessions when we have to do a better job of executing.”
Cape visits Milford Tuesday, Feb. 11. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.