The Cape Henlopen boys’ basketball team played its best ball of the season Feb. 15, outgunning and outhustling a 7-2 Dover squad that had recently upended Henlopen North contender Caesar Rodney. For 30 minutes of action, the Vikings looked like the better team, knocking down open three-pointers, forcing turnovers, attacking in transition and battling the taller Senators on the boards.
They came up two minutes short.
Dover finished the game on a 9-3 run to spoil Cape’s upset bid and take a 68-65 win back up Route 1.
Sophomore guard Jaheim Harrell scored 19 points, including a key lay-in and a free throw down the stretch, to help the Senators (8-2, 8-2 Henlopen North) secure their fourth straight win.
The Vikings led by as many as six points in the second half and maintained a 62-59 advantage with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, but a put-back by Dymear Yelverton and a drive from Harrell put Dover in front. After junior guard Kay’von Jackson converted a steal into a lay-up to give Cape an edge, Elijah Sessoms responded with a bucket in the paint. Harrell knocked down one of two free throws on the Senators’ next possession, and the Vikings coughed up the ball a few seconds later. Amir Hite came up huge for Dover in the game’s waning moments, knocking down two shots at the charity stripe to put the Senators up 68-64.
After senior wing Ja’Vaughn Burton sank a free throw and Dover threw the ball away, Cape had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. Burton’s 25-footer sailed just wide of the mark.
Second-year head coach Shemik Thompson was upbeat after the setback, the Vikings’ sixth in seven games.
“We needed more ball security at the end, but overall, we played an excellent game,” Thompson said. “Tonight was a show of what you should see from this team all year long. We talk about playing to our potential, and I thought we did that today. There are a couple of areas we can always improve on, but we can definitely build on this. I loved our defensive effort, especially as far as communication goes. We did a wonderful job of helping each other out and even had guys from the bench calling out assignments. Defense was a huge improvement today.”
After falling behind 9-0 in the first five minutes of play, Cape stormed back behind the deadeye shooting of Brody Pedersen. The junior wing canned four three-pointers without a miss during a three-minute second-quarter blitz, giving his team a 31-24 lead just before halftime.
The Vikings kept their noses in front well into the fourth, going up 51-46 on a straightaway three by Burton with 7:30 left. Dover stayed within striking distance thanks largely to the play of Sessoms and Harrell, then took its first lead since the first quarter on a Yelverton trifecta at the 3:44 mark.
Burton scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half to pace Cape (2-6, 2-6 Henlopen North), notching his seventh 20-point outing of the young season, while Pedersen added 12 points, and senior guard Nate Sivels tallied 11 points and four steals. Jackson enjoyed his most productive outing of the year, contributing 10 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Smyrna stomps Cape
The Smyrna boys’ basketball team came into its Feb. 17 tilt at Cape boasting a 10-0 record, having bulldozed its way through the Henlopen North with an average margin of victory of 30 points.
In Lewes, the Eagles looked every bit of unbeaten.
Smyrna rode a 20-0 first-quarter run and a 19-point, 16-rebound night from 6-foot-6 senior center Olumuyiwa Salako to a 75-51 victory, showcasing its ruthlessly efficient offensive attack from the opening whistle.
The Eagles could do no wrong in the early going, as they knocked down 11 of their first 14 shots and used their athleticism to stymie a typically potent Cape lineup. After Salako started the party with a baseline jam, Devin DeMoe and Elisha Gregory splashed three-pointers and Robert Wiley got loose for two transition layups. Up 27-6 just six minutes in, Smyrna never let the Vikings get closer than 15 points the rest of the way.
Gregory finished with 17 points and nine boards for the Eagles (11-0, 11-0 Henlopen North). The junior forward scored from every area code, knocking down three of his four three-point attempts and finishing underneath whenever he got the chance.
DeMoe and Wiley chipped in 12 points each for Smyrna, which has now beaten Cape by 20 or more points in four consecutive meetings.
The Vikings got 16 points and two three-pointers from senior wing Ja’Vaughn Burton, while sophomore forward Dylan Fannin contributed 11 points and a trey off the bench.
Junior forward Brody Pedersen drilled three three-pointers on the way to nine points for Cape, which also got six points and four assists from senior guard Nate Sivels.
The Vikings return to the hardwood on Friday, Feb. 19, when they square off with Sussex Central at 7 p.m.