Area schools eye holiday basketball tournament challenge

Coach Freeman Williams will put his Caesar Rodney High boys’ basketball squad on the court against highly-regarded Salesianum on Thursday at Slam Dunk to the Beach. Delaware State News file photos

High school basketball coaches like the idea of challenging their players.

And they really don’t like the idea of having their teams go a few weeks without playing a game.

That’s where holiday basketball tournaments come in.

Coach Freeman Williams will put his Caesar Rodney High boys’ basketball squad on the court against highly-regarded Salesianum on Thursday at Slam Dunk to the Beach.

The contest, slated for noon at Cape Henlopen High, kicks off the 18-game Slam Dunk schedule. The tourney runs from Thursday through Saturday with six games being played each day at Cape.

“We talk about being excited about the opportunity,” said Williams. “We’ve played in it before. It’s just another opportunity for us to get better and another opportunity that we’re definitely excited about. We want to represent our school and our community well.

“Any time you can expose your team to different types of environments — especially in the early part of the year — definitely it gives you a nice snapshot of where you are. You want to take advantage of different opportunities when they come. It’s definitely a prestigious tournament.”

CR is playing in the event for the first time since 2014.

The Riders, Sallies, Sanford and Cape Henlopen are the four Delaware teams selected to play in this year’s Slam Dunk, which includes teams from eight different states. Liberty High, from Nevada, is the team traveling the farthest for this year’s event.

The Riders play again on Friday when they face Hudson Catholic, N.J. at 3 p.m.

Coach Stephen Wilson’s unbeaten Dover boys’ team is one of a handful of Henlopen Conference teams heading to Salisbury, Md. to play in the Governor’s Challenge.

Host Cape Henlopen takes on Sanford on Thursday at 5 p.m. and then closes the tournament on Saturday when it squares off with Hudson Catholic at 8 p.m.

Williams and his CR players will take in some of the other games at Slam Dunk. Besides getting to play some quality competition, he likes the fact that the Riders will get to do some team bonding.

“We use it an opportunity to grow as a family together,” said Williams. “Obviously there’s some things we want to accomplish while we’re down there but we’ll also use it as a chance for us to be around each other more than we generally would be.”

Dover going to Salisbury

Dover’s unbeaten boys’ team is one of a handful of Henlopen Conference teams heading to Salisbury, Md. to play in the Governor’s Challenge this week.

The 38th annual tournament, which includes 120 teams playing at the Wicomico Civic Center and surrounding high schools, bills itself as the largest high school hoops tourney in the country.

The Senators will play twice in the tournament. Dover’s first game is on Friday at 11:45 a.m. at Wicomico High against Caesar Chavez High.

“It gives us a chance to get out and play against different competition,” said Dover coach Stephen Wilson. “It also gives me, as a coach, a chance to get to know my team and how they react.”

Three downstate teams will be in action today when the Governor’s Challenge gets underway on two courts at the Wicomico Civic Center. Indian River plays Snow Hill at 10 a.m., Laurel faces Seed School at 11:45 a.m. and Smyrna is paired up with St. Peter’s at 5 p.m.

Polytech plays its first game on Friday at 10 a.m. at J.M. Bennett High. The Panthers take on Col. Richardson.

Sussex Tech’s girls’ squad will also be playing at Salisbury. The Ravens play on Friday at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore against J.M. Bennett at 10 a.m.

Dover’s Wilson, too, likes the bonding his players do when they’re in a tournament. The Senators usually stay overnight in a hotel when they go to the Governor’s Challenge.

“It’s important for the kids to have an idea about who they’re playing,” said Wilson. “Me personally, I like to stay and watch because you get a chance to scout the teams that you’re going to see two and three weeks down the line.”

Extra points

Lake Forest will again be hosting its girls’ basketball Pat Borowski Tournament on Thursday and Friday. Thursday’s opening round includes Dover vs. Concord, 3 p.m. and Polytech vs. St. Thomas More at 4:30 p.m. … CR’s girls are back at the Diamond State Classic at St. Elizabeth High. The Riders play on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. against Wilmington Friends.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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