Bloodsworth making the most of second chance

 

Smyrna High senior Greg Bloodsworth is considered one of the top point guards in the state. He had 10 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in Saturday’s quarterfinal win over Sussex Tech. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

NEWARK — Greg Bloodsworth didn’t go up to watch last year’s state championship game.

He just couldn’t.

Knowing that he and his St. Thomas More boys’ basketball teammates might have been playing for the title if it weren’t for a last-second foul call against Caravel was just too much for the junior point guard to swallow.

“The game we lost, I felt like we should have won,” said Bloodsworth. “I still had a heavy heart. I didn’t want to come.”

A year later, playing in the Carpenter Center again on Saturday afternoon, Bloodsworth couldn’t help but think about that heartbreaking 48-47 loss to Caravel in the state semifinals last March.

“It brings back a lot of memories,” he said. “Hard times. But I’ve got one goal this year and that’s to get to the championship game.”

And, indeed, Bloodsworth will be back in the state semifinals on Thursday night.

Only this time, the 5-foot-8 senior will be wearing the red and white of Smyrna after he transferred back to his home district for his last high school season.

Bloodsworth was an honorable mention All-Stater last season when he helped St. Thomas More reach the state semifinals. (State News file photo)

Bloodsworth and the third-seeded Eagles (21-3) face No. 7 Sanford (17-5) in the DIAA state semifinals on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. in the Carpenter Center.

Sanford coach Stan Waterman says “I think Bloodsworth is probably the best point guard in the state.”

Clearly, Bloodsworth has fit right in at Smyrna, the defending state champion. But maybe that’s because he’s really just back playing with guys he’s known most of his life.

Eagles’ senior guard Caleb Matthews can remember going up against Bloodsworth at a Smyrna basketball camp when the two were only in third grade.

“There was a little trash talking,” said Matthews. “In third grade you think you’re the best player in the world. Seeing another guy that’s at your level, you don’t like it.

“But eventually you learn to respect each other and your abilities.”

Matthews remembers being disappointed when he heard that Bloodsworth was going to St. Thomas More as a freshman.

Having Bloodsworth come back this season is something of a second chance for this group to see how good they could have been. Having Bloodsworth to run the offense has probably benefited Matthews as much as anybody.

Bloodsworth is averaging 14.9 points and 5.4 assists per game for the Eagles, who repeated as Henlopen Conference champion this winter. He was an honorable-mention All-State pick last season.

“It’s a load off my shoulders,” said Matthews, a first-team All-Stater in 2017. “Last year we didn’t even have a point guard. We kind of made due with a bunch of 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 ‘two’ guards who could back the ball up the court.

“But that guy (Bloodsworth), you can just give him the ball and get out of his way. Honestly, he’s had a lot of games with no turnovers. … Last year after some games, I’d just be so tired from bringing the ball up the court. Now me and Jakir (Hampton), Nashon (Sylvester) and Isaiah (Wilson), I think we can take that energy that we would have had to waste there and play better defense.”

In the Eagles’ 74-53 victory over Sussex Tech in Saturday’s quarterfinals, Matthews poured in 30 points while Bloodsworth just missed a triple-double with 10 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Bloodsworth said Smyrna’s players welcomed him when he decided to come back.

“They messed around with me at first,” he said with a laugh. “It’s all fun and games.

“Summer league was important — practicing and working out with them. Caleb made it easy. I was with him every day basically.”

Bloodsworth was pretty familiar to Smyrna coach Andrew Mears, as well. Bloodsworth’s older brother, Harry, played for the Eagles’ varsity in 2011-13.

“I’d seen this kid running around our gym since he was really young,” said Mears. “We’re as familiar with him as any kid. It’s an easy fit.

“He’s going to fit in on anybody’s roster,” Mears added. “His command of the basketball, his basketball IQ and then, on top of that, his ability to score. … And his goals line up with our goals. It was an easy grouping.”

The biggest of those goals, of course, is to win a second-straight state championship.

Bloodsworth and his St. Thomas More teammates came close to reaching the finals last winter.

That’s only made him more motivated to get there this time.

Even though he didn’t go to last year’s state title game, Bloodsworth was happy when he heard the Eagles had won.

“I thought, good for them,” he said. “It was a good team they had. I wish I would have played with them.

“That’s my No. 1 goal,” he said about trying to win a state crown. “They tell me about it all the time. They show me rings that they got. They tease me about it a lot.

“I need my own. I need that.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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