Bloodsworth’s free throws key Smyrna’s 68-57 win over CR

Smyrna’s Caleb Matthews drives the baseline for a layup in the closing moments of the first half. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

SMYRNA — With Smyrna High trying to hold onto a lead, senior guard Greg Bloodsworth made things less stressful for the Eagles.

Bloodsworth made 13 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with 25 points as Smyrna defeated Caesar Rodney High 68-57 in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division game on Friday night.

“I was lucky they were falling in tonight,” Bloodsworth said. “We practice that every single day.”

Smyrna improved to 15-2 overall and 10-1 in the Henlopen North, staying tied with Cape Henlopen High in first. The Riders meanwhile dropped to 11-5 overall and 6-4 in the Henlopen North.

The Riders led early before Smyrna used a 19-9 run in the second quarter to take control. Caleb Matthews hit his first three-pointer of the night right before the buzzer to give the Eagles a 28-23 advantage at halftime.

Smyrna was up double-digits for most of the second half until CR cut it to seven points with 2:44 left. The closest the Riders got the rest of the way was 60-54 with 55 seconds left after Davione Robinson’s putback.

But Bloodsworth hit all eight of his free throw attempts in the final 55 seconds.

Smyrna’s Nalik Veasley-Johnson puts back a rebound for two points in the second quarter Friday night. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

With senior guards like Bloodsworth and Matthews, Smyrna coach Andrew Mears says he’s in good hands at the end of games when Smyrna has a lead.

“It does make life easy at the end of games,” Mears said. “Both are shooting better than 85 percent from the free-throw line. We trust them when the ball is in their hands and obviously the stats show they can get it done at the line.”

Bloodsworth was one of three Smyrna players in double figures. Matthews and Nalik Veasley each netted 12 points while Jaymeir Garnett added nine.

Matthews not only converted a three on the final possession of the first half but also hit one to begin the third for a 31-23 advantage.

“If Caleb is knocking down shots it makes the game easier for me and the bigs,” Bloodsworth said. “It just opens the floor up more.”

Shaft Clark of Caesar Rodney was the game’s top-scorer with 26 points. Clark made five of CR’s seven three-pointers.

Jaymeir Garnett of Smyrna puts up an underhanded layup in heavy traffic in the first half. Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

Caesar Rodney’s largest lead was 17-11 early in the second quarter. Smyrna eventually ended the quarter on an 8-2 run.

“We settled down,” Mears said. “We were extremely excited to get this game going and I think we lost our composure at the start. Once we settled down and could get into our gameplan, we started getting better results.”

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