Blue Raiders fend off late comeback attempt, top Lake Forest 66-51: Spartans grab Henlopen South title as Milford loses

Woodbridge’s Richard Massey goes up for a layup against Lake Forest’s Christopher Allen during the second half of Tuesday night’s win. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

BRIDGEVILLE — Closing out games is something coach Julius Cannon says his Woodbridge High boys’ basketball squad has struggled to do this season.

In Tuesday night’s 66-51 home win over Lake Forest High, the Blue Raiders (11-6, 10-3 Henlopen South) were able to fend off a late comeback bid by the Spartans to close out the division win.

“I’m proud of our guys, because we needed a good win against a good team. So, I’m proud of them for this win,” said Cannon.

Though the Spartans lost, an 88-72 Milford High defeat to Indian River High later in the night officially clinched the Henlopen Conference Southern Division for the Spartans (14-4, 12-2 Henlopen South).

Senior Jamon Kane put up a game-high 27 points for the Blue Raiders, with senior Troy Haynes knocking down three three-pointers and scoring 21 points of his own.

The win avenged an earlier 54-47 loss to Lake Forest on Jan. 8 in Felton.

“It feels great. It’s a blessing,” said a smiling Kane. “Layups, it was all layups and foul shots. It paid off tonight.”

Lake’s Christopher Allen scans the court for an open teammate during the first half Tuesday night.

“Today, we just came out full force from the first quarter and played our best basketball,” Haynes said.

Junior Jaysem Vazquez led Lake in scoring with 21 points. Senior Jene Sample also hit double-digit totals with 11 points.

With Lake’s star sophomore forward Kaheim Kimbrough-Roach missing the game due to sickness, the Blue Raiders’ defenders were able to keep the Spartans outside along the perimeter and force jump shots while overpowering them underneath the basket.

“You have to just go with what we were going to do with him being there,” Cannon said of the game plan.

“We wanted to do that anyway, just try to keep the ball out of his (Kimbrough-Roach) hands as much as possible,” he continued. “He’s great, and you know what type of team they are with him, but they still played well without him. They’re a great team.”

After Woodbridge built up a 30-16 lead at the halftime break, and went up by as many as 22 points midway through the third quarter, the Spartans pulled to within five points with just over five and a half minutes remaining in the game.

Kane scored 16 of the team’s 30 points in the first half.

“We’ve been struggling this year closing out games, so I knew they weren’t going to go away regardless of who’s on the floor for them. That’s just the type of pedigree they have,” Cannon said.

Jaysem Vazquez puts his hands up on defense as Woodbridge brings the ball down the court.

Senior Christopher Allen and sophomore Nakiem Scott each hit three-pointers within the first 53 seconds of the fourth quarter, while Vazquez scored five points within a span of 22 seconds to pull Lake to within 50-45.

Kane quickly answered with a basket 23 seconds later jump back up by seven points.

It was a pair of Haynes three-pointers over a 49-second span that helped the Blue Raiders put the game out of reach in the final four minutes.

“I just tell him to keep being aggressive – shooters have to shoot the ball – and just keep his confidence up, tell him we want him to shoot, we need him to shoot to win. He has to be a threat on offense and help Kane out,” said Cannon.

“These last couple of games I haven’t been shooting well,” Haynes said. “I’ve been working after practice, before school, on my shot and just concentrating.

“It’s just a mental thing at this point in the season. It’s late in the season, my body is getting tired, so I just trusted my shot and I hit them.”

The Blue Raiders scored 16 of the game’s last 22 points in the final 5:10 of the game to close things out and cement the division win.
“We just had to hold the ball and be calm [down the stretch],” said Kane.

Deronn Kane and Richard Massey each scored eight points, while Tajhon Hammond scored two points to round out Woodbridge’s scoring for the night.

“I’m just glad that we were able to close it out,” said Cannon. “This is one of the few close games we were able to close out this year.”

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