Caesar Rodney girls trying to hang onto momentum

CR’s Lillian Ayers said getting back to .500 gives the Riders some momentum going into the second half of the season. (Delaware State News file photo)

CAMDEN — The season was only four games old.

But, after losing three of those first four contests, the Caesar Rodney High girls’ basketball team had had enough.

“We all sat in the locker room and said, ‘We are not going to lose any more because of dumb mistakes or anything like that,’” said Riders’ senior Lillian Ayers. “We said, ‘We’re going to go into break with two wins and get the momentum for the rest of the season.’”

So far, so good for CR.

The Riders did beat both Wilmington Christian and Appoquinimink to go into the holiday break with a 3-3 record.

Now CR (1-3 North) will get a big test today when it hosts rival Dover (4-0 North, 6-0 overall) at 6:30 p.m. in a Henlopen Northern Division matchup. The game can be seen live on www.nfhsnetwork.com.

Like many schools, the Riders have had an extended break with Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on a Wednesday this year. CR hasn’t played a game since Dec. 19.

Tameka Williams is in her second season as the Riders’ head coach. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The Riders are anxious to get back on the court.

“Its been a little while with winter break,” said senior Haley Hansen. “But I think we’re ready.

“We started out (the season) kind of rough with a lot of our players injured. I think we just needed that big step to get us back into the season and get everybody on the same page. When you have a couple wins under your belt, that helps.”

“I like that they are answering the challenge right now,” said second-year head coach Tameka Williams. “We didn’t get off to the greatest start. But they’ve been practicing every day, working hard, learning how to play together and it makes a difference.

“They’re buying into what we’re doing. … They’re a great group of kids so I can’t ask for much more.”

CR’s 3-3 record marks the first time the Riders have been at .500 since starting last season 1-1. They finished 6-14 last winter.

Haley Hansen is one of only two seniors on CR’s girls’ basketball roster this season. (Delaware State News file photo)

This year, CR has just two seniors on the roster. The Riders also had to play without Ayers and junior Jada McCullough at different times because of injuries.

Ayers, though, said there’s a feeling that the season is starting to turn around.

“It was hard to go through the break and not play at all,” said Ayers, who has been bothered by shin splints. “It’s going to be interesting.

“I told them, I’m not sitting out the Dover game. That’s one game I’m going to play. I’m going to practice today so I can play tomorrow. I’m excited.”

The Riders know they’re not far away from having a much better record. They dropped a pair of North games to Sussex Tech and Polytech by a total of only five points after leading both contests going into the fourth quarter.

Williams said sometimes she just needs her players to step up and take a good shot when they have it.

“Sometimes they’re too unselfish,” she said. “The shots that some of them should take, they don’t. Then I have to yell and tell them what they need to do.”

With 14 of their 20-game schedule left in front of them, the Riders still control their own fate this season.

After getting their season turned around, they just want to keep it headed in the right direction.

“Last year was definitely a building year,” said Hansen. “But every year is a new year. You’ve just got to remind yourself of that because, if you don’t, you’re going to slip and you’re going to let that loss carry on the whole season.”

“I think from here on, it’s just going to get better,” said Ayers. “Especially since she (Williams) has established her own system. Last year was kind of tough because she had to establish that but now she has it.

“I trust the process and I know my teammates do as well.”

Notes

• The CR and Dover boys also square off tonight in one of the biggest Henlopen North games of the season. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Dover with tickets going on sale at 4 p.m.

The Senators have won 17 straight North games including a pair of victories over the Riders last season.

• On the girls’ side, defending North champion Cape Henlopen hosts Sussex Central at 6:15 p.m. in a big division matchup. The Vikings are only 5-3 overall but all three of those losses have come against quality out-of-state competition.

• After picking up a pair of wins at the Governor’s Challenge, Smyrna’s boys take a three-game winning streak into tonight’s 7 p.m. North contest at Polytech.

• Lake Forest’s boys (1-3) played just four games in the early part of the season. The Spartans face nine contests in the next 24 days, starting with a 6 p.m. home game against Woodbridge today.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com