Cape boys edge host Dover 70-69 in wild finish


Delaware State News photos/Marc Clery

DOVER — The Dover High boys’ basketball team slowly walked toward its bench looking around for a explanation.

Meanwhile, the Cape Henlopen High players had all stormed the court, running around in a wild celebration.

Ian Robertson’s putback at the buzzer gave the Vikings a stunning 70-69 Henlopen Conference Northern Division victory on Tuesday night at Dover.
But the win wasn’t without controversy.

Cape Henlopen was awarded three free throws on a three-point attempt with nine-tenths of a second left when the Vikings were down by two points. Randy Rickards hit the first attempt but missed the second, setting the stage for the confusing finish with one free throw remaining.

The shot bounced high off the rim before falling to the right side of the basket. Cape’s Jerry Harden extended an arm and was able to tip the ball back onto the backboard but it was no good and dropped to the left side of the hoop.

And there was Robertson, who gathered the ball and threw it up all in one motion for a score. Everyone turned to the referees, who quickly signaled to count the basket before jogging off the floor to the locker room.

The Dover players pleaded that Robertson’s shot should not have counted, but the referees weren’t on the floor to hear them. Some Dover coaches and even spectators trailed the referees as they left the court asking how it was possible Cape could have two shot attempts in nine-tenths of a second.

“Sometimes you’re lucky,” said Cape coach Stephen Re. “If you play hard, the luckier you get. We just played hard until the end tonight. They just kept fighting and it was awesome to see. It’s unreal.”

For Dover, it was representative of how things have gone this year.

This game could have easily been all about how well Dover’s freshmen played. Eden Davis was the game’s top scorer with 34 points and fellow freshman Javon Peace added 14 points as Dover’s second-leading scorer. The Senators give extensive minutes to three freshmen and also had two sophomores on the court in key minutes Tuesday night.

But the controversial finish dropped the Senators to 7-10 overall. Eight of Dover’s 10 losses this season have come by six points or less.

“It’s just a shame these kids aren’t reaping some of the benefits for how hard they’re working,” said Dover coach Stephen Wilson. “I would be at a loss for words if we kept getting beat by 20, but we’re not. We got beat by one tonight. Yeah, there’s some questionable things. You could cry about it, but what good would it do?”

“At times I see us being young and at times I see those young guys being mature,” Wilson added. “That comes with the territory. They’re trying to do the best they can for the city, for the school district and I hope people can see that. These kids are 14-years-old playing varsity basketball. I hope that our fans keep riding with us and there will be better days ahead because these kids are battling out there. I’ll scrap with that team every time.”

Cape Henlopen trailed by 13 points with about three minutes remaining before Robertson knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to cut the deficit to single digits. With Dover out of timeouts, the Vikings relied on a ferocious full court press and forced four turnovers in a span of five possession in the final two minutes.

Cape finally pulled within a point on a layup by Harden with 20 seconds left. The Vikings quickly fouled and Dover converted one of two on the other end.

Dover countered with a fullcourt press and thought it had forced a turnover when the ball fell out of bounds. But it was ruled the Senators touched it last with three seconds left, which set up the inbounds pass to Rickards who was fouled on a three with nine-tenths left.

The rest was up to Robertson when the ball fell to him after Harden’s first attempt at a putback.

“Jerry tried to tip it in and it came off his hand perfectly right now me,” Robertson said. “We do that drill in practice all the time so at this point it’s just muscle memory. It fell to me and I knew there wasn’t much time, I had to catch it and put it up.”

Rickards paced the Vikings with 24 points and Robertson followed with 17.

“Dover is always a very good team,” Re said. “They’re never bad. We struggle with Dover sometimes because of our lack of ability to play physical. That was evident tonight. But we just kept fighting. In games like this, the guys that are the most willing to come in and play selfless have the best chance to win.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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