Cape girls answer big challenge

Pat Woods admits he might have been a little nervous.

But he wasn’t too worried about whether his Cape Henlopen High girls’ basketball players were ready to take on mighty Conrad last Friday night.

The Vikings’ coach said his players were ready to play the game when they got to school in the morning.

“As a player, I would get really nervous,” said Woods, the former Wesley College standout. “But these girls, they love it. They just love the moment.

“I think they feel like they can play with anybody. And they wanted to prove that they can play with anybody. That was a big part of it.”

The results speak for themselves, as Cape knocked off the highly-regarded Red Wolves, 58-53, before a big crowd in their home gym.

For a program that’s 32-7 since the beginning of last season, it may have been the biggest victory the Vikings have had in a while.

Conrad (12-4), which won the DIAA state title two seasons ago before falling in the semifinals last winter, has now lost just three games to in-state schools over the last three years.

On Friday, Cape answered the challenge, going up 40-30 after three quarters before notching the hard-earned win.

“I just told them to stay together,” said Woods. “Sometimes, when people face adversity, the tendency is to kind of rely on yourself. I said, ‘Just stay together, don’t go one on five. Keep doing what we do.’

“I said, we’ve got to do this for 32 minutes, so just be relentless and let it fly. Don’t hesitate, don’t have any regrets.”

Abigail Hearn had 19 points while Dania Cannon collected 18 points and eight assists to pace Cape’s offense. Carlin Quinn pulled down 18 rebounds.

Woods said it was rewarding to have a big crowd on hand to see Cape’s performance, too.

“It was a great night, we had a great crowd,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”

With a 13-3 record and a 10-game winning streak, the Vikings have a lot of momentum right now. All three of their losses have been to out-of-state competition.

Perhaps Cape’s biggest challenge right now, though, is it’s schedule.

Because of the way the DIAA state tournament is scheduled this year, most teams have a relatively-long layoff after the end of the regular season.

The Vikings host Dover (11-4) today in a Henlopen North matchup at 6:15 p.m. Cape then just has three more contests — plus, presumably the Henlopen Conference championship game — before it begins the state tourney on March 6.

The Vikings’ last scheduled game is on Feb. 13.

Woods knows he’ll have to find ways to keep his players focused.

“The biggest opposition we have to face is two weeks off,” he said. “I mean they work hard in practice. They understand what it is.”

Free throws

• Dover’s boys (14-1) host Woodbridge (12-3) on Friday at 6 p.m. on Friday in what could be a preview of this year’s Henlopen Conference championship game. The two programs haven’t met since Jan. 19, 2015 when the Blue Raiders edged the Senators, 65-64.

• Laurel’s boys’ squad continues to be one of the biggest turnaround stories in the Henlopen Conference this season. The Bulldogs are 14-2 after finishing just 6-14 a year ago.

Laurel takes a 12-game winning streak into today’s 5:30 p.m. Henlopen South matchup at Seaford. The Bulldogs downed the Blue Jays, 74-54, on Jan. 9.

• Sussex Tech’s boys have made a pretty good turnaround just this season. After a 2-3 start, the Ravens have won seven of their last nine games.

They’re 9-5 with a 7 p.m. Henlopen North contest at Polytech on tap today.

• At 11-4, Dover’s girls have their most victories since the 2014-15 season. The Senators, who have won four of their last five contests, had won exactly 10 games three times since ‘15.