Cape girls cruise to 55-17 2nd round win over St. Georges Tech

Cape’s junior guard Dania Cannon makes her way down the court on a fast break during Friday night’s state tournament with over St. Georges Tech. (Delaware State News/Ben Heck)

LEWES — Defense has been a point of emphasis for Cape Henlopen High girls’ basketball coach Pat Woods this season.

But even he appeared a bit surprised when his eighth-seeded Cape squad held the ninth-seeded St. Georges Tech High offense to under 20 points in Friday night’s 55-17 victory in the second round of the DIAA state tournament.

“It’s amazing,” Woods explained. “We just keep on looking at each other like, ‘holy cow, guys, this is some really good defense.’ And that’s kind of what we always tell them, if we can lock up defensively then the offense will come.”

It marks the third time this season that the Vikings have held its opponent to under 20 points. They’ve allowed just 35.4 points per game in 22 games this year.

“It was big, we knew that if we lock down on defense it would give our offense energy and it would help us,” said junior point guard Dania Cannon.

The second-round win, coming off the Henlopen Conference title win and a first-round bye, sets up Cape (19-3) with a showdown against top-seeded St. Elizabeth in Monday night’s quarterfinal round at Dover High. The time for Monday’s game is yet to be determined.

Forward Abbey Hearn and guard Mehkia Applewhite each scored a game-high 12 points for the Vikings. Cannon finished with seven points.

A total of six different girls scored points for the Vikings, including nine each from senior Niya Mosley and freshman Morgan Mahoney. Junior Carlin Quinn added six off the bench.

“We just wanted to lock down on defense, especially lock down their big [Aniyah Williams] and their guard [Amber Washington], make sure we didn’t let them penetrate because they don’t have too many shooters,” said Hearn. “Other than that, we wanted to pack the lane and handle our defense and the offense would come.”

Williams and Washington combined for just 10 points for the Hawks (17-5), with Washington scoring a team-high eight.

Freshman Mehkia Applewhite drives to the basket in the second half of Friday night’s 55-17 second round win. Applewhite finished with 12 points for the Vikings. (Delaware State News/Ben Heck)

Hearn, Applewhite and Cannon were each playing in their first ever state tournament game.

Hearn is a junior who transferred from Sussex Academy last season and Applewhite is finishing up her freshman campaign.

“I was really nervous warming up and stuff,” Hearn said. “Usually I’m not that nervous before a game, so I could feel the importance of it, but once the ball goes up and I start playing I was fine. Just having a first-round bye, a home game and our student section was great, so it was really fun.”

“It’s been wild, I’ve been waiting all day for it and it seemed like it’d never get here,” Applewhite said of her tourney debut. “This crowd, it’s been getting bigger and bigger by the game, so it’s exciting.”

Cannon was injured during her freshman year when Cape played in two state tournament games during the 2016-17 campaign.

“It was my first tournament game too,” she explained. “I tore my ACL my freshman year, so I missed both of our state tournament games. It was fun tonight.”

It took a few minutes for Cape to get its offense going, but once Cannon hit a three-pointer at the 4:45 mark of the first quarter the points started pouring in for the Vikings.

Cannon’s long ball jump-started an 11-2 run over the next 2:17 of the quarter. Applewhite scored five of those points, with Cannon and senior Niya Mosley each hitting threes during that span.

Hearn hit a three-pointer of her own at the first quarter buzzer to put Cape ahead 16-7 through the game’s first eight minutes.

St. Georges’ seven-point first quarter marks the Hawks’ highest-scoring quarter of the night.

Though Hearn claimed the Vikings struggled with rebounding in the second quarter, the Hawks scored just four points and went into the halftime break trailing Cape 30-11.

Cape allowed just six total points in the second half, all of which were scored in the third quarter, and a running clock was instituted with five minutes remaining in the game as the Vikings rolled to a 38-point win.

“It feels pretty good,” Applewhite said. “We had a lot of ball stops on defense, so it was great.”

As a team, the Vikings finished 16-of-18 from the free throw line.

“It just keeps getting better,” Woods said of his team’s chemistry. “It’s so enjoyable to coach them. The more they’re relaxed, enjoying it and having fun, the more I’m having fun and the better it all is.”

The Vikings faced St. Elizabeth, the team’s quarterfinal opponent, Jan. 26 and lost by just nine points, 59-50.

This time around, the Vikings are hoping for a different outcome.

“We’ve wanted a rematch with St. E’s, so when we saw they were in our bracket we were really excited,” said Hearn. “We played them to a close game last time, so I think we can go in there confident and knock them off.”

“It’s kind of nice that we just played in Dover for the conference championship,” Woods said. “We’re really happy about the way we’re playing right now, so let’s just go get it. It’s a great opportunity.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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