Cape Henlopen boys nip Sussex Central 52-50 for first home win

LEWES — Kay’Von Allen led the Cape Henlopen High boys’ basketball team to its first home win of the season with a 52-50 victory over Sussex Central High Friday night.

The freshman guard scored a team-high 14 points, draining four jumpers from three-point range to snap the Vikings’ three-game losing streak and improve to 4-4 overall.

“It feels great. The student section was great tonight, I felt really positive energy from the gym and that’s a real big deal for us,” said Cape coach Stephen Re.

The two teams combined for 17 three-pointers in the Henlopen North showdown, with Cape responsible for 10 of them.

“I just tried to get to my spot and let it go,” Allen said. “Usually I don’t really shoot that much. We’re really small so we just try to get that three-pointer popping.”

Central’s Jahlier Pettyjohn hit six threes on his way to a game-high 22 points.

Cape faced a bit of adversity coming back from winter break, losing a pair of veteran players and forcing some of the underclassmen to step in and contribute for the Vikings.

“In reality, we’ve endured a lot of controversy this week, and a lot of adversity in general,” Re said.

“Dealing with all of the adversity we’ve had to deal with throughout the week, we played really well in the fourth quarter, we did some really good things and we showed some character fighting through some adversity in the fourth after making some mistakes. I was super proud of them, just the way we’ve handled this week.”

In addition to the freshman Allen’s scoring night, sophomore Ethan Pires scored 12 points and sophomore Ja’Vaughn Burton scored nine points on a trio of three-pointers.

“We’ve had some really good practices lately, and I tell them all the time using inexperience only lasts until Christmas,” said Re. “Once Christmas is here, the new year is here, you have to play – you’re a varsity basketball player. So, we’re learning certain things and some of them are learning it on the fly – and that’s OK, as long as we keep putting forth the effort, I’ll take it.”

After a 2-0 start with road conference wins over Smyrna High and Polytech High, the Vikings dropped four of their next five games, including a pair of losses at the annual Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament on its home court over the holiday break.

The two teams struggled offensively in the opening quarter Friday night, putting up just six points each in the first eight minutes of the game.

Just 19 seconds into the second quarter, Allen set off a barrage of three-pointers with his first three-ball of the game. Pettyjohn then hit back-to-back three balls for the Golden Knights, giving Central its first lead of the game since the 5:40 mark of the first quarter.

The Golden Knights (2-7) went into the break with a 21-19 advantage, but Cape stole the momentum back early in the third quarter.

The Vikings went on a 10-0 run to begin the second half behind a pair of Allen threes and four free throws from Pires and junior Joseph Kirby.

Trailing 29-21, Central used an 11-0 run of its own to regain a 32-29 lead at the 2:15 mark of the quarter and went into the final quarter with a 35-34 lead.

A three-point play from Kirby at the 6:28 mark of the quarter knotted the game up 37-37, and from there the Vikings used a 15-5 run to build a 10-point lead with 2:36 to play.

Down the stretch, Cape lost a bit of focus as Central went on an 8-0 in the final 2:25 to nearly pull off the late comeback.

Central’s junior guard Amir Mollock, who finished as the team’s second-leading scorer with nine points, hit a lay-up with two seconds remaining to pull to within two, but the Golden Knights couldn’t commit an intentional foul quick enough as Cape escaped with the win.

“The No. 2 key tonight was focus, that was the second thing I wrote on the board tonight in terms of our game plan, and we lost focus,” said Re. “We just didn’t play every possession with meaning, and we got a little careless and we just lost focus there for a minute instead of finishing it out the right way.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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