Cape Henlopen girls gain revenge, top Sussex Central 52-29

Cape Henlopen’s Dania Cannon, who scored a game-high 21 points, shoots the ball as Central’s Raeonna Stratton defends. Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder

LEWES — After winning 10 games all last season, the Cape Henlopen High girls’ basketball team matched that total Friday night and took command of the Henlopen North with a decisive 52-29 victory over visiting Sussex Central High.

The Henlopen North win avenged Cape’s hard-fought 43-40 loss to the Golden Knights in Georgetown on Dec. 4.

Junior guard Dania Cannon scored a game-high 21 points for Cape, including a trio of three-pointers. Freshman guard Mehkia Applewhite knocked down four three-pointers to record 12 points.

“It’s great, I’m just so happy for them, I know they wanted it,” said first-year Cape coach Pat Woods. “The thing about this crew is they’re not afraid of anybody. We talk about expectations, we talk about big games and they’re not afraid of them. They want it.”

The Vikings (10-1 overall, 7-1 Henlopen North) have won nine straight since that Central loss and find themselves at the top of the Henlopen North standings.

Cape Henlopen’s Mehkia Applewhite drives to the hoop past Central’s Brenya Reid.

“We had a team dinner yesterday and we talked about how to bounce back,” Woods said.

“There are going to be games where you’re going to lose, and the key is you have to learn from it. We learned how to close out games — we ended up taking the lead with a minute left and then blew it the first time we played them — we learned how to take care of the ball, we learned how to execute on offense better.”

The loss dropped the Golden Knights to 9-4 overall and 6-2 in the Henlopen North.

Cape’s defense limited senior Raeonna Stratton, Central’s top scorer, to 10 points — her third-lowest scoring performance of the season.

Early foul trouble for Cannon, and a few other Cape players, hurt the Vikings in the early December loss. That wasn’t the case this time around.

Cannon played the whole game without committing a foul, and only one player had three or more fouls for the Vikings.

Cape Henlopen’s Abbey Hearn shoots the ball as Central’s Andriah Snipes defends.

“She got into foul trouble and she played four minutes of the first half,” Woods said. “We had a bunch of girls in foul trouble that game, so the big thing here was keep your hands off and slide your feet. They can play great defense.”

“That’s what happened the first time, and we ended up losing, so we just knew that was the key,” Cannon said. “If we were in and playing, we knew we were going to be straight.”

The first quarter featured just 12 combined points, four lead changes and plenty of missed open shots and turnovers on both ends of the court.

Cape took a 7-5 lead to end the quarter on an Applewhite three-pointer with five seconds remaining.

The Vikings used that shift in momentum to sink a pair of quick layups from senior guard Alexis Watkins and Cannon 32 seconds into the second quarter.

Cape quickly built a 14-6 lead to force a Central timeout with 6:40 remaining in the half.

The Vikings out-scored the Golden Knights 17-7 in the quarter to head into the halftime break with a 24-12 lead.

Cannon’s strongest performance came in the third quarter, scoring nine of her 21 points to help the Vikings out-score Central 17-9.
“She’s terrific and she’s been this way all season,” Woods said. “She’s a great leader. I can’t say enough about her, she’s fantastic.”

Cape’s Lexi Watkins goes for a basket past Central’s Brenya Reid.

Cape shot 10-of-30 from the floor in the second half, including 6-of-13 in the third quarter alone.

Cape held Central to just 7-of-25 from the floor in the third and fourth quarters and limited the Golden Knights to 17 second-half points.

Junior forward Abbey Hearn finished with eight points for Cape, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Watkins finished with seven points.

Getting to the top of the Henlopen North standings is one thing, but staying there is a completely different challenge for the Vikings.

“We’re fully aware of the other games we’ve won,” said Woods. “We barely beat Dover, that was a comeback. We barely beat Poly, that was a comeback.

“I don’t think we’re a team that plays down, so the key is continuing to strive to get better. That’s not always easy — especially with high school kids — but that will be the next challenge.”

“We just have to keep playing hard, stay together, don’t let our heads get too big and take it one game at a time,” Cannon said.

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