CR boys pull away from Polytech to win third straight 68-38

Delaware State News photos/Marc Clery

CAMDEN — Momentum can be a difficult thing to latch onto sometimes.

Through its first six games, the Caesar Rodney High boys’ basketball team followed each of its three victories with a loss.

Finally, though, the Riders may be starting to get somewhere.

After pulling away to a decisive 68-38 Henlopen North victory over Polytech on Thursday night, CR now owns a three-game winning streak.

At 6-3 overall (4-2 North), the Riders are already just two victories shy of last year’s victory total when they finished 8-13.

While coach Freeman Williams has no interest in looking any further down the road than the next game, he does like the way his squad is playing right now.

“We talked about trying to get some momentum going,” said Williams. “Every day we say we just want to be 1-0 every day — whether it’s a game or practice. Every opportunity is an opportunity for us to get better.

“What we talked about today is, ‘We’re proud of your effort tonight. Way to listen, way to play hard on the defensive end, way to share the basketball. But now we have to make sure that we get ready for tomorrow.’”

The Panthers (2-4, 4-4) were still very much in the game when senior Jaeden Dungee buried a three-pointer to pull Polytech within 39-31 with 7:38 still remaining.

But then CR turned up its defense and never looked back. Fueled by a number of easy fastbreak baskets, the Riders finished the contest on an overwhelming 29-7 run.

In one stretch, sophomore Shaft Clark netted 10 straight points for CR, including a pair of dunks. The 6-foot-6 sophomore finished with a season-high 22 points and 14 rebounds.

“We played really good team defense,” said Clark, whose previous season-high was 13 points. “We stayed on the boards. We were unselfish, we were swinging the ball. We were working as a team.

“We all came together. When you execute, good things happen.”

“We’ve been talking to all of them about what their roles are and being ready for your opportunity,” said Williams. “He (Clark) took advantage of his opportunity tonight.”

Polytech was playing just its second game since Dec. 17. The Panthers took an early 5-4 lead on a three-point play by Dungee with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter.

After trailing 25-17 at halftime, Polytech used a 12-6 run at the end of third quarter to get back within eight. The Panthers, though, never got any closer.

Polytech was led by senior Carter Chasanov with 11 points. The Panthers went just 6-for-15 from the foul line.

Besides Clark, Nhaighere Wills (11 points) and Kairi Buie (10) also scored in double figures. Eight different players scored for the Riders, who sank 15-of-26 free throws.

The Riders have some big games coming up next week. They go to rival Dover on Tuesday night before hosting Henlopen South leader Woodbridge on Jan. 20.

Williams knows CR still has a long way to go before it can say it’s proven anything.

“We’ve been working on our chemistry,” he said. “We’ve been working on getting to a style that we want to play. … We have to learn from our mistakes and learn from our successes that we have, too.”

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