CR girls top Dover 50-45 to complete season sweep

DOVER — Lillian Ayers stood in the Dover High hallway just outside of the Caesar Rodney locker room.

All of a sudden, the sound of excited cries echoed out of the locker room.

Tameka Williams

“You hear them? They’re screaming,” Ayers said. “Yeah, we’re excited.”

And for good reason too. The Rider girls’ basketball team celebrated a season sweep of their local rivals Friday night.

Jada McCullough scored a game-high 20 points, Ayers followed with 12 and Caesar Rodney was able to hang on for a 50-45 victory in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division contest. It was the seventh win in a row for the Riders (14-5).

Caesar Rodney lost both games to the Senators a year ago but returned the favor this season thanks to Friday night and a 58-55 victory on Jan. 7 in another matchup which came down to the final seconds.

“I cried, honestly I’m so happy,” Ayers said. “It’s been a long time since we beat Dover twice like this.”

Teri Bell scored the go-ahead basket for Caesar Rodney off a rebound to make it a 42-40 game with less than three minutes left. The Riders then stole the ball, which led directly to an Ayers layup on the other end.

Heaven Robinson scored a layup and a free throw to pull Dover within 44-43 in the final minute but Ayers answered with a long two-point jumper just inside the three-point line.

Alexia Jordan made a pair of clutch free throws for the Riders in the final 30 seconds before McCullough blocked a potential game-tying three-pointer by the Senators. Ayers sealed it for CR with two more free throws.

“Our percentage from the free throw line has not been the greatest down the stretch in a couple games,” said CR coach Tameka Williams. “But they worked at it all week and shot a lot of free throws in practice. I’m so proud of them.

“I think our kids were just determined not to lose. They have talked about this all week, they’ve been focused in practice, they just really wanted it.”

Not much separated the two teams all night.

The five-point lead at the end of the game by Caesar Rodney was the largest either team held in the contest.

Dover led early in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer by Ally Manifold. McCullough responded with a three-pointer of her own to put CR on top 40-38 with 4:11 left but another bucket by Manifold tied things 40-40 before Bell’s go-head putback.

“We battled hard like we always do,” McCullough said. “No matter what, we always pull through at the end. We don’t get down on ourselves. If they score, we hurry up and get it back. We’re always looking for the next play.”

Robinson led Dover (12-7) with 15 points. Manifold added 11 points, including three three-pointers.

Since a 1-3 start, Caesar Rodney has gone 13-2 in its last 15 games. The Riders end their regular season against Delaware Military Academy on Wednesday at home (5:30 p.m.).

“We had a rough start but we gained momentum,” Ayers said. “This one is big for us because you know it’s the rivalry. It’s huge. Last year we didn’t have a winning record so to have a winning record and beat Dover twice, it’s crazy.”