CR’s boys tourney run ends with 58-41 quarterfinal loss

Caesar Rodney’s Shaft Clark shoots a layup against St. Georges in the third quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Trailing by 13 points at the halftime break, the Caesar Rodney boys’ basketball team came out with plenty of energy and passion in the second half Saturday afternoon.

The fourth-seeded Riders brought the score to within six points with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter, but eventually fifth-seeded St. Georges Tech High squad pulled away with the 58-41 win in the DIAA state tournament quarterfinal round.

“I’m proud,” said CR coach Freeman Williams. “I’m proud of the way we competed and cut the lead to six, getting to the three-point line and attacking the basket and swinging the momentum. I just wish we had more time.”

Senior forward Shaft Clark led the Riders (16-6) in scoring, putting up 13 points while senior Jaden Corbett added 11 points. Senior guard Zayquan Eaton scored seven points.

The win for the Hawks (17-6) sets them up in Thursday’s semifinals against top-seeded Sanford.

Caesar Rodney’s Shaft Clark puts pressure on St. Georges’ Michael McCants in the first quarter.

“The thing about us, we have a lot of high-character kids, and that’s what I told them,” Williams said. “I’m really proud of how they represented the program this year, I’m really proud of how we competed over the course of the season. Obviously it didn’t end how we wanted, but I’m certainly proud of our guys.”

It capped CR’s longest tournament run since the program lost in the state title game to William Penn High during the 2008-09 season.
“Everyone wants to end their season with winning the state championship, so our guys are hurting, but we’re definitely proud of this group,” said Williams.

The 41 points marked CR’s lowest point total all season.

Through the first eight minutes, the Riders were able to keep the Hawks’ Nashon “Bones” Hyland — St. Georges’ top player — scoreless, but still trailed 18-10 at the end of the opening quarter.

“We trapped him and really tried to keep the ball out of his hands and, I think No. 11 [Tyrese Owens] made two open threes to open the first quarter,” Williams explained. “But yeah, we certainly wanted to control him (Hyland).

Caesar Rodney’s William Burke battles for a rebound against St. Georges’ Tyrese Owens in the first quarter.

“I thought as the game went on there were some times where he was able to kind of get free and kind of get going a little bit, but that’s what we did in the first quarter.”

Hyland put up the second quarter’s first 11 points, hitting a trio of three pointers and a pair of free throws through the period’s first 4:20.

Riders junior guard Kamal Marvel finally broke up the 11-0 run with layup at the 3:20 mark of the quarter. From there, the Riders ended the first half on a 10-4 run to bring the score to within 33-20 at the halftime break.

“We talked about executing our game plan, we talked about the importance of putting stops together,” Williams said of CR’s talk at halftime.

The Riders’ Jaden Corbert gets his shot blocked by St. Georges’ Ahmad Taylor in the third quarter.

Caesar Rodney came out in the second half with more energy and made fewer mental mistakes early into the third quarter, putting together a 12-5 run and forcing an early Hawks’ timeout through the first 4:39 of the third quarter.

Senior guard Zayquan Eaton’s three-pointer at the 3:21 mark of the third put the finishing touches on the 12-5 run and brought the Riders to within 38-32.

The Hawks put the final six points on the board in the third quarter and built onto the team’s 12-point lead in the fourth quarter, ending CR’s best shot at completing the double-digit comeback.

St. Georges finished the win by out-scoring the Riders, 14-9, in the final eight minutes to clinch the spot in the semifinals.

Senior guard Nah’Shon Hyland led the Hawks in scoring with 22 points.

“We have six seniors, and what I told them is that we had a good season,” said Williams. “Though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, they represented the program well, they represented their families well.

“They’re classy student-athletes and we couldn’t be more proud of the athletes we had on the basketball roster this year.”

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