CR’s Eaton gets two buzzer-beaters in win over Sals

CR’s Zayquan Eaton push’s Sallies Max Ferrante as Caesar Rodney played Salesianum in the opening game of the Slam Dunk to the Beach being held at Cape Henlopen HS in Lewes. (Special to the Delaware State News / Chuck Snyder)

LEWES — Zayquan Eaton had already made one buzzer-beater, so there was no doubt in the Caesar Rodney High’s senior mind he was going to hit another.

Eaton forced overtime then hit the game-winning shot as time expired to lift Caesar Rodney to a 64-63 overtime victory over Salesianum School on Thursday afternoon at the Slam Dunk to the Beach boys’ basketball tournament hosted by Cape Henlopen High.

Salesianum had just a go-ahead three with 10 seconds left in overtime to go up by one point. That’s when the ball was inbounded to Eaton.

“I saw the clock and it said 9.8 seconds,” Eaton said. “I said, ‘I’m taking this last shot.’ I knew I was going to make it.”

Eaton slowly dribbled the ball up the court before he sped up to drive to the basket. But pulled up near the foul line and drilled a jumper as the buzzer sounded.

“First I was going to drive but the defender was cutting me off,” Eaton said. “I just shot it. We do situations like that in practice so it was calm.”

The main reason the Riders (6-1) were in overtime was because of Eaton.

CR trailed by three points late in regulation.

Shaft Clark goes for a basket over Sallies’ Darnell Vaughan as Caesar Rodney played Salesianum in the opening game of the Slam Dunk to the Beach being held at Cape Henlopen HS in Lewes.
(Special to the Delaware State News / Chuck Snyder)

Eaton hit a layup to make it a 57-56 game with eight seconds to go. The Riders fouled Salesianum to send the Sals to the line where they hit the first but missed the second.

With no timeout the Riders quickly pushed the ball up the floor where Eaton found himself open at the top of the key. He went straight to the basket and finished a layup over a defender right before the horn.

“I saw my teammate get the rebound and I saw the open floor,” Eaton said. “I looked down, called for it and I saw the open lane so I drove.”

Eaton said the only time he made a buzzer-beater before Thursday was in a contest with Fifer Middle School which was to send the game to overtime.

What impressed CR coach Freeman Williams the most was CR was able to make both shots without any timeouts left.

“It was them trusting what they needed to do,” Williams said. “In both situations we were able to get the shot to go down.”

Eaton was having a standout game even before his first buzzer-beater.

He was the Riders’ second-leading scorer on the day with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He was also CR’s top rebounding with six rebounds.

“He’s just been working and I’m so proud of him.” Williams said. “He’s such a great kid. We love when seniors are seniors and he’s playing like a senior. He plays hard on the defensive end and he’s in charge of guarding the leading scorer or the second-leading scorer. Offensively, he just made some tremendous plays for us.”

Senior Shaft Clark was the game’s leading scorer. He went 10-of-13 from the field and netted 22 points. Jaden Corbett also scored in double figures for the Riders with 13 points.

Kamal Marvel moves the ball past Sallies’ Rasheen Caulk as Caesar Rodney played Salesianum in the opening game of the Slam Dunk to the Beach being held at Cape Henlopen HS in Lewes.
(Special to the Delaware State News / Chuck Snyder)

Caesar Rodney has now won five games in a row since it lost to Dover by 20 points at home in the second game of the season.

“We’re swinging the ball more and we’ve been playing better defense,” Clark said. “We work hard. We’ve been improving ourselves throughout the season. That game proves that we’ve been working.”

The Riders have one more game left at Slam Dunk to the Beach — the annual holiday tournament which includes some of the most premier teams in the country. They face Hudson Catholic of New Jersey today at 3 p.m. at Cape Henlopen.

There isn’t much time to celebrate Thursday’s victory but Williams did marvel at the fact he’s never been involved in a game with two buzzer-beaters.

“That’s probably the first one but the thing that’s exciting is the kids stayed steady and made some big plays down the stretch,” he said. “I’m really excited for them and proud of them for making their shots.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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