Dover boys down Laurel to win Henlopen title

DOVER — Dover High had already won 42 boys’ basketball games in the last two seasons.

But the Senators also know that titles are what people remember most.

Dover went out and took care of business on Friday night, dispatching Laurel, 83-55, to win its second straight Henlopen Conference championship before an overflow crowd packed into its spacious gym.

By winning its second straight Henlopen crown, the Northern champion Senators (19-2) join Dover’s great teams of 1977-78 as the program’s only two squads to capture back-to-back Henelopen titles.

“They wanted to solidify themselves as something very special,” Dover coach Stephen Wilson said after his players posed for several group photos with their trophy. “That was a big deal.”

The Southern Division champion Bulldogs (19-2) came in as unknown ans riding a 16-game winning streak. This was only the program’s second appearance in the championship game and first since 2003.

Dover, though, didn’t let Laurel’s upset dreams last very long.

The Bulldogs never led and were tied only once — at 2-2. The Senators doubled up Laurel in the first quarter, leading 20-10 when Eden Davis’ jumper fell at the buzzer.

Dover then really put Laurel away in the second quarter, out-scoring the Bulldogs, 31-9, over the next eight minutes to open up a gaping 51-19 advantage by halftime.

“Everybody was talking back and forth on social media (during the week),” said senior Eden Davis, who finished with 20 points. “It’s the hype.

“We didn’t want to come out here and be nervous. We just came out here to play hard. It’s a huge win. Every team wants to beat us, so it’s good to come out of here with a win.”

Besides Davis, Elijah Allen netted 22 points to lead the Senators.

Freshman Dontarius Jones tallied a game-high 24 points for Laurel as both squads substituted freely in the second half. The Senators still were up 66-39 going into the third quarter.

The Bulldogs’ last loss was against to Woodbridge on Dec. 12.

Both teams earned first-round byes as one of the top-eight seeds in the DIAA state tournament bracket that was determined earlier in the day on Friday. Both squads will host second-round contests on Thursday.

Dover is seeded third and will face the winner of the opening-round game between No. 14 Seaford and No. 19. Laurel is seeded fourth and will host either Caesar Rodney or Newark Charter.

A year after reaching the state championship game, the Senators head into the state tournament with high hopes. Dover’s players hope Friday’s performance was just the sign of more good things to come.

“When we play defense, I feel like we’re the best team out there,” said Davis. “We’re ready. We come in every day, work hard, listen to our coaches and get after it every day.”

“This is one of our goals,” said Wilson. “Our goals are to win the division, the conference and the state championship. But right now, to solidify things at home and make us the best team down here is very important to us.”