Dover girls excited for final game as Gold stars

Gold all-star players, left to right, DahNaija Barnes (St. Thomas More), Ashley Manifold (Dover) and Jacarra Jackson (Dover) warm up before practice at Wesley on Tuesday night. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — When the regular season ended, they knew there was a pretty good chance they weren’t going to make the state tournament.

Still, until the DIAA girls’ basketball tourney bracket was officially announced, Dover High’s players didn’t want to think they were definitely out.
“We were still keeping our hopes up,” said senior Ashley Manifold.

But the Senators (10-10) missed out on an at-large berth by the tournament’s point system. For Dover’s seniors, it was the first time in their careers they didn’t play in the state tourney.

Alexis Reid drives against Caesar Rodney teammate Brionna Brooks in Tuesday’s practice.

That’s why three of the Senators are glad they get to end their high school careers on the court in Saturday’s Blue-Gold All-Star Game. The girls’ contest tips off at 1 p.m. at the Carpenter Center with the boys’ game scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Dover’s Jacarra Jackson, Tajanae Henry-Coney and Manifold will all be suiting up for the Gold in the event, which benefits Best Buddy Delaware.

“I’ve always wanted to play in ‘The Bob,’” said Henry-Coney. “I just expected to do it with Dover. But I’ll take the opportunity.”

The Senators missed a tournament berth after losing to Cape Henlopen and then Padua in the last week of the season. Dover’s players were proud of the way they competed, especially in a 51-39 season-ending loss to the Pandas.

“The way we ended our last game was kind of nice,” said Jackson. “People thought we were going to get blown out because it’s Padua. It was neck and neck the whole game until toward the end.”

“We competed,” said Henry-Coney. “You just don’t win every game, that’s all. I wish we won. I’m proud of the way we finished the season but the record wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”

The seniors playing in the Blue-Gold game all have different futures waiting for them.

Tajanae Henry-Coney is one of three Dover High players on the girls’ Gold roster.

Henry-Coney hopes to keep playing basketball in college, perhaps at Franklin & Marshall. Jackson is headed to Kean to play field hockey but wants to try out for the basketball team there, too.

“We’ll see what happens,” said Jackson. “A lot of them do it so I don’t see why I can’t. I don’t want it (the Blue-Gold game) to be my last (basketball game).”

Manifold, on the other hand, knows Saturday’s contest will probably be her last competitive basketball game. She was an honorable mention all-Henlopen Conference selection this year

Manifold said not making the tourney was a very “abrupt” ending.

“This kind of eases us out,” said Manifold, who learned to play the sport in Holy Cross’ CYM program. “It’ll be fun and sentimental because I’ve been playing since first grade.”

CR has two in game: Caesar Rodney’s seniors, on the other hand, have played in the Carpenter Center before.

The Riders lost in the state quarterfinals in both 2017 and ‘16.

The disappointment for CR’s seniors this year is that they lost in the second round to Sanford. Alexis Reid and Brionna Brooks are representing the Riders in the Blue-Gold game.

Dover’s Jacarra Jackson puts up a shot as the Gold team got ready for Saturday’s game.

“It’s going to be nice (playing in the Carpenter Center), especially because we didn’t get there this year,” said Reid. “I think how this year ended is making me want to play more (in college) — just because it didn’t end how I wanted to.”

Reid and Brooks first met each other when Brooks moved from Texas before her freshman year. The two guards are happy that they get one more game together.

Brooks was a second-team all-Henlopen Northern Division pick this year with Reid making honorable mention.

“Since we made it (the quarterfinals) sophomore year and junior year, I feel like we definitely should have made it this year with us being seniors,” said Brooks. “Now this will be our last game in high school.”

Free throws

Saturday’s events include a ‘Future Stars’ middle school clinic at 11 a.m. at the Carpenter Center. There’s also a battle of the bands competition along with the finals of Dribble, Drive Shoot slated for 2:50 p.m. … The girls’ will have a three-point shooting contest at halftime of their game while the boys will have a dunk contest during their halftime.

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