Dover ousts Seaford 63-47, returns to boys quarterfinals

Dover’s Jy’Heim Spencer prepares to slam dunk the ball against Seaford in the first quarter at Dover on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Until two years ago, most of these guys were Jy’Heim Spencer’s teammates.

So the Dover High center was excited to see Seaford make it to the second round of the DIAA boys’ basketball state tournament.

But, considering that the Blue Jays were lined up across from the Senators on Thursday night, Spencer had to put those friendships aside for a couple hours.

“Off the court, they’re my bros,” said Spencer. “But, on the court, I did what I had to do.”

On the court, third-seeded Dover ended No. 19 Seaford’s best season in several years with a workmanlike 63-47 victory over the Blue Jays in the state tourney’s second round.

The win sends the Henlopen Conference champion Senators (20-2) back to the state quarterfinals where they will host No. 6 Salesianum (13-8) on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Dover’s Elijah Allen shoots against Seaford’s Booker DeShields in the second quarter at Dover on Thursday.

Dover never led Seaford (16-6) by more than 16 points and the Jays trailed just 47-38 going into the fourth quarter.

The Senators, however, out-scored Seaford, 16-9, in the final period to put the game out of reach. Elijah Allen lobbed a couple alley-oop passes to Spencer for dunks that helped close out the contest.

“We just needed to pick it up and execute better,” said Spencer. “As seniors, we did what we had to do. We didn’t play as hard as we were supposed to.”

“Coach doesn’t like us looking at the scoreboard,” said senior guard Wanya Wise. “But when we looked at the scoreboard going into the fourth quarter, it was a close game. We knew we couldn’t let them be close.”

“Right now, it’s not about style points,” said coach Stephen Wilson. “Right now, it’s about ‘W’s.’ It wasn’t one of our better third quarters but I challenged them.”.

The Senators spread their scoring around with Wise and Allen netting 16 points apiece, Spencer scoring 14 and Eden Davis adding nine.
With Allen going scoreless in the first quarter, Wise picked up the pace, tallying nine points in the first eight minutes. Dover shook off an early four-point deficit to take the lead for good at 12-10.

The Senators were up 39-23 at halftime.

Wise knows it’s his job to give Dover a spark.

he Senators’ Wanna Wise gets the ball knocked loose from Seaford defenders in the second quarter.

“I’m like the energy guy,” he said with a smile. “I just love running. When someone is taking Elijah away, I feel like that’s a green light for me to go.

“Then, as soon as I start doing something, that’s when they start keying off of him. That’s how we break out to the lead.”

It was a tough finish for the Blue Jays, whose upset of No. 14 Hodgson on Tuesday was believed to be the program’s first state tournament win since 1999.

Seaford’s roster features just three seniors with the remaining 10 players all sophomores or freshmen. Sophomore Tyrese Fortune scored a game-high 19 points on Thursday with freshman Makel Hubbard adding 12.

“Dover’s a tough team,” said Blue Jays’ coach Vince Evans. “They’ve got two 25-point scorers, three All-State caliber players. … they’re probably going to be one of the last two or three teams standing for sure.

“I think, against one of the better teams in the state, they saw that they could really compete,” he said about his players. “Hopefully, we can build off that going into next year.”

For the Senators, there’s a feeling of coming full circle with Sallies waiting for them on Saturday. Dover lost to the Sals, 34-30, in the tourney’s second round in 2018.

The Senators know they’re going to have to be at their best for Saturday’s rematch.

“We learned from the mistakes when we played them,” said Wise. “We know it’s going to be a competition. We both want to win and only one of us is going to go (to the semifinals).”

“Yeah, I think that they remember that game,” Wilson said about his players. “But it’s a different team now. I think that they’ll be ready to play.”