Dover turns game around in 49-39 victory over Wilmington Friends

 

Dover’s Jordan Magee shoots against Wilmington Friends defenders in the first half at Dover on Tuesday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — With the Dover High boys’ basketball team down at halftime, coach Stephen Wilson asked the Senators a simple question.

Did they want this game to be their last one of the year?

Dover responded as Eden Davis scored 21 points and Elijah Allen followed with 14 in a 49-39 victory over Wilmington Friends in the first round of the DIAA state tournament on Tuesday night. The No. 15-seeded Senators will travel to second seed Salesianum on Thursday.

“Coach motivated us by asking if we’re ready to go home or not,” Allen said. “I’m not ready to go home yet.”

Allen scored all 14 of his points in the second half.

He gave Dover its first lead of the second half when he scored Dover’s first eight points of the third quarter. He drained back-to-back threes to cap off an 8-1 run to begin the third as Dover went up 27-25.

The two teams traded the lead back and forth until Davis made a driving layup as time expired in the third for a 35-33 advantage. Dover’s defense then held Wilmington Friends to just six points in fourth quarter.

“The beginning was nerves and then after that we came back to the locker room and talked together,” Davis said. “We knew we could beat this team by playing together and working on the defensive end which would turn into our offense.”

Wilmington Friends didn’t score a field goal in the fourth quarter until there was 1:19 left in the contest. Dover opened the quarter on a 13-2 run.

Wilson said he challenged his team at halftime to pick it up on the defensive end of the floor.

“I didn’t even yell at them, I just said if we don’t play better defense we’re going to be going home,” Wilson said. “They worked so hard to get here, only a few people believe in what they’re doing right now and they decided they were going to play better defense and we got out of there with the win. It’s one game, we’re not trying to win just one game because we’re trying to prove something for our community.”

Allen missed all seven shots he took in the first half including four three-point attempts. He turned things around in the second by making four three pointers.

Davis meanwhile made four three-pointer of his own in the first half to keep the Senators in it who trailed 11-3 early in the first quarter and 24-19 at halftime.

Davis ended the game with by going seven-of-eight from the free throw line in the final two minutes. Javon Peace added eight points for Dover.

“We got the ball into the hands of the people that needed it,” Wilson said. “We figured they were going to try to take Eden away in the second half. That feeds into our hands because we have other guys who can score too. You need to play him full-court if you want to take him away because he’ll run that point and make his teammates better.”

Davis, Allen and Peace are all sophomores who are playing in their first state tournament.

“The first half we had a little bit of nerves because this is everybody’s first time,” Allen said. “We talked at halftime and we got it together because we know we’re a tournament team.”

Dover went 9-11 in the regular season but seven of those losses came to teams who had a first round bye in the state tournament and 10 were to tournament teams. Davis said the tough schedule helped prepare this group for the pressure of a tournament game.

“We know what we’re going up against,” Davis said. “We know what we need to do to win.”

 

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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