Dover wins Henlopen Conference boys basketball crown: Unbeaten Senators top Lake Forest 75-56

Dover’s Eden Davis drives to the hoop as Lake Forest’s Jene Sample defends in the first quarter of Friday night’s Henlopen Conference boys basketball championship game at Dover. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Dover High has plenty of room on the walls of its spacious gym for more championship banners.

And the Senators boys’ players were more than happy to add another number to the wall on Friday night.

Taking control from the start, unbeaten Dover downed Lake Forest, 75-56, in the Henlopen Conference championship game played before a sellout crowd of 2,000 in the Senators’ home gym.

Junior guard Elijah Allen netted 31 points as the Henlopen North champion Senators improved to 21-0.

“I asked these guys, what did they want to be remembered for?” Dover coach Stephen Wilson said as his players celebrated with family and friends on the court. “They’re starting to build a legacy for themselves a little bit.

Dover’s Eric White shoots against Lake Forest in the second quarter.

“We’ve got a lot of things to do. But I’m so happy for these seniors to be able to win something like this. They’ll be able to relish this and be part of history.”

“It feels amazing,” said Allen. “We’ve just got to keep pushing to get to where we want to get.”

Against the South champion Spartans (15-6), who were playing in the Henlopen title game for the first time since 2002, the Senators used their defense to spark a 6-0 run to start the contest. Allen had a pair of steals and layups as Lake Forest turned the ball over on each of its first five possessions.

Dover forced 21 turnovers in the contest.

“It was a great start,” said Allen. “Defense is what gets us going. Ever since last March, he (Wilson) has been preaching to us, defense is what’s going to get us to where we’ve got to go.”

The Senators were up 20-7 at the end of the first quarter and 37-18 at halftime after senior Keith Bessicks hit a three-pointer with 11 seconds left before intermission.

The Spartans, who were playing Dover for the first time this season, never got the Senators’ lead under 14 points in the second half.
“I feel like they didn’t miss a shot all night,” said Lake Forest coach Mike Starkey. “They were better than advertised. I knew coming in at 20-0 that they were well-coached and had earned it. But I was impressed. They didn’t give us too many chances to get stops.”

Besides Allen, Eden Davis added 13 points for Dover while senior Eric White had 10.

Jaysem Vazquez tallied 19 points to lead Lake Forest.

Dover’s Keith Bessicks dribbles past Lake Forest’s Nakiem Scott in the first quarter of the Henlopen Conference championship game Friday night.

Ironically, the two teams might quickly meet again in the second round of the DIAA state tournament. Seeded second in the 24-team bracket that came out during the day on Friday, the Senators will host the winner of the Lake Forest-Christiana game on Thursday night.

Seeded 18th, the Spartans will play at No. 15 Christiana at 7 p.m. in Tuesday’s opening round. It’s a rematch of last year’s first round when Lake Forest beat the Vikings, 74-53.

Starkey, of course, would gladly take a rematch with Dover as a reward if his team can make the second round again.

“It’s the first time that Lake Forest has been on this stage (in the Henlopen title game) since 2002,” he said. “When you’re building a program, you’ve got to get to a certain level and experience it sometimes before you’re able to move on.

“Sometimes film doesn’t do them justice,” Starkey said about the Senators. “These guys are quicker and play with a little more desire — hunger — than any team that we’ve seen all year.”

Dover, on the other hand, knows that its perfect record doesn’t mean anything as it tries to capture the program’s first state crown. The only thing that counts now is winning the next game.

“Right now we’re 0-0,” said Wilson. “We’ve got to 1-0 before we can go 4-0 (in the tournament). I don’t like to think about the future too much. I worry about the present.

“Right now we’ve got practice we’ve got to get ready for.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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