Eagles notch 8th straight victory with win over Caesar Rodney

Smyrna’s Brandon Smith shoots against Caesar Rodney in the first quarter at Smyrna. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

SMYRNA — Brandon Smith took the outlet pass, checked on the defender and dribbled hard to the rim.

Smith knew this layup was going to go down.

“I feel like if I get an outlet and it’s one-on-one, I’m going to make it every time,” Smith said. “I just went hard.”

Smith’s layup with four seconds left gave Smyrna High a 59-57 victory over Caesar Rodney High in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division boys’ basketball matchup on Tuesday night. It was the eight win in a row for the Eagles who moved to 10-2 overall (7-1 Henlopen North).

Smyrna trailed 55-49 with 1:40 left but ended the game on a 10-2 run.

The Eagles were down 57-53 in the final minute before Nahshon Sylvester’s putback cut the CR lead in half. The Riders missed a three on the other end with 30 seconds left and Smyrna quickly pushed the ball upcourt.

Olumuyiwa Salako tied it for the Eagles on a layup with 23 seconds remaining. The Riders missed another shot attempt which led to another fastbreak with Smith taking the outlet pass and contorting his body for the game-winner.

Smith led all scorers with a game-high 19 points.

“This is my last year so I got to leave it all on the floor,” Smith said. “It was a must-win. When they were up, we still thought we were going to win. We just kept pushing.”

The Riders did have a chance to either send the game to overtime or win it in the final seconds.

They inbounded the ball across halfcourt after Smith’s layup, where it was deflected out of bounds off Smyrna with 1.7 seconds to go. The Riders called timeout to draw up a play.

Caesar Rodney’s three-pointer rimmed out, starting a Smyrna celebration near midcourt.

“We got the right stops and made the right kind of plays to squeak that one out,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears.

Salako was one of three Eagles to finish in double figures for the Eagles with 14 points. Sylvester added 10 more points while Elijah Credle and Izaiah Credle scored six points apiece.

Caesar Rodney was led by Syed Myles and Jaelin Joyner who had 16 and 14 points respectively.

After both teams struggled from the field through the first three quarters, the Riders made five consecutive field goal attempts early in the fourth quarter. It led to a 12-0 run by Caesar Rodney who led by as much as 47-40 before a three by Sylvester stopped the run.

“I think both teams were a little tight just given the hype around this game,” Mears said. “It’s easy to see how the energy was going to be in here with two really good teams. Credit to our boys, they just kept grinding, trying to get stops and taking care of the ball.”