Experienced Dover eyes boys’ basketball tournament run

Jordan Allen Dover bball by .

Jordan Allen (6-foot-4), who is committed to Rider University, leads a strong cast of returners for Dover, which opens its season on Saturday against Neumann-Goretti, the No. 14 ranked team in the nation and defending Pennsylvania state champion. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — Jordan Allen wants to be right back on the free-throw line and the Dover High boys’ basketball team wants to be right back on the big stage.

The Senators return all but two players from last year’s team that was a free throw away from making the state tournament quarterfinals. The boys’ basketball season opens up today and Dover tips off Saturday.

Dover went 14-8 a year ago and Allen led the state in scoring as a junior. The Senators fell to St. Elizabeth in the second round of the state tournament 61-59.

Allen had a game-high 29 points that day but he still uses missing the front-end of a one-and-one with three seconds left during a tied game as motivation for this season.

“I’ve eaten it up and used it to do better for us,” Allen said. “We want to focus and get back to it. I want to get right back on it.”

On the first day of practice this year after tryouts, Dover coach Stephen Wilson brought out the same five players that were on the court against St. Elizabeth.

He lined everyone up for a free throw, put Allen on the line and three seconds on the clock. Allen knocked down the shot on the first attempt.

“I think it was important to finish off that possession so we can get where we want to go,” Wilson said. “We wouldn’t want anyone else on that line. He’s supposed to be one of the best players in the state. We didn’t lose any faith in him.”

Allen (6-foot-4), who is committed to Rider University, leads a strong cast of returners for Dover.

The Senators also bring back their second and third leading scorers — Terrance Woodlin (a 6-foot-7 senior and Thomas Hoskins a 6-foot-4 sophomore). Other returners include seniors Michael Douglas, Tre’vonne Moore, Troy Scott and junior Jhalil Mosley. Newcomers are Steven Justice, Stefan Rush-Wilson and Tuscan Wright.

“We’ve got a good vibe,” Woodlin said. “We’ve worked hard in the offseason and we’re ready for this schedule. We’re going to try to put on for the city.”

“Most of the team is seniors so we’ve got to do it this year,” Allen said. “We’ve got two years straight together. We all know how to play with each other.”

One thing is for sure, the Senators will be challenged during the regular season.

Their opening game on Saturday (3 p.m.) is against Neumann-Goretti, the No. 14 ranked team in the nation and defending Pennsylvania state champion. It’s part of the Kyle Lowry Classic at Widener University.

The Senators are also taking part in the Slam Dunk to the Beach Tournament at Cape Henlopen High Dec. 27-29, and have a trip to Atlantic City in January for another invitational.

Wilson is glad this group of players has the chance to play in those types of games.

“I’ve been waiting for this group to become seniors and upperclassmen,” Wilson said. “They are liking the attention, the fact that tournaments want them to perform and that college coaches are coming in to see them.

“These are the guys that didn’t really play on Central Middle School. Other than Thomas, everybody else was considered ‘the bad bunch’ or not a good group of basketball players. I think these guys have had something to prove for a long time. I think they still believe they have something to prove because they haven’t won anything yet.”

And now that he has his scholarship, Allen is hoping college coaches watching the Senators at those types of tournaments can see what his teammates can do too.

“It’s exciting because my teammates can get exposure,” Allen said.

“It’s not the Jordan Allen show,” Wilson said. “It’s Dover High. He understands that.”

Dover’s schedule isn’t just tough out of state.

The Senators also play Sanford and St. Georges in their nonconference schedule this season, two schools who should contend for the state title again.

“I’m not going to lie this is the hardest schedule I’ve ever put together,” Wilson said. “I think this group needs that. I know them and they’ve worked hard to put themselves in a position that a lot of people didn’t think they could put themselves in.”

Dover’s seven regular season losses last year came by a combined total of 19 points. The Senators ended the year on a hot streak winning nine games in a row, including a first round playoff game against Delmar.

This was a team that had missed the state tournament in 2013-2014 when most of the starting lineup were sophomores that have grown to be this core group of seniors.

“They hold each other accountable,” Wilson said. “They love the game, they love being around each other and they’ve been giving us everything they can in practice. I’m happy to watch them and be their coach.”

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