Football star Peace helps 4-0 Dover top Eagles 70-66

DOVER — It did not take long for Vonnie Peace to make an impact on the basketball court again.

The Dover High senior scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter in his first game back after sitting out his junior year to focus on football.

Peace’s performance helped the Senators hold off Smyrna High 70-66 in the Henlopen Conference Northern Division boys’ basketball contest on Tuesday night. Dover improved to 4-0 overall (3-0 North) and stretched its regular season win streak to 24 games.

Peace, one of the state’s best football players, was a starter for the Senators as a freshman and a sophomore before taking one year off from basketball.

“It felt great man, back with my brothers on the court,” Peace said. “I took a year off but that doesn’t mean anything. We’re back.”
And with Dover only up by a point headed into the fourth quarter, it was Peace who helped Dover build a lead.

He had a quick steal on Smyrna’s first possession of the quarter which led to a layup. That the start of six consecutive points by Peace.

Dover led 65-55 after another Peace steal for a wide-open layup in the final minutes.

“Vonnie has played together with these guys for years,” said Dover coach Stephen Wilson. “Vonnie remembers a lot of what we do defensively. He gives us a chance to get some leadership in there and I think he helped us a lot.”

Smyrna was able to rally and make it a one-possession game with less than a minute to go.

Majesti Carter’s three-pointer cut Dover’s lead to 67-62 before a layup by Brandon Smith, two free throws from Robert Wiley and Olumuyiwa Salako’s putback highlighted a 9-0 Smyrna run. Salako’s basket allowed Smyrna to draw within 67-66 with nine seconds to go.

Peace made a free throw before Smyrna rebounded the second but threw the ball out of bounds trying to get it up the floor. Dover was able to find Jy’Heim Spencer open under the basket on the ensuing inbounds play and he laid the ball in at the buzzer to seal it for the defending state runner-ups.

“We have guys on our team who have been in these situations before,” Wilson said. “I want games like this to help us down the stretch. It’s easy when you win games by a whole lot. But when you get in a dogfight, you got to pulls those Xs and Os out to find a way to get it done and I think we did that.”

“They think we dodged a bullet but that happens sometimes you have games where you just need to dig down deep,” Wilson added. “I like these games. It gives you a chance to showcase what you worked on.”

Eden Davis led Dover with 20 points while Elijah Allen added 17 points. Both Davis and Allen scored 14 points in the first half.

Wanya Wise also finished in double figures for the Senators with 10 points.

Smyrna’s Smith was the game’s top scorer with 24 points.

“We’re still scratching the surface of what our guys are capable of,” said Smyrna coach Andrew Mears. “We had a good start to the year in practice but it’s hard to simulate this type of pressure until you’re actually on the floor. I really liked what our guys did tonight, I thought they came to play. Credit to that Dover team, that’s a tough group. You never want to lose but as long as there’s learning with losing, that’s O.K.”

Smyrna trailed 34-27 at halftime but was able to lead near the end of the third quarter on a three-pointer by Elijah Credle. Smyrna trailed by as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter before its final rally.

“We try not to look at the scoreboard,” Mears said. “We try to stick to the gameplan. When you deviate away from the gameplan, that’s when Dover really starts rolling. Credit to our guys. I was impressed with our ability to stay focused and make it interesting at the end.”

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