From the sports editor: Senators have more tests to pass

DOVER — It won’t be the end of the world if the Dover High’s boys’ basketball team loses a game.

Then again, coach Stephen Wilson isn’t conceding anything.

Yes, Wilson likes the test the Senators are going to get with a tough post-Christmas schedule. But he said Dover’s biggest goal is to get some more victories, not merely experience.

“It’s all about winning,” said Wilson. “Everything we do is about winning. Whether it’s ugly or pretty, we want to win. We’re preparing them to win every game that we can win.”

The Senators have done a lot of winning lately, of course. With a 5-0 record this year, they are 29-1 since the start of last season and own a 25-game regular-season winning streak.

But now Dover is going to put its record to the test with three games in four days later this week.

On Thursday, the Senators go to Salisbury, Md. to face unbeaten Wicomico (6-0) in the Governor’s Challenge Tournament. Tipoff is set for 6:45 p.m. in the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

Then Dover heads over to Lewes for a pair of games at Slam Dunk to the Beach. The Senators take on Eleanor Roosevelt, Md. (3-1) at 3 p.m. on Saturday before squaring off with host Cape Henlopen (2-2) on Sunday at 5 p.m. in a Henlopen North matchup on
Sunday.

Roosevelt captured the Maryland Class 4A state title a year ago.

Teams like Dover, which returned most of its roster from a successful season, usually have their share of tourney invitations to pick from. The Senators had some choices to make this year.

“We handpicked the tournaments we wanted to go to,” said Wilson. “But I made sure that we worried about our backyard, because Governor’s has always been there for us and Slam Dunk is right here. There were some other tournaments that we could have gone to.”

As for playing three games in four days, Dover actually started the season with the same challenge.

Of course, it’s the same kind of schedule teams face if they advance in the state tournament.

“You’re going every other day when you get into the tournament,” said Wilson. “I think it’s very good for our guys because it’s an adverse situation where you have to be able to have walk-throughs in a hotel room and be away from your comfort zone.”

The Senators have had something of a strange season schedule-wise. While they’re coming up on their second burst of three games in a four-day span, right now they haven’t played a game since Dec. 14.

That also means Dover has been able to focus on some other things — things like weight lifting and study hall

“Having a little time off doesn’t hurt you with the rest,” said Wilson.

It’s not like things get easier for the Senators as the season goes along, either.

Dover hosts rival Caesar Rodney (5-1) on Jan. 7 when Henlopen Conference teams return from Christmas break. Then, on Jan. 18, the Senators take on Philadelphia’s Cardinal O’Hara (5-0) at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington.

Wilson knows Dover can’t win a state title in the middle of the season. But the Senators can keep pushing themselves to get better.

“We’re coming along,” said Wilson. “I think we’ve had a few tests where we won those games. We’ve had a few adverse situations that we’ve tackled.

“I think that we need to continue with our focus. I like the way our players prepares when they’re playing against teams they don’t know. I think the bigger the stage, the harder they play.

“I can’t play attention to the record,” he added. ”I pay attention to the next game.”

Odds & ends

• North Central (Ill.) dumped Wisconsin-Whitewater, 41-14, on Friday night to win the program’s first NCAA Division III football national title. It’s the first time since 2004 that a team besides Whitewater, Mount Union or Mary Hardin Baylor has won the crown.

• With New Year’s Day falling on Wednesday this year, most Henlopen Conference teams won’t return to action until Jan. 7. Some squads will have had a break of almost three weeks by the time they play again.

• A week ago, Villanova had to work for a 78-70 win over Delaware in men’s basketball. This Saturday, the No. 18 Wildcats stunned No. 1 Kansas, 56-55. Go figure. 

• Delaware’s Hall of Famer, Tubby Raymond, was voted No. 25 on ESPN’s list of the greatest all-time college football coaches. Raymond went 300-119-3 between 1966-2001 with the Blue Hens.