High school basketball notebook: ECHS@DSU enjoys success in first season

Michael Taylor of ECHS shoots against Jayven Walls of FSMA in the first quarter at Delaware State University. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — A couple years ago, Marq Echols wanted to send his son, Jaylen, to a new high school that was forming in Dover.

But the one big drawback for the younger Echols was that ECHS@DSU didn’t have a boys’ basketball team.

“He was kind of bummed out,” said Marq. “So I talked to some of the teachers and they said, ‘We would love to do it but we don’t have a coach.’

“I said, ‘Hey, I’ll do it,’” Echols remembered. “And there it is.”

Three years after that humble start, ECHS@DSU — which stands for Early College High School at Delaware State University — does indeed have its first varsity boys’ basketball squad.

And the Hornets are doing OK. Facing a schedule that includes a number of other fledgling programs, they own an 11-4 record going into today’s 6:15 p.m. game at Sussex Academy.

ECHS@DSU’s roster includes players from all three Delaware counties. Most of the team, though, comes from Kent County.

The players say they’re not surprised that they’ve had some early success.

“We’re getting better,” said junior Mike Taylor, from Smyrna. “We should have a better record than we have now. We’ve got a lot of talent.

“We always get asked (where the school is located),” he added. “They take us lightly because we’re a new school. But after we get done playing them, they have respect for us.”

Jordan Hinmon of ECHS pulls down a rebound against FSMA in the first quarter at Delaware State University. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“I knew we were going to have obstacles because we’re a new team,” said Jaylen Echols. “For most of us, it’s our first year playing organized basketball. So I knew it wasn’t going to click at first but we did get it together.”

ECHS@DSU did have a junior varsity team the last couple years. But last season was cut short after only six games because several players had academic issues.

Marq Echols said the whole team learned a valuable lesson from that experience.

“They’re a team,” said the 39-year-old Echols, who played at Glassboro, N.J. High. “You had some guys who made the grades but they couldn’t play because of the other guys. They took as a team concept. They (the players’ grades) are much better.”

The Hornets did get off to something of a slow start in their first varsity season. They were just 3-3 after falling to St. Thomas More twice with another setback to Newark.

ECHS@DSU has gone 8-1 since then, with its only loss coming to Sussex Central.

“We were having a little bit of chemistry issues,” said Taylor. “We didn’t have it together yet. We trust each other a lot more.”

“We talked about it,” said Jaylen Echols. “We got everything together. We blew some team out and we saw that what he (his father) was telling us was working. We started clicking from that point in.

“I wasn’t surprised because I knew what we were capable of. I knew what we should have been doing. When it actually worked, I was just happy that I saw it was working with all of us.”

While the Hornets’ strength of schedule works against them, ECHS@DSU is probably still in the running for a spot in the DIAA state tournament.

Among the Hornets’ six remaining games is a Feb. 20th date at St. Georges (11-5), which has made it to the state semifinals two years in a row.

Clearly, though, ECHS@DSU has made a solid start. A year ago, the Hornets played all their JV games on the road and had to practice at 7 a.m. in other school’s facilities.

Now they have their own court in DSU’s Wellness Center and a winning record at the varsity level.

“I think they were intimidated at first just because it was varsity,” said the elder Echols. “But I let them know, ‘Hey, these guys put on their shorts just like you. Go out there and have fun and play.’ It clicked for us.

“They always had the individual confidence but, after that, they have the team confidence.”

Notes

• Radio station 105.9-FM will carry the Sussex Tech at Cape Henlopen boys’ game on Friday. Tip-off is slated for 6:15 p.m.

Cape owns a nine-game winning streak going into today’s 6:30 p.m. home game with Lake Forest. The Vikings are in the middle of a stretch of six straight home games.

• St. Thomas More (11-3) goes to Woodbridge (14-2) today for an interesting nonconference girls’ game. Tipoff is slated for 4:30 p.m.
The Blue Raiders have an eight-game winning streak.

• After snapping a six-game losing streak, Dover’s boys have now won four in row to get their record back to 8-9. The Senators are in the middle of an 11-day break between games. They next play at Cape Henlopen on Feb. 13.

• Sussex Tech’s boys’ squad is 14-3 right now. But the Ravens end the season with tough road games at Cape, Caesar Rodney and Salesianum.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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