High school basketball notebook: Improving Dover girls face rival CR Tuesday night

Taylor Tuck

DOVER — At 23, Taylor Tuck isn’t even two years removed from her own playing career.

So as she transitions into being a basketball coach, the toughest thing sometimes is teaching her players to do what is second nature for her.

“As a player, I could go out there and do it,” Tuck said with a laugh. “As a coach, I can only do so much. But it’s fun. It’s a learning process for them and for me.”

Clearly, the lessons have been going better lately.

After losing four of their first five games, the Senators (3-3 Henlopen North, 7-5 overall) have won six out their last seven going into today’s 7:15 p.m. showdown at unbeaten Caesar Rodney (6-0 North, 11-0).

The fact that Dover started its schedule with games against CR, Sussex Central, Ursuline and St. Elizabeth had a lot to do with its early struggles.

Senior Brionna Hill netted 19 of Dover’s 21 points in a December loss to powerhouse Ursuline. But now more Senator players are contributing. (Delaware State News file photo)

Still, the Senators have also gotten their act together under Tuck, the first-year head coach who played at the University of Ilinois.

“They’re such good kids, they’re so sweet,” said Tuck. “And they want to learn. That’s why it’s easy.

“So when they make mistakes, when they don’t get it right, I don’t get mad because they want to get it right.”

“It was difficult because, as a team, we’re all kind of new,” said junior Tajanae Henry-Coney. “So we’re still trying to gel together. That takes time.

“We were playing against teams that have been together for years. We were all aware of that. But we’re getting better now.”

One of Dover’s biggest issues early on was figuring out where its points were going to come from.

In an 81-21 loss to powerhouse Ursuline on Dec. 13, senior Brionna Hill netted 19 of the Senators’ 21 points. But now more players are contributing.

In a 70-48 victory over Smyrna on Jan. 12, Henry-Coney (20 points), Hill (18) and Ja’Nyra Hicks (13) all finished in double figures while eight different players scored in the contest.

“You can read their face if they made up their mind they’re not a scorer,” said Tuck. “I was like, ‘No, you can score, too.’

“We’ve gotten better with that. I don’t have a designated scorer. Everybody on this team can score and now they’re getting more comfortable being more aggressive on offense — and having the mindset of, attack the basket, then pass.”

“Honestly, we had trouble just scoring — who would put the ball in the bucket,” said Henry-Coney. “The only one that would really score is Bree (Hill). But now we’re all getting together. We know if we can get 10 points here, it all adds up in the end.”

The Senators opened the season against CR. Dover actually led by a point after the first quarter only to have the Riders cruise to a 69-40 victory.

The Senators would like to prove they’ve improved a great deal.

“We’ve practiced more together, we’ve bonded more as a team,” said junior Ashley Manifold. “We definitely had a tough schedule. And we were new and everything. Hopefully, by playing those harder teams, it will give us an extra boost into the playoffs.”

“I definitely think, from game one to now, we’re a lot better team now,” said Tuck. “We’re not where I want us to be yet but I think we’ve definitely made progress.”

Free throws

Radio station 105.9-FM is slated to broadcast the Lake Forest-Cape Henlopen boys’ game on Friday at 7 p.m. … Among the list of the Top 25 girls’ players in the state, compiled by Curtis Watkins, are downstaters Kylie Kornegay-Lucas (8th) of CR, Alissa Haith (9th) of CR, Aniah Patterson (15th) of St. Thomas More, Logan Handy (17th) of Laurel and Alexis Reid (25th) or CR. … Ursuline sophomore Alisha Lewis is the state’s top player, according to Watkins. … The Dover boys’ team is going to play in the East Coast Basketball Showcase at Widener University on Sunday. … The undefeated Woodbridge boys (7-0) will play their first non-Henlopen South game on Friday at Caesar Rodndey. … Lake Forest’s girls have won three games in a row and seven of their last nine contests.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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