High school basketball: Unbeaten Dover trying to stay focused

Dover’s Eden Davis

DOVER — Three months into the season, Dover High’s boys’ basketball players are still perfect on the court.

But that doesn’t mean the Senators are perfect everywhere.

They are still teenagers after all.

“They’re 16 and 17,” said Dover coach Stephen Wilson. “It’s all the way around the board — from things they may do in school that our academic team sees or our assistant coaches see — and you have to reel them back in.

“But I’m pretty sure that it’s like that with a lot of teams that are having success. I’m pretty sure we’re not the only ones.”

And the bottom line for Wilson is that he didn’t lose any players in the program to grades this semester. More than that, eight of Dover’s 12 players made the academic honor roll.

Of course, academics are only part of the challenge right now for Wilson. He also has to try to keep his players humble when everyone is telling them how good they are.

At 11-0 in the North, 17-0 overall, the Senators can finish a perfect 12-0 in their Henlopen Northern Division schedule when they host Cape Henlopen (5-6 North, 7-10 overall) today at 7 p.m.

The 2015-16 Dover squad also went 12-0 in the North before finishing 17-4 overall. Dover will host the Henlopen Conference championship game on Feb. 22.

“I know we’ve already clinched the North,” said Wilson. “But for us to be able to finish perfect in the North is something that’s one of our things. We wanted to be able to represent our (division) in the conference championship — as well as it guarantees us to be in the playoffs.”

After Cape Henlopen, Dover still has non-conference matchups with Middletown on Saturday and Newark on Feb. 19.

People have talked to Wilson about the history of undefeated teams in the state. The last Senator squad to register a perfect regular season may have been the 1976-77 team, which finished 24-1 after losing in the state finals.

Of course, Wilson has tried to keep any such talk to a minimum with his players.

“They are happy to be in this situation,” said Wilson. “And I’m proud of them for being in this situation. But we know it’s a long way to go.

“Honestly, it’s unchartered territory for us all,” Wilson said about being undefeated. “I’ve never been in this situation, they’ve never been in this situation. We just try to take the approach of ‘next game.’ … We said we’re going to take one day to talk about it. It’s now become an added goal — which we didn’t know it was going to be there in the beginning.”

Of course, Wilson knows Dover won’t stay undefeated for long if it loses its focus now. All he can do is try to get his players to block out the noise and keep their eyes on whatever is next.

“They seem to always come back and be ready to go in the game,” said Wilson. “But I think their preparation has become a lot better. I think they’re starting to understand why teams are coming at them the way they are. It comes along with it.

“They have to work extra hard, dot those ‘i’s’ and cross those ‘t’s,’ That’s what they’re trying to do.”

Free throws

• Dover’s Eden Davis needs 39 points to reach 1,000 for his career. The junior is averaging 18.5 points per game while teammate Elijah Allen is averaging 19.

• Lake Forest’s boys (12-1 South, 14-3 overall) can clinch the Henlopen South title with a win when it plays a 4:30 p.m. game today at Woodbridge (9-3 South, 10-6 overall).

• In girls’ basketball, the Henlopen Conference’s two division titles can also be locked down when Cape Henlopen hosts Dover at 6:15 p.m. in the North and Lake Forest hosts Woodbridge at 5:15 p.m. in the South.

• Woodbridge’s unbeaten girls (17-0) have won 28 straight South contests. The Raiders still have to face Delmar after Lake Forest.

• After missing back-to-back games, Caesar Rodney’s Shaft Clark returned to the court with a 21-point effort in the Riders’ win over Smyrna on Friday.

• The 1972 Dover squad is another storied team in Senator boys’ basketball history. The Senators, who lost in a controversial state title game that year, went 17-1 in the regular season with their loss only coming against CR.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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